Skip to main content

New: RefWorks Guide: Home

About RefWorks


RefWorks is a bibliographic management tool, which helps you store and organise your references. With RefWorks you can also create reference lists or bibliographies in formats such as RGU Harvard and RGU Vancouver, as well as formatting essays or dissertations to include in-text citations and reference lists.



Please note that due to upgrades to a new interface, you might encounter an unfamiliar window when you first access RefWorks. See more information here.

Please remember you will always need to check that any of your citations, reference lists or bibliographies comply with the RGU Harvard Guide or RGU Vancouver Guide before submitting assignments, dissertations, etc.



Creating a New Account


You can either access RefWorks directly, or find it via the RGU Library Webpage - under the Referencing & RefWorks section you will find Access RefWorks. You will be prompted to use your RGU username and password to log in.

When you start using RefWorks, you will first need to create an account:

  • Log in to RefWorks (using your RGU username and password)
  • Fill in your details in the ‘Create Account’ window. Make sure you use your RGU email address (e.g.
  • You will receive a registration confirmation email with further information on your RefWorks account.




Please note that due to upgrades to a new RefWorks interface, you might see this window after you log in. Please select ‘Export to Legacy RefWorks’ to proceed to the version accessible by RGU students and staff. If you accidentally select the other option, you will notice that RGU students and staff do not have access.

If you had already logged in, you will be directed straight through to RefWorks; if not, you might have to log in from RefWorks.



At times, even if you are already in RefWorks, you will be prompted to log in through a different route. This will usually happen when transferring information from databases or using write-n-cite.

In this case, click on ‘My Institution’s Credentials (Shibboleth)’, then select ‘Robert Gordon University’ from the drop-down menu. You might be prompted to input your RGU username and password.







Adding References to RefWorks


In order to use RefWorks you must populate it with citation or reference information. There are several ways to enter this information:

Books From the RGU Library Catalogue

If you would like to add information about books to RefWorks:

  • select ‘Online Catalog or Database’ from the ‘Search’ menu (find it on the gray bar at the top of the screen). A pop-up window will open.
  • select a library catalogue or database. 'Robert Gordon University Library' catalogue is included in this list.
  • select the ‘Max Number of References to Download’.
  • enter search terms in the ‘Quick Search’ box or open up the ‘Advanced Search’. The latter has an author and title search option that will make it easier to track down books you have read.

  • click on 'Search' and browse the results.
  • select the references you wish to import into your RefWorks account by either ticking the adjacent checkbox, using the ‘page’ or ‘all in list’ options and Import. You can import references directly to a folder you have set up by selecting it from the ‘Import to Folder’ menu (see more about using folders). When the import is complete, to review the records, click on ‘View Last Imported Folder’.

Journal Articles from Databases

There are procedures in place for importing journal article information from RGU databases straight into your RefWorks account. Find out about these procedures in RefWorks: Importing from Databases.

Adding Details Manually

Manual references might be necessary for different types of references, such as webpages.

  • Go to 'References' on the grey bar and choose ‘Add New’ from the drop-down menu, or select the ‘New Reference’ button.


  • You will then have to enter all the information needed to create the reference:
    • choose the referencing style you will be using (e.g> Harvard British Standard – RGU Recommended)
    • select the reference type (e.g. book, web page, journal article)
    • fill in the authors, title, year, etc. This is essential as these fields include the information needed to create a proper reference.
    • click on 'Additional Fields’ and complete these as needed.
    • add any required attachments
  • If you want, save this reference to a specific folder you have set up from the ‘Add to Folder’ menu.
  • Remember to save (‘Save Reference’ or ‘Save and Add New’). The reference will be saved to RefWorks and you will be able to find it in the relevant folder or the ‘All References’ list.




Using Folders


Folders are a useful tool for organising and locating your references when you access your RefWorks account. There is no limit to the number of folders you can create, and you can put references in more than one folder at the same time. It is useful to name your folders to something useful, such as the chapters of a thesis or dissertation, topics of your study, etc.

Creating Folders

To create a new folder:

  • click on ‘New Folder’ (near the top of the screen). A new window will open.
  • enter your name of choice and select ‘Create’.

  • you can also create a subfolder. Select the option, pick the parent folder, enter the subfolder name and click ‘Create’.

Subsequently, if you select the ‘Organise & Share Folders’, you can see all your folders, locate any references not in a folder and rename, clear or delete any folders as needed. The folders can also be accessed from the menu that appears on the right of the screen at all times.


