In this Open Access journal article, published in Data on April 2, 2019, I unpack how one method for principled subsampling approach to corpus creation can be used to transform Big Language resources (like Google) into usable models for understanding language behavior in domain-specific areas.
Abstract: With the influence of Big Data culture on qualitative data collection, acquisition, and processing, it is becoming increasingly important that social scientists understand the complexity underlying data collection and the resulting models and analyses. Systematic approaches for creating computationally tractable models need to be employed in order to create representative, specialized reference corpora subsampled from Big Language Data sources. Even more importantly, any such method must be tested and vetted for its reproducibility and consistency in generating a representative model of a particular population in question. This article considers and tests one such method for Big Language Data downsampling of digitally accessible language data to determine both how to operationalize this form of corpus model creation, as well as testing whether the method is reproducible. Using the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s public documentation database as a test source, the sampling method’s procedure was evaluated to assess variation in the rate of which documents were deemed fit for inclusion or exclusion from the corpus across four iterations. After performing multiple sampling iterations, the approach pioneered by the Tobacco Documents Corpus creators was deemed to be reproducible and valid using a two-proportion z-test at a 99% confidence interval at each stage of the evaluation process–leading to a final mean rejection ratio of 23.5875 and variance of 0.891 for the documents sampled and evaluated for inclusion into the final text-based model. The findings of this study indicate that such a principled sampling method is viable, thus necessitating the need for an approach for creating language-based models that account for extralinguistic factors and linguistic characteristics of documents.