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Reference management software

This guide introduces reference management software and the options available to users of UCL Library Services.

Using reference management software for systematic reviews

To successfully use reference management software for a systematic review you will need a good working knowledge of one of the tools we support at UCL: EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero. We recommend that you explore the guidance and support for your chosen package before starting your review.

Storage and organisation

Systematic reviews usually involve working with large numbers of references and you need to carefully keep track of the references you are working with. Reference management software packages can help with these tasks; they allow you to store, review and organise those references systematically.

When working on a systematic review, you are likely to use a PRISMA flow diagram to ensure you properly report your methods. Using a reference management package can help you to meet PRISMA requirements, by making it easier to track the number of references identified, duplicates identified, references screened, records included (or excluded), full text articles reviewed.

How can the software help?

You can use a reference management package to:

  • manually add references or download large batches of references from databases, for example, Ovid Medline;
  • identify, track and remove duplicate references;
  • add tags / keywords and / or build folders to help you flag which references you want to include or exclude from your review, using groups in EndNote, folders in Mendeley, or collections in Zotero;
  • edit references manually, to add your research notes or to correct bibliographic data;
  • share access to your library, or data exported from your library, with others who are helping to screen results;
  • use the software to locate and store the full text for references selected for further screening.