Software for Research

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Surveys, data collection & management Statistical Software Graphing & Visualisation Geographic & Map Tools Related topics & further reading

Surveys, data collection and database management

RedCap logo
REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is the recommended data collection platform at South West Healthcare.  It is a secure and stable web-based platform that is designed to capture research data. Staff at South West Healthcare can request an account by contacting the Research Governance Officer.  REDCap's website has links to introductory videos which you may find helpful for getting started.

Main features

  • Secure and online
  • Caters for multi-site access via computer or mobile device
  • Fast and flexible
  • Allows offline development and data capture (with subsequent transfer to project upon internet connection)
  • Powerful survey design tool
  • Basic reporting
  • Exporting feature to multiple programs and packages including Excel, PDF and numerous statistical packages (R, SPSS, SAS, Stata)

Statistical Software

R statistical software

R provides access to a variety of statistical and graphical techniques including linear and non-linear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, and clustering. R has the advantage of being open-source and thus freely available. Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible.

R Project -

Main features

  • The R project for statistical computing is an incredible, free, open source software for statistical analysis and graphics.
  • R is underpinned by a multitude of packages that facilitate basic and advanced data and biostatistical analysis, and (very impressive) graphics.
  • R is syntax-based – therefore, coding is required to run data manipulations and analysis.
  • Although coding may appear to be time consuming, written code can be saved and run over again, or adapted to different projects → this will likely save time in the long run.

R can be downloaded from the publisher's website.

Venables, W.N., Smith, D. M., & the R Core Team. (2022). An introduction to R: Notes on R: A Programming Environment for Data Analysis and Graphics Version 4.2.2 (2022-10-31). Online manual

Supporting video resources - R programming for absolute beginners (R Programming 101 video channel). 

Additional enhancements of R have been created by RStudio. A range of products are listed on their website including related support services specific to the products.

RStudio -
Main features

  • A user friendly wrapper for R is R Studio, which provides graphical user interface (GUI)-type functionality, although coding is still required.
  • Key elements include the code editor, R console, workspace and history, and plots and files consoles
  • The program is incredibly flexible, catering for a vast suite of data manipulation and analysis techniques, and has excellent static and dynamic graphics and data presentation tools (including apps).

Main advantages

  • Probably the most comprehensive statistical analysis software
  • R (the programming language) is developed for statistical analysis by practicing statisticians
  • Excellent graphical capabilities
  • Free and Open Source
  • Connects with many software and formats (e.g. CSV files, Microsoft Excel, SPSS, SAS, MySQL, Oracle)
  • Extensive library of packages


  • Has a fairly steep learning curve to become familiar with programming language, although the language is intuitive and is of a similar level to other statistical program languages
  • Documentation (for packages) can sometimes be difficult to follow

Jamovi - 

The jamovi project was founded to develop a statistical platform which is intuitive to use, and can provide the latest developments in statistical methodology. Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible. Free and open-source statistical software based on R for computation, but with a graphical user interface similar to SPSS Statistics.


Microsoft Power BI - Some users at SWH will have access to Power BI for work. 

Graphing and Visualisation

PRISMA Flow Diagram

PRISMA2020 Flow Diagram - via Shiny App 

Plotly - Plotly's Python graphing library makes interactive, publication-quality graphs. Examples of how to make line plots, scatter plots, area charts, bar charts, error bars, box plots, histograms, heatmaps, subplots, multiple-axes, polar charts, and bubble charts.

TimelineJS - TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines. Experts can use JSON to create custom installations.

Geographic and Map Tools

QGIS - QGIS is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android.

OpenStreetMap - Open, socially-sourced map data.

MapshareVic - MapshareVic allows you to interact with Property, Forest, Public Land and Water maps;  view different basemaps; search for an address, place name, locality or LGA; Identify features on the map; print and export your map. 

VicPlan - VicPlan is a tool that you can use to view, query and create your own property reports. More than a mapping tool, it's a gateway to a whole range of planning information.

Google Earth

Related topics & further reading:

Reference Management Tools
Research Resource Hub on the PeopleHub.
A different way to literature search, citation-based literature mapping tool - Research Rabbit

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