Adding References to Folders

References can be added to folders at various stages. You can select the reference once you add it to RefWorks and add it to a folder of your choosing using the ‘folder menu’ on the grey bar at the top of the reference list.

If folders are created in advance, you can occasionally add references to a folder when importing from a library catalogue.




Viewing, Editing and Searching References


Viewing References (Including Duplicates)

To view the full details of any reference in your RefWorks account, click on the magnifying glass icon next to the reference.

Also, from ‘View’ you can either see a list of ‘All References’, as well as ‘Duplicates’ (references that are the same or very similar); these can be ‘Exact Duplicates’ or ‘Close Duplicates’. You will then be able to review the references and delete any unneeded records.

Editing References

If, at any stage, you need to adjust the information in a reference or add additional details, click on the ‘Edit’ button and the reference will open in an editable window.

Changes could include:

  • Adding descriptors (in the additional fields section) – this adds subjects to the reference.
  • Adding attachments – to upload a file attached to the reference.

Don't forget to save any changes!

Searching your References

Once you have added some references to RefWorks, you will be able to search through them. If you select ‘Search’ on the top menu, you have a few criteria:

  • ‘Author’ provides a list of authors – choose the one you want to search for.
  • ‘Descriptor’ provides a list of descriptors chosen by RefWorks and those which you have entered into the records yourself. Select the descriptor you wish to search for.
  • ‘Periodical’ provides a list of periodicals – choose the one you want to search for.
  • Try the ‘Advanced Search’ to search all fields or a specific field for your search term.




Citations, Reference List / Bibliographies

Inserting Citations Into a Word Document

The first step in creating a reference list for your essay is to add the citations to the work.

  • Open both the Word document (with your text in it) and your RefWorks account.
  • In RefWorks, open up the list of references that you want to use (e.g. by choosing the relevant folder or looking at all references).
  • Choose whether to leave the references in the standard view or change to the oneline/cite view option (this condenses the information you can see on the screen)
  • Click on the ‘cite’ icon next to the reference.

  • A citation viewer window will open with the reference in an abbreviated form. Select the citation, copy it and paste it in to the correct place in your document. The citation will be enclosed in curly brackets; this is correct, do not change it.

  • Please ensure you 'Clear' the citation viewer box before continuing to a different citation.
  • If you need to add more than one reference (i.e. a statement you made is supported by two or more references) locate the first reference, click the cite icon, locate the second reference and click cite next to it. Both references will now be included in the brackets.
  • Don’t forget to save your document.



As an alternative to the method described above, you can use an option called Write-N-Cite, a plug in tool which you can install for Word. Find the link to download and install it in the Tools menu; guidance can be found in the Help section (in RefWorks).

Please note that students cannot use Write-N-Cite on university computers, but you can install it on your personal devices.

Creating the Reference List

After inserting citations (in curly brackets) to your piece of work the next step is to turn them into proper references and create a reference list at the end of the document.

  • In RefWorks go to 'Bibliography' and choose 'Format Document'.
  • Select your 'Output Style' (e.g. Harvard – British Standard (RGU Recommended)).


  • ‘Select a File’ and browse for the document. Select your document and RefWorks will automatically start to create the reference list. You will be notified when this process is completed.
  • A new document with the word 'Final' at the start will be available.
  • Save the file and open it up. Notice the references have been added to the text and a reference list created at the end.


Please remember to check the document and the reference list and make any edits needed such as adding a heading to the list, any formatting required by your school/department, changes to the references, adding in page numbers for direct quotes and so on.



If you get an error message when trying to create your reference list try saving your word document in the Word 97-2003 format; using an earlier format of word can sometimes stop error messages being produced.

Creating a Bibliography

  • Go to 'Bibliography' on the top menu and choose ‘Create Bibliography’.


  • Select the references to include (selected, page, all in list, or from a folder), your output style (e.g. Harvard – British Standard (RGU Recommended)) and your file type.


  • Click ‘Create Bibliography’. You will be notified when the process is complete and the document should open automatically. If not, select the link to open it up or email it to yourself.

Remember to check the bibliography, make any edits needed and then either save and/or add it to your main piece of work.




