Data Analytics for Policy Informatics: The Case of E-Petitioning

Part of the Public Administration and Information Technology book series (PAIT, volume 25)


To contribute to the development of policy informatics, we discuss the benefits of analyzing electronic petitions (e-petitions), a form of citizen-government discourse with deep historic roots that has recently transitioned into a technologically-enabled and novel form of political communication. We begin by presenting a rationale for the analysis of e-petitions as a type of e-participation that can contribute to the development of public policy, provided that it is possible to analyze the large volumes of data produced in petitioning processes. From there we consider two data analytic strategies that offer promising approaches to the analysis of e-petitions and that lend themselves to the future creation of policy informatics tools. We discuss the application of topic modeling to the analysis of e-petition textual data to identify emergent topics of substantial concern to the public. We further propose the application of social network analysis to data related to the dynamics of petitioning processes, such as the social connections between petition initiators and signers, and tweets that solicit petition signatures in petitioning campaigns; both may be useful in revealing patterns of collective action. The paper concludes by reflecting on issues that should be brought to bear on the construction of policy informatics tools that make use of e-petitioning data.


Electronic petitions e-Petition Topic modeling Social network analysis Collective action Social media Political communication 



Associated Press


e-Gov Reference Library


Information and communication technology


Latent Dirichlet Allocation


Natural language processing


Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development


Social network analysis


We the People


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of InformationUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of CommunicationUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.Informatics Doctoral Program, College of Engineering and Applied SciencesUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA

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