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RefWorks: Managing references

Introduction to RefWorks, an online reference manager

Managing references

You can manage the references you have imported in your RefWorks database. You can:

The display of references

The order of the references

In the right upper corner, behind Sort by, you can choose the order of your references, for example alphabetically by name of the first author or chronologically, by the date published.

The display of the references

By default the references are shown in Normal View: the author(s), publication date and title are shown. 

To check the references it can be useful to see them as they will be in your literature list, for example in the APA 6th style. By default, you see the references in ‘Normal view’: the author(s) and title are visible. In the right upper corner of the screen, you can change this view into a particular style, including APA 6th. Viewing the references in a style you are familiar with can help to see if a reference is complete and correct.

  1. Click Normal View in the right upper corner of the screen
  2. Click the cog symbol behind Citation View
  3. Search the style you want to use, by typing in part of the name
  4. Select the style (for example APA 6th – American Psychological Association, 6th edition)
  5. Click Save

When you have marked the option 'Highlight missing metadata' RefWorks will highlight missing fields that are required or recommended for the selected citation style. This can be very helpful when checking the references!

Other views are Table View and Full View:

  • Table View shows the references in a table format, which makes it easier to sort the information. This view is limited to 2.000 references.
  • When you select Full View you will see all information available in your RefWorks database for each reference. 

Folders and projects

References are automatically saved in Last Imported.  But you can create your own folders to save the references in a convenient way: for example a folder per (sub)topic, a folder per database or a folder per chapter.

Creating a folder

  1. Click My Folders in the menu on the left side of the screen
  2. Click +Add folder
  3. Give the folder a name
  4. Click Save.
  5. The created folder can be found by clicking My Folders

It’s also possible to create subfolders – folders within a folder. Click the three dots behind the name of the folder and choose Add subfolder and give the folder a name.

Moving references to a folder

Now you can put the references you have imported into the new folder.

  1. Open Last imported – this folder contains the references added to RefWorks most recently.
  2. Mark the references
  3. Click Assign to Folder in the top menu
  4. Mark the folder(s)
  5. When you use the Normal View the name of the folder will be visible below the reference. The name of the folder is not visible when you use a Citation View.

You can also ‘drag and drop’ references: scroll over the reference, then drag it to the folder on the left side of the screen. 

Please note: the number behind the name of a folder refers to the number of references in that folder and in the subfolder(s) of that folder. This means that when a reference is in both the parent folder and a subfolder, it is counted twice.

If you use Refworks to manage references of several research projects, it can be useful to also divide these in Projects. Each Project starts its Ref ID's at 0. In the blue top bar of Refworks, next to the ProQuest Refworks icon on the left, you can select your Project. Create or delete projects by clicking on 'Manage projects.' You can also share access Projects here, by selecting this option from the 'Action' dropdown menu. 

Projects enable you to maintain separate reference collections for different research projects.

To manage projects:

  1. Select the arrow next to your project in the header and select Manage projects. The My Projects page appears
  2. To create a new project, select Create a new Project. The following appears
  3. Enter a name for the project and select Save. The project is added to the list of projects. You can navigate between projects from the Project Menu at the top of the page.
  4. To rename or delete a project select Actions > Rename or Actions > Delete.

Whereas you can easily move references between folders, projects are separate entities. Learn how to move reference between folders in the RefWorks User Guide > Working with projects.

Searching in RefWorks

To search your RefWorks database, click the Search button in the bar on top of your references. You can enter for example words from the title, the name of an author, tags, etc. 

After clicking the Search button, you can open the Advanced search. This option allows you to search more specific: you can specify the folders and/or field(s) you want to search. 

Advanced Search New RefWorks

Editing references

The ‘metadata’ RefWorks receives from the databases like Scopus and Google Scholar, can be incorrect and/or incomplete. You always have to check the information yourself and, when needed, edit and complete the information.

What do you have to check?

  • Is the reference type correct? Is the journal article indeed a journal article?
  • Is the data complete? Check especially the page numbers and the DOI.

Do you see errors? You can correct them by clicking the title, which opens a side panel, and then clicking the pencil icon in the right upper corner. Not all fields are visible: click the button Add more fields... to add fields. When you have made all necessary corrections, click Save at the top of the side bar.

In the side bar you will see a lightning bolt icon behind the title and the DOI (when available) - when you click this icon, RefWorks will search Summon, a database from ProQuest, for additional information. At the bottom of the side bar Did you mean one of these? or DOI Lookup will open, with a number of options. When you select an option, the metadata is entered in the fields. When you agree, click Save at the top of the side bar to save the reference. 

Please note: due to the size of the box it can be hard to see the differences between the options presented by RefWorks. In that case, just try one - you can always use the Undo button at the top of the side bar. 

Adding attachments to references

When a reference is already in your ProQuest RefWorks database, you can add files to the reference, for example the PDF-file with the full-text of the article. 

  1. Click the title – on the right side of the screen a side bar appears
  2. Click the pencil icon in the right upper corner
  3. Click the Add an attachment option and browse to the saved PDF-file
  4. Click Save

In the Normal View and in the Full View you can see that an attachment is added to the reference; in a Citation View or the Table View this is not immediately visible. 

In ProQuest RefWorks you can read and annotate the PDF within RefWorks: click the title of the reference and click Read. The PDF is opened in the same screen, with options to highlight text, to add a comment in the text or to add document notes.

Deleting and deduplicating references

Deleting references

To delete a reference from your ProQuest RefWorks database, you can mark the reference and click Delete in the bar on top of the screen. The reference is then moved to the trash, the Deleted folder on the left side of the screen. From there you can permanently delete the reference(s) from your database. 


When you import references from several databases, it's possible that some titles appear more than once in your RefWorks-account. This can cause problems when using Write-n-Cite, because the ID-numbers of these references are different. RefWorks sees and treats them as different titles.

You can locate duplicates by clicking Tools in the bar at the top of the screen and selecting Find duplicates. When you are in a particular folder, you can choose to search that folder for duplicates or all references in your RefWorks database. You also have to choose between an Exact Match or a Close Match. Click the button Find Duplicates to start the search. 

When duplicates are found, RefWorks will return a list of duplicate items. Some references are already marked, to be easily deleted - but check if that's the reference you want to delete! For example you might want to keep the reference with the article attached and delete the reference without attachment. Make sure the reference(s) you want to delete are marked and click Delete.