Using Citation Analysis Techniques for Computer-Assisted Legal Research in Continental Jurisdictions

“Using Citation Analysis Techniques for Computer-Assisted Legal Research in Continental Jurisdictions”

ANTON GEIST, University of Edinburgh – School of Law, University of Vienna – Faculty of Law

The following research investigates the use of citation analysis techniques for relevance ranking in computer-assisted legal research systems. Overviews on information retrieval, legal research, computer-assisted legal research (CALR), and the role of citations in legal research enable the formulation of a proposition: Relevance ranking in contemporary CALR systems could profit from the use of citation analysis techniques. After examining potential previous work in the areas of Web search, legal network analysis, and legal citation analysis, the proposition is further developed into a testable hypothesis: A basic citation-based algorithm, despite all its shortcomings, could be used to significantly improve relevance ranking in computer-assisted legal research. By computing and analysing the distribution of 242,078 headnote citations across 80,195 opinions written by the Austrian Supreme Court of Justice between 1985 and 2008, proof for this hypothesis is presented.

Source: LSN Legal Education Vol. 6 No. 25,  06/09/2009

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One thought on “Using Citation Analysis Techniques for Computer-Assisted Legal Research in Continental Jurisdictions

  1. Exactly right, Anton — citation analysis is key! We’ve been working on that at Fastcase for almost 10 years, and we bake citation analysis right into the search results. So you can rank results by how many time any case was cited by other cases. But even better, you can see how many times the cases *in your search results* cite each case, for super-relevant citation analysis.

    We also use citation analysis in our data visualization tools — we map the cases on a timeline, with the size of each case determined by how many times it’s been cited. You should check it out at http://www.fastcase.com.

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