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I am a PhD student and am thinking ahead to when I start up a psychology lab---what are some of the best data entry and management systems? To avoid the "it depends" answer, below I list what I'm looking for. If you must say "it depends", it would be helpful to know what it depends on (i.e., what the good options are for different needs). I've done some work with data management systems in SPSS and Excel, and have not been impressed.

Here's what I'd use it for:

  • Entry of ~100 variables for every one of ~100 measures and ~10,000 cases. In other words, the entire (merged) data matrix could be about 100 X 100 X 10,000 cells (10,000 rows and 10,000 columns).
  • Data involve human subjects and are mostly from questionnaires

Here are some things I'd like it to be able to do:

  • Data entry can be restricted to specified, plausible values for each variable (string, number, integer, value from 0-2, etc.) in order to minimize data entry errors
  • Double data entry checking (users enter the same data twice and the system flags discrepancies to minimize data entry errors)
  • Data from different measures are entered in separate forms, but data can be easily merged by one or more matching columns (full outer join)
  • Data can be easily imported into R (ideally in base R with a .csv or .txt file)
  • Efficient (time & effort) to open and use
  • User friendly (undergrad RAs would be using it)
  • Can interface to import data from other sources so that not all data are entered manually (iPad-entered data, website-entered data, physiological data, .csv files, tab-delimited files, etc.)
  • Data can have appropriate safeguards because they involve human subjects (e.g., password protection, encryption, others?)

Not necessary, but ideally it would be:

  • Low (or no cost) and a one-time license that can be installed on an entire lab's worth of computers
  • Platform independent (can be run on Mac & PC)
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Have you taken a look at Lime Survey? It appears that it would fit the bill of everything that you need, including data exports/imports, manual data entry, requirements for user logon, etc. It's web based, so you wouldn't have to worry about platform independence.

The only thing that I wasn't able to see was double data entry, however there is the possibility for one person to do the data entry and another to double-check before submitting the data.

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For people who come across this post in the future, I eventually decided on using REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture). REDCap meets all of the requirements noted in my above post, and is widely used by many researchers at many universities across the globe. For other suggestions, you can see my original post here: https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/30656/good-data-entry-and-management-systems.

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