Step by Step: Creating a Free Citation Alert in Google Scholar

One of my favorite Westlaw features is the ability to create a KeyCite Alert that sends email updates whenever a new case cites a specific case. This feature is extremely effective at helping practitioners update cases. I’m happy to report (at the risk of sounding like a shill for Google Scholar) that you can now accomplish the same thing — for free — with Google.

The Process

Choose a case. Let’s say you’d like to keep abreast of the latest cases mentioning Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803). Here are the five steps required to create an alert for this case:

STEP 1: Simply navigate to the case in Google Scholar.

STEP 2: Once you’ve pulled up the case, locate and click the “How cited” link in the upper-left horizontal menu. You’ve just navigated to Google’s equivalent to Shepard’s. (See my previous post about Shepardizing using Google Scholar’s How Cited feature.)

STEP 3: On the How Cited page, we’ll be focusing on the “Cited by” heading. After a selection of documents listed under “Cited by” click “all [n] citing documents >>”. In the case of Marbury, the link reads “all 22,570 citing documents” (at this writing).

STEP 4: You’ve just navigated to a page listing all database documents citing to the document you’d like to track. On the upper-right-hand of your screen, click the button with the email logo next to “My Citations”.

STEP 5: Enter your email information and select the number of results you’d like to receive. Press “Create Alert and … Voila! You’re one step closer to staying abreast of recent treatment of a particular case.

Now for the disclaimers:  Remember that Google Scholar has its limitations. Keep in mind that there may be some delay between the date of opinion issuance and database integration. Also, be aware that Google Scholar may not index every decision issued. You’re always at the mercy of Google’s bots and algorithms. And, of course, this post should not, under any circumstances, be considered legal advice and is not a substitute for complete updating of cases.


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