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Systematic Reviews- Legacy (2020-2022): Manage Citations

Created by Health Science Librarians

Role of the librarian in this stage

A librarian can advise you on citation management for your systematic review, including: 

  • Which citation manager to choose for a review. 
  • How to export citations from a literature database to a citation manager.
  • How to remove/combine duplicate citations
  • How to export citations from your citation manager for screening. 

Contact HSL About Your Review

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Ready to start a systematic review? HSL Librarians can help!

Fill out the Systematic Review Request Form and the best-suited librarian will get back to you promptly. Our systematic review service is only available to faculty, staff, students, and others who are affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill.

Tools for citation management

Several tools can be used to manage citations during a systematic review. Citation management software can be complicated to use, and databases have different capabilities when it comes to exporting citations. Librarians have expertise in citation management and can ensure that citations are managed efficiently and appropriately.

Citation managers

The library staff provide assistance with three citation management tools:

Exporting articles from databases to a citation manager

You'll need to export files from the databases into a citation manager of choice, remove the duplicate articles, and then export the remainder into Covidence.

To learn how to import references into your citation manager (not into Covidence), see the following guides:

Need a citation manager recommendation?

Check out our guide Comparing Citation Managers or just Ask Us!

Deduplication in EndNote

To remove duplicate references:

1. In the Groups panel in the left column, click on a particular group, or click on  "All References" to display all the references in your library.

Endnote library displaying a list of groups with the "All References" group selected

2. From the menu bar, select References > Find Duplicates

Endnote library with the "References" tab selected and the "Find Duplicates" button selected

3. If you have duplicate references in your library, the Find Duplicates dialog box will appear.  For each set of duplicates, you have the following options:

  • Click Keep This Record to save the preferred reference and discard the other in the trash.
  • Click Skip to leave both references in the library. The references will be placed in a temporary Duplicate References group for later review.

"Find duplicates" screen in Endnote showing two references as duplicates with the keep or skip button highlighted

Click the link below for more information about EndNote:

Deduplication in SciWheel

To remove duplicate references:

  1. Select all references that you want to check for duplicates. Then, click the button that looks like two pieces of paper.

sciwheel page with the deduplication button highlighted

  1. Sciwheel will bring up a page with all duplicates.  Every other article will be selected.  If the citations are duplicates, go ahead and click Merge Articles on the right side of the page. Sciwheel will create one complete citation by combining the two.

sciwheel screen showing the merge duplicates option

Click the link below for more information about SciWheel:

Deduplication in Zotero

To remove duplicate references:

  1. To remove duplicate records, also called deduping, open your Zotero pane. Next click on the entry to the left named "Duplicate Items". This will display a listing of items Zotero believes to be duplicates.
  2. From there, you can select which version you would prefer to keep and the differences will be displayed beneath the listing of the different versions. Once you've settled on a final version, click on the "Merge Items" button and Zotero will remove the duplicate references. This is demonstrated below:

Zotero screen showing Duplicates folder with references selected to merge into one

Click the link below for more information about Zotero:

Importing articles into Covidence

Exporting your deduplicated reference list from a citation manager into Covidence

To import references from a citation manager into Covidence, you must create export a document containing your citations and save it as an XML, CRS, or RIS text file. These files will have a .txt, .xml, or .ris file name.

Note: You can technically export from the databases into Covidence, but this is not recommended as Covidence misses some duplicate articles.

Uploading files to Covidence


The import button is on the review home page on Covidencecovidence import screen

  1. To upload your references into Covidence, navigate to your review in Covidence, and click Import Studies.
  2. In the dropdown menu below Import in to, select the folder where you would like the citations to go (Screen).
  3. Browse to and attach your citation file in XML, CRS, or RIS text format.
  4. Then click Import. It may take a couple of minutes, but you should see your citations appear in your systematic review on Covidence within the next few minutes