Stefan Müller
Associate Professor
University College Dublin

I am an Associate Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin. My research focuses on political representation, party competition, political communication, public opinion, and quantitative text analysis. My work has been published, among others, in the American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Communication, the European Journal of Political Research, and Political Science Research and Methods.

I lead two funded research projects. The first project assesses environmental and energy policies in comparative perspective. The project is embedded into the multidisciplinary energy research programme NexSys. The second project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, analyses grant peer review reports using computational text analysis and machine learning.

I am a core member of the Connected_Politics Lab, co-author of the quanteda R package, maintainer of the Irish Polling Indicator, and have been selected as a member of the Young Academy Ireland. I established the Text and Policy Research Group, comprising three PhD students and two postdoctoral researchers.


Text and Policy Research Group

UCD Profile Page


Google Scholar | ORCID | Scopus

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

2024. “Nostalgia in European Party Politics: A Text-Based Measurement Approach.” British Journal of Political Science 54(3): 993–1005 (with Sven-Oliver Proksch).
PDF | Data and Code | PolNos Datasets | The Conversation

Traditional research on political parties pays little attention to the temporal focus of communication. It usually concentrates on promises, issue attention, and policy positions. This lack of scholarly attention is surprising, given that voters respond to nostalgic rhetoric and may even adjust issue positions when policy is framed in nostalgic terms. This article presents a novel dataset, PolNos, which contains six text-based measures of nostalgic rhetoric in 1,648 party manifestos across 24 European democracies from 1946 to 2018. The measures combine dictionaries, word embeddings, sentiment approaches, and supervised machine learning. Our analysis yields a consistent result: nostalgia is most prevalent in manifestos of culturally conservative parties, notably Christian democratic, nationalist, and radical right parties. However, substantial variation remains regarding regional differences and whether nostalgia concerns the economy or culture. We discuss the implications and use of our dataset for studying political parties, party competition, and elections.

2024. “Legislating Landlords: Private Interests, Issue Emphasis, and Policy Positions.” Legislative Studies Quarterly online first (with Jihed Ncib).
PDF | Data and Code

Do private interests predict politicians’ rhetoric? Focusing on housing policy, we compare issue emphasis and positions of landlord politicians and politicians who do not own multiple properties. Ireland provides a unique opportunity to study legislating landlords’ behavior as housing has become one of the most important political issues. We construct a novel dataset of politicians’ homeownership status between 2013 and 2022, a period characterized by rising rent and property prices. We fine-tune a transformer-based machine learning model and apply text scaling and sentiment analysis to identify issue salience and positions on housing in over 870,000 tweets and parliamentary questions. Contrary to our expectations, landlord politicians do not avoid the topic of housing nor take different positions. We also find that government status does not influence this relationship. The results imply that private financial interests do not influence rhetoric on housing policy.

2024. “Campaign Communication and Legislative Leadership.” Political Science Research and Methods online first (with Naofumi Fujimura).
PDF | Data and Code

Do policy priorities that candidates emphasize during election campaigns predict their subsequent legislative activities? We study this question by assembling novel data on legislative leadership posts held by Japanese politicians and using a fine-tuned transformer-based machine learning model to classify policy areas in over 46,900 statements from 1270 candidate manifestos across five elections. We find that a higher emphasis on a policy issue increases the probability of securing a legislative post in the same area. This relationship remains consistent across multiple elections and persists even when accounting for candidates’ previous legislative leadership roles. We also discover greater congruence in distributive policy areas. Our findings indicate that campaigns provide meaningful signals of policy priorities.

