Text and Policy Research Group
The Text and Policy Research Group consists of five researchers from Germany, Scotland, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States. We are based in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin.
All of the projects undertaken by the international research group share a commonality: the application of computational text analysis methods to address substantive research questions and provide policy recommendations.
Ongoing Research Projects
Assessing and Explaining Environmental and Energy Policies in Comparative Perspective
Researchers: Stefan Müller and Brian Boyle
Project Summary: Political parties, politicians, companies, and interest groups increasingly discuss how to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions future, but systematic evidence that tracks these political debates is still lacking. The project seeks to identify the problems political actors raise and solutions they offer regarding renewable energy, sustainability, and water treatment. The project will also assess how companies and interest groups aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. By combining quantitative text analysis, human coding, and supervised machine learning, it will define and map (proposed) policies relating to the environment and sustainability, and provide recommendations for policymakers.
Analysing Grant Peer Review Reports Using Machine Learning
Researchers: Stefan Müller and Alberto de León
Project Summary: Peer review plays an essential role in grant evaluation. External peer review reports by international experts contribute to assessing the feasibility and quality of grant applications and provide an essential basis for funding decisions. This research project analyses the texts of anonymised grant review reports along several dimensions using human coding and machine learning. We seek to conceptualise characteristics of grant peer review reports and classify a large corpus of review reports. The project investigates whether strategic initiatives and new evaluation procedures have the desired effects on the content and structure of review reports.
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation
Comparative Higher Education Policy
Researcher: Sarah King
Project Summary: Periods of economic recession often drive contentious debates over social policy spending. The PhD project focuses on a comparative assessment of the agenda-setting dynamics of higher education funding reforms. Politicians and parties may be using speeches and social media platforms as a method of communication targeted towards younger populations, which is also the same group that would feel the most direct impact from higher education reform. The PhD project also investigates the role of individualistic determinants of politicians in the policy-making process. Using computational methods and quantitative text analysis, the project maps and explains the agenda-setting process of higher education funding reform in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland.
Analysing Policymaking and Legislative Behaviour in Times of Crisis
Researcher: Jihed Ncib
Project Summary: Exogenous and endogenous shocks often affect the features and structures of national politics. A distinctive effect of crises is the electorate’s varying support for the political system and its representatives. The PhD thesis examines how different national contexts impact public officials’ behaviour and rhetoric in response to crises. The geographical scope of this study covers six countries, including cases from Europe (Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Ireland) and North America (the United States and Canada). Using automated text analysis along with other quantitative and computational methods, this project analyses legislative and executive policy-related behaviour as well as the interactions between different policy stakeholders and political actors.
Funding: Ad Astra PhD Scholarship