Electronic Participation (ePart) Conference

A Review of Opinion Mining Methods for Analyzing Citizens’ Contributions in Public Policy Debate

Electronic Participation (eParticipation), both in its traditional form and in its emerging Web 2.0 based form, results in the production of large quantities of textual contributions of citizens concerning government policies and decisions under formation, which contain valuable relevant opinions and knowledge of the society, however are exploited to a limited only extent. It is of critical importance to analyze these contributions in order to extract the opinions and knowledge they contain in a cost-efficient way. This paper reviews a wide range of opinion mining methods, which have been developed for analyzing commercial product opinions and reviews posted on the Web, as to the capabilities they can offer for meeting the above challenges. The review has revealed the great potential of these methods for the analysis of textual citizens’ contributions in public policy debates, both for assessing contributors’ general attitudes-sentiments (positive, negative or neutral) towards the policy/decision under discussion, and also for extracting the main issues they raise (e.g. negative and positive aspects and effects, implementation barriers, improvement suggestions) and the corresponding attitudes-sentiments. Based on the conclusions of this review a basic framework for the use of opinion mining methods in eParticipation has been formulated.