Development versus Production in REDCap

There are two project modes in REDCap: 1) development and 2) production. In development mode, investigators build their projects and test the functionality of their forms and surveys. In production mode, investigators use their forms and surveys to collect and manage project data. 

All users are expected to thoroughly test their projects in development mode, including use of the data export tool, before requesting that a project be moved to production mode. Some changes made to projects that are in production will not be instantaneous. This is to protect the integrity of the data already collected for in-production projects. See Making Changes in Production to learn how to safely make changes to a project in production.

Development mode

1. Create your REDCap project

  • Log in to Illinois REDCap
  • Add research team members to your REDCap project(s) and specify their roles and/or permissions
  • Build your data entry forms and/or surveys by either 1) Using the Online Designer directly in REDCap to create from scratch, or 2) Creating a "data dictionary" in Excel and importing each form/survey directly into REDCap (i.e., the contents and design of forms are controlled by columns in the Excel sheets)

2. Submit the required compliance documentation

  • Required of the Principal Investigator (or designated Project Administrator) as outlined in the Illinois REDCap user agreement
  • If you have not already received approval, please submit an application to OPRS or DAR, as applicable. Keep in mind that if you are collaborating with external parties you may also need to complete an IRB or IACUC review at that institution.

3. Test your REDCap project

  • Users are expected to test projects thoroughly before requesting to move them to production mode.
  • Thorough testing includes entering practice data, testing any branching logic and calculated fields, and testing functionality used (e.g., double data entry, data exporting, data importing, and order of data collection variables and instruments)
  • You will have the option to delete all practice data when the project is moved to production (recommended)

Important considerations for Development mode:

  • Only practice/test data may be entered while a project is in development mode
  • Some changes made to projects that are in production will not be instantaneous. This is to protect the integrity of the data already collected for in-production projects. See Making Changes in Production to learn how to safely make changes to a project in production.

Production mode

The IHSI REDCap team will not make any changes to project builds or do any testing of the project prior to moving projects to production.

Projects should be moved into production when active data collection is going to start, either by participants accessing surveys or through researchers entering data into the database. Projects should be moved into production (rather than collecting data while still in development) because it protects the integrity of the data. It is harder to delete fields or change answer choices while a project is in production, which prevents data loss and protects data validity.

The IHSI REDCap team will reach out regarding any pending requirements, including compliance documentation, then your project will be moved production. At that point, you may begin collecting research data.

The IHSI REDCap team does not review how projects are built or make any changes to project builds prior to moving projects to production. Research teams are expected to have tested the design and functionality of all forms and surveys prior to requesting that projects be moved to production.