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Introduction to RefWorks: Getting Started

RefWorks Quick Start Guide

Use this handy guide to help you get up and running with RefWorks!

RefWorks Quick Start Guides (non-English versions)

RefWorks Quick Start guides are also available in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese Simplified
  • Chiense Traditional
  • Czech
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Spanish

Technical Support is available!

RefWorks Technical Support is available to help you:

Email us!

By Phone:  +1. 800-521-0600 ext. 74440 or +1.734-997-4440.


Support hours are:

Eastern Time Zone:

Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm Eastern Time


Pacific Time Zone:

Monday – Friday 5:00 am – 6:00 pm Pacific Time


RefWorks User Workbooks

Download these self-study guides to practice using RefWorks on your own.

Creating an Account

Creating Your Account As Part Of An Organization-Wide Subscription:

Note:  It's best when you create your account that you are on-site at your Organization (on an IP-authenticated computer) or logged in to the Organization's network through a VPN or proxy server.    

  1. Open your browser and go to Note:  Your login URL may be different.  Please check with your Organization for the appropriate RefWorks login URL.

  2. Click the Sign up for a New Account link

  3. If you are off-campus or outside the IP range, you will need the RefWorks Group Code
    to complete the registration process.  See your librarian for the group code.

  4. Complete Step 1 and Step 2.

Note:  When creating your Login Name, please do not use the following characters:

* Asterisk

< >[ ] Brackets

= Equal sign

+ Plus sign

" Quotes

\ / Slashes

, . : ; Comma, Period, Colon, Semicolon

  1. Click Create Account.

    You will receive an email confirmation .

After you click on create account, you'll be brought in to your new, empty RefWorks account where you can begin adding your references.  

Also, you can modify your login name, email address, password or other information by selecting Update Profile from the option bar in the upper right-hand corner of your account.  You may also create a read-only password in the Update Profile area.


Some organizations use proxy servers or VPNs (instead of group codes) to allow access from off-site.  Please contact your librarian for information on logging into the proxy server or VPN.  Some organizations may also use an authentication system like Shibboleth or Open Athens for account creation and logging in.  Please contact your librarian for assistance.



Video Tutorial: Accessing RefWorks, Creating an Account, and Logging In

Logging in to RefWorks

Users using Athens authentication should log in from off-campus by clicking on the link that says Athens credentials.  If you are on campus, you should be directed to your Athens login page.  Once logged in, you can select RefWorks from your list of services.  To create an account, simply enter your Athens login name and password at the RefWorks login screen and account will automatically be created for you.

Users using Shibboleth authentication should click on the link that says My insititutio's Credentials (Shibboleth) from the RefWorks login page.  After clicking the link, select your Organization from the list.  You can then enter your Shibboleth User Name and Password and you'll be brought into your RefWorks account.  

Individual Subscribers have only one method for logging in -- from the RefWorks Login Center which you access automatically when you go to refworks.

To log in to RefWorks:

  1. Open your browser and go to  Note:  Your login URL may be different.  Please check with your Organization for the appropriate RefWorks login URL.

  2. Enter your Login Name and Password.  You can remain logged in to RefWorks for 14 days by marking the checkbox next to the "Keep my session open for 14 days" option.

    Note:  If you are logging in to a public computer, do not select the Keep my session open for 14 days option as it will give full access to your account to anyone using the computer.

Forgot your Password?

Should you forget your RefWorks password, you can receive an email with a link to reset your password.

  1. Go to
  2. Click Forgot Your Login Information?
  3. Enter your email address.   
  4. You will receive an email with a link to create a new RefWorks password. 
  5. Follow the link to a page where you will enter, then re-enter, your new password.  A confirmation email will inform you that your password has been changed.  You can log in immediately with your new password.

Note:  If you have multiple RefWorks accounts registered with the same email address, you will be prompted to select one from a list

Other Videos To Help You Learn RefWorks

  • RefWorks Advanced Videos - Covers editing multiple references, backing up and restoring your account, advanced search and more!