Fare Thee Well RefWorks, Hello Zotero

Let’s say you are over at Summit getting some coffee, and, as you are about to order, the barista announces a special offer: all light roast coffee is free, for the rest of the year, and for a matter of the fact, forever. Now, you happen to be a strictly dark roast enthusiast, and switching to a light-roast blend seems like it would be a bit of a transition. On the other hand, the potential of free coffee is appealing. Would you take the deal?

In a sense, we at the library have found ourselves in a similar position. For a while now we have been supporting two Reference Management tools—RefWorks, which we pay for, and Zotero, which is free. All this will be changing in June, as we will be ending our subscription to RefWorks in favor of Zotero. For heavy RefWorks users, we are aware that this move from RefWorks to Zotero is inconvenient. Nevertheless, dropping RefWorks allows us to save on costs while still having a reference management tool available.

Zotero's logo

What does all of this mean for you as researchers and library users? If you are a RefWorks user, it means you will have to pack up your RefWorks references and move them over to Zotero by June. There are a few things to consider when making this move, and you can jump down to the next section to read about them. If you have never used a reference management tool, not too much has changed, but, due to our new focus on Zotero, now can be a great opportunity to learn more about Reference Management tools.

Reference Management tools, or citation management tools, are the caffeine of research resources. By providing you with a personal library linked to your internet browser, a reference management tool like Zotero can jumpstart the research process and allow you to accomplish a lot more in a lot less time.
To give a quick once-over of Zotero’s capabilities:

  • Zotero streamlines the process of saving and organizing sources you find during research.
  • Zotero helps you organize and focus your collected references
  • Zotero even integrates with Word so that you can automatically cite your references—without all the hassle of formatting for different styles.

A great way to learn more about Zotero is to ask a librarian or explore our Zotero guide on your own.

Moving from RefWorks to Zotero

For RefWorks users, you have some packing and moving to do. But not to worry—the library is here to help with the move. We have created a guide to explain how to transfer your references from RefWorks to Zotero. If you feel that you would rather talk to someone one-on-one about moving your references, set up a consultation with a librarian—we would be happy to walk you through the process.

A U-Haul Truck Ready for a Move

We might not have a U-Haul, but we do have librarians to help with your move from RefWorks! Picture by Bill McChesney [CC-BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via Flickr http://tinyurl.com/o7lk6hn

For the most part, you can bring your RefWorks library over to Zotero by exporting and importing your reference. However, there are a few tidbits to keep in mind:

  • The fields used in Zotero, for the most part, corresponds to Refworks
    • What does this mean? Essential elements in your references such as title and author will be treated the same in Zotero as they were in RefWorks. For instance, if you have a reference in Refworks that has content for an abstract, that content will appear in the abstract section for the reference within Zotero.
  • Not all Zotero fields completely correspond to Refworks
    • RefWorks has many unique elements you can add to your references, like the User 1 field. Unfortunately, Zotero has no substitute for fields like the User 1 field.1
  • You cannot directly transfer your RefWorks folder organization into Zotero.
    • However there are indirect methods for recreating the structure of your RefWorks folders within Zotero as outline on the RefWorks to Zotero guide.

There are other factors that might come into play as you transition over to Zotero, all of which we can help you address at the library case-by-case. For now, as you prepare to move to Zotero, you may want to check out how Zotero works on our Zotero guide—or you can always ask a librarian for an introduction to Zotero.

1. [There is a way to get the information from additional fields from RefWorks to Zotero, but it will all be lumped as text associated with the reference.]