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Reference Management | Migrating from RefWorks to a Replacement

Knowledge Resource Service has discontinued RefWorks, effective July 31, 2020.  You may wish to transfer any references held in your RefWorks account to an alternate reference management program as described in this guide, or simply save a copy of your data before this date.

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.

  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.

KRS staff will be available to offer assistance and answer any questions about migrating accounts through email ( or chat (M-F, 8-4) | More help & FAQs

Important Notes about Migrating from RefWorks

   Are you currently working on a document (e.g. reports, manuscripts, grants)?

  • If you are actively working on a document and you are using Write-n-Cite to create in-text citations and bibliographies from your RefWorks library, we recommend that you wait until you have completed your document before making the transition.

  • Documents with embedded RefWorks citations cannot be converted and edited through another reference manager.

  • If you anticipate the need to work on a document past July 31st, we recommend transitioning sooner rather than later to rebuild your in-text citations through another reference manager.

  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 (see considerations). You may wish to temporarily store full-text attachments elsewhere (local hard drive, network drive, AHS SharePoint), rather than within the program itself, following proper copyright practices.

  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.