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Referencing & Citation Tools: EndNote for Systematic reviews

The Glucksman Library's guide to referencing and using EndNote in the University of Limerick.

Managing Records with EndNote

EndNote is a type of reference management software which allows you to import references from the databases that you will search when conducting your systematic review. EndNote is available in both Desktop and Online versions. It is recommended that the Desktop version (EndNote X7 or X8) is used primarily due to the high volume of references imported from databases during a systematic review.

Importing references from databases searches is usually straightforward, and generally involves the following steps:

  1. Search a database
  2. Mark the records you want to save
  3. Select the database's direct export option for EndNote or RIS
  4. Select the EndNote library you wish to export the records to

If you have any problems or need more information check out the Referencing and Endnote Libguide.

Why use EndNote for systematic reviews?

  • Easily manage large numbers of references
  • Import references automatically from databases
  • Remove duplicate references
  • Record details of where reference was obtained (e.g. database, date, search statement) – Groups & Custom Fields
  • Record progress of interlibrary loans (ordered/received) – Custom Fields & Smart Groups
  • Annotate/code references for inclusion, exclusion, background – Custom Fields & Smart Groups
  • Export references for screening in a separate tool such as Rayyan ( or Covidence (
  • Create citations & reference lists when writing
  • Create reference lists of papers included/excluded
  • Share your EndNote library with up to 14 co-authors working on the review with EndNote X7 & EndNote Online
  • Conduct a frequency analysis of keywords in your library using Terms List & Subject Bibliography tools to improve the search terms used.

See the following article for methods for using EndNote for systematic reviews: King, R., Hooper, B. and Wood, W. (2011) 'Using bibliographic software to appraise and code data in educational systematic review research', Medical Teacher, 33(9), 719-23,

Annotating References with Database Details

You can add notes to all of the references imported from a database automatically by using EndNote's Change/Move/Copy Fields function.

  1. First select all of the references you have imported from the database by going to the Imported References group
  2. Then go to Tools > Change/Move/Copy Fields...
  3. In Change Fields select Research Notes as the field
  4. Choose Insert before field's text
  5. Type in your notes such as the name of the database, saved search name, date searched, etc
  6. Click OK

The text will be added to the Reserach Notes field of all the selected references.

Change-Move-Copy Fields dialog box

You can use EndNote's Groups function to create individual groups to house results from each of the databases. See the EndNote Getting Started Guide to find out more about creating groups.

Removing Duplicates

To remove all duplicate references from your library at the same time:

  1. First select the All References group
  2. Then go to References > Find Duplicates
  3. Click Cancel on the dialog box that opens
  4. Then drag all shaded references in to the Trash group

See the video below for more details.

Sharing Your EndNote Library

In EndNote Desktop version X7.2 and above, you can share your entire library with up to 14 other people. Check out How to share your EndNote library and the video below.


Rayyan ( is a free tool that allows users to screen abstracts, upload full-text upload and export decisions.

Rayyan screenshot

Workshop Files


Additional information on using EndNote for Systematic Reviews

From the University of Sydney

King, R., Hooper, B. and Wood, W. (2011) 'Using bibliographic software to appraise and code data in educational systematic review research', Medical Teacher, 33(9), 719-23. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.558138

Training material and useful guides to EndNote Desktop from