Using cocitation information to estimate political orientation in web documents

Miles Efron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper introduces a simple method for estimating cultural orientation, the affiliation of online entities in a polarized field of discourse. In particular, cocitation information is used to estimate the political orientation of hypertext documents. A type of cultural orientation, the political orientation of a document is the degree to which it participates in traditionally left- or right-wing beliefs. Estimating documents' political orientation is of interest for personalized information retrieval and recommender systems. In its application to politics, the method uses a simple probabilistic model to estimate the strength of association between a document and left- and right-wing communities. The model estimates the likelihood of cocitation between a document of interest and a small number of documents of known orientation. The model is tested on three sets of data, 695 partisan web documents, 162 political weblogs, and 198 nonpartisan documents. Accuracy above 90% is obtained from the cocitation model, outperforming lexically based classifiers at statistically significant levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-511
Number of pages20
JournalKnowledge and Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Document classification
  • Opinion mining
  • Political orientation
  • Style analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence


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