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Psychology: DClin systematic literature searching: 6. Managing your search results

This tutorial will guide you through the steps required to systematically search for literature for your service-related project and thesis.

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Systematic review specific tools

The university does not have an institutional subscription to any specialist systematic review tools such as Rayyan or Covidence.

Every time you get results from a database (or another source), you will need to record and manage them. This needs to happen before you can de-duplicate your results and go on to appraise and analyze them.There are a number of tools and techniques available to help you navigate this process.

Managing results

Most databases allow you to create a personal account providing you with an area where you can save your searches, and sort and export your search results. If you alter your original search, you can save the new search and track the changes.

The help section within a database provides advice on how to create an account (please note you will only need to create one account for each platform i.e. Ovid or EBSCO). You should use your university email to register.  

It is recommended that you conduct your searches in individual databases. A good search is likely to find some of the same relevant results in all your searches. Therefore, you will need to de-duplicate your results (don't forget to record your results total before de-duplication). 

You can do this process in referencing software (remember to back up your library first) or using Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software by collating all your results, filtering and looking for the duplicates. You will need to record the number of references removed and the total remaining after de-duplication.

De-duplication in Endnote

EndNote will search the currently selected references for duplicates. To search the whole EndNote Library, click on the All References folder.

  • Go to the Library menu and select Find Duplicates.
  • Compare duplicate references to decide which to keep. The display automatically highlights any differences it has detected between the references, if any. You can copy and paste information between references if necessary.
  • If you select Keep this record the other record will be sent to Trash.
  • If you want to keep both records, or decide later, click on Skip to go to the next duplicate.

One of the most commonly used reporting tools is PRISMA. The PRISMA flow diagram charts the flow of information through the different phases of your systematic search. It maps out the number of records identified, included and excluded, and the reasons for exclusions.

You will need to document your searches in sufficient detail to allow others to be able to reproduce and assess the thoroughness of the search. You will need to keep track of: 

  • Databased searched, the platform used e.g. OVID Medline or Medline (PubMed), search option e.g. multi field or advanced, and
  • The date each search was conducted
  • Subject headings and keywords used including 
  • Search history including the combination of terms
  • Numbers of results retrieved for each search and combination 
  • Total number of records
  • Duplicates identified 
  • Numbers pre and post screening

These details will help you complete your PRISMA diagrams. 

Referencing Software

There are various software packages that you can use to help compile and manage your references into your own personal database or library. They include templates for many different referencing styles such as MLA and also the preferred styles for many of the leading academic journals. They allow you to import your references directly into your own database from many online sources such as bibliographic databases, electronic journals and library catalogues. They also allow you to work in conjunction with a word processing package to insert in-text citations, your footnotes and bibliography into a document and then automatically format to your preferred style. 

The main packages highlighted here are: Endnote, Endnote Web, Mendeley and Zotero.  Some packages are free, some you need to pay for. It is worth spending some time to find which one best meets your needs as the styles included won’t be exactly the same as the Exeter styles of referencing, and may therefore need to be amended.  

If your discipline requires you to use BibTeX, please use the format generated by that; no further amendments are required. 

Microsoft Word also offers a basic referencing function: if you decide to use this, you will need to check that the references it produces match the formats required by the University of Exeter styles described in this guide. 

It's worth considering whether using reference management software will be beneficial for the specific assignment you are working on. For assignments where fewer references are required, it may be quicker to create your references manually. Take a look at this page from Study Zone Digital which asks 'Should I be using reference management software'.

If you use reference management software it is important to ensure that the references you add to your library do not have any missing information. This is particularly important if you import references directly from a database or search engine as reference information can often be incomplete.


Please note that there can be many variations of a referencing style (e.g. Harvard), so you are likely to need to edit the references in your reference library to ensure that they are accurate and consistent with the specific style in use by your department. There are currently no approved Cite Them Right specific styles for reference management software. It is recommended that you select the export style that most closely matches the formatting on Cite Them Right e.g. Harvard, Vancouver and then edit this style on your reference manager / final document to ensure consistancy with the Cite Them Right style.

EndNote is a software package that enables you to compile and manage your references, and to use them to automatically create in-text citations and bibliographies as you work on your Word documents.

There are a number of different versions of Endnote

  • Endnote desktop and online - the fully featured version
  • Endnote Online Premium - a premium online version available to all academic users with access to the Web of Science
  • Endnote Basic - a free basic account accessible to all.

You can find out more abut these different versions and compare functionality from the Endnote Online Training & Support site. 

Students and staff can download a 'loan' of EndNote desktop on their personal computers. To find out more and download visit the software service catalogue. (In the Home Software hub, you'll need to search for Endnote for it to appear as an option).

‚ÄčEndNote desktop includes thousands of referencing styles, including all the major referencing systems such as Harvard and MLA, and the preferred styles for the leading academic journals. It is therefore very easy to create citations and bibliographies in the correct style for your purposes. EndNote desktop is installed on the public cluster PCs across our campuses. It is covered by the University’s EndNote Site Licence, which allows installation of the software on any University-owned PC at no further charge per copy. 

