Help with Library Research


Due to low use, a rising subscription cost, and the number of freely available citation and reference management tools, the library will cancel RefWorks when our current subscription ends April 30, 2021. We recommend that you move your citations from RefWorks to an open source citation manager such as Zotero or Mendeley. Any citations that are not migrated out of RefWorks will be inaccessible after this date.

How to move citations from RefWorks to Zotero

Folders in RefWorks cannot be moved to Zotero along with your references. In Zotero folders are called collections. You will need to create new collections in Zotero that correspond to your folders in RefWorks if you want to preserve your folder structure.

  • Login to RefWorks.
  • In RefWorks, locate and click on the folder you want to export to Zotero.

click on desired folder to export the contents

  • In RefWorks, locate and click on the folder you want to export to Zotero.

click share and then export references

  • Choose all references from the selected folder and BibTeX as the format, then click Export.

Choose all references and BibTeX

Open Zotero on your desktop

  •  (After creating an account with Zotero and downloading the desktop version)

  • Click on File and select Import

click on file and select import

  • When asked where to import a file from, choose “A file (BibTex, RIS, Zotero RDF, etc.)” and click next.

choose A file (BibTex, RIS, Zotero RDF, etc.

  • Find and select the file that you exported from RefWorks in your Downloads area as export and click Open.

downloads folder select export

  • For import options, choose “Copy files to the Zotero storage folder” and click next.

Copy files to the Zotero storage folder

  • Click Finish when the import is complete.
  • Your files have been added to Zotero. You can now create a folder and organize the files as you wish.



Many thanks to the Dalhousie University Library for their guidance and to the Minnesota State University Library for their original RefWorks Migration library guide licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Migration Tips

General Tips:

  • If you need to maintain the folder structure from your RefWorks account, export the contents of each folder individually. (This may create duplicates in your new account.) Save each export with the name of the folder for easy identification.
  • PDFs and other attachments will not be exported. You must save those files and import them into your new account. Mendeley and Zotero will allow you to drag PDFs into your account, and will create references based on metadata attached to the PDF. Always check these to make sure the created reference is correct.
This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Creative Commons License
You may copy the guide as long as credit is included. We encourage you to license your derivative works under Creative Commons as well to encourage sharing and reuse of educational materials. Please be aware that many of our guides contain links to subscription-based services for which access is restricted, and collections of resources that may have additional rights reserved. Please consult the licenses and terms of use for each resource.