[gov3009-l] Applied Stats Workshop: Roberts, Stewart, and Tingley on "Topic models for open ended survey responses with applications to experiments"

Konstantin Kashin kkashin at fas.harvard.edu
Sun Apr 28 23:33:09 EDT 2013

Dear all,

We hope you can join us this Wednesday, May 1, 2013 from 12-1.30pm for the
last session of the Applied Statistics Workshop this semester. It will be
held in CGIS Knafel 354. Molly Roberts <http://scholar.harvard.edu/mroberts>,
Brandon Stewart <http://scholar.harvard.edu/bstewart>, and Dustin
all from the Department of Government at Harvard University, will give a
presentation entitled "Topic models for open ended survey responses with
applications to experiments". A light lunch will be served at 12 pm and the
talk will begin at 12.15


> Despite broad use of surveys and survey experiments by political science,
> the vast majority of survey analysis deals with responses to options along
> a scale or from pre-established categories. Yet, in most areas of life
> individuals communicate either by writing or by speaking, a fact reflected
> in earlier debates about open and closed ended survey questions. Despite
> good reasons to collect and analyze open ended data, it is relatively rare
> in the discipline and almost exclusively done through a process involving
> human coding of survey responses. We present an alternative, semi-automated
> approach, the Structural Topic Model (STM) (Roberts et al. 2013), that
> draws on recent developments in machine learning based analysis of textual
> data. A crucial contribution of the method is that it incorporates
> information about the text, such as the author's gender, country of origin,
> treatment status, or when something was written. This paper focuses on how
> the STM is extremely helpful for descriptive, exploratory, or inferential
> purposes for survey researchers and experimentalists. The STM makes
> analyzing open ended responses easier, more revealing, and capable of being
> used to estimate treatment effects. We illustrate these innovations with
> several experiments.

A draft version of the paper is available

An up-to-date schedule for the workshop is available at


Konstantin Kashin
Ph.D. Candidate in Government
Harvard University

Mobile: 978-844-0538
E-mail: kkashin at fas.harvard.edu
Site: http://www.konstantinkashin.com/<http://people.fas.harvard.edu/%7Ekkashin/>
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