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Covidence: Reference Screening

Created by Health Science Librarians

Table of Contents

Title and Abstract Screening

Once you have imported your references into Covidence you're ready to start screening.

To screen by title and abstract click the Screen tab. Make your decision by clicking on the Yes, Maybe or No buttons for each reference.

What you see when you submit your vote will depend on what your vote was and how many people are required to vote on each study during the screening phase. By default, a new review within Covidence is set up in dual screening mode, where another reviewer will have to vote before your study is moved to the next step, but you can change this in your review settings.

When in dual screening mode, two Yes or two Maybe votes will move a reference into full-text screening. Two No votes wil move a reference to irrelevant, and one No vote and one Yes or Maybe vote will move a reference to the resolve conflicts area.

Two yes or maybe votes moves paper along to full text screening.

Once you have screened all studies by title and abstract, your team will need to resolve all conflicts before you move on to full-text screening. 

Full Text Screening

After you have completed your title-abstract screening, you will need to review the full text of all articles included at the title-abstract level. At this level, you will need to select an exclusion reason for any articles that you do not wish to include. You can find instructions for customizing your exclusion criteria under the Creating a Review tab. 

You must select a reason for excluding a study.  These come from your exclusion criteria you set up.

You can find instructions for uploading and appending the full text PDF for each study below.

Tagging References

All Covidence projects come pre-populated with two tags: Ongoing Study, and Awaiting Classification. To use tags, simply check the box to the left-hand side of those citations you wish to tag.

Adding tags

You can add a new tag to this list by typing your term in the "Tag with:" field and clicking "create new".  

Adding new tag by typing term in the "tags" field and clicking "create new".

Once created and applied to references, you can also filter by these tags. This can be especially useful to get a quick count of how many references received each tag. 

Filter by tags

Tags (as well as any notes entered) are included in exports to Excel/CSV files. For this reason, they are also visible to your co-reviewers.

Tracking Review/Reviewer Progress

You can track the contributions of each reviewer to the project under Team Settings on the main page for the review. 

tracking reviewer contributions


Resolving Conflicts Between Reviewers

When authors disagree about whether a reference should be moved from screening to full-text, or from full-text to included/excluded, it will appear on the Resolve Conflicts page. All current conflicts will show up in a list on this page, in very similar format to the screening page. 

resolving conflicts

Covidence has chosen to blind the votes even during conflict resolution, displaying only who provided the conflicting votes and not what the votes were. This is with the goal of minimizing bias within the entire screening process and specifically minimizing bias for the person providing the conflict-resolving vote.

Title and Abstract conflicts:

In this page, you will see who voted, and three options for the final decision: yes, no, and maybe. Note that a 'maybe' vote will move the reference into full-text screening.

Full Text conflicts:

In this page, you will see who voted and have two potential choices to make. If there was one vote for inclusion and one for exclusion, your voting option will be to act as a tiebreaker and choose to either include or exclude it. If both reviewers have voted to exclude, but disagree on the exclusion reason, you will have to make a final decision on the reason for exclusion and assign the correct exclusion criteria.

Linking Full Text to References

Citations must be in the Full Text level in Covidence for you to add PDFs to them. You can bulk upload PDFs using Endnote or Mendeley.  To manually attach full-text PDFs for your full-text screening stage, follow the steps below:
1. Locate and save the PDFs for your articles. You can type the article title into Google Scholar on the HSL website to get the Find@UNC link or a free PDF elsewhere online.
2. Go into the Full Text Screening stage of your Covidence Review.  Select Upload full text for the article.

Select "upload full text"

3. Locate the PDF on your computer and save.

4. A link to the PDF will now appear under the Full Text tab.

A link to the PDF will now appear under the Full text tab

Requesting an Article

If you use Find@UNC and get directed to a page that says the item is not available, scroll down on the page to Step 2- Request it from another library via Interlibrary Loan.

item not available

request item

You can log in with your Onyen and password to request the article.  The first time, you'll need to register, but click the link again after registering and it will take you to the request form.  Requests are free for UNC Chapel Hill affiliates.

Once you submit a request, in about 2-3 business days with an email saying the article is ready to download.  Follow the link in the email, log in with your Onyen and password, and go to the Electronically Received Articles tab to download your article.  You must download the article within 30 days.