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Databases: RefWorks Cancellation

An Important Message for OCAD U RefWorks Users: Discontinuation of Service


An Important Message for OCAD U RefWorks Users:  Discontinuation of Service

June 10, 2016

The Library is terminating its subscription to ProQuest’s RefWorks citation management software effective August 31, 2016.  The decision to end support for RefWorks at OCAD was arrived at after a thorough evaluation of local usage, cost effectiveness, potential impact on our users and the availability of comparable, and free, citation management systems.  

Over the course of evaluating this subscription the Library’s Collections Committee found that usage of RefWorks has dramatically declined over the past three years, while during the same period free alternatives have become more widely available to researchers.  Ultimately, the value of the RefWorks site licence has diminished to the degree that it is no longer sustainable for the Library to continue to commit limited resources to it.  

The Library acknowledges that the discontinuation of this service may inconvenience current OCAD RefWorks users and regrets any disruption this decision may cause; however, we are available to offer recommendations on alternative citation management software as well as offer support in the migration of your citation data.  If you are interested in continuing to use RefWorks beyond the cancellation date, the vendor offers individual user subscriptions which you may purchase.  A free, more limited, version of RefWorks may also become available for use with the library’s discovery system, Summon, in the near future.   The Library can provide further information on these options upon request.    

Next Steps:  Exporting your Data

The Library recommends that back-up and export your data in the next two months as it may not be possible to recover your RefWorks data (citations, and files) once OCAD University’s licence is terminated on August 31.  If you intend to migrate to another citation management system such as Mendeley or Zotero follow the migration instructions below.

Back-up RefWorks Data:

  1.  In RefWorks select “Tools” from the menu bar -> “Backup & Restore”
  2. Ensure you have selected “Include References” in the Backup options
  3. Click “Perform Backup” and a RefWorks .rwb file will be downloaded to your computer
  4. If you move to either a free or subscription RefWorks account in the future you can Restore your references from this file.

Export RefWorks Data: 

  1. Login to RefWorks and ensure that the references you wish to export are displayed (you may export all references at once, or by individual folder if you wish to preserve the current organization of your references).
  2. From the menu bar select “References” -> “Export”
  3. Choose the export format of "Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)" from the drop down menu.  This RIS type file can be easily imported into other citation tools.
  4. Click “Export References”
  5. A tab will open displaying an RIS file. Right click on the page, and choose “Save As…” or “Save Page As…” Save it as a RIS file by manually typing ".ris" at the end of the file name (e.g. refworks.ris).

Once you have exported all references from RefWorks you may import them into another citation management system such as Mendeley or Zotero:

Import RefWorks Data into Zotero:

  1. Use Zotero for Firefox or Zotero Standalone.
  2. Click on the gear icon on the top toolbar and select “Import…”
  3. Select the RIS file exported from RefWorks and double click it to import all references.

Import RefWorks Data into Mendeley:

  1. Using Mendeley Desktop select “My Library” or any folder you would like to import the references to.
  2. Click on “Add files” and select “add files”
  3. Choose the text RIS file that was exported from RefWorks and click on “Open”.


For further information contact:

Alex Homanchuk

Head, E-Resources & E-Learning Support