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How do I Use the Legacy Version of RefWorks?: Export References from Databases to RefWorks

RefWorks let's you save, share, and cite your research sources.


When you find an article (or have compiled a list of articles) that you want to save in RefWorks, look in the database for a link that says Export, Citations Tools, or something similar. There are two methods for moving references out of databases and into RefWorks. The method you use is determined by the database where you found the articles.

  • Direct Export - choose the articles that you want to save, then log directly into RefWorks and the citations automatically move into the system
  • Export/Import - choose the articles that you want to save, then export a file of  those citations to your computer and import that file in RefWorks

exclaimation point When you save a reference in RefWorks you are ONLY storing information about the article (author, title, abstract, etc). If you want to store the full text article with its record in RefWorks, you have to attach that file separately. See the "Store Full Text Articles" tab for more information.

Direct Export Examples

Below you will find a video tutorial on exporting citations directly to RefWorks and a step by step tutorial with screenshots.

If you want to export citations from Google Scholar, you will need to set specific preferences. Click here for more information.

This is an example of a direct export from the database Academic Search Premier:

1. From your search results, select the citations you want to export to RefWorks by saving them to a folder.

Screenshot of the database Academic Search Premier. The "add to folder" icon is to the right of the article title in the list of search results.

2. Open the folder of saved citations and choose the citations you want to export. Click the Export link.

Screenshot of a folder of saved results the database Acadmic Search Premier. There is an Export link in the right hand menu.

3. Choose the Direct Export to RefWorks option and then hit the Save button.

Screenshot of the export screen in Academic Search Premier. The Direct Export to RefWorks option is the 7th option on the right side of the screen, under "Save citations to a file formatted for:"

4. If you are not logged on to RefWorks, you will be prompted to log in at this time. Your references will automatically appear in the Last Import folder inside RefWorks.

For more information on organizing citations inside of RefWorks, see the Use Folders to Organize References tab.

Export/Import Examples

Below you will find a video tutorial and a set of instructions with screenshots on exporting citations from PubMed and importing them into RefWorks. This an example of the general method for exporting a list of sources, then importing them.

1. From your search results, select the citations you want to export to RefWorks by checking the box next to the articles' titles. Under "Send to:" choose citation manager, and create the file.

2. Given the file a name you will recognize and save it on your computer - somewhere you will be able to find it!

3. Log into RefWorks, and choose the option to Import references.

4. Select the Import Filter/Data Source for your references. (In this example, it's NLM PubMed since I exported the file from that database.) Attach the file you saved to your computer, and click Import.

You can also choose to import these reference into a specific folder, but that is optional. 

RefWorks and Google Scholar

Google Scholar lets you search for articles, like one of the library's databases. You can directly export references from Google Scholar to RefWorks if you use the correct system settings in Google Scholar.

1. On the Google Scholar hompage, click on "Settings" near the top of the screen.

Screenshot of the Google Scholar homepage. The settings link is in the top menu.

2. Near the bottom of the settings page (under "Bibliography Manager") select the option to "Show links to import citations into" and choose RefWorks from the drop down menu. Save the setting.

Screenshot of the Scholar Settings page. The Bibliography manager is near the bottom of the screen.

Now when you do a search in Google Scholar, you will have a link that lets you import into RefWorks under the article description. You must already have an active RefWorks account that you can log in to, as you will not be able to create a new account this way.

Screenshot of a page of Google Scholar search results. There is a import into RefWorks link under the description of each result.