Alumni Access


Alumni of the Robert Gordon University can get free access to RefWorks for as long as the University is a paid customer of RefWorks. This entitles you to:

  • One free RefWorks account
  • New updates and feature releases
  • 200 MB of file attachment storage
  • The ability to share your folder or account via refShare
  • Free Web-based training
  • Technical support

Creating an Alumni Account

To access RefWorks as an Alumni you will need a group code. To get it please either contact the library, or if you are a current student looking to set up access before you graduate, then find the code here (CampusMoodle).

Once you have the group code you can create your account:

  • Go to
  • Click on ‘Sign up for a new account’ and enter the Group Code.
  • Fill in the required information. Make sure you select Robert Gordon University in the ‘User Type’ field.
  • Click on ‘Create Account’ when you’re finished. Your new, empty RefWorks account is open.


It is very important that you keep your email address information up-to-date in your RefWorks account (you can update it at Tools, Update User Information). RefWorks may periodically change the Group Code for the Alumni site and you will receive notification of any change via email.

Please make sure you keep your account information updated.

Moving References from a current Account to an Alumni Account

The Backup/Restore feature allows you to make a copy of your database (including RefID numbers and folders) and custom output styles, into your new account.

Please Note - Folders that do not contain any references will not be saved. If you have empty folders that you wish to retain add a reference to the folder before backing up. Also, any preferences set in the customize area of RefWorks will be included in the backup.


To backup and restore your current RefWorks account:

In the current account:

  • Log in to your current RefWorks account and select Backup/Restore (from Tools or the References menu)
  • By default, Include References, Include RSS Feeds and Output Styles are selected. If you do not want to include them your references, deselect them.
  • Click on Perform Backup.
  • Save the file when prompted. If you are not prompted to save the file, select ‘Click here to save your backup file’ to download the backup.
  • The default file name is a combination of Robert Gordon University’s Group Code (or Athens Authentication coding) and your login name. It will be saved as a .zip or .rwb file. Please do not change the extension of the file as it is necessary to restore if you need to do so later.

In the new Alumni account:

  • Log in to your new RefWorks Alumni account and select Backup/Restore (from Tools or the References menu)
  • Select the Restore option and browse for the back up file (.zip or .rwb).
  • Select to ‘Include References’, ‘Include Output Styles’ and/or ‘Include RSS Feeds’ as desired.
  • Click on Perform Restore.


Restoring will overwrite all of the references in your database. If you need to restore from a back up for some reason, be sure to do so in either an empty database or to an account that does not have any data you want to save.



Known Issues

These are some of the current known issues / problems with RefWorks, along with any solutions we have identified for them. We are updating this page as issues are identified or fixed. Please contact us at if you have any queries or are experiencing any other problems.

Books being imported with more than one date

This sometimes happens when importing items using the 'search online catalog or database' facility. It can cause problems when adding citations to your essay and formatting the reference list / bibliography.

To fix it, click the 'Edit Record' icon, delete one of the dates and save.

Sending information from Art Source to RefWorks

While Art Source primarily includes journal articles when the results are sent to RefWorks, they appear as the generic reference type rather than the journal article type. This is a problem as the generic reference type is substantially different to the journal article one.

To fix it click the 'Edit Record' icon and from 'Reference Type' select 'Journal Article' type and save. All the information will be in the correct fields.

Importing from CINAHL with Full Text - extra page information

You might notice when you send journal article information from CINAHL to RefWorks, additional page number information appears. Instead of the start and end page, CINAHL is also including the total number of pages.

This extra information will also be added to reference lists / bibliographies.

To fix this problem you can:
  • Edit the main record - from 'Edit', 'Other Pages' and delete the total number of pages (but remember to leave the end page number), and then save the reference, or
  • Edit the reference list or bibliography - create your reference list or bibliography, locate the reference in the list and then delete the total page number leaving any other page information.

Seeing an old screen when accessing RefWorks

There is an intermittent problem that occurs when people are attempting to log in to RefWorks. We are finding that some users, after entering their RGU username and password, are taken to an additional screen headed Shibboleth-enabled Institution Login rather than being logged in to their account.


  1. From the drop down menu in the screen above locate 'Robert Gordon University' and then 'Login'.Some users have reported this then gives them access to their RefWorks account.

  2. Try clearing all cookies, temporary internet files etc. and then close all internet browsers. The re-open and try accessing RefWorks again.
  3. Try using a different browser, such as Firefox or Chrome. So far reports of this issue have occurred when users are using Internet Explorer.