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Systematic Reviews: Covidence

Overview of systematic review methodology and key strategies for searching and reporting to the Cochrane Collaboration's Gold Standard

Heading: Covidence

Covidence overview

Covidence is a web-based software that assists researchers to screen references and undertake data extraction. 

If you already have an account with Covidence, log in via the link below:

Video Length: 3:24

Covidence demo - video length 3:25

Covidence allows you to conduct the following steps of the reviewing process:

  • Citation screening
  • Full text review
  • Study selection
  • Risk of bias appraisal
  • Collection of study characteristics
  • Data extraction
  • Data export

During the reviewing process, you can:

  • see the decision of your fellow reviewers
  • efficiently resolve disagreement; and
  • conclude a final decision.

Learn more:

Step 1: Create a Covidence account

Link to UniSA subscription
  1. Enter your UniSA email address into this form to request an invitation to UniSA's Covidence account.
  2. An invitation will be emailed to you: Click the link within it to confirm.
  3. Create a Covidence account, using the same email address.
Covdience logo

Learn more:

Step 2: Create a new Covidence review

Sign in to Covidence (use the sign-in button in the centre of the screen). Then:

  • select 'Create a New Review' and follow the prompts,
  • select "University of South Australia" - this will enable you to invite multiple co-reviewers (see example image).
Which accoutn to choose - University of South Australia
Note: If there isn't an option to select University of South Australia, repeat Step 1 (create a Covidence account) above.

Learn more:

Step 3: Establish settings and invite co-reviewers

Once you have created a review, visit the Settings.

Here you can:

  • invite others (including co-reviewers) to your review.
  • enter keywords, which will then be highlighted in your article title/abstracts.
  • determine team roles for screening.
  • establish exclusion criteria for second pass screening.

See the full range of settings and learn how to use them by watching the below video.

Video Length: 16:20


Learn more:

Step 4: Import to Covidence

Note: you need to export your EndNote library in order to continue. Please refer to Step 4 in EndNote Tab 

You're now ready to import your references into Covidence:

  1. Select Import studies > Import to Screen
  2. 'Browse' and select the .txt file exported from EndNote
  3. Select 'Import'
Importing citations into Covidence from EndNote -video length 4:04

Step 5: Check duplicates

After completing your reference import, Covidence will search for duplicates. If any are identified, these will automatically be suppressed and a 'Duplicates' button will appear.

You can check that Covidence de-duplicated correctly by:

  • selecting the Duplicates button.
  • compare Side-by-Side entries.
  • if you identify a false duplicate, select 'Not a Duplicate' next to that record.
  • actual duplicates require no further action.

Video Length: 1:53

  • Covidence will automatically identify duplicates by comparing the existing and the newly imported references.
  • The de-duplication method will check the exact match of article's title, year and volume number. It will also check for similarity of the authors’ name.
  • To view duplicates:
    • Go to: Review dashboard > Import studies > Manage imports
    • Select: Check duplicates
    • After the process, the duplicates will be automatically accounted for in the PRISMA flowchart
  • To access the PRISMA flowchart, go to: Review dashboard > Export studies > PRISMA

Step 6: Screen in Covidence

Watch the video below to learn how to vote in Title/Abstract screening.

Screening Titles & Abstracts (Covidence, YouTube). Video length: 2:55

  • In title/abstract screening, there are three voting options: Yes, No and Maybe.
  • The filter function can speed up your screening process by identifying key terms that you wish to include or exclude.
  • You may add inclusion and exclusion criteria in free text form. The criteria will be displayed during the screening process.
  • Decision conflicts can be found in the 'Resolve conflicts' tab.

Learn more:

Second pass screening requires the full text of each paper.

Libkey Nomad logoUse LibKey Nomad™ to easily find full text articles. Download the free browser extension to enable direct links to UniSA licensed PDFs on webpages.


Watch the video below to learn how to complete Full Text (2nd Pass) screening.

Video Length: 5:17

  • In full-text screening there are two voting options: Include and exclude.
  • When voting exclude you are required to provide a reason from the exclusion list.
  • You may only choose one reason from the exclusion list.
  • The exclusion list is customisable.
  • Additional comments can be provided in the Add a note section.
  • The Show Highlight function can speed up your screening process by identifying the key terms you determined.
  • Decision conflicts can be found in the Resolve conflicts tab.
  • To open the PDF file, select View full text to read the article in a new browser window.

When you are ready to do your full text screening you will need to add the full text to your records.

Watch the following video to learn how to add and/or remove a PDF in Covidence:

Uploading single PDFs to Covidence - video length 1:27
  • To add a full text document, select Add full text to upload your PDF file.
  • Once the PDF file is uploaded, all reviewers can see the document.
  • To open the PDF file, select View full text to read the article in a new browser window.
  • To replace an existing PDF file:
    • Select Add another PDF
    • Set the new PDF as Primary
    • Remove the old PDF

There is also now a 'bulk PDF upload' option. This will allow you to upload a number of PDFs for full tex screening at once.

Watch the video below to learn more about uploading PDFs to Covidence.

Video Length: 5:06

Navigate to video: bulk upload pdfs to covidence

Note: Please do not use the original list from EndNote – a new list is created from Covidence

  • Export the references from Covidence
    • In Review Summary dashboard, select Export
    • Category: Full text review
    • Reference manager: EndNote
    • Select Export. The file will appear directly underneath
    • Select Download (note the location of the saved file)
  • Import the references into EndNote
    • In EndNote, open New EndNote library: File > New
    • Import references: File > Import > file
      • Import options: Reference manager: RIS
      • Select: Import
  • Use the Find full text function in EndNote
    • Select all your references (CTRL + A)
    • Go to: References > Find full text
      (You may be prompted to log in with you UniSA credentials)
    • For those references not found, you may be able to add the PDF to EndNote manually. To learn how, visit Import a single PDF in the EndNote guide
  • Export the EndNote library in XML format
    • Select all your references (CTRL + A)
    • Go to: File > Export
      • Save as type: XML (*xml)
      • Output style: Ref Man (RIS) Export (if the option is not available in the dropdown list, choose: Select Another Style)
      • Untick: Export Selected References
      • Save
  • Move the PDF files into a single folder for batch upload
    • In your EndNote Library Data folder you will see each PDF has its own subfolder. You need to transfer all PDFs into a single folder
  • Import the XML reference files with PDFs into Covidence
    • In the Review Summary dashboard under Full text review, select: (number of) Studies to screen
    • Select: Bulk upload PDFs
    • Select files (your saved XML file)
    • Once you see the total number of studies found, choose the same Select files button
    • Select all your PDF files
    • Open
    • You will see the matching number of files uploaded

Next steps

Once you have finished screening, you are ready to commence data extraction. You can either:

  • continue using Covidence, or
  • export your included/excluded resources to another program, such as Excel.