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RefWorks Migration Guide

To support the transition away from RefWorks, effective December 31, 2017.


After consideration of usage, cost, and a review of alternative citation managers, the University Library has decided to cancel its subscription to RefWorks effective 31 December 2017. A number of factors informed this decision:

  • With reduced provincial funding we are focusing on content (e.g., journals & databases) rather than tools and software
  • Use of RefWorks has been declining while annual costs continue to increase
  • There has been a rise in quality free citation management programs such as Zotero and Mendeley

The University Library is committed to supporting you through this change and will continue to keep you informed throughout the upcoming months.

Please send any questions to

This guide will be updated throughout the process, so check back often for more information.

Coming soon - Instructions on migrating your files to EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero. 

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I pick a new citation manager?

We recommend checking out the features of Mendeley, Zotero, and EndNote and deciding which features are most important for your research. Try talking to others in your department to see what they use, and take advantage of online tutorials. We've also made a page comparing some of the common features and options of these citation managers.


I don't need a complex citation manager. Are there other products I could use for simple citations?

You bet! Try out any of these free online tools:


What is a citation manager?

Citation management software (aka reference or bibliographic management software) helps manage and organize citations for bibliographies and citations in your papers. There are many different options out there--some free and some for a fee. Examples include EndNote, EndNote Web, Mendeley, and Zotero. All of these options have the same basic functions, but also have their own unique quirks and features. The basic features you should expect to see are:

  • import citation information
  • Collect, organize, & annotate citations
  • Manage PDF files
  • Generate bibliographies and format footnotes or inline citations in a variety of styles


Will all my references in RefWorks be lost after December 31, 2017?

If you do nothing, yes, you will no longer be able to access your references after December 31. However, there are some pretty easy options available to export your references to other software. Check out our step-by-step instructions on migrating to EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero (coming soon).


I need more help! Will you be offering any in-person sessions?

Yes, we plan to offer workshops in the fall to help you work through the migration process, and how to choose a citation manager. Keep an eye on this guide, and on PAWS, for information about those sessions.


What if I want to keep using RefWorks?

There may be an option to purchase an individual license for RefWorks. As there is a new version of RefWorks in development, we aren't sure whether or not this option will still be available in 2017. If you really want to stick with RefWorks, we would recommend contacting the vendor, ProQuest, and asking them about personal accounts for 2018. You will likely still need to use the Backup/Restore tool to migrate to your personal account.


I have never used RefWorks before, but will need a citation manager before December. What should I do?

We would recommend that, to avoid needing to migrate your references, you start with EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero. We've pulled together some information that might help you choose which one.


Do you plan to replace RefWorks with something else?

At this point, the Library is not planning to provide a new tool, but we encourage our users to explore the other freely available tools: EndNote Web, Mendeley, or Zotero, or to explore the more robust full version of EndNote if you need the additional functionality.


What if I export my references, and something goes wrong?

No worries! Your references are still in RefWorks. You can export them again, try the individual folder export option. That's why we recommend you work on your export well before December 31, so you have time to experiment.


I have more questions! Who should I contact?

We are here to answer any of your questions about citation managers and this transition. Just email us at anytime!