Applying LDA topic modeling in communication research: Toward a valid and reliable methodology

Maier, Daniel; Waldherr, Annie; Miltner, Peter; Wiedemann, Gregor; Niekler, Andreas; Keinert, Alexa; Pfetsch, Barbara; Heyer, Gerhard; Reber, Ueli; Häussler, Thomas; Schmid-Petri, Hannah; Adam, Silke (2018). Applying LDA topic modeling in communication research: Toward a valid and reliable methodology. Communication Methods and Measures, 12(2-3), pp. 93-118. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/19312458.2018.1430754

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Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) topic models are increasingly being used in communication research. Yet, questions regarding reliability and validity of the approach have received little attention thus far. In applying LDA to textual data, researchers need to tackle at least four major challenges that affect these criteria: (a) appropriate pre-processing of the text collection; (b) adequate selection of model parameters, including the number of topics to be generated; (c) evaluation of the model’s reliability; and (d) the process of validly interpreting the resulting topics. We review the research literature dealing with these questions and propose a methodology that approaches these challenges. Our overall goal is to make LDA topic modeling more accessible to communication researchers and to ensure compliance with disciplinary standards. Consequently, we develop a brief hands-on user guide for applying LDA topic modeling. We demonstrate the value of our approach with empirical data from an ongoing research project.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Mass Communication Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Reber, Ueli; Häussler, Thomas; Schmid-Petri, Hannah and Adam, Silke

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology

ISSN:

1931-2458

Publisher:

Taylor & Francis

Funders:

[4] Swiss National Science Foundation

Language:

English

Submitter:

Ueli Reber

Date Deposited:

02 May 2018 11:38

Last Modified:

05 Oct 2018 07:34

Publisher DOI:

10.1080/19312458.2018.1430754

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.112835

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/112835

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