RefWorks FAQ

Research & Instructional Design
Ed Tech: 315-859-4877
Research: 315-859-4735


What is RefWorks?

RefWorks is a research management tool you can use to create bibliographies, format footnotes, and organize information that you import from the library's databases and other online sources.

Footnotes and bibliographies created with RefWorks are only as good as the information you import. You will still need to edit some references. For help with that, refer to the library's guide to citing sources.

What are the main features?

  • RefWorks imports records from ALEX and most of our library databases.
  • RefWorks organizes research. See Organizing and Managing Your References.
  • RefWorks formats footnotes. See Using Write-N-Cite 4.
  • RefWorks creates bibliographies. See Creating a Bibliography.

How do I get started?

How do I import records from library databases?

The library has well over 100 databases configured to export records to RefWorks. Step-by-step instructions are available for each of these in RefWorks' guide to  importing from online data vendors.

How do I import records from web pages?

RefWorks has a feature called RefGrab-It for capturing bibliographic information from web pages. It is available in two versions -- a bookmarklet that works with either Internet Explorer or Firefox and downloadable plug-ins for Internet Explorer and Firefox. A link to instructions for downloading and using RefGrab-It is available from the "Tools" drop-down menu once you have logged into RefWorks.

How do I create bibliographies?

To create a biliography using RefWorks you should first do the following:

Basic instructions for formatting bibliographies are explained in Creating a Bibliography.

How do I create footnotes?

RefWorks has a feature called Write-N-Cite that can format footnotes and inserts them into your paper. See RefWorks' Using Write-N-Cite 4 guide for help getting started.

How do I check for errors?

RefWorks imports references based on import filters that have been created using data samples from various service providers and databases. Occasionally, there is data that is not imported or data that is imported into an incorrect reference type or field. Any data that is not recognized is reported in the import log.

It's important to check all of your references to make sure the information imported correctly.

Click the View Log button to view information about the imported references. You may see any of the following messages:

  • "Reference type identifier not found; Use default reference type"
    The Reference Type (i.e., Journal, Report, Map etc.) was not defined for the database. RefWorks imports the data using the default Reference Type. The default is the Reference Type most common for that particular database.
  • "Tag not defined; Not imported"
    The data in the field was not imported because the filter did not recognize the tag.
  • "Source format not found; Import into Notes"
    The Source field generally contains several pieces of information such as Volume, Issue, Page Number(s), Year of Publication, Periodical name, etc. The format of this field varies a great deal, and each format must be specifically defined to ensure RefWorks puts information into the correct fields. If RefWorks does not recognize a particular source line format, it takes all of the information as it is in the database and imports it into the Notes field. For this information to be used correctly for bibliography generation, you need to manually insert in the appropriate fields.
  • "Author pattern not found; Import as is"
    RefWorks attempts to import author names in a specified format so that the name is used correctly in bibliography generation. Common formats such as John Smith or Smith, John are imported into RefWorks correctly. If an author format is not recognized, it is still imported into the Author field but may not be in a correct format when you generate a bibliography. If possible, check the author field for the reference and put it in the format required.
  • "Database identifier in header not found; Use database identifier in reference"
    Import Filters are based on the service and the database. When importing, RefWorks looks for a database identifier to direct it to the appropriate filter. Some databases put the database name in a header file, and others put it in the reference itself. The message indicates that the identifier for this reference was found in the reference itself not the header file.
  • "Database identifier in reference not found; Use default database"
    If RefWorks cannot find a database identifier in the reference it is attempting to import, it uses the Database you selected from the Import window.

How do I access RefWorks from off campus?

When you are off campus you must login from the library's RefWorks page in order to be authenticated as a valid Hamilton user.

How do I access Write-N-Cite from off campus?

When using Write-N-Cite from off-campus you must always connect to RefWorks via the library's proxy server in order to be authenticated as a valid Hamilton user. You will then need to modify the settings in the Write-N-Cite preferences.

Windows users:
Download the Write-N-Cite plug-in from RefWorks.
Go to Start/Programs/RefWorks/WNC Proxy Configuration Utility
In the box that appears for proxy server information type the following URL: http://ez.hamilton.edu:2048/login?url=https://www.refworks.com/Refworks/?WNC=true
Click OK.

Macintosh users:
Download the Write-N-Cite plug-in from RefWorks.
Activate Write-N-Cite.
Select Preferences from the Write-N-Cite menu. 
Select the Proxy option and enter the following URL:
Restart Write-N-Cite for this proxy configuration to take effect.

How do I access RefWorks with a mobile device?

The RefWorks Working with RefMobile page provides instructions for accessing RefWorks using a mobile device.

You need to login using Hamilton College's group code when using RefMobile. Contact a reference librarian at askus@hamilton.edu or 315-859-4735 if you've lost the RefWorks email you received when you first set up an account. It has the group code.

Can I still use my RefWorks account after I graduate?

Yes! RefWorks offers free lifelong access to alumni.

Following graduation you should login to RefWorks and choose the Update Profile link at the top of the page. Change the Type of User to "Alumni" and replace your Hamilton email with an active account.

Where can I get help?

Contact a research librarian at askus@hamilton.edu or 315-859-4735. RefWorks also provides many online guides, some of which are listed below:


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