Suzan Verberne


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Investigating the Robustness of Modelling Decisions for Few-Shot Cross-Topic Stance Detection: A Preregistered Study
Myrthe Reuver | Suzan Verberne | Antske Fokkens
Proceedings of the 2024 Joint International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC-COLING 2024)

For a viewpoint-diverse news recommender, identifying whether two news articles express the same viewpoint is essential. One way to determine “same or different” viewpoint is stance detection. In this paper, we investigate the robustness of operationalization choices for few-shot stance detection, with special attention to modelling stance across different topics. Our experiments test pre-registered hypotheses on stance detection. Specifically, we compare two stance task definitions (Pro/Con versus Same Side Stance), two LLM architectures (bi-encoding versus cross-encoding), and adding Natural Language Inference knowledge, with pre-trained RoBERTa models trained with shots of 100 examples from 7 different stance detection datasets. Some of our hypotheses and claims from earlier work can be confirmed, while others give more inconsistent results. The effect of the Same Side Stance definition on performance differs per dataset and is influenced by other modelling choices. We found no relationship between the number of training topics in the training shots and performance. In general, cross-encoding out-performs bi-encoding, and adding NLI training to our models gives considerable improvement, but these results are not consistent across all datasets. Our results indicate that it is essential to include multiple datasets and systematic modelling experiments when aiming to find robust modelling choices for the concept ‘stance’.

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Biomedical Entity Linking for Dutch: Fine-tuning a Self-alignment BERT Model on an Automatically Generated Wikipedia Corpus
Fons Hartendorp | Tom Seinen | Erik van Mulligen | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Patient-Oriented Language Processing (CL4Health) @ LREC-COLING 2024

Biomedical entity linking, a main component in automatic information extraction from health-related texts, plays a pivotal role in connecting textual entities (such as diseases, drugs and body parts mentioned by patients) to their corresponding concepts in a structured biomedical knowledge base. The task remains challenging despite recent developments in natural language processing. This report presents the first evaluated biomedical entity linking model for the Dutch language. We use as basemodel and perform second-phase pretraining through self-alignment on a Dutch biomedical ontology extracted from the UMLS and Dutch SNOMED. We derive a corpus from Wikipedia of ontology-linked Dutch biomedical entities in context and fine-tune our model on this dataset. We evaluate our model on the Dutch portion of the Mantra GSC-corpus and achieve 54.7% classification accuracy and 69.8% 1-distance accuracy. We then perform a case study on a collection of unlabeled, patient-support forum data and show that our model is hampered by the limited quality of the preceding entity recognition step. Manual evaluation of small sample indicates that of the correctly extracted entities, around 65% is linked to the correct concept in the ontology. Our results indicate that biomedical entity linking in a language other than English remains challenging, but our Dutch model can be used to for high-level analysis of patient-generated text.


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ChiSCor: A Corpus of Freely-Told Fantasy Stories by Dutch Children for Computational Linguistics and Cognitive Science
Bram van Dijk | Max van Duijn | Suzan Verberne | Marco Spruit
Proceedings of the 27th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

In this resource paper we release ChiSCor, a new corpus containing 619 fantasy stories, told freely by 442 Dutch children aged 4-12. ChiSCor was compiled for studying how children render character perspectives, and unravelling language and cognition in development, with computational tools. Unlike existing resources, ChiSCor’s stories were produced in natural contexts, in line with recent calls for more ecologically valid datasets. ChiSCor hosts text, audio, and annotations for character complexity and linguistic complexity. Additional metadata (e.g. education of caregivers) is available for one third of the Dutch children. ChiSCor also includes a small set of 62 English stories. This paper details how ChiSCor was compiled and shows its potential for future work with three brief case studies: i) we show that the syntactic complexity of stories is strikingly stable across children’s ages; ii) we extend work on Zipfian distributions in free speech and show that ChiSCor obeys Zipf’s law closely, reflecting its social context; iii) we show that even though ChiSCor is relatively small, the corpus is rich enough to train informative lemma vectors that allow us to analyse children’s language use. We end with a reflection on the value of narrative datasets in computational linguistics.

