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RefWorks Migration Guide

Leaving RefWorks to move to a different citation management system is not complicated, but it can be labour intensive, especially if you have a lot of folders or if you have saved a lot of PDFs into your RefWorks account. Migrating away from RefWorks has two main phases:

  1. Exporting your data from RefWorks;
  2. Importing your data into the new system you have selected.

This may seem obvious, but limitations related to how RefWorks exports data, and other citation management systems load data complicate the process.

If you are in the middle of a writing project, you will also need to go through your document(s) to replace the RefWorks citations with citations from your new system.

NOTE: There is no easy way to export all of your PDFs or other file attachments from RefWorks at once. Regardless of how you export your references from RefWorks, you will have to download your attachments one at a time.

Preparing to migrate: the "Local Bibliographic Software" style

RefWorks' built in support for exporting your collection of references doesn't handle some document types very well, but there's a way to work around the problem by using a custom output style.

1. In RefWorks, select Output Style Manager from the Bibliography menu

2. Search for "Bibliographic" in the Output Style Manager window

3. Select the Bibliographic Software (Endnote, Reference Manager, ProCite)* style in the left window and click the green arrow to add it to your Favourites list.

4. Close the Output Style Manager.

You are now ready to start migrating your RefWorks collection.

The Simplest way to migrate: no folders and no PDFs

If you don't use folders to organize your RefWorks account, and you don't have a lot of PDFs stored in RefWorks, then the process is relatively straightforward:

1. In RefWorks, press the Create Bibliography button below the menu bar.

2. In the Create a bibliography window, select "All in list", select the "Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)" option from the Output Style menu, choose "Text" from the File Type options, and click on the Create Bibliography button.

3. A new window will appear, with your references in RIS bibliographic data format. Use your browser's File menu to save the page as "references.ris"

4. Open your new citation management system, and use its "Import" feature to load the file "references.ris".

All your citations are now in the new system, but without their corresponding article PDFs, and all in one big pile, rather than being organized into folders.

If you can't find "Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)" in the Output style drop down then:

  1. Click the "Manage Output Styles" button at the bottom of the box:

        

  1. In the Output Style manager window, find "Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)" in the "Favorites" list box, select it, and click the lower arrow to transfer it to "List of Output Styles".

        

  1. Return to step 2 above and continue with the proceedure.

 

Preserving the organization of your citations: exporting folders

If you want to start using your new citation managment system with your folders all properly organized, and you are migrating to Zotero or Mendeley, then this is the process for you. If you are planning on switching to EndNote Basic, then use the "exporting with tags" option, because EndNote doesn't handle duplicate citations very well.

For each folder that you have in RefWorks,

1. Select the folder from your list of folders:

2. Press the Create Bibliography button below the menu bar.

3. In the Create a bibliography window, select "All in list", select the "Local Bibliographic Software" option from the Output Style menu, choose "Text" from the File Type options, and click on the Create Bibliography button.

4. A new window will appear, with the references from the selected folder in the export format. Use your browser's File menu to save the page as a file with the same names as the folder, but use the file extension ".ris". For example, the folder above should be saved as "Card Sorting.ris".

NOTE: Make sure to export your "Not in Folder" list as well, or you will lose those items!

If a citation is in more than one folder, then it will be exported multiple times, once for each folder that it is in. This will create duplicate citations when you import the files into Zotero or Mendeley, but don't worry; those systems can merge the duplicate items for you.

Once you have exported a file for each of your RefWorks folders, open your new citation management system. Importing the citations is slightly different, depending on if you are importing into Zotero or Mendeley.

Importing into Zotero

When Zotero imports a file of citations, it automatically creates a
new folder to store the citations. This makes loading your citations
into Zotero very simple. For each of your export files,

  1. Select Import... from the Zotero "gear" menu

  2. In the file selection window, select your export file and click Open
  3. Zotero will import the citations into a new folder with the same name as the file (without the ".ris" extension)

Once you've imported all of your citations, you can use the special "Duplicate Items" folder in the Zotero folder list to merge any duplicates that were created.

Importing into Mendeley

When Mendeley imports a file of citations it automatically adds it to
the folder that you are currently viewing. For each of your export
files:

1. Click on Create Folder... at the bottom of the list of folders in the left column of Mendeley Desktop

2. Rename the new "Untitled Folder" to have the name of the folder you're importing

3. Select File: Import: RIS - Research Information Systems (*.ris) from the Mendeley menubar

4. Pick the export file in the file selection window that appears

Once you've imported all of your files, select All Documents at the top of the list of folders in the Mendeley Desktop, and then select Tools: Check for Duplicates to identify and merge any duplicates that were created.

Creative Commons Licence
This page is an adaptation by Algoma University's library of the work by the Western Libraries Citation Management Working Group and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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