Combining reference download files to import into EndNote in one go

If you’re working with a source that lets you download references for import into reference management software like EndNote, but which only allows you to download a small number of references at a time (perhaps even just one at a time), is there a convenient way to avoid having to import each file individually?

As long as the downloaded files are text files (or something equivalent), then: yes!

Let’s take an example of EMF Portal – this downloads references one at a time in .ris format. (However, the process could equally be applied to, for example, EudraCT EU Clinical Trials Register, which permits you to download a page of results at a time, in .txt format – although you’d need to have created your own import filter for this (that will be covered here at some point in the future!)). These instructions are for PC.

– First download all the references – the default file format will be bibliography.ris, bibliography(1).ris, bibliography(2).ris, etc.
– Find the files. Initially, they’ll probably be in your download folder; however, if there’s any other files there called ‘bibliography’, you may wish to copy and paste all the new files into another folder (anywhere else, just for this process, everything can be deleted afterwards).
– Wherever you put the files, view them in that folder and click in the location box (where it says e.g. C:\Users\username\Documents\folder) – but just click in the box, don’t click any of the parent folders or it’ll just navigate there! If you click at the front or back of the location, it’ll be fine and highlight it.
– Type ‘cmd’ in the location box and press enter – this will open up the command line (there various other ways of opening the command line dialogue, but this is the easiest way to have the correct folder already selected!)
– First the .ris files need renaming into .txt files (.ris files can’t be combined but .txt files can – even though .ris are basically just .txt files), so type: ren bib*.ris bib*.txt
– Then, to combine the files, type: copy bib*.txt combinedbib.txt
– Finally, to turn the combined file back into a .ris file, type: ren combinedbib.txt combinedbib.ris

This should have created one file with all the EndNote references in – double click it normally in File Explorer and the import into EndNote should start.

Importing references in XML format from REHABDATA into EndNote

REHABDATA by NARIC is perhaps not top of the databases you’d consider essential to use for a literature search for most topics, but if you are using it (or indeed any other database that only exports in XML), how can you get your results into EndNote?

The following process I’ve come up with is based primarily on this helpful video’s process for converting XML files into an EndNote-friendly tab-delimited format.

Save your results from REHABDATA in XML format.

Open the file in Excel.

Edit the column headings to exactly match the EndNote fields you want the data to go into, and delete all unnecessary columns. So, for example, I’d suggest ending up with: Author, Title, Journal, Year, Volume, Issue, Pages, Abstract, Keywords, ISSN for journal articles.

If you’ve got book results, you’d probably want to cut and paste these out into a new Excel sheet, change the column headings to ones relevant to ‘Book’ reference type and repeat the process with a separate file.

Save the tidied up table as a Text (tab delimited) (*.txt) document.

Open this in Word.

Put the cursor at the start of the document, press return to get a blank line, and type:

*Journal article

(including the asterisk at the start)

Run a Find and Replace (Ctrl-H), for:

Find: | (vertical line – usually shift \ on UK keyboards)

Replace with: // (two forward-slashes)

Replace all

Find: (double-quote-mark symbol – usually shift 2 on UK keyboards)

Replace with: (nothing! leave blank)

Replace all

Save (as text file)

In EndNote, go to File > Import > File

Choose the edited text file.

Select Tab Delimited as the Import Option.



If you get an error saying you’ve got the wrong field names, this will be because one or more of your headings you were editing in Excel are not the correct exact wording of a corresponding field name in EndNote. Try again!

You may find some older results appear with all the journal details crammed in the title field. Unfortunately, that’s just how the data comes out of REHABDATA. Obviously you could do some cunning find/replaces (in Excel or Word or EndNote), but that’s not really part of the import process; I’ll leave that to you to work out if you have sufficient results of that format to warrant it!