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Covidence: Import References

Covidence is a web-based platform that streamlines the process of conducting a comprehensive literature review.

How do I import references?

Importing studies

You can import references into Covidence by clicking on the "Import" tool from your Review Summary page. Here you can select the file and the category that the references will appear in.  Covidence currently supports three formats for file imports:

EndNote XML
PubMed text format
RIS text format

Note: These files will have a .txt, .xml, or .ris file name. 

You can import files up to 50 MB in size into Covidence, and up to 15,000 references. Larger files may take longer to upload and process. One file can be imported at a time, and there is no limit to how many imports you can perform.

Covidence automatically checks duplicates upon import. These are reported on the PRISMA chart as well. 

Importing to Covidence from Endnote Desktop

Open Endnote Desktop and select the references you want to import into Covidence.

Go to the File menu and select Export.


Enter a name for your file and select XML as a file type. Note that Covidence will only accept XML files if they are created by Endnote. Then select Export Selected References at the bottom.


In the dropdown menu next to Output style, select Show All Fields.

Click Save. Your citations will download.


Exporting from PubMed

Run your search exactly as you want it.  Do not select any articles.  Under the “Send to” menu, select File.


You will then see options for what type of file to create.  Select XML format and then create the file.  Note that the total number of results (XXX for this search) will be downloaded.


If Pubmed creates a file on your computer, you can import it into Covidence.  If you get a webpage that looks like the image above, right click the page and select “Save As.”

  • In Firefox, choose “Webpage, XML only”
  • In Chrome, choose “XML document”
  • On a Mac, save as “Page Source”

This will save the file to your computer, and then you can import it into Covidence.

Watch this video produced by Covidence titled "Importing citations into Covidence from EndNote"

Importing to Covidence from Mendeley

Select the references you want to import into Covidence.

Right-click on the references, and select Export.


A dialog box will open. Enter a name for your file and select RIS as the file type. Click Save.

Your references are now ready to be uploaded into Covidence.

Adding Other References to Covidence

To upload your references into Covidence, navigate to your review in Covidence, and click Import Studies.

Import studies button

In the dropdown menu below Import in to, select the folder where you would like the citations to go (Screen).

covidence import screen

Browse to the RIS, NBIB, XML, or CRS text file you would like to upload and attach it, then click Import.

It may take some time, but you should see your citations appear in your systematic review on Covidence within the next few minutes.


Generally, we do not recommend that you export references directly from a database into Covidence. Citation managers such as Mendeley and Endnote have much more powerful deduplication features, so putting your citations in a reference manager first will ensure that you don't import duplicates into Covidence. But if you do need to export references directly from PubMed into Covidence for some reason, the instructions on this page will show you how.

Undoing your Import

If you want to reverse an import, you can do so as long as you have not screened any articles from that import.

In the import menu, select Manage imports.

manage imports

Each file you import will be listed.  If you have not screened articles from this import, you will see an Undo this import button.  Clicking the button will remove the entire import from the review.  If you have already screened articles, you will see a Check Duplicates button instead.  Imports cannot be undone at this stage.

Imported file characteristics: number added to screen, duplicates, errors