On the Horizon: Making the Best Use of Free Text Data With Shareable Text Mining Analyses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The current sector-wide Enhancement Theme of ‘optimising the use of existing evidence’ encourages the sector to identify what evidence exists, and to explore associated opportunities for best practice. Across the higher education sector, there is a prevalence of free text datasets which are generated through annual surveys and rarely explored across institutions, partly because of the privacy concerns that exist due to the nature of the data. In a recent project exploring secondary analyses of National Student Survey data, the University of Edinburgh also explored text mining approaches to offer fast and repeatable analyses of free text data that can be adopted by other institutions and researchers, without sharing sensitive data. This method has been trialed on institutional level data from the 2016 National Student Survey simultaneously with an in-depth open coding approach to the same data. This horizons paper demonstrates the usefulness of the data mining approach, but also shows it must be accompanied by some qualitative examination of the data to understand the results in context. Alongside this paper is the shareable code for other groups to replicate this approach on their own datasets, to contribute to the optimisation of existing evidence use.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • surveys
  • open science
  • enhancement themes
  • text mining
  • quality assurance


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