Prepare your data

ASReview LAB requires a dataset containing a set of textual records (e.g., titles and abstracts of scientific papers, newspaper articles, or policy reports) obtained via a systematic search. The goal is to review all records systematically using predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Also, it should be expected that only a fraction of the records in the dataset is relevant.

Datasets can be unlabeled as well as Partially labeled data and Fully labeled data. The latter ones are useful in the Simulation and Exploration mode. See Project modes for more information.

The easiest way to obtain a dataset is via a search engine or with the help of a reference manager. See Compatibility for reference managers export formats supported by ASReview. For more information about the format of the dataset, see Data format.

High quality data

When you import your dataset, remove duplicates and retrieve the text in as many empty fields as possible (See Importance-of-abstracts blog for help). With clean data, you benefit most from what active learning has to offer.


Citation Managers

The following table provides an overview of export files from citation managers which are accepted by ASReview.

  .ris .csv .xlsx
EndNote N/A N/A
Excel N/A
Mendeley N/A N/A
Refworks N/A N/A
Zotero N/A
  • ✅ = The data can be exported from the citation manager and imported in ASReview.
  • N/A = This format does not exist.

RIS files used for screening in ASReview LAB can be imported back into the reference software and the decision labels can be found in the notes field. For more information see this instruction video.

Note: the RIS-pipeline is extensively tested for reference managers Zotero and EndNote. However, it might also work for other reference managers but is currently not supported.


When using EndNote use the following steps to export a RIS file (.ris):

  • In EndNote, click on the style selection dropdown menu from the main EndNote toolbar.
  • Click “Select Another Style”.
  • Browse to RefMan (RIS) Export and click “Choose”.
  • Click on the file menu and select “Export”.
  • Pick a name and location for the text file.
  • Choose the output format RefMan (RIS) Export and click “Save”.

Search Engines

When using search engines, it is often possible to store the articles of interest in a list or folder within the search engine itself. Thereafter, you can choose from different ways to export the list/folder. When you have the option to select parts of the citation to be exported, choose the option which will provide the most information.

The export files of the following search engines have been tested for their acceptance in ASReview:

  .ris .tsv .csv .xlsx
Cochrane N/A N/A
Embase N/A
Eric (Ovid) X N/A N/A X
Psychinfo (Ovid) X N/A N/A X
Pubmed X N/A X N/A
Scopus N/A N/A
Web of Science X X N/A N/A
  • ✅ = The data can be exported from the search engine and imported in ASReview.
  • N/A = This format does not exist.
  • X = Not supported.


If the export of your search engine is not accepted in ASReview, you can also try the following: import the search engine file first into one of the citation managers mentioned in the previous part, and export it again into a format that is accepted by ASReview.

Systematic Review Software

There are several software packages available for systematic reviewing, see for an overview. Some of them use machine learning, while other focus on screening and management. The overview below shows an overview of alternative software programs and the compatibility with ASReview.

  .ris .tsv .csv .xlsx
Abstrackr N/A N/A
Covidence* N/A N/A
Distiller X N/A ✅** ✅**
EPPI-reviewer N/A N/A X
Rayyan N/A N/A
Robotreviewer N/A N/A N/A N/A
  • ✅ = The data can be exported from the third-party review software and imported in ASReview.
  • N/A = This format does not exist.
  • X = Not supported.

* When using Covidence it is possible to export articles in .ris format for different citation managers, such as EndNote, Mendeley, Refworks and Zotero. All of these are compatible with ASReview.

** When exporting from Distiller and if the following error occurs Unable to parse string "Yes (include)" at position 0 set the sort references by to Authors. Then the data can be imported in ASReview.