2024. “Discourse Wars and ‘Mask Diplomacy’: China’s Global Image Management in Times of Crisis.” Political Research Exchange 6(1): 2337632 (with Samuel Brazys and Alexander Dukalskis).
PDF | Data and Code | ECPR The Loop

To achieve foreign policy goals and boost prestige, states try to influence how foreign publics perceive them. Particularly during crises, the imperative to mitigate a negative image may see states mobilize resources to change the global narrative. This paper investigates whether China’s ‘mask diplomacy’ efforts influenced portrayals of the country in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. We validate and apply a semi-supervised scaling method to 1.5 million English statements in newspapers around the world mentioning China and Covid-19. Multi-period difference-in-differences models reveal that media tone improved significantly after mask diplomacy engagement. Using its Covid-19 White Paper to determine China’s preferred external narratives, we also find that a country’s domestic media reproduced key terms more after the country received PRC support.

2023. “Relationship Between Journal Impact Factor and the Thoroughness and Helpfulness of Peer Reviews.” PLOS Biology 21(8): e3002238 (with Anna Severin, Michaela Strinzel, Matthias Egger, Tiago Barros, Alexander Sokolov, and Julia Vilstrup Mouatt).
PDF | Data and Code | Nature Q&A

The Journal Impact Factor is often used as a proxy measure for journal quality, but the empirical evidence is scarce. In particular, it is unclear how peer review characteristics for a journal relate to its impact factor. We analysed 10,000 peer review reports submitted to 1,644 biomedical journals with impact factors ranging from 0.21 to 74.7. Two researchers hand-coded sentences using categories of content related to the thoroughness of the review (Materials and Methods, Presentation and Reporting, Results and Discussion, Importance and Relevance) and helpfulness (Suggestion and Solution, Examples, Praise, Criticism). We fine-tuned and validated transformer machine learning language models to classify sentences. We then examined the association between the number and percentage of sentences addressing different content categories and 10 groups defined by the Journal Impact Factor. The median length of reviews increased with higher impact factor, from 185 words (group 1) to 387 words (group 10). The percentage of sentences addressing Materials and Methods was greater in the highest Journal Impact Factor journals than in the lowest Journal Impact Factor group. The results for Presentation and Reporting went in the opposite direction, with the highest Journal Impact Factor journals giving less emphasis to such content. For helpfulness, reviews for higher impact factor journals devoted relatively less attention to Suggestion and Solution than lower impact factor journals. In conclusion, peer review in journals with higher impact factors tends to be more thorough, particularly in addressing study methods while giving relatively less emphasis to presentation or suggesting solutions. Differences were modest and variability high, indicating that the Journal Impact Factor is a bad predictor of the quality of peer review of an individual manuscript.

2023. “Reactions to Experts in Deliberative Democracy: The 2016–2018 Irish Citizens’ Assembly.” Irish Political Studies 38(4): 467–488 (with Garrett Kennedy and Tomás Maher).
PDF | Data and Code

Many citizens support the involvement of experts in political decision-making, yet we know little about how citizens react to expert opinions. Bridging recent evidence on technocratic attitudes and deliberative democracy, we study citizen responses to experts during influential deliberative mini-publics. Combining automated speech transcription of over 380,000 spoken words and quantitative text analysis, we estimate the topic prevalence in all expert testimonials, Q&A sessions, and other agenda items in the Irish Citizens’ Assembly (2016–2018), one of the prime examples of impactful deliberative forums. We find that inputs of experts structure subsequent discussions but do not dominate them. This correlation persists with various measures of topic prevalence and is robust to several modelling approaches. We also find that participants tended to react less strongly to testimonials by female experts. These conditional effects should encourage organisers to invite experts with diverse backgrounds in order to enhance inclusive decision-making.

2023. “Evidence for the Irrelevance of Irrelevant Events.” Political Science Research and Methods 11(2): 311–327 (with Liam Kneafsey).
PDF | Data and Code | ECPR The Loop | Reuters

The expectation that voters behave rationally has been challenged through studies suggesting that “irrelevant events” like natural disasters and sports results change voting behavior. We test the effect of irrelevant events by matching candidate-level election results from Irish general (1922–2020) and local elections (1942–2019) with games in the men’s Gaelic football and hurling championships, the most popular sports in Ireland. Although Irish citizens care deeply about sports, we fail to find any relationship between match results and support for incumbents or politicians of government parties. These findings hold when applying an “unexpected event during survey design” to two representative surveys. Our results contribute to the literature on political accountability and point to conditional effects of irrelevant events.

