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Library Research Guides


RefWorks is a web-based bibliographic management service that allows users to create personal citation databases, import references from online databases or text files, access your account online from any computer, and automatically format bibliographies.

Collaborating with others

RefWorks is a great tool for group research projects.  By creating an account to share, you and your group members will be able to add citations from anywhere you have Internet access. Here are some tips to help you to use RefWorks efficiently as a group.

Create a Separate Account for the Group

Group accounts are created exactly the same as individual accounts:

  1. Choose Sign up for an Individual Account from the main RefWorks screen
  2. Choose a Login Name and Password that will make sense to your group (don’t forget to share these with the group!)

For example, pick something that has the class or project name in it, like “arteducation” or “biochemlab4”.

Use Folders to Organize Citations

  • To facilitate organization amongst group members, create folders to store your citations. You could create folders for different topics and/or a folder for each person working on the project – whatever works best for your group. 

Remember that citations can display in multiple folders. 

Create Consistent Vocabulary Using Descriptors

  • Using descriptors creates a consistent vocabulary across your RefWorks database making it easier to search and retrieve relevant citations within your RefWorks database.  If you’ve imported citations from a number of online library resources, different terms may be used to describe a similar thing.

For example, the words “juvenile” and “child” both may be used to describe kids, but your group may always want to use the word, “child”.

Select an Account Manager

  • Select someone from your group to periodically check for duplicates, make sure citations are in the proper folders, etc.  If your account needs some cleanup work that the manager can’t do, s/he can let the group know what needs to be done.

Sharing a folder(s)

You can share a folder or database from the Organize & Share Folders tab in the main viewing area of RefWorks.

In the Organize & Share Folders area, you'll see a list of your folders. You have two options:

  • Share your enter database (all references and all folders)

  • Share only a specific folder (or folders)

For each folder there is a Share icon sharefolder.jpgand at the top of the list of folders is the same icon that will Share Entire Database.

Clicking on the Share icon sharefolder.jpg will take you to a Shared Folder Options page.  This page will allow you to set up various permissions for your Guests.  

Also, from the Organize & Share Folders area you can manage your shared references.  After you click the Share icon sharefolder.jpg, the icon will change to indicate the folder is shared.  Clicking on the Shared iconsharedfolder.jpgwill display several options:

  • Share Link sharelink.jpg --   takes you into your shared folder or database.  

Using the URL that is generated for your folder or database, you can also create a custom link to a specific reference that is contained in your shared folder or database.  To do this, add the following to the end of the URL:  & rn=XX (with XX being the RefWorks Ref ID assigned to the particular reference).  Entering this custom URL in a browser will bring the Guest directly to the Full View of that reference.  The Guest has access to the complete folder or database that the linked reference is contained in.  

  • Remove Share folder.jpg-- allows you "unshare" your specific folder or database making it inaccessible to any recipients and removing it from the Shared Area Page (if posted there).  

  • Shared Folder Options  sharedoptions.jpg-- takes you to the Shared Folder Options Page where you can edit or update sharing options.

  • Email this shareemailrefshare.jpg-- launches an email template that you can use to send your unique URL to someone.  

Once you click on the Share icon sharefolder.jpgto share a folder or database, a URL is created.  This URL can be emailed to your intended Guests.  You can copy and paste this URL into your own email or, by clicking on the Email this share icon emailrefshare.jpg, RefWorks will create a message with the URL and some information for the recipient on how to view your references.  

After clicking the Email this share icon emailrefshare.jpg:

    • Add the Guests' e-mail addresses, separating multiple addresses with a semi-colon

    • Make any changes to the Reply to, Subject or Message areas in the appropriate text boxes

    • Click Send email

There is also a Reset button that will restore the default text in the text box.

From the Organize & Share Folders page, for any folder that has already been shared, you can mouse over the Shared sharedfolder.jpgor Folder  folder.jpgicon to share your folder or database on social media sites.  Click on the Facebook facebookicon.jpg, Twitter twittericon.jpg or the More moreicon.jpg icon to share your folder or database on a social media site.

You may also see three links on the main Organize & Share Folders page -- View Shared Area, Statistics and Default Settings:

View Shared Area -- If your organization has implemented the Shared Area Page, you can access it by clicking the View Shared Area button.  This is an optional feature determined by your local RefWorks Administrator so in some cases, you may not see this button.  That indicates that the Shared Area Page has not been implemented for your organization.

Statistics --  shows you total hits per database or folder for a variety of timeframes (i.e., last week, past month, etc.) for each shared folder or database.  This does not show you who accessed the shared references, only how many times your folder or database was accessed.

Default Settings -- allows you to establish shared folder options for all folders.  You can create default settings for existing shared folders or only for folders shared after you save the default settings. 

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