How to: Import Participants

How to: Import Participants

The import tool is located inside the Site Admin dashboard. Only Site Administrators have access to Import and Export tools.

To import participants we recommend that you follow these steps:

1. Decide whether you will uploading global data, study-specific data, or both. Global data refers to participant information that is not unique to any specific study. For example, names, date of births, addresses, and any custom variable that you labeled as “global” will follow the participant to all studies and will be visible in the global registry of your account. In contrast, other types of data fields, such as studyID, event dates, or study comments, are considered study-specific data and would be uploaded directly to a study.

Ripple allows you to upload global data directly without uploading study-specific data. This would be useful if you are uploading a large number of participants that may be part of multiple studies. For example, you may be uploading a database of 5,000 participants from which you will be recruiting to specific studies. This would be a global database and would be uploaded using the Global Data Only template.

Ripple also allows you to upload study-specific data. The study-specific templates also include all global variables so you can upload all participants with all global and study-specific data to a single study. This would be ideal for teams that have a single study and thus it would be unnecessary to upload the global data separately. The only caveat here is that only global custom variables used in that study will show up in the study template. Thus, if you want to include data for global custom variables that are not being used in the study, you will have to do so by uploading the data using the Global Data Only template.

There are cases where it may be more beneficial to upload global data and study-specific data separately. For example, if you have a large database with many studies, you may first upload the global data to the registry and then update the participants by uploading the study-specific data for each study. When in doubt, contact our team and we will be happy to brainstorm with you the most efficient way to migrate your data to Ripple.

Once you decide what type of data you are uploading, you are ready to move to step 2.

2. Download the Data Dictionary CVS file. Select the type of file you are uploading from the pulldown window and click on “Dictionary”. This file has all the information for variables that can be uploaded and, most importantly, the format of the variables and the correct options for all categorical variables. You will use this dictionary as a guide to make sure you enter all data correctly in the import file. Pay close attention to the expected format of these variables including letter case. The import tool will give you an error if you use the wrong format.

3. Download the Pre-Formatted CSV Template. Click on “Template” to download the CSV file. You will use this file to upload the participants into the database. Use one row for each participant and make sure that the content of each column/variable is in line with the specifications provided in the Data Dictionary file. Some variables are required including GlobalID, Firstname, Lastname, DOB, and StatusID (see the data dictionary for definitions of these variables).

3. Select and upload the Pre-Formatted CSV file. Use the pulldown menu to tell Ripple which data is being uploaded. Then select the time zone where you are located. If you are uploading data for a remote team, select the time zone for the coordinating site. This helps the dates be converted accurately. Then click Choose the File and find the file on your computer. Ripple will complete a series of tests. If the system encounters any errors due to incorrect data format or incorrect data for categorical variables (e.g., writing Boy instead of Male in the gender variable) the data will not import and Ripple will give you a statement regarding the error.

4. Once the database is error free Ripple will tell you that the import can proceed and the Import button will be activated. After clicking on the import button, your data should be uploaded.

WARNING: The import may take a few minutes after clicking on Import. The import will continue in the background even if you close Ripple. In cases of extremely large files (thousands of participants), feel free to start the process and then continue doing your work.


  • Always add a tag to your import indicating the import number or date. This way if you want to know which participants were added or modified in a single import you can simply run a search on that tag.
  • To update existing participants using the import tool, simply include the participant GlobalID, first name, last name, and Birthday. Ripple will attempt to match against 3 of these variables and will update any other variables if a match is found.
  • If you are adding participants to a new study, do the data import after setting up the study so that all the custom variables are included in the study template.
  • The GlobalID is a unique field. No two participants can have the same GlobalID. For this reason, Ripple assumes that if you are trying to import data using an existing global ID you are trying to Update the existing participants. However, to avoid errors Ripple will require that you update matches the existing participants across at least 2 more key variables, such as names or birthdays. If Ripple can’t find a match it will highlight the error and prevent the import.
  • Do a test with one or two participants to make sure your data format is correct before creating a full data import file.
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