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RefWorks 2.0 is in wide usage; Proquest RefWorks arrives in 2016 (see below)
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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 16 February 2018


See also Cloud computing | De-duplicating for systematic reviews‎ | EndNote Web | Zotero | Zotero vs. Mendeley

RefWorks (see tutorial) is a widely-used, web-based citation management tool to import, export, edit and format items directly from online databases and indexing tools, which can later be inserted into academic papers according to desired style manuals (eg. APA, MLA, Vancouver style). Academic librarians who promote and provide technical support for citation management tools should know their strengths and weaknesses. For a number of years, RefWorks has been used in academic libraries in North America but increasingly has a large list of competitors; some of those academic libraries are looking to Endnote and other tools and cancelling their RefWorks' subscriptions. Selecting the best tool for citation management is a major challenge for faculty. Issues such as portability, accuracy, ease of use and compatibility are among the most important in selecting your tool. Of those on the market, which is the best for you and your needs?

  • Take advantage of the New RefWorks LibGuide – best practices for every level of RefWorks user

Presentation & handout

Pros & cons

  • Probably the most popular and most powerful citation managers currently on the market are RefWorks and EndNote Web
  • RefWorks is a business unit of ProQuest, web-based and compatible on all platforms
  • In RefWorks, you can create a citation library by importing references from online databases, text files or through manual input
  • RefWorks will upload PDF documents but will not import metadata from PDFs (something very well done in Mendeley
  • According to Henseley (2011) "...the RefWorks interface is not as intuitive to learn as some of the other citation managers available hence there is a human resource cost in developing instructional materials (although RefWorks help files are substantial) and teaching workshops...also, RefWorks mobile site is not as user friendly as a phone application could be."
  • Use the Write-N-Cite plug-in to create formatted citations in MSWord as you write your paper. Make changes to your paper in seconds
  • Import references from databases using Import Filters; format using one of the formats such as APA, MLA, or Vancouver style etc.
  • Search for specific papers within RefWorks; RefWorks uses data elements to create author, descriptor and abstract fields when importing
  • One of the best features is the ability to format in-text citations and create reference lists; use Write-N-Cite to download your citations into your papers
  • Quick search looks through all fields for the most comprehensive results; advanced search helps to narrow your search to specific terms
  • Database providers such as CSA, OCLC, OvidSP, ProQuest and Elsevier provide a direct export link in the databases
  • RefWorks saves you time; by saving citations from your database searches, you can format footnotes and keep your citations organized
  • RefWorks lets you reformat citations based on your own needs, or from one style to another
  • In complex distributed hospital environments, RefWorks can present access and functionality problems
  • For institutions using OvidSP, there is a direct export option that automatically launches for RefWorks and allows searchers to drop references directly into their databases, or folders
  • Many of the platforms (RefWorks, EndNote Web) provide users with similar functionalities but using these tools will end once students graduate
  • RefShare is a module that allows users to share citations, folders, and databases with any researcher having Internet access

RefWorks Flow

To begin, view the video below or following the screenshots at this online tutorial.


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