About the Data

The charts above show the yearly indegree centrality scores of each case from the time it was published to the end of 2012. The data for this app was obtained from CanLII's new API.

Because the average life span of cases across all included case law collections was 15 years, the “top cases” shown are limited to those cases that have been influential for 15 years or more. Consequently, heavily cited and very influential decisions like Baker v. Canada or Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick are not included in the list. The Cite-Fight tool, however, will produce results for these or any other court case, with a few exceptions:

  • The database used in the citation analysis and in cite-fight is limited to provincial, superior and appellate court collections and does not take account of decisions from administrative tribunals or the influence a court decision may have on an administrative tribunal.
  • Cite-fight only presents results to the end of 2012. Cases or citations from 2013 are not taken into account.

Methodology

For a complete explanation of the methodology used to produce the data used in this app, please refer to CanLII's recently published Citation Analysis of Canadian Case Law (September, 2013), by Thom Neale. For a quick summary, read on.

The trend value for each case was calculated by fitting a linear polynomial function to the yearly indegree centrality scores using numpy.polyfit, which uses the least squares method. The trend is the slope of the resulting function.

The lifespan of each case is calculated differently depending on whether the case's centrality trend was positive or negative. If positive, the lifespan was the number of years between the year of publication and the year 2013. If the trend was negative, the lifespan was the year the trend line intersected the x-axis, indicating the case was effectively no longer cited, minus the year of publication.

The influence of each case is equal to the area under the case's trend function, which was calculated using the trend function's integral, or antiderivative. Using the area under the case's trend function provides a way of determing which case has withstood the test of time better: if two cases both have a centrality score of n, but one cases has maintained that score for twenty years, and other for only five years, the first case will have a higher influence score.