Insight workflow: Systematically combining human and computational methods to explore textual data

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Analyzing large quantities of real-world textual data has the potential to provide new insights for researchers. However, such data present challenges for both human and computational methods, requiring a diverse range of specialist skills, often shared across a number of individuals. In this paper we use the analysis of a real-world data set as our case study, and use this exploration as a demonstration of our “insight workflow,” which we present for use and adaptation by other researchers. The data we use are impact case study documents collected as part of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF), consisting of 6,679 documents and 6.25 million words; the analysis was commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (published as report HEFCE 2015). In our exploration and analysis we used a variety of techniques, ranging from keyword in context and frequency information to more sophisticated methods (topic modeling), with these automated techniques providing an empirical point of entry for in-depth and intensive human analysis. We present the 60 topics to demonstrate the output of our methods, and illustrate how the variety of analysis techniques can be combined to provide insights. We note potential limitations and propose future work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1671-1686
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number7
Early online date3 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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