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Communication Studies *: RefWorks

Research Guide for Communication Studies


For more information about RefWorks check out the LibGuide devoted just to RefWorks. Here you can find detailed information about importing from various USC databases

Getting started

How do I get started with RefWorks?

You will need to create an individual account which you can do from our Get Started page. For best security, the username and password you create should not be the same as your USC account. You can create as many RefWorks accounts as you would like.

I'm trying to log in and RefWorks is asking for a Group Code. What is that?

The Group Code is required when you are logging in from off-campus or through wireless. The code is RWUSC.

I'm trying to log in and my browser is warning me about going to an  "unsecured third-party site." Is this safe?

When you log into the USC Libraries site to do research (or to use RefWorks), you log into a proxy server. The proxy server authenticates you as being part of USC, and tells other research sites that your access is paid for by USC. The URL for that proxy server is automatically appended to each URL you then try to access. (The proxy server is

All modern web browsers have some security built into them (a good thing), and have some user control over that security (also a good thing). When your browser detects that you are clicking on a link to one URL, but actually arriving at another, it thinks this is a security problem (often it can be).

So when you are logged into our proxy server, then attempt to go to a site like RefWorks and get an additional URL appended to the original (because you are logged into the server), your browser may complain. Usually the message is something about an unsecured third-party site. The language varies depending on the browser.

In other words, your browser is behaving normally, and the sites are behaving as they should. Just “accept the risk” if that is how your browser phrases it, and a cookie will be set in your browser that should prevent any more warning messages. In other words, if you "accept the risk" and get to the site, you should not get the security warning again (unless you clear all your cookies, something we seldom do).

How do I import citations from my Endnote (ProCite, Zotero etc.) database?

RefWorks has a thorough description in the help system which details every step in importing data from other bibliographic databases, including each version of Endnote. Please see Help Menu> Help> Getting References into Your Account>Converting From Other Bibliographic Management Programs

How do I choose between Citation Managers (RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero)?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries has an excellent site which reviews RefWorks, EndNote, EndNote for the Web, and Zotero. The site includes a very detailed comparison of features and a check-list to help decide which one is for you. Available at

What is Write-N-Cite?

Write-N-Cite is a program downloaded for free from your RefWorks database that allows you to easily insert the RefWorks reference code for your citations into a Microsoft Word document. Write-N-Cite is available for both Mac and PC platforms. For more information, please see the tab in this research guide Format Paper>Write-N-Cite or the online tutorial Inserting Citations and Creating Bibliographies with Write-N-Cite

If you use a word-processor other than MS Word, you must use the One Line/Cite View method.

What is One Line/Cite View?

One Line/Cite View is one of the ways you can view the references in your RefWorks database. It allows you to easily generate the reference code for your citations that you can then copy and paste into your documents. One Line/Cite View works with ALL word-processing applications.

What is Ref-Grab-It?

Ref-Grab-It is a type of plug-in that works with your browser to capture bibliographic information from web pages so you can import that data into your RefWorks account. Ref-Grab-It is downloaded from the RefWorks site (from within RefWorks, go to Tools>Ref-Grab-It). You can learn more from the RefWorks site.

What is My List?

My List is a temporary folder in RefWorks to which you can copy references from multiple views, search results, or other folders. You can then print, export, edit or delete those references.

For example, suppose you wanted a formatted list of all of the works in your RefWorks database by a particular author (or publisher etc.). You would first go to the All References View, sort by author, select those references you want and then click on the Add to My List button located in the upper left of the results window. Then you would click on the Bibliography menu, and then select Format a Bibliography from a List of References and choose My List as your source.

Note that My List is a temporary folder. The contents of My List is automatically cleared when you log out of RefWorks. For more information see the RefWorks Help.

How can I create an annotated bibliography in RefWorks?

Creating an annotated bibliography requires several steps: 1) add your annotation to a user-defined field in each citation you want annotated 2) modify the output style you want to use to display the user-defined field and to format the field appropriately.

The steps to do this are described in a RefWorks Ready Reference Guide (.pdf) called Creating an Output Style with Annotations. You should also look at the description of How the Output Style Editor Works in the RefWorks Help system.

Other options you may wish to consider include customizing the RefWorks user field name(s) you use, saving the modified output style with a name of your own choice and making your custom style a preferred option. These are also described in the Help system.

Can I keep my RefWorks account after I graduate?

RefWorks policy is that our students have access as long as we (USC Libraries) continue to have a subscription, please see the RefWorks' policy page:

All alumni of subscribing academic institutions will have life-long access to RefWorks. Access will continue to be available to an institution’s alumni as long as that institution subscribes.

The important thing to note is that when you login from the RefWorks site, you will need to use the USC Libraries Group Code: RWUSC in addition to your RefWorks username and password. This will identify you as someone associated with USC. You will not be using your USC username and password.


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