2023. “Leader of the Pack? Changes in ‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy’ After a Politburo Collective Study Session.” The China Quarterly 254: 484–493 (with Samuel Brazys and Alexander Dukalskis).
PDF | Data and Code

This research report measures changes in China’s public diplomacy after a May 2021 collective study session of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo. The session examined the country’s global communications strategy and fuelled speculation about what might change in China’s external communications, particularly with regard to its “wolf warrior” diplomats. Combining hand-coding and quantitative text analysis, we develop and validate a measure of “wolf warrior diplomacy” rhetoric and apply it to over 200,000 tweets from nearly 200 institutional, media and diplomatic Twitter accounts. Using a difference-in-difference research design, we evaluate if the session led to a noticeable change in the tweets of diplomats based in OECD countries. After the announcement, PRC diplomats in the OECD moderated their tweets in comparison to non-OECD diplomats, but we do not detect a major re-orientation of PRC communication strategies. These findings have relevance for scholars of Chinese foreign policy, nationalism and public diplomacy.

2023. “How Slack Facilitates Communication and Collaboration in Seminars and Project-Based Classes.” Journal of Educational Technology Systems 51(3): 303–316.
PDF | Data and Code

Lectures and seminars increasingly strive for continuous interactions between learners and the instructor. I study whether the communication program Slack contributes to these goals by analyzing daily activity statistics in methodological and project-based postgraduate courses at an Irish university. Both semester-long courses were taught online during the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) and in person. The quantitative analysis reveals three insights. First, students are active on Slack throughout the term. Second, students post messages in public channels and extensively use private channels and direct messages. Third, many students follow the conversations, ensuring transparent and fair communication between students and instructors. Open-ended responses suggest that Slack created “team spirit.” I conclude with five recommendations: students should sign up in the first week of term; create channels for different aspects of the module; explain when students can expect a response; encourage private conversations between students; and monitor activities regularly.

2022. “Issue Ownership and Agenda Setting in the 2019 Swiss National Elections.” Swiss Political Science Review 28(2): 190–208 (with Fabrizio Gilardi, Theresa Gessler, and Maël Kubli).
PDF | Data and Code

The 2019 Swiss national elections were characterized by the unusual prominence of two issues, environment and gender, whereas two staples of Swiss politics, immigration and Europe, were less dominant compared to previous elections. We study how, in this context, the media and party agenda were linked to issue ownership. Specifically, we consider whether political parties that own an issue could lead the media agenda and the agenda of other parties. Our analysis relies on all tweets and press releases of major Swiss political parties from January to October 2019 and 37,225 newspaper articles published during the same period. Results show, first, that the agenda-setting capacity of parties was restricted to the gender issue, and second, that the link between issue ownership and agenda setting is ambiguous. These findings suggest that during election campaigns, agenda setting may be largely exogenous to both parties and media.

2022. “The Temporal Focus of Campaign Communication.” The Journal of Politics 84(1): 585–590.
Best Paper Award, Manifesto Corpus Conference (2018)
PDF | Data and Code | JOP Blog

Experiences from the past and present influence decision-making. Voting behavior at elections also involves retrospective and prospective considerations. Yet, we do not know the degree to which parties react to these considerations by emphasizing the past, present, and future. I posit that parties do not only make promises but face incentives to discuss the past and present. I also expect that incumbency status conditions emotive rhetoric across these temporal dimensions. Using supervised machine learning, I uncover the temporal rhetorical focus in 621 party manifestos published in nine countries between 1949 and 2017. Parties devote, on average, half of a manifesto to future promises, while the other half describes the past and present. I also show that statements on the past and present drive previously observed differences in sentiment between incumbents and opposition parties. The findings underscore how the temporal dimension of campaign communication enhances our understanding of party competition.

