REDCap for medical education research surveys

REDCap is an open-source survey tool, originally designed at Vanderbilt, but now supported at many educational institutions around the world.

There is a very active consortium (see with many active contributors. REDCap was originally designed for clinical research but can be used to collect survey data in medical education as well.

REDCap is supported by our Clinical Research Unit (CRU) at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Because the data is stored on secure servers within UofC’s server farm, you have more control over the data governance and custodianship issues. You no longer have to be as concerned about the data residing out of country or being subject to search by overseas governments. This does make things easier when applying for ethics approval with CHREB and IRISS.

So why not just use FluidSurveys or SurveyMonkey? Well that last point about data governance is the key one. Governance concerns arise with companies that store their data outside Canada.

CRU and the REDCap team are very careful about data access issues. The team is also great to work with if you need help in constructing your survey. While the tool itself is quite easy to use, there is more than that to good survey instrument design. The team provides consultations and workshops to groups, on a cost recovery basis.

There are hundreds of existing, validated survey instruments that you can use in REDCap and it is easy to import an existing instrument from the main REDCap site into our local one here at UofC.

So, we also have OpenLabyrinth here in the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Do we need both? Well, they can both support your research work by collecting survey data in a safe and secure manner. They each have their strengths. You can use either tool independently, or you can also get the best of both worlds by using them together. For more information comparing these two research platforms, check out our comments here.