The Composition of a Composition: Just the Facts

  • Stuart Greene
  • Larry Wasserman
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Statistics book series (LNS, volume 83)


This paper investigates the way that writers select information from multiple sources. Two groups of students wrote compositions about the reconstruction of Europe after the war. The first group wrote a report, the second group had the task of suggesting a reconstruction plan. The essays were decomposed into individual content units (facts). Each fact could be classified as coming from a set of given sources or not. Also, those from sources could further be sub-divided as being present in one source, two sources or several sources. We compared the groups by (1) total facts used and (2) distribution of facts used from various texts. We report an analysis based on standard methods that are used by researchers to analyze data from these types of studies. We briefly critique these methods and re-analyze the data using Bayesian methods. For (2) we used a hierarchical multinomial model. Posterior distributions were estimated by Monte Carlo and a sensitivity analysis was conducted on the prior.


Bayesian Statistics Text Structure Source Text Problem Group Credible Region 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart Greene
    • 1
  • Larry Wasserman
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonUSA
  2. 2.Carnegie Mellon UniversityUSA

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