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Cite Checker's Guide: Start Here

Helpful tips for law review cite checking assignments.

Tips for Cite Checkers

  1. Source is onsite #1. Don’t reinvent the wheel: check with your editor (and other cite checkers) for any sources already obtained from the author or the library.
  2. Source is onsite #2. Use the Law Library's online catalog (Primo) to find out what books or journals the library already owns. If a non-circulating item is available at the Watzek Library, you will need to visit Watzek to make copies or scans. More about requesting books.

  3. Use Open Access Tools. Google Scholar, Unpaywall, and the Open Access Button harvest scholarly articles from Open Access sources and make them freely available. All three services have browser extensions available; if you can't find the article you're looking for in Primo, search for the article title in Google, then use the browser extensions to see if the article is freely available through one of these tools. 

  4. Need U.S. Congressional documents (e.g., a report or hearing)? Check our Federal Legislative History research guide. We have links to terrific databases (U.S. Congressional Serial Set (Readex), Proquest Congressional, and Legislative Insight) that contain PDFs of most congressional documents.  Reference librarians are happy to help you search in these databases.

  5. Ask for professional help. Contact the Reference Librarians via chat, email, phone, or in person at the Reference Desk.  

    Librarians can: 
    + Suggest a strategy if you don’t know where to start
    + Help with abbreviations using abbreviation dictionaries such as Prince’s Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (Reference Desk); World Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (Ref K89 .K38 1991); and Cardiff Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations
    + Advise you on finding hard to locate sources
    + Help you borrow a source using Summit and Worldcat

  6. Citation shortcut. Use this librarian’s trick if you think there is something wrong with the citation: using the citation information that you have, run a search in Westlaw’s or LexisNexis’s law reviews database to find another article that has already cited to your source.  But don’t rely solely on this information, as sometimes this method perpetuates errors.

Realistic Expectations

It’s difficult, if not impossible, for the library to obtain the following for you:

  • Newspapers articles in PDF.  But we will purchase the html copy of the article from the newspaper’s own website if the price is nominal. Check our Newspaper source guide.
  • Official foreign laws in English in PDF. But we will search for the most recent foreign laws available. Contact Kian Pakdel.
  • Drafts or internal documents that the author obtained through professional contacts, e.g., internal government agency memos.
  • "Born Digital" sources, e.g., blogs, WTO documents, etc. in PDF or a paper copy.
  • Just the “front matter” of a journal or book that is otherwise available in full text in an online format.
  • Reference materials, reserve materials, rare books, and multi-volume sets from other libraries: their catalog may list them as “available” but that doesn’t mean they’re “loanable.”

 Paper vs. Microfiche vs. Electronic

  • The library staff fully understands and respects the need for official, authoritative, accurate, current, and stable texts of legal sources.  
  • Microfiche/film is an exact image of the original including page numbers. At Boley Law Library, you can make free copies from the microforms or save the image electronically.
  • Electronic image formats, such as PDF, are also exact copies of the original with page numbers and graphics. 
  • If we only have electronic access to a book that is not available as a PDF or with sufficient pin cite access, we will attempt to request the title via ILL. 
  • In general, the Boley Law Library will not provide paper copies of materials that the library owns in microfiche/microfilm or in an electronic image format that is acceptable for cite checking. This includes state statutes and case reporters the library no longer carries in print. 

Library Logistics

  1. There is no law review library account. You can only request and check out items with your own ID card.
  2. You are responsible for all fines incurred in your name. 
  3. Book or journal not on the shelf? Ask the Circulation staff to conduct a search for you.
  4. What if the Boley Law Library doesn’t have what you need?
  • Your LC ID allows you to borrow books from Summit consortium libraries (primarily Oregon and Washington college and university libraries) directly from our Primo Catalog.
  • If you need 1) an article or 2) a book that doesn’t appear in Summit, fill out this ILL form and check out our ILL FAQs.


Dockets are very useful for locating in-depth case information and through Bloomberg Law, LC students and faculty have access to the underlying documents in a case. If the document is unavailable through Bloomberg Law, contact a Reference Librarian for assistance as librarians have access to PACER and can often locate the documents you need. Note that PACER coverage may not include all cases, especially old ones, so sometimes it is necessary to contact the clerk of court in the specific jurisdiction. 

Research Help

We're here to help. Contact a research librarian for help with an assignment, project, or resource. 

Mon-Fri, 11am

Reference Hours

Finding Articles Video