The Govlab Selected Readings on Sentiment Analysis

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance by organizing and disseminating its learnings, the GovLab Selected Readings series provides an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on key opening governance topics. In this edition, we explore the literature on Sentiment Analysis. To suggest additional readings on this or any other topic, please email

Sentiment Analysis is a field of Computer Science that uses techniques from natural language processing, computational linguistics, and machine learning to predict subjective meaning from text. The term opinion mining is often used interchangeably with Sentiment Analysis, although it is technically a subfield focusing on the extraction of opinions (the umbrella under which sentiment, evaluation, appraisal, attitude, and emotion all lie).

The rise of Web 2.0 and increased information flow has led to an increase in interest towards Sentiment Analysis — especially as applied to social networks and media. Events causing large spikes in media — such as the 2012 Presidential Election Debates — are especially ripe for analysis. Such analyses raise a variety of implications for the future of crowd participation, elections, and governance.

Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order):

Annotated Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Choi, Eunsol et al. “Hedge detection as a lens on framing in the GMO debates: a position paper.Proceedings of the Workshop on Extra-Propositional Aspects of Meaning in Computational Linguistics 13 Jul. 2012: 70-79.

  • Understanding the ways in which participants in public discussions frame their arguments is important for understanding how public opinion is formed. This paper adopts the position that it is time for more computationally-oriented research on problems involving framing. In the interests of furthering that goal, the authors propose the following question: In the controversy regarding the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, do pro- and anti-GMO articles differ in whether they choose to adopt a more “scientific” tone?
  • Prior work on the rhetoric and sociology of science suggests that hedging may distinguish popular-science text from text written by professional scientists for their colleagues. The paper proposes a detailed approach to studying whether hedge detection can be used to understand scientific framing in the GMO debates, and provides corpora to facilitate this study. Some of the preliminary analyses suggest that hedges occur less frequently in scientific discourse than in popular text, a finding that contradicts prior assertions in the literature.

Michael, Christina, Francesca Toni, and Krysia Broda. “Sentiment analysis for debates.Unpublished MSc thesis). Department of Computing, Imperial College London (2013).

  • This project aims to expand on existing solutions used for automatic sentiment analysis on text in order to capture support/opposition and agreement/disagreement in debates. In addition, it looks at visualizing the classification results for enhancing the ease of understanding the debates and for showing underlying trends. Finally, it evaluates proposed techniques on an existing debate system for social networking.

Murakami, Akiko, and Rudy Raymond. “Support or oppose?: classifying positions in online debates from reply activities and opinion expressions.Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Posters 23 Aug. 2010: 869-875.

  • In this paper, the authors propose a method for the task of identifying the general positions of users in online debates, i.e., support or oppose the main topic of an online debate, by exploiting local information in their remarks within the debate. An online debate is a forum where each user posts an opinion on a particular topic while other users state their positions by posting their remarks within the debate. The supporting or opposing remarks are made by directly replying to the opinion, or indirectly to other remarks (to express local agreement or disagreement), which makes the task of identifying users’ general positions difficult.
  • A prior study has shown that a link-based method, which completely ignores the content of the remarks, can achieve higher accuracy for the identification task than methods based solely on the contents of the remarks. In this paper, it is shown that utilizing the textual content of the remarks into the link-based method can yield higher accuracy in the identification task.

Pang, Bo, and Lillian Lee. “Opinion mining and sentiment analysis.Foundations and trends in information retrieval 2.1-2 (2008): 1-135.

  • This survey covers techniques and approaches that promise to directly enable opinion-oriented information-seeking systems. Its focus is on methods that seek to address the new challenges raised by sentiment-aware applications, as compared to those that are already present in more traditional fact-based analysis. It includes material on summarization of evaluative text and on broader issues regarding privacy, manipulation, and economic impact that the development of opinion-oriented information-access services gives rise to. To facilitate future work, a discussion of available resources, benchmark datasets, and evaluation campaigns is also provided.

Ranade, Sarvesh et al. “Online debate summarization using topic directed sentiment analysis.Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Issues of Sentiment Discovery and Opinion Mining 11 Aug. 2013: 7.

  • Social networking sites provide users a virtual community interaction platform to share their thoughts, life experiences and opinions. Online debate forum is one such platform where people can take a stance and argue in support or opposition of debate topics. An important feature of such forums is that they are dynamic and grow rapidly. In such situations, effective opinion summarization approaches are needed so that readers need not go through the entire debate.
  • This paper aims to summarize online debates by extracting highly topic relevant and sentiment rich sentences. The proposed approach takes into account topic relevant, document relevant and sentiment based features to capture topic opinionated sentences. ROUGE (Recall-Oriented Understudy for Gisting Evaluation, which employ a set of metrics and a software package to compare automatically produced summary or translation against human-produced onces) scores are used to evaluate the system. This system significantly outperforms several baseline systems and show improvement over the state-of-the-art opinion summarization system. The results verify that topic directed sentiment features are most important to generate effective debate summaries.

Schneider, Jodi. “Automated argumentation mining to the rescue? Envisioning argumentation and decision-making support for debates in open online collaboration communities.”

  • Argumentation mining, a relatively new area of discourse analysis, involves automatically identifying and structuring arguments. Following a basic introduction to argumentation, the authors describe a new possible domain for argumentation mining: debates in open online collaboration communities.
  • Based on our experience with manual annotation of arguments in debates, the authors propose argumentation mining as the basis for three kinds of support tools, for authoring more persuasive arguments, finding weaknesses in others’ arguments, and summarizing a debate’s overall conclusions.

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Did we miss anything? Please submit reading recommendations to or in the comments below.


  1. selected readings on sentiment analysis | Sophie's World - July 25, 2014

    […] I’ve compiled a short list of resources on Sentiment Analysis, especially as applied to (political) debates. Check it out on the Govlab blog. […]

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