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Import study data

Here you will learn how to import data, either per record or for multiple records at a time. 

If you are looking to import report data, check this article

Before you start

Here are some things to check before you begin this process:

  • CSV is the supported file format to upload data into Castor.
  • The variables must already exist in your study and must have assigned variable names. It is only possible to import data into fields where variable names are defined. Data will not be imported into fields which contain only labels and where variable name is not defined.
  • The records do not have to be created in Castor, as you can create them on the fly during import. 
  • You must have Edit rights enabled for the institute where the record(s) belongs. 
  • If you are importing encrypted data, you also need Encrypt rights.
  • Check the encoding of your importing file: Castor supports UTF-8 encoded files. If your CSV is encoded using ISO-8859-1, you will need to change any data with the character "¨" (e.g. ë) and remove the character.  Otherwise, an error will be shown when trying to import the file.
  • For unencrypted data, the limit for a single import is 25,000 data points. For encrypted data, this is much lower.
  • Date fields must be formatted as dd-mm-yyyy. All required data formats are described here. Invalid formats will not be imported. In cases where date values without leading zeros are imported,  the date format will be adjusted to 0d-0m-yyyy and the following warning message is shown in the preview dialog: ‘Imported date format will be <0d-0m-yyyy>.
  • For importing Record status, the record status name must exist in the study. If the imported value for Record status is empty, this is considered an intentional removal of the status for the affected record(s) and will be therefore updated to ‘not set’ (the default value for all records). A warning in the import preview will show ‘Record Status will be unset’.
  • Please note that it is not possible to import survey data.
  • Please note that it is not possible to import queries, comments, signatures or data verifications.

Warning: Importing data will overwrite existing data, please make sure you are only importing data for empty fields, or data you wish to overwrite. 

Prepare your data for import

The easiest way to prepare the data is to first create an export of any record (this can also be a test record). This way you will have all of the columns properly formatted, as the import file will look similarly to the export file. You can then simply add your data in that file.

Format your data according the following guidelines:

  • Prepare your data horizontally, with the record Id(s) in one of the first five columns (A-E). 
  • If you want to create records that do not yet exist in Castor, you will also need to specify the institute abbreviation (as specified in the study Settings) in order to map the record to the correct institute.
  • The first row should always contain the variable names. These should match the Castor variable names exactly. The variable names are case-sensitive.
  • Ensure that your data is formatted correctly depending on the field types, as explained here.
  • Save your data as a .csv file.

Proceed with import in Castor

To import data:

1) Click on the 'Actions' button and choose 'Import' option from the dropdown menu

2) Click on the cogwheel next to a record and choose "Import spreadsheet".

In the pop-up dialog, you need to specify the following elements:

  • File: Choose the file (newer browsers will always display c:\fakepath as a security measure).
  • Import type: Choose if the import type is study import or report import. Report data import is explained here.
  • Record id column: Choose the column from your csv-file that contains the record ID's.
  • Create records that do not exist: Check the box if you want to create new records with the imported data and fill existing records, instead of only filling the existing records.
  • Institute abbreviation column: Choose the column from your csv-file that contains the abbreviation of the institute, only required when creating new records on the fly.
  • Import email addresses: Choose if you want to import email addresses
  • Import record status: Choose if you want to import Record status
  • Provide password: to import email addresses, please provide password
  • Email address column: specify column in your csv-file where the email addresses are stored
  • Click Import

The data importer will first show a preview of all data that will be imported. This way it is possible to see the results before you accept the import and allows for cancelling the import if needed. You will also see any data validations that will be triggered with the data you are importing.

If the import preview indicates no errors, you can simply click on Accept to continue.

If there are errors shown, you might need to correct the data before proceeding.


  • When a study step is locked, warning message will be displayed in the import preview for to inform that data will be imported in that step.
  • If you are trying to import data into a field, which doesn't have a variable name defined, an error 'Variable not found' will be shown in the Import preview dialog window.

Importing data:

Watch the video walk-through on Castor Academy:

Importing study data | Castor Academy

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  1. Castor Support Team

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