michael curtotti and eric mccreath n.
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Michael Curtotti and Eric McCreath. A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know: An Open Online Readability Research Platform. Motivation – Is there a problem with the readability of legislation?. Legislation has a significant new audience: the general public

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motivation is there a problem with the readability of legislation
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformMotivation – Is there a problem with the readability of legislation?

Legislation has a significant new audience: the general public

Historical audience – lawyers, judges, government officers

Conclusions that can be drawn from existing research

Plain language drafting does improve the readability of legislation

Researchers often conclude that legislation is very hard for large proportions of the population - even in those cases where plain language drafting is used.

outline
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformOutline

Full paper: available via LVI2013 & SSRN

Existing readability research is extensive & covers fields under discussion (refer to paper)

The Readability Research Platform & Approaches for Evaluating Readability

Initial findings on legislation and graded readers using RRP and Weka machine learning package

Workshop using ipython and the RRP to extract readability/linguistic data

Readability Research Possibilities

platform features
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformPlatform Features

Traditional Readability Metrics

Cloze Tests

Subjective User Evaluations

Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning

Command line tools for remote data extraction

approaches to assessing readability
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformApproaches to Assessing Readability

Traditional readability metrics

Human evaluation

Comprehension testing

Cloze Testing

Crowd Sourcing

Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning

readability metrics1
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformReadability Metrics

Indirectly measure vocabulary and syntactic complexity

Over 200 measures developed

Primarily designed for gradining reading materials for learner readers – typically passages of 100 words or more

Not designed for measuring the difficulty of single sentences

Not designed for measuring the readability of legislation

slide10
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research Platform

Coleman-Liau Index = 0.588 * L – 0.296*S – 15.8 (L = average letters per 100 words, S = average sentences per hundred words)

SMOG index =

Dale Chall uses a list of 3000 'easy' words and their cognates and average sentence length

ARI = 4.71*(char.length/words) + (words/sentences) – 21.43

cloze test results
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformCloze Test results

0-35% indicates reader frustration

35-49% instructional – the reader needs assistance to understand the material

50% + independent reader

cloze test results1
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformCloze Test results

0-35% reader frustration

35-49% instructional – reader needs assistance

50% + independent reader

scope of nlp
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformScope of NLP

Current scope of RRP

Characters

Vocabulary

Syllables / Morphemes

Syntax

Lemmas/Words / Parts of Speech

Phrases / Chunks / ngrams

Clauses

Trees

Named Entities

Sentences

…..

Relations

Discourse Features

research questions initial findings
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformResearch Questions & Initial Findings

1. Do traditional readability metrics or surface features of a sentence assist us in assessing the readability of the sentence?

2. Does parts of speech or chunk data from a sentence assist in assessing its readability?

3. Do features such as the above provide us with a measure of whether legislative `sentences' are `normal' English?

question 3 yes legislative english is very different within sample
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformQuestion 3: Yes – legislative English is very different (within sample)

Visualizations produced using Weka Software

question 3 yes legislative english is very different parts of speech data
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformQuestion 3: Yes – legislative English is very different – parts of speech data

PCA on Brown Corpus & Legislative Corp.

Visualizations produced using Weka Software

slide22
A Right of Access Implies a Right to Know - Readability Research PlatformMachine learning can use POS to distinguish legislative sentences from a wide range of other English sentences.