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An Automated Information Extraction Tool for International Conflict Data with Performance as Good as Human Coders: A Rare Events Evaluation Design

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  • King, Gary
  • Lowe, Will

Abstract

Despite widespread recognition that aggregated summary statistics on international conflict and cooperation miss most of the complex interactions among nations, the vast majority of scholars continue to employ annual, quarterly, or (occasionally) monthly observations. Daily events data, coded from some of the huge volume of news stories produced by journalists, have not been used much for the past two decades. We offer some reason to change this practice, which we feel should lead to considerably increased use of these data. We address advances in event categorization schemes and software programs that automatically produce data by reading news stories without human coders. We design a method that makes it feasible, for the first time, to evaluate these programs when they are applied in areas with the particular characteristics of international conflict and cooperation data, namely event categories with highly unequal prevalences, and where rare events (such as highly conflictual actions) are of special interest. We use this rare events design to evaluate one existing program, and find it to be as good as trained human coders, but obviously far less expensive to use. For large-scale data collections, the program dominates human coding. Our new evaluative method should be of use in international relations, as well as more generally in the field of computational linguistics, for evaluating other automated information extraction tools. We believe that the data created by programs similar to the one we evaluated should see dramatically increased use in international relations research. To facilitate this process, we are releasing with this article data on 3.7 million international events, covering the entire world for the past decade.Thanks to Marianne Abbott, Doug Bond, Joe Bond, Gerard Bradford, Carl Cobb, John Freeman, Joshua Goldstein, Patricia Hastings, Craig Jenkins, Dylan Balch-Lindsay, Churl Oh, Jon Pevehouse, Kevin Quinn, Phil Schrodt, and Langche Zeng for helpful discussions; Valerie Abejuro, Sam Cook, Dan Epstein, Andrew Holbrook, Shane Jensen, Orit Kedar, Adrian Ma, Amit Pathare, and Mikhail Pryadilnikov for research assistance; and the National Science Foundation (IIS-9874747), the National Institutes of Aging (P01 AG17625-01), the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the World Health Organization for research support. The data described in this article are available at http: GKing.Harvard.edu.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal International Organization.

Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
Issue (Month): 03 (June)
Pages: 617-642

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Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:57:y:2003:i:03:p:617-642_57

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Cited by:
  1. E. Anthon Eff, 2004. "Spatial and Cultural Autocorrelation in International Datasets," Working Papers 200401, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  2. Alan Brier & Bruno Hopp, 2011. "Computer assisted text analysis in the social sciences," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 103-128, January.
  3. Knill, April & Lee, Bong-Soo & Mauck, Nathan, 2012. "Bilateral political relations and sovereign wealth fund investment," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 108-123.
  4. Rodolphe Desbordes & Vincent Vicard, 2007. "Foreign Direct Investment and Bilateral Investment Treaties an International Political Perspective," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne bla07045, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  5. Solomon Polachek & Carlos Seiglie & Jun Xiang, 2005. "Globalization and International Conflict: Can FDI Increase Peace?," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2005-004, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
  6. Michael Scharkow, 2013. "Thematic content analysis using supervised machine learning: An empirical evaluation using German online news," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 761-773, February.
  7. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00580907 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Leonardo Becchetti & Andrew E. Clark & Elena Giachin Ricco, 2011. "The value of diplomacy: Bilateral relations and immigrant well-being," PSE Working Papers halshs-00580907, HAL.
  9. Corbetta Renato & Volgy Thomas J. & Rhamey J. Patrick, 2013. "Major Power Status (In)Consistency and Political Relevance in International Relations Studies," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 291-307, December.
  10. Strange, Austin M. & Parks , Bradley & Tierney, Michael J. & Fuchs, Andreas & Dreher , Axel, 2014. "Tracking Under-Reported Financial Flows: China’s Development Finance and the Aid-Conflict Nexus Revisited," Working Papers 0553, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  11. Massoud Tansa G. & Magee Christopher S., 2012. "Trade and Political, Military, and Economic Relations," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 1-39, May.

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