How to import data from Refworks including Personal Notes and Attachments

I'm new on Zotero but I'm very interested by its performance.
Now I want to transfer all of my data from Refworks to Zotero but I have some troubles.
I used export/import function to transfer my data but I lose information about: personal notes, attachments, folders' organization.
Can you show me how to do the transfer including these points please?
Thank you in advance.
  • RefWorks doesn't allow you to export the folder structure or attachments, so there's no way we can import them into Zotero. I don't know about personal notes - you could ask RefWorks if those can be exported into RefWorks Tagged format, in which case we could likely import them.
  • Thank you very much. I've exported my data into Refworks Tagged format and personal notes are now visible in Zotero. But about attachments, there is no way to transfer it to Zotero, I must download it one by one.
    But, can I download my attachments in bulk from Refworks then upload it to Zotero?
  • Not that I know of, no. You can try talking to RefWorks - they have phone support - and see if there is a way to at least download them in bulk, but as long as they're not somehow linked to in the exported data from Refworks, you'll still have to attach them one-by-one in Zotero.
  • Thank adamsmith,
    I asked Refworks for this but they don't have solution too. I must download attachments one by one. It seems that they don't master their own product or it is not practical.
    About folder structure, is there any way to kep a tag or note to remind it in Zotero?
  • Zotero will import anything that's exported as "K1" from Refworks - which I assume would be their tags or keywords - as tags. That should make it pretty easy to re-create the folders in Zotero.
  • Thank you very much. I exported my data into Refworks Tagged format but I don't see any information representing the label of folder. Do you know how to export folder label from Refworks to Zotero as tag?
  • What adamsmith was saying is that if you take all the items in one folder and assign a tag/label/keyword to them that represents that folder, you could then recreate the folders in Zotero using tags after import. I'm not sure if that's what you did.

    I do have a potential solution that would be able to import Refworks folder structure _and_ attachments, but because of the way Refworks exports the data (using the backup feature), this will require some additional non-trivial development and will probably ship as a Zotero add-on. No ETA on this yet though.
  • Thank you aurimas,
    I understand what adamsmith was saying. The problem is that I have nearly hundred folders and each one contains hundreds of references. So I don't have enough of time to add tag/label/keyword to each references.
    By the way, in order to preserve folder structure, I think that I'll export folder by folder from Refworks to Zotero. But, this way may generate a lot of duplications.
    In Zotero, can we organize folder in the same way as Refworks: a reference may belong to many folder?
  • In Zotero, can we organize folder in the same way as Refworks: a reference may belong to many folder?
    yes, that's the same, but if you import an item multiple time it will actually be a duplicate rather than the same item in multiple folders.
  • yes, but I don't see any way to preserve these relationships item-folder by doing export-import. Do you have any idea for this problem, given a great number of folders and references?
  • No. As I say above - we can only import what RefWorks exports.
  • OK. An other question. I'm trying Zotero function. It's true that an item may be in multiple folders. Nevertheless, when I read this item's information, I can't see in what folders it is. Is-there any way to see this?
  • yes:
  • OK, I see. As I say above, I exported from Refworks folder by folder. Now I'm importing folders into Zotero one by one. It goes well until the 38th folder but then I can not add any other folders. I'm trying since yesterday but it doesn't run. Can you tell me what is the problem here?
  • What exactly happens? Do you get an error? Does it hang? Can you provide a Report ID? Could you post the file you are importing on (or similar website) and link to it here?
  • Yes, report ID: 1580925524
  • And the file to import:
  • The problem persists. I need help.
    Report ID: 1187566573
  • Dan, could you take a look at the reports?
  • Yes, but I can't understand what is written. I see just the word "error". I don't know how to do. It's like that for the 3 days now.
  • I'm asking one of the Zotero developers (Dan) to take a look at the error reports you submitted. Only Dan and Simon have access to them. You don't need to worry about any of that.
  • No errors in there. I'm still not clear on exactly what's happening, though.

    I see just the word "error".
    I don't think that's really possible. What's the exact text you see on screen? If necessary, take a screenshot, upload it to a free file-sharing site (Dropbox,,, and provide a link here.
  • You can not read the reports?
    Please see screenshot in following link:
  • Looks like there's something fishy going on with your translators. Try resetting them via Preferences -> Advanced -> Files & Folders -> Reset Translators. After you click it, wait a few seconds and restart Zotero/Firefox. Then update the translators via Preferences -> General -> Update Now. Try importing again.
  • This might just be the "Cannot start a DB transaction from a different wait level" issue.
  • Thank aurimas, I do it but there is always error. And I can not import folders any more.
    Report ID: 899556833
    It's planted like that 1 week since.
  • Once again.
    Report ID: 73917931
  • Hi,
    Do you have any solution for this problem?
    I followed aurimas' advice but my zotero doesn't work.
    Today error report: 123989808
    Please see screenshot in following link:
  • @Dan can you see in the reports where the Zotero data directory is? Those errors don't make sense with anything other than corrupt translator files. We've never seen this behavior with the DB transaction errors... Are there other add-ons installed?
  • I can't see the data directory location in that, no.
    [JavaScript Error: "no element found" {file: "" line: 1}]

    [JavaScript Error: "syntax error" {file: "moz-nullprincipal:{b286d5c2-2013-4210-aa84-aee753cca5dc}" line: 2 column: 1 source: "Refworks Export Tagged Format"}]
    These are the only errors in those reports, the second one repeatedly.
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