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Expand, Highlight, Generate: RL-driven Document Generation for Passage Reranking
Arian Askari | Mohammad Aliannejadi | Chuan Meng | Evangelos Kanoulas | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Generating synthetic training data based on large language models (LLMs) for ranking models has gained attention recently. Prior studies use LLMs to build pseudo query-document pairs by generating synthetic queries from documents in a corpus. In this paper, we propose a new perspective of data augmentation: generating synthetic documents from queries. To achieve this, we propose DocGen, that consists of a three-step pipeline that utilizes the few-shot capabilities of LLMs. DocGen pipeline performs synthetic document generation by (i) expanding, (ii) highlighting the original query, and then (iii) generating a synthetic document that is likely to be relevant to the query. To further improve the relevance between generated synthetic documents and their corresponding queries, we propose DocGen-RL, which regards the estimated relevance of the document as a reward and leverages reinforcement learning (RL) to optimize DocGen pipeline. Extensive experiments demonstrate that DocGen pipeline and DocGen-RL significantly outperform existing state-of-theart data augmentation methods, such as InPars, indicating that our new perspective of generating documents leverages the capacity of LLMs in generating synthetic data more effectively. We release the code, generated data, and model checkpoints to foster research in this area.

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Pretrained Transformers for Text Ranking: BERT and Beyond
Suzan Verberne
Computational Linguistics, Volume 49, Issue 1 - March 2023


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No NLP Task Should be an Island: Multi-disciplinarity for Diversity in News Recommender Systems
Myrthe Reuver | Antske Fokkens | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the EACL Hackashop on News Media Content Analysis and Automated Report Generation

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is defined by specific, separate tasks, with each their own literature, benchmark datasets, and definitions. In this position paper, we argue that for a complex problem such as the threat to democracy by non-diverse news recommender systems, it is important to take into account a higher-order, normative goal and its implications. Experts in ethics, political science and media studies have suggested that news recommendation systems could be used to support a deliberative democracy. We reflect on the role of NLP in recommendation systems with this specific goal in mind and show that this theory of democracy helps to identify which NLP tasks and techniques can support this goal, and what work still needs to be done. This leads to recommendations for NLP researchers working on this specific problem as well as researchers working on other complex multidisciplinary problems.

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Is Stance Detection Topic-Independent and Cross-topic Generalizable? - A Reproduction Study
Myrthe Reuver | Suzan Verberne | Roser Morante | Antske Fokkens
Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Argument Mining

Cross-topic stance detection is the task to automatically detect stances (pro, against, or neutral) on unseen topics. We successfully reproduce state-of-the-art cross-topic stance detection work (Reimers et. al, 2019), and systematically analyze its reproducibility. Our attention then turns to the cross-topic aspect of this work, and the specificity of topics in terms of vocabulary and socio-cultural context. We ask: To what extent is stance detection topic-independent and generalizable across topics? We compare the model’s performance on various unseen topics, and find topic (e.g. abortion, cloning), class (e.g. pro, con), and their interaction affecting the model’s performance. We conclude that investigating performance on different topics, and addressing topic-specific vocabulary and context, is a future avenue for cross-topic stance detection. References Nils Reimers, Benjamin Schiller, Tilman Beck, Johannes Daxenberger, Christian Stab, and Iryna Gurevych. 2019. Classification and Clustering of Arguments with Contextualized Word Embeddings. In Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, pages 567–578, Florence, Italy. Association for Computational Linguistics.

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Are we human, or are we users? The role of natural language processing in human-centric news recommenders that nudge users to diverse content
Myrthe Reuver | Nicolas Mattis | Marijn Sax | Suzan Verberne | Nava Tintarev | Natali Helberger | Judith Moeller | Sanne Vrijenhoek | Antske Fokkens | Wouter van Atteveldt
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact

In this position paper, we present a research agenda and ideas for facilitating exposure to diverse viewpoints in news recommendation. Recommending news from diverse viewpoints is important to prevent potential filter bubble effects in news consumption, and stimulate a healthy democratic debate. To account for the complexity that is inherent to humans as citizens in a democracy, we anticipate (among others) individual-level differences in acceptance of diversity. We connect this idea to techniques in Natural Language Processing, where distributional language models would allow us to place different users and news articles in a multidimensional space based on semantic content, where diversity is operationalized as distance and variance. In this way, we can model individual “latitudes of diversity” for different users, and thus personalize viewpoint diversity in support of a healthy public debate. In addition, we identify technical, ethical and conceptual issues related to our presented ideas. Our investigation describes how NLP can play a central role in diversifying news recommendations.

