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Journal Source Gathering

The purpose of this guide is to help senior and junior journal staff members through the source gathering process. This guide covers the most reliable sources for some of the most used items found on subscription databases and on the Internet.

Source Gathering Tips

Be sure that you know what you are looking for.  If you are unfamiliar with the abbreviation, try sources on Abbreviations tab on the home page of this guide should help.  Refer to the  type of source from the left menu to guide you through your source gathering assignment. 


  • The Library does not make interlibrary loan (ILL) requests for articles and documents that can be found in PDF via one of our databases.  The library will not ILL cover pages and table of contents.
  • Also, when resources (like ethics opinions) are promulgated and made available differently in different jurisdictions, it can be extremely difficult to find PDF or print copies of the resource (if those even exist).  In such instances, we will ask you to accept an html or other web-based version of the resource when it is available from a reputable source (like a bar association or state legal resources website—or even Westlaw or Lexis).    If our only reasonable access to a resource is Westlaw or Lexis, there are times when we may need to ask you to accept documents from those resources.  More often than not, we find that when authors cite to resources we find difficult to get in hard copy or PDF, they have typically acquired the source from Lexis, Westlaw, or some other legal research database.
  • The Bluebook in Rule 18.3 also allows use of Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law databases in preference to internet sources because of their reliability and authoritativeness.

These are the links you will likely need most often:

These are additional useful links:

The recommended practice is to store documents gathered for cite checking electronically in the I:\ drive.**  Here are the instructions for access:

**ask your editor if you have I:\ drive access.

You can then mark up these documents, as needed, using the free version of Adobe Reader DC.  These videos demonstrate how to mark-up PDFs using  Adobe Reader DC.

Having trouble finding what you need?

Your citation might be incorrect! Imagine that!  Here are some other things that you may want to keep in mind:

  • Are you looking for an article or a book chapter? 
  • Check an abbreviations dictionary - Are you looking for the correct journal title?
  • Is the citation from a conference?  Has the title of the work changed?
    • Check the author's CV
  • Has the title been cited before?
    • Check the footnotes of another article.
    • Check index database, Index to Legal Periodicals and Books, for example.
    • Try a title, author, or keyword search in WestlawBloombergLexis, or HeinOnline
  • Try an Internet search for a more precise citation.                                                                                                                          
  • Try Google Scholar

Still stumped?