Abstract of Thesis "Argumentative Zoning: Information Extraction from Scientific Articles", Simone Teufel, 1999, University of Edinburgh

We present a new type of analysis for scientific text which we call Argumentative Zoning.

We demonstrate that this type of text analysis can be used for generating user-tailored and task-tailored summaries and for performing more informative citation analyses.

We also demonstrate that our type of analysis can be applied to unrestricted text, both automatically and by humans. The corpus we use for the analysis (80 conference papers in computational linguistics) is a difficult test bed; it shows great variation with respect to subdomain, writing style, register and linguistic expression. We present reliability studies which we performed on this corpus and for which we use two unrelated trained annotators.

The definition of our seven categories (argumentative zones) is not specific to the domain, only to the text type; it is based on the typical argumentation to be found in scientific articles. It reflects the attribution of intellectual ownership in scientific articles, expressions of authors' stance towards other work, and typical statements about problem-solving processes.

On the basis of sentential features, we use two statistical models (a Naive Bayesian model and an ngram model operating over sentences) to estimate a sentence's argumentative status, taking the hand-annotated corpus as training material. An alternative, symbolic system uses the features in a rule-based way.

The general working hypothesis of this thesis is that empirical discourse studies can contribute to practical document management problems: the analysis of a significant amount of naturally occurring text is essential for discourse linguistic theories, and the application of a robust discourse and argumentation analysis can make text understanding techniques for practical document management more robust.