Before using EndNote for a systematic review we recommend ensuring that you are familar with its basic functions by either attending one of our scheduled training sessions, or by working through the self directed training activities. It is also important to be aware of how the various steps in a systematic review should be recorded and reported.
If you’re carrying out a systematic review or any literature review project where you need to take a systematic and transparent approach to conducting and reporting your search, then this will require accurate documentation of all stages of your review process. EndNote is one piece of software which can support you with this.
Typically, a systematic review will follow the PRISMA reporting standards and these include minimal reporting standards of the search and screening process to ensure transparency. EndNote can help you with the recording and reporting process for this by allowing you to store large numbers of references and providing methods for organising those references. The following sections provide advice over EndNote's key functionality to support you with the process. You can also follow the step by step process below.
Once you've finalised your database searches in your different databases you'll be ready to export the records into EndNote.
We strongly recommend that you create compressed backups of your EndNote Library at various key stages during your systematic review, and you can do so following these instructions.
Create a folder for your library back up copies to be stored in and give your back up copies a consistant name so that you can easily identify the stage your library was at and the date it was last worked on e.g. "2021-04-29 Systematic Review Duplicates Removed". You will not typically need to access these back up libraries, but they act as a safety net in case you want to re-visit your search records from an earlier stage of your review (i.e. before duplicates were removed), or in case your working library is damaged/corrupted.
If you are frequently moving between different computers, synchronise your library with EndNote Online.
The main stages of the review where you should make compressed back up copies are:
It can be useful to keep track of which database a record was orginally downloaded from. Sometimes records include this within the Name of Database field, but this is very variable.
When you first import your references it is useful to create a Group for each database. You can also include these numbers in your PRISMA flowchart. You may not want to maintain these original groups if you are screening using EndNote (many people screen from unfiled references), so to create a permanant record of where a record originated from you can use the Change/Move/Copy Fields Tool to tag your references with the name of the database they came from.
EndNote has an inbuilt deduplication function that can be used to help you to identify and remove duplicates. You can edit the fields that EndNote checks to find duplicates in Preferences. Duplicates can be sent to the Trash or you can create a group for them.
If you have a very large EndNote Library then we recommend that you follow the steps outlined in the link below by Jane Falconer from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which offers a time saving method to remove duplicates.
Don't forget to make a compressed back up of your EndNote Library before you start to remove duplicates and ensure you have a record of the total number of references before duplicates are removed for your PRISMA flowchart.
You can use Groups to help you screen references within EndNote. Bramer, Milic and Mast have proposed detailed methods on how to do this, including how to compare EndNote libraries where there are multiple reviewers involved in the screening process.
If you're working with other researchers on a review, you may need to share your EndNote library.
If you want to perform blind screening of references then library sharing will not be suitable as you can see the changes made by others. Blind screening can either take place in separate EndNote libraries or you can consider using screening software instead.
You may want to use a screening software for the screening stage of your review, especially if you are working in a team with multiple reviewers.Software can make screening with multiple reviewers more straightforward.
You should de-duplicate your EndNote library first before exporting it - some screening software does have deduplication features but they are not considered to be as reliable as using EndNote's deduplication features.
You will need to save all the references from your EndNote library as a RIS file to export it.
If you and others are screening your results to determine which ones to use to inform your research study, you might wish to test your screening procedures by getting all researchers involved to screen a random set of 10-20 references to compare results before screening the entire set. Follow these instructions to ensure a truly random selection from your EndNote library.
It is advisable to update literature searches before publication if it has been over 12 months since they were originally performed. This ensures the review will be based on the most recent evidence. Updates to published systematic reviews can also be performed to highlight any new evidence that has been published and make changes to recommendations where appropriate.
EndNote can be used to assist with the search update process and we would recommend that researchers follow the method developed by Bramer and Bain in 2017.
For more information about how to record your search strategy, review protocol and methodology you can watch this video: Recording the details of your systematic review search
This video is part of our online Systematic Reviews Searching Lesson which is available on Moodle.