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Migrating from RefWorks

Migrating your references from RefWorks to a replacement reference management system

Migrating RefWorks content

This guide has instructions to walk you through how to move your references out of RefWorks and into another reference management program.

You'll need to take three steps:

  1. Export references from RefWorks and save your file(s) in RIS format. RIS is the universally accepted file type for references.

  2. Choose a new reference manager (e.g. Mendeley), install the software, and set up your account. 

  3. Use the saved RIS files to import your references into the new reference manager.

Important notes about migrating

Even if you don't wish to start using a new reference manager immediately, we recommend that you back up your references to RIS files saved on your local hard drive or Google Drive so that you will be able to use them later.

Do you keep notes and attachments (e.g. PDF) with your references?

  • PDFs, other file attachments, personal notes, and user fields cannot be migrated and you will need to add these into the new record(s) manually.

  • You will need to save attachments to your computer and add them to each record. 

  • Before adding attachments, be aware of any storage limits in the new reference management program. You may wish to temporarily store full-text attachments elsewhere (local hard drive, network drive, Google Drive), rather than within the program itself.

Do you currently use folders to organize your library?

  • During migration, you have the option of moving all references at once, or each folder individually. If you wish to maintain the same organization as your RefWorks account, is it recommended that each RefWorks folder be transferred individually. 

  • However, as it can be time-consuming to move folder contents individually, consider your need for maintaining folders. Another option is to migrate all references from RefWorks into a single folder "archive", and reorganize into folders as desired. 

  • You may also find the enhanced functionality for smart searching, tagging, and organizing in the reference manager you are migrating to negates the need for a formal folder structure.