Text and Policy Research Group

The Text and Policy Research Group comprises six researchers from Germany, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, 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.

Current Team Members

Stefan Müller (Group Leader)

Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow

Website | Mail | CV | GitHub | Twitter | Mastodon

Sarah King

PhD Researcher

Website | Mail | CV | GitHub

Jihed Ncib

PhD Researcher

Website | Mail | CV | GitHub | Twitter

Mafalda Zúquete

PhD Researcher

LinkedIn | Mail | GitHub

Alberto de León

Postdoctoral Researcher

Website | Mail | CV | GitHub | Twitter

Yen-Chieh (David) Liao

Postdoctoral Researcher

Website | Mail | CV | GitHub | Twitter

Former Team Members

Brian Boyle

Lecturer/Assistant Professor, Newcastle University (previously Postdoctoral Researcher in NexSys Project)

Website | Mail | CV | GitHub | Twitter

Research Projects

Assessing and Explaining Environmental and Energy Policies in Comparative Perspective

Researchers: Stefan Müller, Yen-Chieh Liao, 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.

Funding: Next Generation Energy Systems (NexSys)

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.

Funding: UCD Iseult Honohan Doctoral Scholarship

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


Presentations at Conferences and Workshops

Upcoming Events

  • 20–22 October 2023: Annual Conference of the Political Studies Assocation of Ireland, Belfast; Presenters: Sarah King, Stefan Müller, Jihed Ncib

Past Events

  • 30 August–3 September 2023: Annual Meeting of American Political Science Association (APSA), Los Angeles; Presenter: Yen-Chieh (David) Liao
  • 6–8 July 2023: Standing Group on Parliaments of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), Vienna; Presenter: Yen-Chieh (David) Liao
  • 22–24 June 2023: Annual Conference of the European Political Science Association (EPSA), Glasgow; Presenters: Brian Boyle, Alberto de León, Yen-Chieh (David) Liao, Stefan Müller, Jihed Ncib
  • 22 May 2023: Governance and Political Organisations Workshop, Newcastle University; Presenters: Brian Boyle
  • 12–13 May 2023 – COMPTEXT Conference, Glasgow; Presenters: Brian Boyle, Alberto de León
  • 12 April 2023 – GESIS Cologne; Presenter: Jihed Ncib
  • 4 April 2023 – CCCP Research Seminar, University of Cologne; Presenter: Jihed Ncib
  • 23 March 2023 – The Connected_Politics Lab Workshop Series: An Introduction to Webscraping Using R; Presenter: Sarah King
  • 24 February 2023 – DPIR Politics Colloquium, University of Oxford; Presenter: Stefan Müller
  • 11–14 January 2023: Annual Conference of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA), New Orleans: Presenter: Yen-Chieh (David) Liao


Upcoming Events

  • 18 October 2023: Reproducible Research with Git and GitHub, University College Dublin; Instructor: Stefan Müller

Past Events

  • 1 August 2023: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Summer Program in Quantitative Methods, University of Michigan; Introduction to Keyword Assisted Topic Models; Instructor: Sarah King
  • 10 & 23 March 2023: Quantitative Text Analysis using R and quanteda, University of Bergen; Instructor: Stefan Müller

Brown Bag Sessions

Upcoming Events

  • 11 October 2023 – Presenter: Yen-Chieh (David) Liao
  • 1 November 2023 – Presenter: Jihed Ncib and Sarah King
  • 22 November 2023 – Presenter: Alberto de Léon
  • 6 December 2023 – Presenter: Mafalda Zúquete

Past Events

  • 10 May 2023 – Presenter: Jihed Ncib
  • 20 April 2023 – Presenter: Alberto de León
  • 6 April 2023 – Presenter: Sarah King
  • 9 March 2023 – Presenter: Brian Boyle
  • 16 February 2023 – Presenter: Stefan Müller