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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 advanced 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.

You can create an unlimited account by following our 'Create a Covidence account and link to Deakin' instructions below. Then bookmark Covidence at for easy access in future.

The Covidence Academy

The Covidence Academy provides extensive information on both the use of Covidence and the systematic review process. We recommend exploring the advice at the Covidence Academy.

Alternatively, watch the short video below (3:25) for an overview of Covidence and look further down the page for more.

Covidence instructions

The following sections contain instructions, videos and tips relating to Covidence functionality.

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.

Follow the steps below to create a Covidence account and then link it to Deakin's subscription:

  1. Request an invitation to Deakin University's Covidence account by completing the invitation request form using your Deakin email address.
  2. You will receive an invitation by email. Select the link in the email to confirm your account creation.
  3. 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.

Watch the short video below (1:03) to learn about Joining a Covidence organisational subscription.

Create a new Covidence review

  1. Sign in to Covidence
  2. Select the option Create a New Review
  3. Select Deakin University when asked 'Which account do you want to use?' OR If you have another account that you use, select it from here.


If the Deakin University option is not available, please email  

Watch the short video below (1:40) about creating a new review in Covidence.

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.

Watch the short video below (0:27) which goes through the steps of accepting an invitation to join a review as a co-reviewer.

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.


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.

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
  • RIS text format

The RIS format is supported by several reference managers including Cochrane Registry of Studies, EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley and RefWorks. To import into Covidence from PubMed follow the steps on this page

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.

You can import more than one file into Covidence, but make sure only one person imports a reference at a time otherwise a 'file in use' error appears.

To export an XML file from EndNote:

  1. Select File  
  2. Export, XML from Save as type drop down menu,  
  3. Untick Export Selected References then select Save.

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


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.

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:

  1. Select the Duplicates button
  2. Compare Side-by-Side entries
  3. If you identify a false duplicate, select Not a Duplicate next to that record. Note: Actual duplicates require no further action.


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 working on a solution.

Watch the short video below (0:38) to learn about the duplicates functionality.


  • Can duplicates be removed manually from Covidence?

    No duplicates can't be removed.

  • 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?
    If duplicates get through, Covidence recommends creating 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 to quickly get a count of how many references were tagged as a duplicate. This can be used to adjust the PRISMA counts manually.

Title and abstract screening

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

Note: Only 2 votes are required to action an article:

  • 2 x 'Yes' will move the article to Full Text screening
  • 2 x 'No' will exclude the article and it goes into the 'irrelevant' folder
  • 1 x 'Yes' and 1 x 'No' will send the article into the Conflict folder.

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

Watch the short video below (0:22) to learn about screening titles and abstracts in Covidence.


Remember to keep refreshing the page to show any changes that have been made by other reviewer/s. If you encounter any conflicting selections between the reviewers, you can learn more in the Resolving conflicts video.

Full Text screening

You will need to import the full text of the articles to be screened into Covidence. To see how this is done,  view the videos on importing PDFs in bulk or as individual PDFs.  

When bulk importing PDF's there are 4 steps, the 4th step appears as an option after the 3rd step has been completed (please go to suggested above instructions).

You can then 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.


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

Watch the video below (4:49) on how to screen the full text.



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.

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.

Watch the PRISMA video to see how Covidence works with the PRISMA flow chart.

Data Extraction

For information on data extraction in Covidence take a look at these videos:

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

Information on both 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 via their email