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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

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.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Doug Bond , J. Craig Jenkins , Charles L. Taylor , and Kurt Schock . 1997. Mapping Mass Political Conflict and Civil Society: Issues and Prospects for the Automated Development of Events Data. Journal of Conflict Resolution 41 (4):554–79.

Norman E. Breslow 1996. Statistics in Epidemiology: The Case-Control Study. Journal of the American Statistical Association 91 (433):1428.

Jim Cowie , and Wendy Lehnert . 1996. Information Extraction. Communications of the ACM 39 (1):8091.

John L. Davies , and Chad K. McDaniel . 1994. A New Generation of International Event-Data. International Interactions 20 (1–2):5578.

Deborah J. Gerner , Philip A. Schrodt , Ronald A. Francisco , and Judith L. Weddle . 1994. Machine Coding of Event Data Using Regional and International Sources. International Studies Quarterly 38 (1):91119.

Joshua S. A. Goldstein 1992. Conflict-Cooperation Scale for WEIS Events Data. The Journal of Conflict Resolution 36 (2):369–85.

Joshua S. A. Goldstein , Jon C. Pevehouse , Deborah J. Gerner , and Shibley Telhami . 2001. Reciprocity, Tringularity, and Cooperation in the Middle East, 1979–97. Journal of Conflict Resolution 45 (5):594620.

Ralph Grishman . 1997. Information Extraction: Techniques and Challenges. In Information Extraction. A Multidisciplinary Approach to an Emerging Information Technology, edited by Maria Teresa Pazienza , 1027. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Gary King , and Langche Zeng . 2001a. Explaining Rare Events in International Relations. International Organization 55 (3):693715.

Gary King , and Langche Zeng . 2001b. Logistic Regression in Rare Events Data. Political Analysis 9 (1):137–63.

Gary King , and Langche Zeng . 2002. Estimating Risk and Rate Levels, Ratios, and Differences in Case-Control Studies. Statistics in Medicine 21 (10):1409–27.

Russell J. Leng , and J. David Singer . 1988. Militarized Interstate Crises: The BCOW Typology and its Applications. International Studies Quarterly 32 (2):155–73.

Richard L. Merritt 1994. Measuring Events for International Political Analysis. International Interactions 20 (1–2):333.

Philip A. Schrodt , and Deborah J. Gerner . 1994. Validity Assessment of a Machine-Coded Event Data Set for the Middle East, 1982–92. American Journal of Political Science 38 (3):825–54.

Philip A. Schrodt , Shannon G. Davis , and Judith L. Weddle . 1994. Political Science: KEDS—A Program for the Machine Coding of Event Data. Social Science Computer Review 12 (4):561–88.

Beth Sundheim . 1992. Overview of the Fourth Message Understanding Evaluation and Conference. In Proceedings of the Fourth Message Understanding Conference, edited by Beth Sundheim , 322. San Mateo, Calif.: Morgan Kaufmann.

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International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
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