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Systematic Reviews: Reference Management

An introductory guide to Systematic Reviews

Reference Management

Systematic literature searches always produce a large amount of references. Also, when searching in several different databases many duplicate references will appear i.e., identical references that are included in more than one database.

Reference management software, such as Endnote, is recommended for collecting, storing and organizing your references. Using a reference manager, you can organize your references in different groups, for example, included and excluded studies. You can also remove duplicates by sorting the references by title or by using the duplicate functionality. A de-duplication method has been developed for Endnote.

However, Endnote and other types of reference managers have limitations when it comes to supporting the systematic review process. Other software has therefore been developed and is dedicated to supporting the systematic review process, for instance in the screening of abstracts and references according to inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Below are some examples:

Rayyan (free of charge) Web based, collaborative application to support undertaking systematic reviews. Also includes a mobile app for screening studies on the go.
EPPI-Reviewer 4 EPPI-Reviewer is an application for all types of literature review, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, 'narrative' reviews and meta-ethnographies. It is suitable for small or large-scale reviews.
Covidence A web-based software platform designed to support the efficient production of systematic reviews, including Cochrane reviews. Anyone with an e-mail domain ending with can request an invitation to join our organisational subscription via this link. More info at this webpage: Getting started with Covidence.
DistillerSR A web based reference screening, data extraction and reporting solution for systematic reviews.

An thorough summary of available tools can be found at Systematic Review Toolbox. SR Toolbox is a searchable online catalogue of tools to support systematic reviews, which aims to help reviewers find appropriate tools based on their needs.

Karolinska Institutet University Library (2022). Systematic reviews [Reference Management] :,

Reference Management Guides