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Resources for Research Assistants

Substance checking, example 2: work lacks citation to a law review article

Scenario: the following sentence appears in the article that you are checking, with no accompanying citation: Rakove suggests that Hylton v. U.S. would be a more significant case to discuss with regard to the origins of judicial review than Marbury v. Madison.

  1. Need for a citation: the sentence clearly needs a citation, so consider how to locate the source of this information. Do surrounding footnotes provide a clue about the Rakove article being referenced here? If not…
  2. Figure out the source: use clues. Here, at least the author’s name and some good keywords have been provided, which should help if the source is available electronically. There are a few tactics to employ:
    1. Run some searches in online databases that would likely contain the source. Here, it is a good bet that this is from a law review article, so search a full-text database such as the law review & journals databases on Westlaw, Lexis, or HeinOnline using the author field (Rakove) and the text field (Marbury & Hylton). This method leads to Rakove’s article The Origins of Judicial Review: A Plea for New Contexts, 49 Stan. L. Rev. 1031, 1039-41.
    2. Search the library catalog for the author’s name and the keywords (perhaps, judicial review). Be sure to click on the Articles tab if searching for a law review or other type of article.
    3. Search Google for the author’s name and subject matter; this could lead to the article or book being cited.
    4. Again, if these basic tactics do not lead to a credible source, check with the author (or, as appropriate, the journal editor).
  3. Confirm the substance: the statement above accurately summarizes the point that Rakove makes on pages 1039-41 of his article. If the author’s sentence resembles a quotation (i.e., if the language is very close to the language used in the source), turn it back into a quotation, and flag it for the author.