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Citation: Migrating from RefWorks to Zotero

Gettysburg College will no longer have access to RefWorks after May 31, 2024. To maintain your bibliographic references, you will need to migrate your references into Zotero or another citation manager.

Before Migrating

  • This guide describes the migration from the new version of RefWorks to Zotero. (If you were using the legacy version of RefWorks, as of June 30, 2023, it is no longer available.)
  • PDF attachments will not migrate with your references. Unfortunately, there is no way to migrate attachments from RefWorks to Zotero. If you do not want to download your PDFs in bulk, for PDFs you received via interlibrary loan or scanned yourself, we suggest manually downloading them and adding them into Zotero if they would be difficult to replace.
  • Download PDFs in RefWorks in bulk. Under settings in RefWorks, connect your RefWorks to a Dropbox account. In Dropbox, all of your PDFs are now under the folder Apps in the subfolder labeled ProQuest RefWorks.
  • If you want to preserve your folder structure, migrate each folder separately. If you want to maintain your folder structure, we suggest migrating one folder at a time rather than your entire reference library.
  • Custom fields will not migrate. If you use RefWorks to store notes about citations, please ensure they are in the standard "Notes" field. For any custom fields, you will need to copy and paste the data in them into Zotero after migration.
If you have any questions about migrating your references, please contact or schedule an individual 30-minute appointment.

Exporting References from RefWorks

  1. export menu for refworks showing all references selected and RIS format selectedIn Refworks, select the references you want to migrate:
    • Select a folder by clicking on it, or
    • Select individual references by clicking their checkboxes, or
    • Select all references by going to "All References" and leaving all boxes unchecked.
  2. Under the Share menu at the top of your screen, choose Export References.
  3. In the pop-up box, select format as RIS Format.
  4. Click Export. RefWorks will process your request and download the export file (named export.ris). This will go into your downloads folder or wherever your browser saves downloaded files.

Importing References into Zotero

Zotero import screen with option to select RIS fileNow that you've exported your references from Refworks, you need to import them into Zotero:

  1. Open Zotero. 
  2. Click File > Import.
  3. Choose the file option (BibTex, RIS, Zotero RDF, etc.). Click Next.
  4. Find the file created by Refworks during the export process (usually export.ris) and select it.
  5. Zotero import options:
    • Place imported collections and items into new collection. Keep this checked, especially if you will be importing multiple folders.
    • Copy files to the Zotero storage folder.
  6. Click Next and wait for the Zotero import process to finish. Then click Finish.

If you've selected the new collection option, Zotero will put all the imported references into a new folder named for the filename of the RIS file. (If your file was named export.ris, look for a new folder in your library called Export.) You can rename this folder, especially if you will be exporting one folder at a time from RefWorks to preserve your RefWorks folder structure.

If you are importing each folder one at a time, delete the export.ris file and then repeat the process in RefWorks for your next folder. 

Downloading Individual PDFs from RefWorks

refworks side menu for tags and attachments to download pdfIf you have articles in RefWorks that you received via interlibrary loan or would be otherwise hard to replace, you may want to download those PDFs or other files from RefWorks.

  1. To download individual PDFs from RefWorks, click on the reference.
  2. In the right column, scroll down to Attachments.
  3. The attachment will open in RefWorks. Click the download icon next to the printer icon to download the PDF.

Downloading PDFs in Bulk from RefWorks with Dropbox

  1. In your Proquest RefWorks, select your name at the top right, then select Settings.
  2. After re-entering your login information, move down the page and select Connect under Dropbox.
  3. If you don't already have one, create a Dropbox account, then sign in. Your new RefWorks account should now be linked with your Dropbox account. In Dropbox, all of your PDFs are now under the folder Apps in the subfolder labeled ProQuest RefWorks.
  4. Open your Zotero window and Dropbox window side-by-side. Drag and drop each PDF from Dropbox to the matching article in the citation manager to reattach the PDFs.


Saving PDFs into Zotero

PDF nested under reference entry in ZoteroIf you'd like to have the PDF or other file paired with the reference in your new Zotero library, you may drag and drop the PDF onto the reference in Zotero.

Once dropped onto the reference name, you will see the file nested under the reference entry. 

Right-click on the PDF and select "rename file from parent metadata" to give the PDF a human-readable filename that matches the reference.