Librarian Supports Campus Research Via Data Solution

Meghan Di Rito, Librarian | 5 min read
Meghan Di Rito, Librarian | 5 min read

At the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), we work to support the lab productivity of students and researchers. Our college’s mission statement says: “Students will demonstrate an understanding of scientific inquiry by designing, conducting, presenting or interpreting research in their field of study as appropriate to their academic program.”

Here at the PCOM Library, we support this mission statement by constantly looking for new tools to support students and faculty in their research. Our latest project is to adapt the open source program Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) for PCOM. REDCap is a HIPAA-compliant program which allows users to collect, store and analyze research data. Because REDCap is open source, it is customizable for the needs of the college’s researchers. It’s a useful program for building everything from one-time anonymous surveys to longevity studies.

Launching the Program

Founded in 2004, REDCap is typically hosted and supported by institutional research departments. However, when researchers came to the PCOM Library asking us to host it, our department head agreed. Hosting REDCap in the library was a challenge. The first issue we faced
was setting up an open source program without being subject matter experts on the specific needs of researchers.

Fortunately, a strong community of volunteer support staff from various institutional research departments were happy to help with everything, from training our own library personnel to providing basic templates to set up a personalized version of REDCap for PCOM users. We also consulted with the PCOM research department and researchers.

Finalizing the Project

All told, it took the PCOM library eight months to finalize all aspects of REDCap for our institution. This included setting up and personalizing REDCap for PCOM use, creating policies, and writing and filming 11 tutorial videos (complete with transcripts and quizzes). It also included training for our own staff on how to use and support users for REDCap and creating a subject guide.

Specifically, I helped write and edit the video transcripts and quizzes, assisted with the policy creation, and created the subject guide. I also attended the REDCap Conference in 2018 to learn more about REDCap and to network with REDCap users. REDCap has been embraced by our psychology program for its [REDCap's] ability to build customized secure surveys.

We hope to expand REDCap usage to all PCOM departments. The PCOM Library continues to support the PCOM research community by offering both recorded training tutorials and live training sessions. Our live training sessions are both individual and group, and on-demand and scheduled.

Successful Outreach

REDCap at PCOM officially launched in September 2018. Since then, we have added 44 PCOM REDCap users, and have 25 live projects in production and another 36 projects in development.

We presented our work and findings in a poster session at the 2019 Medical Library Association conference. By sharing our work, hopefully we’ll inspire other libraries to host REDCap, in the constant goal of supporting research.

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