Digital Humanities of Public Policy-making

Research project plan, 2015–2017, for project funded by the Kone Foundation, Finland

Abstract. The project Digital humanities of public policy-making addresses an audience of political science and data science scholars and other scholars, political, policy, management and other practitioners, citizens and their organizations, and businesses  ffering digital applications. During 2015–2017, the project team will contribute to digital humanities research by means of developing selected new digital humanities methods, applying existing methods in new ways using research material not examined in those ways before, and, in synthesizing the project results, framing the digital humanities in their political and social contexts. The project motivation derives from a desire to advance the appropriation of developments of big data and open data within social research without comprising the achievements of cutting-edge data science on the one hand, and without cutting ties with mainstream political and social research. The project expects to make advances by means of developing discourse quality indexes (DQIs); using big data methods to examine jointly political party programs and government political master programs in the longer term; using big data methods to examine selected policy documents and organizational strategy documents within a given field of inquiry; examining an ‘intermediate data’ set of policy evaluation documents; and appropriately framing the digital humanities in some of their political and social contexts of application and influence. The project will tap the richness of methods including the construction of classifiers to establish better DQIs; extending the applications of the big data methods of latent trait scaling; topic modeling; and carrying out sentiment analysis a.k.a. opinion mining. The project team expects its research results to enable drawing conclusions both as concerns the opportunities and the limitations of the digital humanities in social research, including the practical applications of this research. The team also expects that its findings will help better specify the place of the digital humanities as concerns theory of political and social research and as concerns the contribution of digital humanities research to practical mastery, healthy criticism and constant improvement of the digital humanities and their methods. The project has entered a rapidly evolving field of research, which emphasizes the importance of vigilance to be able to make suitable adjustments to the orientation of the project during its course.

Keywords: Politics, political science, policy, society, social research, information sciences, discourse quality index, latent trait scaling, topic modeling, opinion mining, sentiment analysis

Main contact address:
Project leader Dr. Pertti Ahonen, Professor,
Department of Political and Economic Studies
00140 University of Helsinki
tel. +358 400 735 760

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