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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Transitioning from RefWorks to Zotero

Migrating from RefWorks to Zotero

The JFK Library has decided to discontinue our RefWorks subscription effective December 31, 2022. As such, all current users will need to move their references to one of other freely available citation manager tools. Unfortunately, only references can be migrated. PDFs and any other attachments will not automatically transfer and will need to be reattached separately. Library recommends switching to Zotero, a free and open source reference manager.

If you're ready to switch to Zotero, the migration is a two step process:

(1) Export your references from RefWorks.
(2) Import your references into Zotero.

Note: If you use Refworks folders to organize your citations and want to transfer the folders, please remember that you only can migrate each folder separately. We suggest only migrating one folder at a time, rather than migrating all your citations at once. 

Exporting from Legacy RefWorks? Follow the export directions for Legacy RefWorks.(from MGH Library)

Or, you could watch the video tutorial (1.35 minute) from the University of Rhode Island University Libraries.

Exporting References from New RefWorks (one folder at a time)?

If you want to maintain the same folder structure in your Zotera, you should export your citations from RefWorks one folder at a time. It's recommended that you save each export file created below with the name of the folder, so each is easily identifiable when importing to your new Zotera.

Steps to follow:

  1. Login to your New RefWorks account.
  2. Click My Folders (from the left navigation pane) and select a folder for export from the list.
  3. Check the Select All box (just above your list of references) and click the Share icon. 
  4. Under the Share menu, choose Export References.
  5. In the pop-up box, set Format as RIS Format.
  6. Click Export. Refworks may think for a bit, but eventually will download a file of citations (often named export.ris) to your Downloads folder or wherever your browser stores downloaded files. (make note of where you export/save the file, because you'll need it to import into your Zotera)
  7. Repeat these steps for each folder, then follow the import instructions for your new Zotera.

Importing Citations/References into Zotero
Now that you've exported your citations out of Refworks, it's time to import them into Zotero. 

Steps to follow:

  1. Open Zotero. 
  2. From the File menu in the upper left hand corner, select Import.
  3. Zotero will ask what you want to import from. Select A file and click Next.
  4. Select a file you exported from RefWorks and click Open. (usually export.ris and select it.)
  5. Zotero import options:
    (a) Place imported collections and items into new collection -- (Folders are called "collections" in Zotero) We recommend leaving this checked, especially if you are migrating one folder at a time.
    (b) Copy files to the Zotero storage folder.
  6. Click Next and wait for the Zotero import process to finish. Then click Finish.

Your references are now imported into Zotero.