Moving References Between RefWorks Accounts

There are a lot of ways to get references into RefWorks, but what if the references you want are already in RefWorks, only not in the right account? This situation can arise when a professor has created a RefWorks account with references for a class, and the students want to add the references to their own accounts. Or perhaps a group of students are collaborating on a project, and want to copy some reference from their individual accounts into a group account.

There are a couple of ways of copying references between accounts. One way is to export the references from one account, and import then into the other. The other way is to share the references from one account (so even people who don’t have access to the account can view them), and then do a direct import into the other account.



In this approach, you start exporting the references from the source account, the account containing the references. Log into the source account, and add the references you want to copy into a folder or list. Then choose Export from the References menu.

On the Export page, choose the folder containing the references, and select “RefWorks Tagged Format” as the Export Format. Click on the Export to Text File button.

Export Page

Export Page

Depending upon what browser you are using, you will either be asked if you want to save or open a file, or a new window or tab will open with a bunch of text in it. (Or if your browser has a pop-up blocker turned on, it is possible that nothing will happen, and you will need to turn off the pop-up blocker and try again.) If asked, choose to save the file. If the file has opened in the browser, use the browser’s menu to save the page; the command will be something like File->Save As… or File->Save Page As….  The file will have a name such as “AccountName-Export.txt”. After saving the page to a file you can close the page.

Beginning of Export File

Beginning of Export File

The file you just downloaded onto your computer contains copies of all of the references from the selected folder.  You can use it yourself to copy the references into another account, or you can send it other people so they can use it to copy the references into their own accounts.


To import the references, start by logging out of the source RefWorks account (using the link in the top-right corner, assuming you are still logged in), and then log into the destination account, the account to which you are copying the references.

In the destination account, choose Import from the References menu.  On the Import page, select “RefWorks Tagged Format” from the Import Filter/Data Source pulldown, and “Tagged Format” from the Database pulldown.  Make sure the Import Data from the following Text File radio button is selected, and use the Browse… button to select the export file on your computer.  The click on the Import button.

Import Page

Import Page

RefWorks will import the references into the destination account, just like importing references from a database; you can view them in the Last Imported folder.


Another approach is to share the folder containing the references. When a folder is shared, a URL is generated that can be sent to anyone with whom you want to share the references.  Using the URL, they can view the references, but they can’t edit them or otherwise modify them.  One thing they can do is export the references directly into their own RefWork accounts, just like direct export from a database.  This approach is especially good when a professor wants to share a bibliography with a class; the students can then view the bibliography online and add any references they want into their own accounts.

Full details on setting up a shared folder will be discussed in a future post; but if you want to try it now you go to Tools->Share References in RefWorks, or read the RefWorks help pages on the subject.


One response to “Moving References Between RefWorks Accounts

  1. “Full details on setting up a shared folder will be discussed in a future post.”

    I can’t locate the post.

    Thanks, Ruth

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