Easy to follow instructions are available to help you set up an Endnote Desktop, Premium or Basic online account.

Training and Help

Comprehensive online help and training is available from Endnote, including videos, getting started guides, comprehensive user guides and more.

You can also use the online training calendar to book on to forthcoming courses or contact which are offered online by Endnote training experts. For technical support, please contact Exeter IT.


Finding Full Text 


1)Download the Endnote Click plug-in

Endnote Click is a browser plug-in that you can download to help you access full text articles and store PDFs in your Endnote Library. It will also make it easier to see what articles you can access in full-text when searching on PubMed and Web of Science. 

Use the getting started in two minutes guide for more information.


2) Try searching for full-text PDFs while on campus

EndNote can attempt to locate full text files from these sources on the Web (works best on campus).  If found, EndNote downloads and attaches the files to the references.

This will save you some time but be aware that it will find some but not all full text that you are entitled to. You should use the Library Search service to check whether you have access to a particular book or journal titles, if Endnote is unable to retrieve full text for you.

If you are on campus, you can then select references and choose the Find Full Text option.  Either select records and then right click and choose Find Full Text, or highlight records and choose References > Find Full Text > Find Full Text


3) Try searching for PDFs off campus using VPN

For this function to work effectively off campus, you need to use VPN.  If you are a registered user of the University IT facilities, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection will allow you to access the University network from home or from any other location with an internet connection. 

Follow the online guidance in order to set up VPN access.

You must ensure you connect via VPN before asking Endnote to Find Full text.


Editing a referencing style in Endnote

Existing referencing styles in Endnote may not always be exactly the same as the versions of those styles used at the University of Exeter. However, you can edit styles in Endnote to more closely match your requirements.

Remember: always manually proofread references produced by referencing management software yourself to ensure that they are accurate.

Adding a DOI to a Vancouver reference:

1. In your Endnote Library, go to "Tools", and choose "Output Styles" -> "Edit Vancouver".
2. On the left-hand side of the page, click on "Templates" underneath "Bibliography".
3. Scroll down to the "Journal Article" field, and add the following after the full stop: ``DOI|.

Note: DOI| adds the doi to your reference.
         Use `` to add this as a preface to the doi if it is not already present - this will render it an actionable link.

Mendeley - is both a free reference manager and an academic social network designed to help researchers find and work with collaborators. There is a Mendeley Quick Start Guide available.

Step one: create an account

Mendeley is free to use, but you will need to set up a personal account.

You can create an account and sign-in using your University email address and password for easy access to Mendeley.

You then have the choice of either accessing Mendeley through the desktop version, which can download using the link in the quick start guide above, or you can create an account and use the web version which does not require that you download any software.

Step two: integrate your references into Word documents


Mendeley and Word 365 plugin

It is possible to install a Mendeley plug-in in Word 365 to streamline your referencing. Watch the video below for instructions on how to install and use the plug-in.


If you have any difficulty installing or using the plug-in, you can instead use the Mendeley Web version and the built-in citation tool within Word - please see the instructions below for further details.


Using Mendeley Web with Word's built-in citation tool


1. Export your references from your Mendeley Web Library:

  • Open your Mendeley Web Library.

  • Select the references you want to export.

  • From the options at the bottom of the screen, select Export and then Microsoft Word (*.xml).


2. Import your references into the Microsoft Word Citation Manager:

  • Go to “References” and in the 'Citations and Bibliography' section, click on Manage Sources.

  • Click on Browse, navigate to the file you just downloaded and click on OK.

  • Your references will appear in the left hand pane. Select the reference(s) you wish to use and click on Copy, so they appear in the right hand pane. 

  • Click on Close.


3. Insert references into your document:

  • In the 'Citations and Bibliography' section, click on Insert Citation.

  • Select your reference from the list.


Editing Mendeley References

References produced by Mendeley may not always be accurate, and you may sometimes need to edit them to ensure that they are correct and align with University of Exeter style guidelines as detailed in Cite Them Right. In Mendeley, there are a few ways to do this:


  • Manually override a citation in word by highlighting the citation in your document and then choosing the "manually override" option in the Mendeley editor on the right-hand side, or selecting the citation.

Manually override a citation in Mendeley


  • To change an entire referencing style, you can create a custom style in the Mendeley CSL Editor, either by using an existing style as a template, or creating your own style from scratch. A guide on doing this is available here.

editing referencing style in Mendeley CSL editor

Zotero is a free, open-source research tool that helps you collect, organize, and analyze research and share it in a variety of ways. Zotero includes the best parts of older reference manager software — the ability to store author, title, and publication fields and to export that information as formatted references — and the best aspects of modern software and web applications, such as the ability to organize, tag, and search in advanced ways. Zotero interacts seamlessly with online resources: when it senses you are viewing a book, article, or other object on the web, it can automatically extract and save complete bibliographic references. Zotero effortlessly transmits information to and from other web services and applications, and it runs both as a web service and offline on your personal devices.

Comprehensive online support is available - via Zotero Support.

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