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Systematic Reviews: Step 4: Recording and managing results

Subject Guide prepared by QUB Subject Librarians that will help you decide if a systematic review is right for your project, and guide you through the systematic review process
Recording results

Throughout your systematic review it is crucial that you keep accurate records, including the databases you have searched, the search dates, the results found, the search terms you have used, etc. 

EndNote is a reference management package which is widely used to help with storing and organizing search results for systematic reviews. It is freely available for Queen's staff and students, via the university’s subscription. Alternative products are available but they are not supported by the Library at Queen’s.

EndNote has two different versions – a desktop and a web-based version. Both are freely available to the University's staff and students, but the web-based version lacks some of the more complex features which are often required for systematic reviews, so this guide focuses on the desktop version. 

Other bibliographic management systems exist and some funding bodies specify which can be used. The Library at Queen's supports EndNote and is unable to assist with others. 

Downloading EndNote

To obtain your copy of EndNote, use the links below. Please follow the installation instructions closely, as some steps can be counter intuitive. If you are asked for a "product key", this indicates that the installation files were not unzipped/extracted correctly. If this happens, please repeat the installation process, closely following the instructions provided. 

EndNote basics and tutorials

If you are new to EndNote, please familiarize yourself with the software before beginning to use it for your systematic review. Have a look at the library’s EndNote guide, where you can find links to introductory video tutorials and user guides. 

EndNote back-ups and storage

Back your EndNote Library up periodically and especially before you make any major changes. 

EndNote libraries cannot be stored on a network drive or in cloud-syncing folders (e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive, SharePoint, Google Drive, iCloud. etc), as this will cause libraries to become corruptedFurther guidance on using cloud-based storage is available from Clarivate, the makers for EndNote 

Important information for Mac users: An EndNote library which is stored in iCloud, even when stored on both the hard drive and online, is subject to corruption over time. If you store your documents in iCloud, consider creating a separate folder in your home folder and saving your EndNote library there.  

Using EndNote for systematic reviews

There are different approaches you can take to organizing and managing references in EndNote. Below is a description of some EndNote features which may be helpful for your systematic review.   

Downloading records from databases 

Most academic databases enable you to export references to EndNote. Depending on the size of your results set, you may need to export references in several batches.   

If you experience difficulties when exporting references from Ovid databases, such as MEDLINE, EMBASE or PsycINFO, check this help page

Organizing references into groups  

You can use groups and group sets to organize your references. For instance you can:

  • Edit multiple records, e.g. to add database name 
  • Remove duplicates
  • Obtain full text 
  • Create custom fields for adding comments                                  
  • Share Endnote libraries or groups 
  • Export references for further analysis, e.g. to Excel 
EndNote help and support

If you have any questions about using EndNote for your systematic review, please contact your Subject Librarian

Clarivate, the makers of EndNote, provide a range of useful help guides and they can also be contacted for technical support

Further reading
  • Peters, M. D. J. (2017). Managing and coding references for systematic reviews and scoping reviews in EndNote. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 36(1), 19-31. doi:10.1080/02763869.2017.1259891 Link (QUB login required)   
  • Bramer, W. M., Giustini, D., De Jong, G. B., Holland, L., & Bekhuis, T. (2016). De-duplication of database search results for systematic reviews in EndNote. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 104(3), 240-243. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.104.3.014 Link 
  • Bramer, W. M., Milic, J., & Mast, F. (2017). Reviewing retrieved references for inclusion in systematic reviews using EndNote. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 105(1), 84-87. doi:10.5195/jmla.2017.111 Link 
  • Bramer, W. M. (2018). Reference checking for systematic reviews using EndNote. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 106(4), 542-546. doi:10.5195/jmla.2018.489 Link 
  • Bramer, W., & Bain, P. (2017). Updating search strategies for systematic reviews using EndNote. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 105(3), 285-289. doi:10.5195/jmla.2017.183 Link