The University of Minnesota’s subscription to RefWorks has expired at the end of July, 2017 and will not be renewed. This decision was made based on a steady decline in RefWorks usage paired with the availability of free or low-cost options that function as well as or better than RefWorks, and RefWorks’ introduction of a new platform that would have required all of our users to migrate their accounts and learn a new interface. This page is designed to help you choose a new citation manager and to answer your questions about the transition. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions that are not addressed here. 

Choosing a new citation manager

The University Libraries support three citation managers -- EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero. These guides showcase some of the major features and differences between the three. Schedule an appointment with your subject librarian if you want to know more.


What is a Citation Manager?

Citation Manager Comparison Chart

Migrating Your Citations to a New Citation Manager

You can migrate your citations easily from RefWorks to a new citation manager. Detailed instructions for each one are listed below.


If you would like in-person help migrating your citations to a new citation manager and learning how it works, we have scheduled workshops and drop-in sessions where you can do this.


I missed the July, 2017 deadline for getting my citations out of RefWorks. Is there anything I can do?

RefWorks has granted us a grace period through the end of October, 2017. You will be able to access your account and export your citations through this time. After October, 2017 there will be no way to access your account. 

How can I maintain the folders I have in RefWorks?

There is no way to export your folder structure from RefWorks into a new citation manager. If you wish to keep your folder structure, you can recreate your folder structure in the new citation manager and export references one folder at a time from RefWorks into your new citation manager.

How can I transfer my PDFs to a new citation manager?

RefWorks doesn’t have an automatic bulk pdf export option. You will need to download your pdf’s from RefWorks onto your computer and then import the pdf’s into your new citation manager.

How do I export from other databases? Is there a direct export option?

With very few exceptions, every database that exports to RefWorks will also export to these other citation managers. Most databases that offer automatic export to RefWorks also provide the same type of direct export to EndNote. Mendeley and Zotero have browser-based import functions that allow you to import from your database of interest. Many databases also provide the option of direct export in RIS format. However, data can usually be exported and re-imported from one program into any of the others.

Can I access the new citation manager from any computer?

All three programs offer both a desktop version and an online account where you can store references, and to which you can sync the data you have saved in the desktop version.

  • EndNote offers a desktop and online (basic) version. Online storage is unlimited if you own a copy of desktop Endnote.
  • Mendeley offers both Mendeley Desktop and an online account (attached files up to 2 GB for free, as well as citations).
  • You can download Zotero either as an add-on for your Firefox browser, or as a standalone program that works in Chrome or Safari. Data is saved locally. But you can set up an account on Zotero and sync your bibliographic information and attached files (up to 300 MB for free, and more for a modest fee) to your online account.

Can I import items from the library catalog?

Yes, you can import items to each of the citation managers from the library catalog. Each one works a little bit differently:

  • For EndNote Basic, select the EndNote Basic option under the Actions menu.
  • For EndNote Desktop, select the Export RIS option under the Actions menu and then open the RIS file in EndNote.
  • For Mendeley, select the Mendeley option under the Actions menu.
  • For Zotero, you can use the Zotero save button as you would in any other database.

How can I collaborate with others and share folders?

Other citation managers also provide the possibility of collaborative work, through “shared folders” on EndNote, or “groups” on Zotero and Mendeley.

  • Endnote allows up to 14 members in a group.
  • Mendeley allows up to 25 members in group.
  • Zotero offers unlimited number of members in group.

Will there be U of M Find It links in the new citation managers?

Some of the citation managers we support offer this functionality:

  • In EndNote, select Edit > Preferences. On the left panel of the preferences menu that appears, select Find Full Text.In the OpenURL Path type in In the URL box under Authenticate With type in Hit Apply to save your changes.
  • Mendeley does not currently support FindIt links.
  • In Zotero, go to gear icon > preferences > advanced > open url, and type in the OpenURL box where it asks for the resolver. To access the FindIt! link when looking at a Zotero reference, click on the green arrow above the right-hand column and select Library Lookup.

If I am an alum who has been using RefWorks, will I also lose my alumni access?

Yes, when the University of Minnesota ends its institutional subscription you will have to migrate your Refworks database to one of the other citation managers.

If I have used custom fields in RefWorks, will these transfer to a new citation manager?

If you have used any of RefWorks' custom fields (user 1, user 2, etc.), please contact us for assistance in preserving this information. 

Can I sign up and pay for an individual account with RefWorks?

RefWorks does not offer individual accounts at this time.