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FuzzyBIO: A Proposal for Fuzzy Representation of Discontinuous Entities
Anne Dirkson | Suzan Verberne | Wessel Kraaij
Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on Health Text Mining and Information Analysis

Discontinuous entities pose a challenge to named entity recognition (NER). These phenomena occur commonly in the biomedical domain. As a solution, expansions of the BIO representation scheme that can handle these entity types are commonly used (i.e. BIOHD). However, the extra tag types make the NER task more difficult to learn. In this paper we propose an alternative; a fuzzy continuous BIO scheme (FuzzyBIO). We focus on the task of Adverse Drug Response extraction and normalization to compare FuzzyBIO to BIOHD. We find that FuzzyBIO improves recall of NER for two of three data sets and results in a higher percentage of correctly identified disjoint and composite entities for all data sets. Using FuzzyBIO also improves end-to-end performance for continuous and composite entities in two of three data sets. Since FuzzyBIO improves performance for some data sets and the conversion from BIOHD to FuzzyBIO is straightforward, we recommend investigating which is more effective for any data set containing discontinuous entities.


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Creating a Dataset for Named Entity Recognition in the Archaeology Domain
Alex Brandsen | Suzan Verberne | Milco Wansleeben | Karsten Lambers
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

In this paper, we present the development of a training dataset for Dutch Named Entity Recognition (NER) in the archaeology domain. This dataset was created as there is a dire need for semantic search within archaeology, in order to allow archaeologists to find structured information in collections of Dutch excavation reports, currently totalling around 60,000 (658 million words) and growing rapidly. To guide this search task, NER is needed. We created rigorous annotation guidelines in an iterative process, then instructed five archaeology students to annotate a number of documents. The resulting dataset contains ~31k annotations between six entity types (artefact, time period, place, context, species & material). The inter-annotator agreement is 0.95, and when we used this data for machine learning, we observed an increase in F1 score from 0.51 to 0.70 in comparison to a machine learning model trained on a dataset created in prior work. This indicates that the data is of high quality, and can confidently be used to train NER classifiers.

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Named Entity Recognition for Chinese biomedical patents
Yuting Hu | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

There is a large body of work on Biomedical Entity Recognition (Bio-NER) for English but there have only been a few attempts addressing NER for Chinese biomedical texts. Because of the growing amount of Chinese biomedical discoveries being patented, and lack of NER models for patent data, we train and evaluate NER models for the analysis of Chinese biomedical patent data, based on BERT. By doing so, we show the value and potential of this domain-specific NER task. For the evaluation of our methods we built our own Chinese biomedical patents NER dataset, and our optimized model achieved an F1 score of 0.54±0.15. Further biomedical analysis indicates that our solution can help detecting meaningful biomedical entities and novel gene-gene interactions, with limited labeled data, training time and computing power.

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Conversation-Aware Filtering of Online Patient Forum Messages
Anne Dirkson | Suzan Verberne | Wessel Kraaij
Proceedings of the Fifth Social Media Mining for Health Applications Workshop & Shared Task

Previous approaches to NLP tasks on online patient forums have been limited to single posts as units, thereby neglecting the overarching conversational structure. In this paper we explore the benefit of exploiting conversational context for filtering posts relevant to a specific medical topic. We experiment with two approaches to add conversational context to a BERT model: a sequential CRF layer and manually engineered features. Although neither approach can outperform the F1 score of the BERT baseline, we find that adding a sequential layer improves precision for all target classes whereas adding a non-sequential layer with manually engineered features leads to a higher recall for two out of three target classes. Thus, depending on the end goal, conversation-aware modelling may be beneficial for identifying relevant messages. We hope our findings encourage other researchers in this domain to move beyond studying messages in isolation towards more discourse-based data collection and classification. We release our code for the purpose of follow-up research.

