Research Information Systems

Who we are and what we do

Information Systems (IS) in the Department of Population Health Sciences (PHS) provides a full spectrum of analytical, programming, database, administration, project management, and security experience and skills to build, deliver, support, and maintain sophisticated data management capabilities critical to our University’s research mission. In doing so, we provide the following services:

Research Data Management Systems

With the increasingly data-intense and computationally demanding nature of research, investigators are continually challenged to meet their data service needs without compromising the quality, control, and management of their research information. In order to meet these needs, the IS group offers two primary options.

  1. Informatics Data Exchange and Acquisition System (IDEAS): IDEAS is a sophisticated operational architecture providing a robust and primarily web-based research data and knowledge management framework. It functions as an information broker facilitating data collection, analysis, exchange, and reporting to meet the specific needs of collaborative, translational, and decentralized research operations and is designed to integrate disparate data from multiple sources, collection points, and facilities to provide researchers with a coherent information palette. It provides a single mechanism for investigators to run multiple, simultaneous, and integrated multi-center studies and trials. Using a framework rather than a system approach, IDEAS is easily configured to individual applications, accommodating a multitude of research and work domains
  2. Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap): Developed at Vanderbilt University, REDCap provides a very clean and functional data capture environment suitable to a number of project types. We provide two REDCap options:
    • Client Managed: The REDCap interface provides clients with the ability to create, deploy, and manage web-based data capture projects with virtually no assistance from the IS staff. This provides clients, both research and administrative, a secure web-enabled mechanism for meeting their basic data capture needs.
    • IDEAS Staff Managed: While REDCap provides an exceptionally user-friendly environment, clients may not have the staff available to deploy and maintain their systems. This option, while it’s much less expensive than a fully developed IDEAS application, provides the client with decades of our data management development experience to deploy a system that accurately meets their analysis needs.

Data Management Consulting

Data systems provide you with resource availability, security, compliance…peace of mind…it is just a tool in the data management toolkit. IDEAS and REDCap provide our collaborators with modern, secure, and compliant systems; however, they operate exactly as they are programmed. A system cannot change an incomplete, inaccurate, confusing, or poorly worded question, nor can it transform an imprecise data collection form into something that will meet analytic rigor. It will simply assure poor data is maintained at the highest levels. With well over a hundred years of combined experience and literally hundreds of protocols and projects implemented, PHS IS professionals can provide a thorough and intense review of your collection forms, schedules, validations, and project/program implementation.

Project and Security Consulting

Over the years, our researchers have been so overwhelmed and inundated with security, compliance, regulations, etc.that it has started to fade into the background…until a failure occurs. We operate in an environment where technology and process adoption never moves quickly enough for researchers, but it far outpaces policy adoption.

Security and compliance rules are complex and, seemingly, ever-changing. It is difficult for researchers to stay abreast of these transforming requirements. PHS IS professionals provide consulting services to both assess your research and data management environments and to work on your behalf to liaise with University Information Security to address or correct any issues or opportunities for improvement your individual research project or office may face.

Learning Management and Content Development

PHS offers the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) to support your project or program training needs. Moodle is an open-source learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators, and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments.

Using Moodle, we can create an entire fully customized and branded learning environment around your program or integrate a single course into an existing Moodle environment. In addition to the LMS, PHS can also support learning content development. Using Articulate, we can take your course presentation slides and materials and turn them into a content-rich, interactive, environment with full exercise, testing, and tracking abilities. We can work with you to develop Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) files which can be used on both the Moodle and Canvas learning environments.

Data Management

Managing the flow of data from the point of collection through analysis is a complex and arduous task catching many investigators off guard due to the rigor essential for the scientific process. PHS IS can work with you to design, implement, and manage the processes and controls necessary to complete your research project’s data needs, and while we no longer offer standard data entry services, we do work with third-party vendors that you may find meet your project’s financial and operational needs.

Contact Us

Bill Sanns

Cynthia Ortiz
Programming Resource Manager

Robert Geller
IT Project Manager

General Support