2022. “Social Media and Political Agenda Setting.” Political Communication 39(1): 39–60 (with Fabrizio Gilardi, Theresa Gessler, and Maël Kubli).
PDF | Data and Code

What is the role of social media in political agenda setting? Digital platforms have reduced the gatekeeping power of traditional media and, potentially, they have increased the capacity of various kinds of actors to shape the agenda. We study this question in the Swiss context by examining the connections between three agendas: the traditional media agenda, the social media agenda of parties, and the social media agenda of politicians. Specifically, we validate and apply supervised machine learning classifiers to categorize 2.78 million articles published in 84 newspapers, 6,500 tweets posted on official party accounts, and 210,000 tweets posted by politicians on their own accounts from January 2018 until December 2019. We first use the classifier to measure the salience of the four most relevant issues of the period: the environment, Europe, gender equality, and immigration. Then, using a vector autoregression (VAR) approach, we analyze the relationship between the three agendas. Results show that not only do the traditional media agenda, the social media agenda of parties, and the social media agenda of politicians influence one another but, overall, no agenda leads the others more than it is led by them. There is one important exception: for the environment issue, the social media agenda of parties is more predictive of the traditional media agenda than vice-versa. These findings underscore how closely different agendas are tied together, but also show that advocacy campaigns may play an important role in both constraining and enabling parties to push their specific agendas.

2022. “Voter Expectations of Government Formation in Coalition Systems: The Importance of the Information Context.” European Journal of Political Research 61(1): 111–133 (with Shaun Bowler and Gail McElroy).
PDF | Data and Code

Can voters in multi-party systems predict which coalition will form the government with any degree of accuracy? To date, studies which explore voter expectations of coalition formation have emphasized individual level attributes, such as education, but the complexity of the environment at the time the coalitions are forming should also be consequential in enabling (or handicapping) voters in forming expectations. We examine the relative effects of individual level attributes (e.g., education, cognitive mobilization) versus contextual factors (e.g., information availability) in 19 German state elections and 3 German general elections between 2009 and 2017. We find that the ease of identifiability of alternative future governments varies significantly across multi-party systems. We find that respondents are more likely to predict governments that they would like to see in office, that have a higher probability of receiving a majority of seats, and that consist of ideologically proximate parties. Combining survey data with a novel indicator of coalition signals, measured through a quantitative text analysis of newspaper coverage, we also find that voters consider positive pre-election coalition signals when predicting the government. Finally, we find that the information environment is much more relevant for correct coalition predictions than individual-level characteristics of respondents. Although individual attributes do influence predictive ability, these factors are strongly dominated by the context in which the prediction is taking place. The information environment has by far the largest effect on predicting coalition outcomes. Our results have implications for the literature on strategic voting in multi-party settings, as well as the literature on accountability.

2022. “Building Research Infrastructures to Study Digital Technology and Politics: Lessons from Switzerland.” PS: Political Science & Politics 55(2): 354–359 (with Fabrizio Gilardi, Lucien Baumgartner, Clau Dermont, Karsten Donnay, Theresa Gessler, Maël Kubli, and Lucas Leemann).
PDF | Data and Code

The relationship between digital technology and politics is an important phenomenon that remains poorly understood due to several structural problems. A key issue is the lack of adequate research infrastructures or the lack of access. This article discusses the challenges many social scientists face and presents the infrastructure we built in Switzerland to overcome them, using COVID-19 as an example. We conclude by discussing seven lessons we learned: automatization is key; avoid data hoarding; outsource some parts of the infrastructure but not others; focus on substantive questions; share data in the context of collaborations; engage in targeted public outreach; and collaboration is more promising than competition. We hope that our experience is helpful to other researchers pursuing similar goals.

