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Cite-Checking & Library Research

Suggestions for law students conducting cite-checks


So many citations; so little time? How should a cite-checker approach his or her first assignment to retrieve cited material?

The following checklist itemizes steps for locating and collecting cited material.

  1. Read the article.
  2. Browse the footnotes.
  3. Identify citations to unfamiliar types of material, nonlegal sources, other unusual material, and foreign language sources (especially for countries and languages outside of the Gallagher Law Library's collection strengths; see Call Numbers for Foreign Law for a brief description).
  4. Consult a reference librarian for assistance in deciphering odd citations and identifying and locating items found in step 3.
  5. Search for books and other treatises using library catalogs, in the following order:
    1. UW Libraries + Summit. Covers more than 30 academic libraries in Oregon and Washington, including the Gallagher Law Library and the UW Libraries. UW faculty, students, and staff may directly request items that are not available in the Law Library from Summit.
    2. WorldCat. Covers thousands of academic, public, law firm, special, government, and corporate libraries around the world.
  6. Check out books and initiate retrieval requests.
  7. Consult a reference librarian about books not found in any catalogs in step 5.
  8. Submit interlibrary loan requests for books not available from sources in step 5.
  9. Search for interdisciplinary and/or nonlegal periodicals in the UW Libraries Catalog, by title of the periodical. Also consult the E-Journals list.
  10. Search for law reviews and other legal periodicals in HeinOnline, by citation or the title of the law review or periodical.
  11. Search for court reporters and other primary legal sources in:
    1. Westlaw: PDF images of cases found in the National Reporter System
    2. HeinOnline: PDF images of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, the U.S. Code, and other titles
  12. Retrieve materials requested from Summit and interlibrary loan.