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The introduction of legal content to Google Scholar made United States case law and law journal articles accessible to an unprecedented extent. With case law freely available and accurate bibliographic information for articles, could Google Scholar be accurate and complete enough for correctional institutions to forgo purchasing either print publications or fee-based services for these materials? This article empirically assesses whether Google Scholar can reliably answer the questions of inmates in a correctional facility, the Baltimore City Detention Center. As a comparison, the same questions are tested in Westlaw Correctional, a subscription database marketed to correctional institutions.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 2016, Vol. 35, No. 2, 135-146, available online: