Dharma isn’t just for one-time data collection - you can also use it to track individual entities (people, equipment, sites, or anything else) and collect repeated observations about them over time. For example, if you’re tracking individual student attendance, you may want to be able to enter information about the same students every day - whether they came to school, whether they were on time, or why they were absent. This type of data collection is called longitudinal data collection, and to do it in Dharma, you’ll use what’s called a longitudinal project.
Longitudinal projects consist of two main components: the enrollment (or “one time”) form, where you enter information about what you’re tracking, and the multi-entry form, which you’ll use when you gather repeated observations. To illustrate this, we’ll create a form called Facilities Management. We’ll create an enrollment form that lets us set up each individual facility, as well as a multi-entry form for collecting updates over time.
Setting the Proper Parameters for a Longitudinal Project
Before we start building our form, there are a few changes we'll make to the project's parameters to make sure it's structured properly for longitudinal projects. Beginning from the project home, make sure to click on Settings > Parameters to arrive at parameter settings.
Click on Longitudinal and a warning message pops up. After reading the message, click on PROCEED. That's all!. We have now successfully set the parameters.
Building a Longitudinal Form
This is what you'll see once you arrive at the Forms page. Notice that a category titled Enrollment has been automatically created. The category also contains two questions called Identifier and Name to gather a uniquely assigned id number and name of the facility this form will be collecting data from.
These questions are optional - they’re just meant to get you started, and you can replace them with others if you prefer. Note, however, that because they’re automatically setup, you’ll need to edit these two questions (and just these two) in both the Results Language and the Display Language if you want to make any changes to them. Alternately, you can delete them and add your own.
At the top of the form, we can see a note that this is the single-point data entry component of your project. This is just to remind you that on this form, we’ll ask questions we only want answered once during enrollment.
Now click this button located on the left of the form:
This is the form toggle, and it allows us to switch back and forth between the single-entry (enrollment) form and the multiple entry form. The single entry form will always end with the words [Insert Title] Enrollment Form.
After selecting Facilities Management, we'll be brought to the longitudinal/ multiple data entry portion of the form builder. If you need to confirm which form you’re on, you can always check at the top of the screen; here we can see that this is the multiple collection data entry component of the project.
Let's get started on adding some categories and questions! We’ll title our first category we'll Cleaning Services. For more detailed instructions in creating questions refer to our Adding Content to Your Forms.
Then we'll create a second category called Property Services and add some questions related to property services related to facilities management.
Finally, we'll create a third category called Security Services.
Once we've created all the categories and questions we need, we can Save Form and Push to Mobile and begin data collection!