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Cite-Checking Research Guide

Incomplete or Inaccurate Information

If you have an article citation that is missing certain pieces of information (e.g., an article citation without a volume number and the year of publication) or if it appears your citation has some incorrect information, you can try to do some detective work to obtain a better citation. Both Google Books and Google Scholar (discussed under Finding Books & Articles Online) and law journal databases/sources on LexisNexis and Westlaw can be useful tools in these situations. Use as your search terms the keywords from the citation that you believe to be accurate to see if you can either pull up the article directly or find a source that has accurately cited that article.

You can also try using one or more of the Law Library's or USC Libraries' periodical databases to see if you can obtain a better citation. You can link to the Law Library's databases from the Law Library's Online Resources page. The USC Libraries' databases can be accessed by clicking on USC Libraries Electronic Databases, listed under "Online Resources" on the main Law Library web page. Some of the periodical databases accessible from these sites provide full-text coverage in PDF for all articles included in the databases, while others only provide citations or a mix of citations and full text (in PDF and/or non-PDF).

Useful Databases for Law Journal Articles

The following are databases recommended for verifying cites to law journal articles. They are all accessible from the Law Library's Online Resources page.‚Äč

Useful Databases for Non-Law Journal Articles

The following are some of the major databases recommended for verifying cites to non-law journal articles. They are all accessible from the USC Libraries' "Databases" page accessed through the "Databases" tab under "Find" on the "USC Libraries" home page.  In many of the databases, you will often see, near an article citation, a "Find it @ USC" link, which will take you either to the full text of the article (if it is accessible in full from a different available database) or to a USC library catalog record for the journal containing the article (if it's only available at USC in print form).


JSTOR is a database collection of core social science, humanities, and science journals. Among the fields included are economics, education, history, law, philosophy, political science, sociology, and literature. The full text of articles is searchable and can be viewed in PDF. Coverage goes back to the very first volume for most of the journals included in the database.  However, due to licensing restrictions, most of the journal issues are not added to the database until a few years after they are published (this time period varies, depending on the journal).

Project MUSE

Project MUSE is another completely full-text database, providing access to more than 600 humanities and social science journals.  Unlike JSTOR, which is particularly useful for finding older journal articles, Project MUSE mostly contains articles published after 1999 which can be viewed in both HTML and PDF.

ProQuest Databases

ProQuest is a collection of databases that include mostly full-text periodical articles (including many in PDF). Although not limited to scholarly journals, ProQuest contains databases that cover a wide range of scholarly disciplines. Dates of coverage on ProQuest vary widely from journal to journal.

"ProQuest - Multiple Databases" is an aggregate database that combines all of the individual ProQuest databases. When you use this database, you can either search all of the databases at the same time or first limit your search to a subject area (as shown in the screenshot below). In either case, the "Advanced Search" option is helpful when doing citation searches, since you can narrow your searches to the specific fields that correspond to the different parts of your article citations (e.g., author, document (article) title, publication title).


USC Digital Accessibility