Random allocation of references in Endnote library?

Does anyone know of a way to randomly allocate references in one Endnote library to two researchers?

The suggestions we’ve had so far are:

  1. Export to Excel, randomly allocate there then import back to Endnote

  2. Sort references in Endnote by a reasonably ‘random’ field like page numbers then split 50/50

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I’d prefer to keep the refs in Endnote if possible…

If you wish to remain within EndNote, have you thought about using the reference’s record number? Each reference is assigned a unique record number when entered into EndNote.  You could then: 1) sort the references in ascending/descending order based on record number; 2) create groups (depending on what version of EndNote you’re using) and assign the references to groups, or 3) create smart groups that will disaggregate the references based on a search range.

  1. To view the record number, go to the EndNote toolbar, select EDIT, PREFERENCES.

  2. In the EndNote Preferences Window, select DISPLAY FIELDS. Then in the right column under “Field”, click the pulldown menu and select RECORD NUMBER.  (Refer to attached image).  CLICK OK to close the preferences window. 

  3. The Record Number field and entries are displayed in the library window.


Yeh we thought about that but we were worried that because the references were being dumped in from databases that they would be allocated Endnote record numbers based on the sort order of the database they came from. Most databases sort by some criteria - typically date. This would mean you’d get all the newer stuff in one researchers’ allocation compared to the other one… I guess it comes down to how random you want to be… I think it would work if the database export list was truly random itself though.


Determining the random criteria may help identify the best method. The EndNote options are limited for what you wish to do. Given your recent info, my personal leaning would be your initial (#1) solution (export EndNote as a text file, import the text file into Excel (or stats program), generate a random number, then import the file back into EndNote).

I am just really wanting to know - why? 

and why isn’t the page number solution you suggested good enough?


The people doing the project are trying to do a systematic review - or as close to one as possible so they want to avoid any kind of bias they can. Page numbers seems to be the most random field we can think of except that it’s possible that more ‘high profile’ research might be published at the start of an issue ie. in the 1s and 2s and the rest at the end. So this could potentially introduce bias because all lower page numbers would go into one researchers reference list rather than the other one. Of course if the pagination ran throughout a volume that would also mean the articles at the start of the volume would go to one researcher over the other as well.

I would definitely go for option 1 if pages numbers was considered random enough…


If you really want it random, then the only way to get really ramdomness is to export the files sorted on a parameter like page numbers or alphabetical by author, take every other file (or alternating by how ever number of bins you want) by a script, and allocate them a letter in an unused or custom field and reimport them into endnote and sort on the letter. 

But what about sorting on the title field? 

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That’s sort of what ended up happening: export to Excel and use the random generator. Works well enough.

Thanks for your suggestions!


I am trying to do something similar. I have managed to export Title, Author, JAMA reference, etc., into Excel columns so as to randomize a set of articles. However, I cannot figure out how to import subsections of randomized articles back into Endnote. Any ideas? Thanks.