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Systematic and systematic-like review toolkit

Toolkit of resources to support researchers in the development of systematic and systematic-like reviews

Introduction to Covidence

Covidence is an online tool that can assist with the screening of citations, abstracts and full text studies for systematic and other complex reviews. It also supports risk of bias assessment, data extraction and the exporting of data and reference information in CSV format or to Excel.

Covidence can save time as it allows for multiple reviewers to view the search results for the review and assign inclusion and exclusion criteria to the studies.

Watch this video for an overview of Covidence.

1. Create a Covidence Account and link to Deakin

A Covidence support page for Deakin University has been created, providing information on joining, creating a review and getting started with Covidence.

To create a Covidence account and then link it to Deakin's subscription:

  • Request an invitation to Deakin University's Covidence account by selecting this invitation request form and entering your Deakin email address.
  • An invitation will be emailed to you and to confirm just select the link within your email.
  • You will be asked to login to Covidence to accept the invite. If you don't already have a Covidence account, you will need to sign up. Please use your Deakin email address as your Covidence username.

If you have waited a reasonable period and still not received the invitation or have other issues with requesting an invitation using your Deakin email address please email with details of the difficulties.

To learn about joining a Covidence organisational subscription, watch this video.

2.  Create a New Covidence Review

Sign in to Covidence

Select the option Create a New Review

Select Deakin University when asked 'Which account do you want to use?'


if you have another account that you use select it from here.

Please note: if the Deakin University option is not available please email 

To learn more about creating a new review in Covidence view the video below:

3.  Establish Settings and Invite Co-reviewers

When your review has been created, visit the Settings option to invite your co-reviewers, to enter your keywords from your exclusion criteria and to determine team roles for screening.

The short video below goes through the steps of accepting an invitation to join a review as a co-reviewer.

More information about team settings is available from the Covidence Knowledge Base

You can have more than 2 people at a time working on the review but it only requires 2 reviewers to complete an action. So even if there are 3 or more reviewers working at the screening stage, as soon as 2 have voted on the reference, the action is completed and will move on to the next stage. More information is available from the Covidence Knowledge Base

TIP: If more than one person is setting the criteria for inclusion / exclusion ensure the screen is refreshed before adding any new criteria and then selecting the Save button. To prevent any problems you may want to select one person to assign the criteria.

4.  Import to Covidence

To screen citations, abstracts and full text, you will need to import your references from your searches into Covidence.

Three formats can be used to import references (search results) into Covidence.

  • EndNote XML
  • PubMed XML
  • RIS text format

The RIS format is allowed from the following reference managers:

  • Cochrane Registry of Studies
  • EndNote
  • Zotero
  • Mendeley
  • RefWorks

To import your references from EndNote:

  1. Select Import studies > Import to Screen
  2. 'Browse' and select the .xml file exported from Endnote
  3. Select 'Import'

More information about importing is available from the Covidence Knowledge Base.

TIP: Ensure only one person at a time imports the references into Covidence, otherwise a 'file in use' error appears.

TIP: You can import more than one file into Covidence.

TIP: To export an XML file from EndNote - select File, Export, XML from 'Save as type' drop down menu, untick 
         'Export Selected References' and Save.  

PLEASE NOTE Covidence only accepts files up to 50 MB if your file is larger than this then you need to split your library into smaller files, for example, by Author (A-F, G-L etc.) and keep the 'Export selected References' option ticked.

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.

To check this has been done correctly you can:

  • Select 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

To learn more about the duplicates function view the video below:


Please note: If there are 3 or more duplicates of a reference Covidence is unable to remove all of them. This is a known issue and Covidence are currently working on a solution.

Some questions regarding duplicates were asked during the Covidence training session and the replies from Covidence support are provided below:

Can duplicates be removed manually from Covidence? 

For the duplicates that get through before screening, we can create a tag to note it as a duplicate, but will this throw out the automated PRISMA?

No duplicates can't be removed but if they get through, what Covidence recommends for this situation is to create a customised tag which indicates that a reference is a duplicate. You can then vote to exclude it, and use the filter by tag option later on to quickly get a count of how many references were tagged as a duplicate, and use this to adjust the PRISMA counts manually.

6.  Title / Abstract screening

Now you are ready to start screening your studies by title and abstract.

TIP: 2 votes only are required to action an article - 2 'Yes' move the article to Full Text screening, 2 'No' exclude the article and it goes into the 'irrelevant' folder, 1 'Yes' and 1 'No' will send the article into the Conflict folder.

To view how to do this in Covidence check out the Screening Titles and Abstracts video below:


TIP: Remember to keep refreshing the page to show any changes that have been made by other reviewer/s.

TIP: If you accidentally give the wrong vote you can go to that reference and move it back a step. 

If there are any conflicting selections between the reviewers then for ways to resolve them view the Resolving Conflicts video below:

7.  Full Text screening

You will need to import the full text of the articles to be screened into Covidence.

You can view the videos on importing PDFs in bulk or as individual PDFs


Please note: Sharing Deakin subscription content with non-Deakin users is often prohibited. If you wish to partake in a systematic review with external parties using content licensed to Deakin, please contact the Publisher Licensing Consultant to ensure you have permission to do so.


TIP: You can drag and drop your PDF folder from the EndNote Library.Data folder that is created when you create your EndNote Library

Now you can do your full text screening.

TIP: If the reference has a DOI, this will be displayed as a link in Covidence.

TIP: Remember to keep refreshing the page to show any changes that have been made the other reviewer/s

View the video below for more details on how screen the full text.

Other Covidence features

PRISMA Flow Chart

Covidence can generate the data to populate the PRISMA flow chart as you go through the systematic review screening process.

This data can then be exported, adjusted manually if required and then copied into the PRISMA flowchart.

To see how Covidence works with the PRIMA flow chart view the video below:

Data Extraction

If you are interested in using Covidence for Data Extraction check out the videos below:

There is also more information available on the Create and publish a data extraction template page

Quality Assessment

If you are interested in using Covidence for Quality Assessment check out the videos below:

There is also information available on the Create and publish a quality assessment template page.

Information on both of these options is available on the Data extraction and quality assessment page.

Covidence support

Covidence has many support resources available:

Reviews in Covidence are automatically backed up. If you have any issues with a Covidence review contact the support team on their email below.

To contact Covidence email