Natural language processing as a technique for conducting text-based research

Laura K. Allen, Sarah D. Creer, Mary Cati Poulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Research in discourse processing has provided us with a strong foundation for understanding the characteristics of text and discourse, as well as their influence on our processing and representation of texts. However, recent advances in computational techniques have allowed researchers to examine discourse processes in new ways. The purpose of the current paper is to build on prior work in this domain and describe how new methodologies that consider the multi-dimensional nature of texts can serve as a complement to the existing literature. We focus on natural language processing (NLP) methodologies, in which computers calculate information about the linguistic and semantic properties of language data. We first provide a context for the origins of computational discourse analysis through the integration of research across computer science and psychology. We then provide an overview of different NLP methodologies and describe prior work that has leveraged these techniques to advance theoretical perspectives of discourse comprehension and production. Finally, we propose new areas of research that integrate these advances with traditional research methodologies in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12433
JournalLinguistics and Language Compass
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by IES Grants R305A180261, R305A180144 and R305A190063 as well as the Office of Naval Research (grant no.: N00014‐19‐1‐2424 and N00014‐20‐1‐2627). Opinions, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of Education, IES or the Office of Naval Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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