2021. “Gender, Candidate Emotional Expression, and Voter Reactions During Televised Debates.” American Political Science Review 115(4): 1242–1257 (with Constantine Boussalis, Travis G. Coan, and Mirya R. Holman).
Walter Lippmann Best Article of the Year Award, APSA Political Communication Section (2022)
PDF | Data and Code | Interview

Voters evaluate politicians not just by what they say, but also how they say it, via facial displays of emotions and vocal pitch. Candidate characteristics can shape how leaders use—and how voters react to—nonverbal cues. Drawing on role congruity expectations, we study how the use of and reactions to facial, vocal, and textual communication in political debates varies by candidate gender. Relying on full-length videos of four German federal election debates (2005–2017) and a minor party debate, we use video, audio, and text data to measure candidate facial displays of emotion, vocal pitch, and speech sentiment. Consistent with our expectations, Angela Merkel expresses less anger than her male opponents, but she is just as emotive in other respects. Combining these measures of emotional expression with continuous responses recorded by live audiences, we find that voters punish Merkel for anger displays and reward her happiness and general emotional displays.

2021. “Are Irish Voters Moving to the Left?” Irish Political Studies 36(4): 535–555 (with Aidan Regan).
Best Paper Award, PSAI Annual Conference (Elizabeth Meehan Prize, 2021)
PDF | Data and Code | Podcast

The Irish party system has been an outlier in comparative politics. Ireland never had a left-right divide in parliament, and for decades, the dominant centrist political parties competed around a centre-right policy agenda. The absence of an explicit left-right divide in party competition suggested that Irish voters, on average, occupy centre-right policy preferences. Combining survey data since 1973 and all Irish election studies between 2002 and 2020, we show that the average Irish voter now leans to the centre-left. We also show that income has recently emerged as a predictor of left-right self-placement, and that left-right positions increasingly structure vote choice. These patterns hold when using policy preferences on taxes, spending, and government interventions to reduce inequality as alternative indicators. We outline potential explanations for this leftward shift, and conclude that these developments might be anchored in economic inequalities and the left populist strategies of Sinn Féin.

2021. “The Incumbency Advantage in Second-Order PR Elections: Evidence from the Irish Context, 1942–2019.” Electoral Studies 71: 102331 (with Michael Jankowski).
PDF | Data and Code

Do candidates in local elections benefit from an incumbency advantage? And which factors moderate the strength of this incumbency bonus? Analyzing seven decades of Irish local elections (1942–2019) conducted under proportional representation through the single transferable vote, we reassess and extend the mixed evidence on the incumbency advantage under proportional representation and in second-order elections. By applying the Regression Discontinuity Design, we find that the incumbency advantage is at least as strong in Irish local as in general elections, which are conducted under the identical electoral system. We also show that marginally elected candidates in local elections have much higher reelection probabilities when they do not face a high-quality candidate in their local electoral area after getting elected. The findings point to the importance of name recognition as a major driver of the incumbency advantage in local elections.

2021. “Social Media and Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Switzerland.” Swiss Political Science Review 27(2): 243–256 (with Fabrizio Gilardi, Theresa Gessler, and Maël Kubli).
PDF | Data and Code

We study the role of social media in debates regarding two policy responses to COVID-19 in Switzerland: face-mask rules and contact-tracing apps. We use a dictionary classifier to categorize 612’177 tweets by parties, politicians, and the public as well as 441’458 articles published in 76 newspapers between February and August 2020. We distinguish between “problem” (COVID-19) and “solutions” (face masks and contact-tracing apps) and, using a vector autoregression approach, we analyze the relationship between their salience on social and traditional media, as well as among different groups on social media. We find that overall attention to COVID-19 was not driven by endogenous dynamics between the different actors. By contrast, the debate on face masks was led by the attentive public and by politicians, whereas parties and newspapers followed. The results illustrate how social media challenge the capacity of party and media elites to craft a consensus regarding the appropriateness of different measures as responses to a major crisis.

