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

International Organization, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 617-642, July 2003

26 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2008

See all articles by Gary King

Gary King

Harvard University

Will Lowe

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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 last 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 4.3 million international events, covering the entire world for the last decade.

Suggested Citation

King, Gary and Lowe, Will, An Automated Information Extraction Tool for International Conflict Data with Performance as Good as Human Coders: A Rare Events Evaluation Design. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1082815

Gary King (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Institute for Quantitative Social Science
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-500-7570 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://gking.harvard.edu

Will Lowe

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
74
Abstract Views
745
rank
319,539
PlumX Metrics