Skip to main content

Help with referencing: I want to use RefWorks or other tools

Changes to APA advice on using Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) is causing problems with ProQuest RefWorks:  Read More
If you have problems with RefWorks Write-N-Cite on University computers there is a quick fix:  Read More

Signing up to use ProQuest RefWorks

ProQuest RefWorks is a web-based reference management tool, available to SHU staff, students and alumni.  It helps you to manage the references you collect and create citations and reference lists in your work.

To sign up to ProQuest RefWorks Go to:

  • Click on 'Create account'
  • Enter your university email address ending with one of the following
    • If you are a SHU collaborative partner student, please use your college email address.
  • Your email address should be accepted by RefWorks and you will see this 'Good news!' message with a prompt to choose a password.
    Choose a password and you will receive an email including a link that you need to follow in order to confirm your account and complete your profile details

If you would like to use other referencing software please see further information here.

Learning how to use ProQuest RefWorks

Help videos - key features of ProQuest RefWorks

Help videos - write-n-cite

More help

  • In ProQuest RefWorks, click on the 'Get help' icon (question mark in the top right hand corner) for links to support resources 
  • More detailed guidance on ProQuest RefWorks is available on our Detailed Help Guide to RefWorks.
  • If you cannot view the videos above on YouTube, more text based help is available on ProQuest Support Pages


ProQuest RefWorks and Library Search

Watch this short video to learn how to automatically create a ProQuest RefWorks reference for books, journals and other sources you have found in Library Search.

Choosing the right referencing tool or app for you

Online referencing tools and apps can make referencing quicker and easier by creating and formatting references in the style you select. The APA referencing style is widely used and supported by most tools and apps. If you are referencing in a different style, check to see if the tool or app supports the style you need.

There are many tools and apps available to you. The Open University provides a good overview of referencing software here. If you are a researcher, a detailed  comparison of the features of different referencing software is available here.

Before you choose, please research the product you intend to use and consider the following:

  • Does it produce references in the style you need and are these accurate? 
  • Is it free or are there charges to use it? Even if it looks free, there may be charges if you want to perform certain functions or need more storage space.
  • Is it compatible with the other tools and word processing systems you use?
  • What are the technical requirements? Don't forget you can't download software to University PCs.
  • How easy is it to use?
  • Is using it sustainable? Could the software stop being available?
One referencing tool may produce slightly different references from another.  To ensure consistency, it is recommended that you use only one referencing tool or app for any piece of work.

Digital object identifiers (DOI) in ProQuest RefWorks

There are changes to the way APA asks writers to present DOIs in references.  RefWorks is working to accommodate this but in the meantime you will need to take steps to ensure that your references are correct.

What needs correcting

At the moment ProQuest RefWorks displays DOIs without any prefix and, if there is an URL (web address), it will display both the DOI and the URL.  There are two options to create correct references.  You can check with your lecturer to see if you need to do this or which option they prefer.  Even without correction your reference will still clearly identify the resources you have used.  

Option 1: Ensure that the DOI is correctly shown by manually editing references in your document 

Once your document is complete you can add the correct prefix to any reference containing a DOI.  (You should also delete any URL information where there is a DOI.)  If you update your reference list with ProQuest RefWorks you may have to redo your editing.  After editing your DOI should look like one of these:  

  1.  (now APA best practice)
  3. doi:10.1037/arc0000014
For example: 

Qin, J., Sun, C., Zhou, X., Leng, H., & Lian, Z. (2014). The effect of indoor plants on human comfort. Indoor and Built Environment, 23(5), 709-723. 10.1177/1420326X13481372 


Qin, J., Sun, C., Zhou, X., Leng, H., & Lian, Z. (2014). The effect of indoor plants on human comfort. Indoor and Built Environment, 23(5), 709-723. 

Option 2: Remove DOIs and make sure there is an URL for all electronic resources 

Though APA prefers you to use DOIs, a reference with a web address is not incorrect.  In RefWorks edit the reference details so that there is no DOI.  If you do not have an URL you can use one of the DOI options that looks like an URL.  Once you have edited the record it will be applied to your reference list consistently.  

For example: 

Qin, J., Sun, C., Zhou, X., Leng, H., & Lian, Z. (2014). The effect of indoor plants on human comfort. Indoor and Built Environment, 23(5), 709-723. 10.1177/1420326X13481372 


Qin, J., Sun, C., Zhou, X., Leng, H., & Lian, Z. (2014). The effect of indoor plants on human comfort. Indoor and Built Environment, 23(5), 709-723. Retrieved from 

Why the APA changed its advice and RefWorks response

DOIs are unique identifiers for electronic resources and the APA prefers these to be used when available.   If there is no DOI you should normally have a web address or URL in your reference for electronic resources.  The advantage of DOIs is that they are the same whatever platform you find an article on. 

CrossRef, the organisation that produces DOIs, recently updated its advice on how DOIs should be displayed and used.  The new advice will make using DOIs more secure and the APA accepted this as best practice.  The APA continues to accept alternatives that are commonly used as long as they are applied consistently within a piece of work.  The three accepted ways of presenting DOIs are:

  1.           (CrossRef reccomended and therefore best practice)
  3. doi:10.1037/arc0000014                            (This is the style in the APA Publication Manual)

Because the APA accepts three options, ProQuest RefWorks has left out the prefix so that users can add it in themselves.   At the moment it is not possible to put the prefix in the DOI field though we expect this to be an option in future.

Problems with RefWorks Write-n-Cite on university computers

Sometimes Word has an error when opening a document and will only proceed if you disable the Write-N-Cite Add-in.  The steps below should re-enable Write-N-Cite.    

  1. Open any Word Document
  2. go to File>>Options>>Add-Ins
  3. At the bottom of the Add-Ins dialogue box find  the Manage drop down menu. Select Disabled Items and click Go 
  4. In the Disabled Items box click on Write-N-Cite and Enable
  5. Close all dialogue boxes, close all Word documents.  

Write-N-Cite should be available when you next use Word.  Please report any problems with Write-N-Cite to even if you are able to get it working again.

If staff do not see Write-N-Cite at step 4 it is not installed on your computer and you should contact


Getting started with ProQuest RefWorks workshop - learn how to use ProQuest refWorks software to create citations and reference lists. 

This session is open to staff and students based at SHU City and Collegiate campuses. To book a place go to The Skills Centre booking page If you are unable to attend a session, full guidance (how to login, step-by-step worksheet and videos) is available here.  

Help exporting references from databases into ProQuest RefWorks

Many databases offer direct export to RefWorks. If you cannot see this option, find your database on this page.  When you export references you will be asked which version of RefWorks you wish to use.  Select ProQuest RefWorks (unless you are using the Legacy version).

Using Google Scholar to create references

There is a quick way to generate APA style references for sources you find using Google Scholar.

Don't forget to check and edit any references that are created. There may be incorrect information that needs amending or extra information you can add to improve your references.

Think about information that may be missing, such as DOIs and URLs for web based resources.

The video guidance shows linking to Google Scholar from SHU Library Gateway, partner students should use the link