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pvsR: An Open Source Interface to Big Data on the American Political Sphere.

Matter U, Stutzer A - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: The free and open code is expected to substantially reduce the cost of research with PVS' new big public data in a vast variety of possible applications.We discuss its advantages vis-à-vis traditional methods of data generation as well as already existing interfaces.Similar OSIs are recommended for other big public databases.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Basel/Faculty of Business and Economics, Peter-Merian-Weg 6, 4002 Basel, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
Digital data from the political sphere is abundant, omnipresent, and more and more directly accessible through the Internet. Project Vote Smart (PVS) is a prominent example of this big public data and covers various aspects of U.S. politics in astonishing detail. Despite the vast potential of PVS' data for political science, economics, and sociology, it is hardly used in empirical research. The systematic compilation of semi-structured data can be complicated and time consuming as the data format is not designed for conventional scientific research. This paper presents a new tool that makes the data easily accessible to a broad scientific community. We provide the software called pvsR as an add-on to the R programming environment for statistical computing. This open source interface (OSI) serves as a direct link between a statistical analysis and the large PVS database. The free and open code is expected to substantially reduce the cost of research with PVS' new big public data in a vast variety of possible applications. We discuss its advantages vis-à-vis traditional methods of data generation as well as already existing interfaces. The validity of the library is documented based on an illustration involving female representation in local politics. In addition, pvsR facilitates the replication of research with PVS data at low costs, including the pre-processing of data. Similar OSIs are recommended for other big public databases.

No MeSH data available.


Open source interface to an API.
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pone.0130501.g002: Open source interface to an API.

Mentions: pvsR automates the data retrieval requests to the PVS API, handles HTTP and API errors as well as malformed XML, reshapes the data format, and stores it or makes it available for econometric analyses. In addition, several high-level functions are provided that combine different API methods and conveniently allow for fetching data on specific data entity. Another interface is thus created which bridges data retrieval and analysis. Fig 2 illustrates this alternative use of APIs to web platforms such as PVS for social science research.


pvsR: An Open Source Interface to Big Data on the American Political Sphere.

Matter U, Stutzer A - PLoS ONE (2015)

Open source interface to an API.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4488489&req=5

pone.0130501.g002: Open source interface to an API.
Mentions: pvsR automates the data retrieval requests to the PVS API, handles HTTP and API errors as well as malformed XML, reshapes the data format, and stores it or makes it available for econometric analyses. In addition, several high-level functions are provided that combine different API methods and conveniently allow for fetching data on specific data entity. Another interface is thus created which bridges data retrieval and analysis. Fig 2 illustrates this alternative use of APIs to web platforms such as PVS for social science research.

Bottom Line: The free and open code is expected to substantially reduce the cost of research with PVS' new big public data in a vast variety of possible applications.We discuss its advantages vis-à-vis traditional methods of data generation as well as already existing interfaces.Similar OSIs are recommended for other big public databases.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Basel/Faculty of Business and Economics, Peter-Merian-Weg 6, 4002 Basel, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
Digital data from the political sphere is abundant, omnipresent, and more and more directly accessible through the Internet. Project Vote Smart (PVS) is a prominent example of this big public data and covers various aspects of U.S. politics in astonishing detail. Despite the vast potential of PVS' data for political science, economics, and sociology, it is hardly used in empirical research. The systematic compilation of semi-structured data can be complicated and time consuming as the data format is not designed for conventional scientific research. This paper presents a new tool that makes the data easily accessible to a broad scientific community. We provide the software called pvsR as an add-on to the R programming environment for statistical computing. This open source interface (OSI) serves as a direct link between a statistical analysis and the large PVS database. The free and open code is expected to substantially reduce the cost of research with PVS' new big public data in a vast variety of possible applications. We discuss its advantages vis-à-vis traditional methods of data generation as well as already existing interfaces. The validity of the library is documented based on an illustration involving female representation in local politics. In addition, pvsR facilitates the replication of research with PVS data at low costs, including the pre-processing of data. Similar OSIs are recommended for other big public databases.

No MeSH data available.