Automated Dictionary Generation for Political Event Coding


Event data provide high-resolution and high-volume information about political events and have supported a variety of research efforts across fields within and beyond political science. While these datasets are machine coded from vast amounts of raw text input, the necessary dictionaries require substantial prior knowledge and human effort to produce and update, effectively limiting the application of automated event-coding solutions to those domains for which dictionaries already exist. I introduce a novel method for generating dictionaries appropriate for event coding given only a small sample dictionary. This technique leverages recent advances in natural language processing and machine learning to reduce the prior knowledge and researcher-hours required to go from defining a new domain-of-interest to producing structured event data that describe that domain. I evaluate the method via actor-country classification and demonstrate the method’s ability to generalize to new domains with the production of a novel event dataset on cybersecurity.