Exporting from EndNote to NVivo

In EndNote, all you need to do is open your library and select the papers you wish to export. You can use Ctrl/Command and A to select all, or you can hold Ctrl/command and select individual papers. Papers you have selected will be highlighted in blue. Once you’ve done this, go to File > Export…



Save this as an XML file (Save as type) and keep the output style as Annotated.


You can now head to NVivo to import.


Importing into NVivo

I’ve started a new NVivo 11 Project so I have a blank file ready to go. To bring in all the papers from Endnote, all you need to do is head to Data > From Other Sources > From EndNote…

This will open a dialogue you can use to browse to the file exported from EndNote. Once found, select the XML file and click open:


This will open the import dialogue in NVivo. This has a series of useful tools that will check for existing papers in your project and allow you to specify where you want to store the imported papers. Anything with a PDF (journal articles for example) attached will be imported as an Internal. Anything without a PDF attached (most books for example) will be imported as an External. As this is the first import and the project is literature only, you don’t need to change anything here so click Import.


You’ll see the status of your import reported at the bottom left of the screen. Be patient while it loads:


This should give you an NVivo file with all of the relevant papers for your project.


The official QSR guidelines for this can be found on their online help guide, including instructions for Mendeley, RefWorks and Zotero. Additional guidelines for making this work with EndNote and NVivo on different machines can be  found in the Importing EndNote references in NVivo help guide.

Using EndNote to collect literature

This is a short blog post that looks at how you can collect literature on mass from a database for export into EndNote. I wrote this brief post to provide some background on how to prepare an EndNote library ahead of using it with QSR NVivo. When this second post is ready, I’ll link it here.

Collecting the literature

No matter what I am working on, it always starts with a literature search. Like most of us, I focus on using the resources available through my institution and as an educational researcher, I tend to use a mix of databases available though Web of Science, ProQuest or EBSCOhost depending on the topic. I start by identify my key
search terms
and then use a mixture of operators and Boolean logic to develop my search query. While I try to be precise with this step of the process, I don’t worry too much as I can use NVivo later to prioritise my reading.

After conducting a search, I’ll either batch add all the results, or skim through the abstracts to select the most relevant papers. How this works varies by database and I don’t want to spend too much time discussing this as I want to get to NVivo. Here are a couple of examples on how to export results to EndNote.

Web of Science


Select relevant results and then ‘Save to EndNote desktop’ or batch export by range (e.g. results 1-500)



Select relevant results then click ‘more’ and then ‘RIS (works with EndNote, Citavi, etc.)

Essentially, this will download a file with the metadata for each article including title, authors, abstract, DOI, journal and other relevant information. This can be achieved with pretty much any academic database that lets you batch export results into an EndNote compatible file format like RIS.

Using EndNote to collect PDF files

You can either use an existing or new EndNote Library for the next bit. In EndNote, select ‘File > Import’


Browse to the RIS files you downloaded from the database and select them. This will import all the information about the articles into EndNote. Then all you need to do is highlight the references you have important and then select ‘References > Find Full Text > find Full Text…’. Generally speaking, this will only work on campus unless you can authenticate at distance with something like EZproxy (ask your library). In doing this, EndNote will try it’s best to find the PDF file of every article you have. If it finds it, it will download and attach it to your EndNote file.


This will give you an EndNote library with all of the papers from your search including their PDF files. Now this might look like a lot of work, but generally speaking, this can take about 15 minutes when you know what you’re doing and that includes loading time. By this point you should have an EndNote library with the papers that are useful or relevant to your current project and it is all ready to import into NVivo.