Many people try to determine the policy positions of political actors for informal reasons. The article Extracting Policy Positions from Political Texts Using Words as Data by Michael Laver and Kenneth Benoit explains the special method of treating data in the form of words as opposed to more traditional methods of data gathering. They use A Priori Approach in combination with different methods to operationalize this experiment. This based more on theoretical deduction instead of observation. The authors also reference back to know material to compare with unknown material. The experiments used are based on a sample model to help understand what they are studying before going to a real world study. They also use a set of guidelines which they follow to ensure that their data is consistent. The question is whether or not this method of A Priori actually works and if the methods they use are supported by the data from the experiment. Their variables are the reference texts and the virgin texts and their significance towards one another.
Most important part of this article has to be the data gathering process and how they operationalize their experiment. They use difference methods within the approach of A Priori. To calculate the policy position score of the referenced text that they use, they use relative frequencies to do this. This helps them formulate the score by theoretical deduction instead of empirical observation. Although the word scores tell them nothing new about the familiar text, The main “interest is in the virgin texts about which we have no information at all” (Laver et al., 2003). The reference text may not hold new information, but it is important to select the correct ones in order to be ...
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...ial for them. In contrast, it also has flaws in it. One minor flaw that I see is that it relies a little too much on “confident estimates”. They could use more concrete information to help further their explanation then relying on estimates made. In turn, they are doing a nontraditional way to this approach which is harder to formulate, these estimates may help.
In conclusion, the article has many great points that effectively show how they proceduralize and operationalize their experiment. The use of a nontraditional form helped to avoid error and helped them achieve good plausible results. With the use of their procedural methods and clear outlines they efficiently conducted the research. The errors involved were also accounted for correctly. In the end Laver’s “language blind” word scoring technique and other methods blended together to give supporting evidence.
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