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Exporting Citations from SciFinder to RefWorks

All databases offer some sort of export-to-citation-manager function. Some are straightforward in how they work; other are not. SciFinder Scholar is one of the others. It, like many older databases, has its own set of quirks. The good news is that once you learn how to handle one quirky database, you'll be equipped to figure out any of the others.

Here are steps that will work. First, log into SciFinder Scholar and Refworks on two separate tabs.


  • Start with a search in SciFinder; select the references that you want to transfer. 
  • Click Export (in the upper righthand corner of the screen).
  • A pop-up appears. Use the pre-selected Citation Export Format (*.ris); click the Export button in the pop-up box.

Your Computer

  • The file will download and you'll see it in the lower lefthand corner).
    • Do not open this file. An .ris file is only readable by a program like Refworks or other citation management software.
  • Right click on the download and select Show in Folder.
  • Copy the file to your desktop.
    • (If you try to upload to RefWorks from the download, it will not work; it will work from the desktop, however.)


  • Click the +Add icon.
  • Choose Import References from the dropdown, then "select a file from your computer."
  • Find the file on your desktop and click open.
  • The Import References box will appear; from the "this file will import dropdown," choose RIS format and click the Import button.
  • Import Options will appear.
    • At this point you can direct the imports to a specific folder, or simply click Import. You can always assign folders later.
  • Once the Import Complete notification appears, click OK to view your imported references.


  • SciFinder-N is a new and easier-to-use interface--when it comes to searching.
  • Unfortunately, SciFinder-N is no better than SciFinder Scholar when it comes to exporting.
  • Here's how: Make your selections, and click the download icon (in the upper right). Then a pop-up called Download Reference Results will appear. Change the pre-selected PDF to Citation (.ris) and download. Treat the download as you did above under SciFinder Scholar.

NOTE: Single citations from SciFinder (both Scholar and N) may export directly into RefWorks without problems, but exporting one citation at a time defeats the purpose of exporting. You'll save time and effort by creating multi-citation files.

NOTE: if you are ever working with a database that does not include a direct export to RefWorks or any other such program, go to whatever export function that they provide and look for the RIS option. RIS files are designed for citation managers. As you may notice in RefWorks, there many different types of RIS files available. If your source is not listed as a specific source of RIS files, choose the basic one -  plain RIS format.

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