2020. “Media Coverage of Campaign Promises Throughout the Electoral Cycle.” Political Communication 37(5): 696–718.
PDF | Data and Code

Previous studies conclude that governments fulfill a large share of their campaign pledges. However, only a minority of voters believe that politicians try to keep their promises, and many voters struggle to recall the fulfillment or breaking of salient campaign pledges accurately. I argue that this disparity between the public perception and empirical evidence is influenced by the information voters receive throughout the electoral cycle. I expect that the media extensively inform readers about political promises. In addition, I posit that news outlets focus more on broken than on fulfilled promises and that the focus on broken promises has increased over time. I find strong support for these expectations based on a new text corpus of over 430,000 statements on political commitments published between 1979 and 2017 in 22 newspapers during 33 electoral cycles in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Newspapers inform voters regularly about announced, broken, and fulfilled promises. Yet, across the four countries, newspapers report at least twice as much on broken than on fulfilled promises. Moreover, this negativity bias in reports on political promises has increased substantively. The results have implications for studying campaign promises, negative information in mass media, and the linkages between voters and parties.

2020. “The Electoral Cycle Effect in Parliamentary Democracies.” Political Science Research and Methods 8(4): 795–802 (with Tom Louwerse).
PDF | Data and Code | LSE: EUROPP

Does government party support decline in a monotonic fashion throughout the legislative cycle or do we observe a u-shaped “electoral cycle effect”? Moving beyond the study of midterm election results, this is the first comparative study to assess the cyclical pulse of government party support in parliamentary democracies based on voting intention polls from 171 cycles in 22 countries. On average, government parties lose support during the first half of the electoral cycle, but at most partially recover from their initial losses. Under single-party government and when prime ministers control cabinet dissolution, support tends to follow the previously assumed u-shaped pattern more strongly. Finally, we find that government parties hardly recover from early losses since the 2000s.

2020. “Campaigns and the Selection of Policy-Seeking Representatives.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 45(3): 397–431 (with Shaun Bowler and Gail McElroy).
PDF | Data and Code

Can voters learn meaningful information about candidates from their electoral campaigns? As with job market hiring, voters, like employers, cannot know the productivity of candidates, especially challengers, when they elect them. The real productivity of representatives only reveals itself after the election. We explore if the information revealed during the “hiring process” is a good signal of the legislative effort of elected representatives. In the incomplete information environment of election campaigns, candidates should turn to credible signals to indicate their “type” to voters. Campaigns—and campaigning—are means by which candidates can, in principle, signal their motivations to voters. Is a candidate’s behavior on the campaign trail informative about his or her behavior and effort as a legislator? Does it, for example, reveal whether a candidate will be more hard working and legislatively active? Using evidence from the European Parliament, we show that campaign activity prior to the election is not related to policy-seeking behavior in the legislature post-election. The finding also holds in two national-level settings and across a variety of measures of legislative effort. Those who campaign harder do seem more likely to win the election, but campaign effort seems to provide a poor guide to what the winner does once elected.

2019. “Do Voters Really Prefer More Choice? Determinants of Support for Personalised Electoral Systems.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 29(2): 262–281 (with Michael Jankowski).
PDF | Data and Code

Which voters prefer having more choice between parties and candidates in an election? To provide an answer to this question, we analyse the case of a radical change from a closed-list PR system to a highly complex open-list PR system with cumulative voting in the German states of Bremen and Hamburg. We argue that the approval of a personalised electoral system is structured in similar ways as support for direct democracy. Using representative surveys conducted prior to all four state elections under cumulative voting in 2011 and 2015, we analyse which individual factors determine the approval, disapproval, or indifference towards the new electoral law. The results indicate that younger voters as well as supporters of left parties are much more likely to support a personalised electoral system. In contrast to previous studies, political interest only has an impact on the indifference towards the electoral system. More generally, our results show that a large proportion of voters does not appreciate personalised preferential electoral systems which seems to be a result of the complexity and magnitude of choice between parties and candidates.

