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What is ISAAC?

ISAAC (Internet System for Assessing Autistic Children) is a web-based application for administering and managing health research projects/studies and the associated data. ISAAC's easy to use layout allows study personnel a fast, easy and secure method for entering and validating (double data enter) study information and exporting to your favorite database application or analysis tool.

ISAAC uses a proprietary form management system, called DEFE (Database of Electronic Form Elements), which simplifies the process of developing data entry, data validation, and data edit forms/templates. Adding new templates and modifying existing templates is a data entry process. No programming is required. ISAAC controls version management, so during the course of a study, when paper collection forms change, it is simple to keep data entry screens synchronized.

What benefits does ISAAC provide to researchers?

  • Web-based - Project data, data entry screens, and all other ISAAC features and functionality available 24x7, any where in the world.
  • Secure - ISAAC access requires a username and password and all communication between you and the ISAAC servers uses 128-bit SSL encryption, the highest available.
  • Catalogue of Forms and Questions - ISAAC has a growing list of standard (ADIR, ADOS, CARS, etc) and study specific forms/templates and questions. Your project can use forms/templates as they exist, create your own from our database of questions, or work with the ISAAC team to add new questions and forms.
  • Data Sharing - When you need to allow colleagues, funding organizations, review boards, or others access to your data, ISAAC provides a simple mechanism. The Guest Researcher user type has extremely limited access, but allows you to share your data without emailing messy spreadsheets and data dictionaries.
  • Manage Users - Control who has access to specific functions and data within your project.
  • Manage Patients - Add and modify patient information.
  • View Incomplete Data Lists - See which data records have not been completely entered or validated. Resume entry of incomplete records with a single click.
  • Get Real-Time Study Status - From a single page, view all available data for your project, including record counts for each of your forms.
  • Anytime Data Download - Download data quickly and easily. Standard format allows import or link to any other data application or analysis tool.
  • Create a Summary File - A user defined file that can merge fields from multiple forms into a single file. Principal Investigators can create and modify the Summary file only. Changes are available real-time.
  • Many others

Why would a researcher want to use ISAAC?

  • To Ensure Data Accuracy - ISAAC both verifies and validates data as it saves it. When entering data, ISAAC verifies that the values entered meet the criteria of the question. This could be in the form of a list of possible values, a numeric range, or a specific data type. When validating data (double data entry), entered values are compared to previously entered values for the same question. Any errors that the system encounters are immediatly displayed for correction.
  • To Better Allocate Resources - Because research budgets have little room for waste, data management is often relegated to staff with little or no technical training or experience. ISAAC frees these valuable team members to better use their skills in study design, data analysis, or other.
  • To Manage Multi-Site Studies - ISAAC eliminates much of the headaches associated with managing data collected at multiple sites. As a web-based system, all data entry templates and study management tools are available to all sites, all of the time. While site specific users, patients, and forms/templates can be maintained, data common to all is aggragated real-time. PIs, Project Managers, and Data Managers can get real-time counts on data entered on all of the study's forms, broken down by site.
  • To Maintain Historical Data Integrity - ISAAC tightly links data to the original form from which it was gathered. Therefore, when returning to data from completed studies, there is never a question of what a column of data or even a particular value means. The Code Book (Data Dictionary) completely and accurately describes the data as long as it is maintained in ISAAC.
  • To Collaborate with Other Researchers - ISAAC was conceived as a method to allow researchers to easily and safely allow others to access their data. The system includes features which make sharing of data simple, yet leave it fully in control of the study's staff.

    * Response given by a group of leading Autism researchers attending a recent database conference when asked for their overal impressions of ISAAC.





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Get a detailed understanding of all of ISAAC's features and functions by reviewing ISAAC's User's Guide. (3MEG PDF)

ISAAC is funded by
Autism Speaks