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Tracking Citations to Articles

This guide explains how to use different methods to find and track citations to articles and other works.

Legal Citators for Law Review Articles

Legal researchers rely on citators such as Shepard's (on Lexis) and KeyCite (on Westlaw) to find chains of precedent—later cases citing a case they're interested in. They might not think of using citators for articles, but they're very useful.

In general, you can check for citing references to an article that is in one of the legal online services. The citator will list citing references that are in that service. For instance, Shepard's will show citations in law reviews and treatises that are in Lexis and KeyCite will show citations in Westlaw—but not vice versa.

KeyCite

When you are viewing an article in Westlaw, you can go directly to citing references by clicking on the tab. For example, Prof. Hugh Spitzer's article, New Life for the "Criteria Tests" in State Constitutional Jurisprudence: "Gunwall is Dead—Long Live Gunwall!", 37 Rutgers L.J. 1169 (2006), has a tab at the top indicating 22 citing references.

screen snip Westlaw display of New Life for the Criteria Tests 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clicking through, you find that it's been cited by two cases, 12 secondary sources, and 8 appellate court documents (as of July 1, 2016). And you can easily go on to read each of those. For example, here is how it is cited in State v. Gaskins, 866 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 2015):

screen snip of State v Gaskins

KeyCite also picks up other types of secondary sources, in addition to journal articles. For instance, using KeyCite, one can find that Prof. Karen Boxx's article, Too Many Tiaras: Conflicting Fiduciary Duties in the Family-Owned Business Context, 49 Hous. L. Rev. 233 (2012), is cited in the treatise Bogert's Trusts and Trustees and in Texas Jurisprudence 3d.

The Table of Authorities feature shows cases an author cited—for instance, the 83 cases Prof. Spitzer cited in his article.

Shepard's

When you are viewing a law review article in Lexis, a box on the right provides a link to "Shepardize this document."

Shepardize this document

The Shepard's display will list citing decisions and other citing sources. For example, Shepard's shows that Prof. Hugh Spitzer's article, New Life for the "Criteria Tests" in State Constitutional Jurisprudence: "Gunwall is Dead—Long Live Gunwall!", 37 Rutgers L.J. 1169 (2006), has been cited by two cases (Iowa and Washington State) and 13 other sources (9 law reviews and 4 court documents).

screen snip of Shepard's display for Spitzer article

The Table of Authorities option displays sources cited—for instance, the 83 cases Prof. Spitzer cited in his article.

Shepard's Limitations

You can only use Shepard's on items that are in Lexis. So if the law review article you want to track was published before Lexis picked up the journal, you can't Shepardize it.

There is not a Shepard's link for every journal. For instance, Business Lawyer (published by the ABA rather than a law school) doesn't appear to be included. The Impact of UE Unfair Contract Terms on US Business-to-Consumer Internet Merchants, 62 Bus. Law. 209 (2006), by Prof. Jane Winn and Mark Webber, does not have a "Shepardize this document" link.

Sometimes results are just surprising. For example, an article by Prof. Jane K. Winn and Brian H. Bix (Diverging Perspectives on Electronic Contracting in the U.S. and EU, 54 Clev. St. L. Rev. 175 (2006)) seems to be in the Lexis database twice. On July 1, 2016, I clicked the link for "Shepardize this document" for each of them and found no citing references. But a full-text search ("jane k winn" /5 "brian h bix" /5 "diverging perspectives") turned up 16 articles and one treatise that cite the article.

Shepard's (or any citator) can miss citing references if the later work has a typo or uses a non-standard abbreviation.

BCite (Bloomberg Law)

BCite, the citator on Bloomberg Law, currently covers only cases. You cannot use it to find citations to a law review article.