2018. “quanteda: An R Package for the Quantitative Analysis of Textual Data.” Journal of Open Source Software 3(30): 774 (with Kenneth Benoit, Kohei Watanabe, Haiyan Wang, Paul Nulty, Adam Obeng, and Akitaka Matsuo).
Society for Political Methodology Statistical Software Award (2020)
PDF | Software Repository

quanteda is an R package providing a comprehensive workflow and toolkit for natural language processing tasks such as corpus management, tokenization, analysis, and visualization. It has extensive functions for applying dictionary analysis, exploring texts using keywords-in-context, computing document and feature similarities, and discovering multi-word expressions through collocation scoring. Based entirely on sparse operations, it provides highly efficient methods for compiling document-feature matrices and for manipulating these or using them in further quantitative analysis. Using C++ and multi-threading extensively, quanteda is also considerably faster and more efficient than other R and Python packages in processing large textual data. The package is designed for R users needing to apply natural language processing to texts, from documents to final analysis. Its capabilities match or exceed those provided in many end-user software applications, many of which are expensive and not open source. The package is therefore of great benefit to researchers, students, and other analysts with fewer financial resources. While using quanteda requires R programming knowledge, its API is designed to enable powerful, efficient analysis with a minimum of steps. By emphasizing consistent design, furthermore, quanteda lowers the barriers to learning and using NLP and quantitative text analysis even for proficient R programmers.

2018. “Voter Preferences and Party Loyalty under Cumulative Voting: Political Behaviour after Electoral Reform in Bremen and Hamburg.”Electoral Studies 51: 93–102 (with Shaun Bowler and Gail McElroy).

Many electoral systems constrain voters to one or two votes at election time. Reformers often see this as a failing because voters’ preferences are both broader and more varied than the number of choices allowed. New electoral systems therefore often permit more preferences to be expressed. In this paper we examine what happens when cumulative voting is introduced in two German states. Even when we allow for tactical considerations, we find that the principle of unconstrained choice is not widely embraced by voters, although in practice, too, many seem to have preferences for more than just one party. This finding has implications for arguments relating to electoral reform as well as how to conceive of party affiliations in multi-party systems.

2018. “Assessing the Influence of Neutral Grounds on Match Outcomes.” International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport 18(6): 892–905 (with Liam Kneafsey).
PDF | Data and Code

The home advantage in various sports has been well documented. So far, we lack knowledge whether playing in neutral venues indeed removes many, if not all, theoretically assumed advantages of playing at home. Analysing over 3,500 senior men’s Gaelic football and hurling matches – field games with the highest participation rates in Ireland – between 2009 and 2018, we test the potential moderating influence of neutral venues. In hurling and Gaelic football, a considerable share of matches is played at neutral venues. We test the influence of neutral venues based on descriptive statistics, and multilevel logistic and multinomial regressions controlling for team strength, the importance of the match, the year, and the sport. With predicted probabilities ranging between 0.8 and 0.9, the favourite team is very likely to win home matches. The predicted probability drops below 0.6 for away matches. At neutral venues, the favourite team has a predicted probability of winning of 0.7. A Coarsened Exact Matching (CEM) approach also reveals very substantive and significant effects for the “treatment” of neutral venues. Overall, neutral venues appear to be an under-utilised option for creating fairer and less predictable competition, especially in single-game knock-out matches.

Other Publications

2023. Quanteda Tutorials (with Kohei Watanabe).


2024. Irish Polling Indicator Datasets (with Tom Louwerse).
Stable Version (2022) | Development Version (2024)

2024. Irish Politics Data: An Overview of Datasets Related to Irish Politics.

2024. Irish Local and European Parliament Election Manifestos (with Artur Baranov and Paula Montano).
Dashboard | Data

2024. Irish Demographic Polling Datasets (with Thomas Pluck and Paula Montano).
Dashboard | Data

Current Research

Under Review

Mapping Digital Campaign Strategies: How Political Candidates Use Social Media to Communicate Constituency Connection and Policy Stance (with James P Cross, Derek Greene, and Martijn Schoonvelde).

Working Papers

Catalysts for Progress? Policy Recommendations in Research on Renewable Energy and Climate Change (with Brian Boyle and Yen-Chieh Liao).

Do Legislators Learn how to be Legislators? The Life Cycle to Parliamentary Rhetoric (with Shaun Bowler, Gail McElroy, and Jihed Ncib).

Multilingual Stance Detection in Political Texts: Interpretation, Applications, and Limitations (with Yen-Chieh Liao).

If you would like to get access to the latest version of a paper, feel free to send me an e-mail.


Assessing and Explaining Environmental and Energy Policies in Comparative Perspective

Logo of NexSys: Next Generation Energy Systems

Project Summary: Political parties, politicians, companies, and interest groups increasingly discuss how to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions future, but systematic evidence that tracks these political debates is still lacking. The project “Assessing and Explaining Environmental and Energy Policies in Comparative Perspective” seeks to identify the problems political actors raise and solutions they offer regarding renewable energy, sustainability, and water treatment. The project will also assess how companies and interest groups aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. By combining quantitative text analysis, human coding, and supervised machine learning, it will define and map (proposed) policies relating to the environment and sustainability, and provide recommendations for policymakers.

The project is part of NexSys, a newly established All Island SFI Strategic Partnership Programme. NexSys focuses on the transition to a net zero carbon energy system. It is a unique partnership bringing together a multidisciplinary research team, industry, and policymakers to tackle fundamental research questions to be addressed as part of the transition to net Zero. Hosted by UCD Energy Institute, NexSys brings together academics from nine institutions across the Island of Ireland (University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, ESRI, Maynooth University, University College Cork, NUI Galway, Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast) to work together to meet the unprecedented scale and complexity of the challenges associated with the energy transition.

Funding Volume: €183,018 (total funding: €16,000,000)

Interviews, Reports, and Outputs:

Analysing Grant Peer Review Reports Using Machine Learning

Logo of the Swiss National Science Foundation

Project Summary: Peer review plays an essential role in grant evaluation. External peer review reports by international experts contribute to assessing the feasibility and quality of grant applications and provide an essential basis for funding decisions. In addition, they help justify rejections and provide feedback, which may help applicants improve their research. Peer review thus has the power to influence which researchers and what kind of research receives funding and can subsequently be conducted. For funding organisations, peer review must fulfil these functions. Peer review reports should also be in line with their understanding of quality. Peer review should also enable fair, transparent, and efficient funding decisions and foster diversity in research (ideas, methodologies, and approaches) and researchers.

This research project is a collaboration between University College Dublin and the Swiss National Science Foundation. The project will analyse the texts of anonymised grant review reports along several dimensions using human coding and machine learning. We seek to conceptualise characteristics of grant peer review reports and classify a large corpus of review reports. The project investigates whether strategic initiatives and new evaluation procedures have the desired effects on the content and structure of review reports.

Funding Volume: €276,099


I established the Text and Policy Research Group, comprising six researchers from Germany, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia, and the United States. The research undertaken by the international team share a commonality: the application of computational text analysis methods to address substantive questions and provide policy recommendations. Our current projects focus on legislative politics, political communication, higher education policy, climate and energy policies, and science policy.

Current Team Members

Former Team Members

You find more information about the team and our current projects on the website of the Text and Policy Research Group.


Module Instructor: Undergraduate Level

Module Instructor: Postgraduate Level

I maintain and continuously update a GitHub repository with the syllabi of all modules.

Workshop Instructor

I could also teach these workshops at your institution. Do not hesitate to contact me.

Teaching and Supervision Qualifications

Teaching Awards


+353 (0) 1 716 8661

Room G312, Newman Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Office Hours: Mondays, 12:30–14:00 (Schedule a meeting via Calendly)

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