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Challenges of Applying Automatic Speech Recognition for Transcribing EU Parliament Committee Meetings: A Pilot Study
Hugo de Vos | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the Second ParlaCLARIN Workshop

Challenges of Applying Automatic Speech Recognition for Transcribing EUParliament Committee Meetings: A Pilot StudyHugo de Vos and Suzan VerberneInstitute of Public Administration and Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, Leiden, s.verberne@liacs.leidenuniv.nlAbstractWe tested the feasibility of automatically transcribing committee meetings of the European Union parliament with the use of AutomaticSpeech Recognition techniques. These committee meetings contain more valuable information for political science scholars than theplenary meetings since these meetings showcase actual debates opposed to the more formal plenary meetings. However, since there areno transcriptions of those meetings, they are a lot less accessible for research than the plenary meetings, of which multiple corpora exist. We explored a freely available ASR application and analysed the output in order to identify the weaknesses of an out-of-the box system. We followed up on those weaknesses by proposing directions for optimizing the ASR for our goals. We found that, despite showcasingacceptable results in terms of Word Error Rate, the model did not yet suffice for the purpose of generating a data set for use in PoliticalScience. The application was unable to successfully recognize domain specific terms and names. To overcome this issue, future researchwill be directed at using domain specific language models in combination with off-the-shelf acoustic models.


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Lexical Normalization of User-Generated Medical Text
Anne Dirkson | Suzan Verberne | Wessel Kraaij
Proceedings of the Fourth Social Media Mining for Health Applications (#SMM4H) Workshop & Shared Task

In the medical domain, user-generated social media text is increasingly used as a valuable complementary knowledge source to scientific medical literature. The extraction of this knowledge is complicated by colloquial language use and misspellings. Yet, lexical normalization of such data has not been addressed properly. This paper presents an unsupervised, data-driven spelling correction module for medical social media. Our method outperforms state-of-the-art spelling correction and can detect mistakes with an F0.5 of 0.888. Additionally, we present a novel corpus for spelling mistake detection and correction on a medical patient forum.

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Transfer Learning for Health-related Twitter Data
Anne Dirkson | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the Fourth Social Media Mining for Health Applications (#SMM4H) Workshop & Shared Task

Transfer learning is promising for many NLP applications, especially in tasks with limited labeled data. This paper describes the methods developed by team TMRLeiden for the 2019 Social Media Mining for Health Applications (SMM4H) Shared Task. Our methods use state-of-the-art transfer learning methods to classify, extract and normalise adverse drug effects (ADRs) and to classify personal health mentions from health-related tweets. The code and fine-tuned models are publicly available.


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Abstractive Compression of Captions with Attentive Recurrent Neural Networks
Sander Wubben | Emiel Krahmer | Antal van den Bosch | Suzan Verberne
Proceedings of the 9th International Natural Language Generation conference


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Text Representations for Patent Classification
Eva D’hondt | Suzan Verberne | Cornelis Koster | Lou Boves
Computational Linguistics, Volume 39, Issue 3 - September 2013


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The effect of domain and text type on text prediction quality
Suzan Verberne | Antal van den Bosch | Helmer Strik | Lou Boves
Proceedings of the 13th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics


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Constructing a Broad-coverage Lexicon for Text Mining in the Patent Domain
Nelleke Oostdijk | Suzan Verberne | Cornelis Koster
Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'10)

For mining intellectual property texts (patents), a broad-coverage lexicon that covers general English words together with terminology from the patent domain is indispensable. The patent domain is very diffuse as it comprises a variety of technical domains (e.g. Human Necessities, Chemistry & Metallurgy and Physics in the International Patent Classification). As a result, collecting a lexicon that covers the language used in patent texts is not a straightforward task. In this paper we describe the approach that we have developed for the semi-automatic construction of a broad-coverage lexicon for classification and information retrieval in the patent domain and which combines information from multiple sources. Our contribution is twofold. First, we provide insight into the difficulties of developing lexical resources for information retrieval and text mining in the patent domain, a research and development field that is expanding quickly. Second, we create a broad coverage lexicon annotated with rich lexical information and containing both general English word forms and domain terminology for various technical domains.

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What Is Not in the Bag of Words for Why-QA?
Suzan Verberne | Lou Boves | Nelleke Oostdijk | Peter-Arno Coppen
Computational Linguistics, Volume 36, Number 2, June 2010


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Passage Retrieval for Question Answering using Sliding Windows
Mahboob Khalid | Suzan Verberne
Coling 2008: Proceedings of the 2nd workshop on Information Retrieval for Question Answering

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Using Syntactic Information for Improving Why-Question Answering
Suzan Verberne | Lou Boves | Nelleke Oostdijk | Peter-Arno Coppen
Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Computational Linguistics (Coling 2008)


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Developing an Approach for Why-Question Answering
Suzan Verberne
Student Research Workshop

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Discourse-based answering of why-questions
Suzan Verberne | Lou Boves | Peter-Arno Coppen | Nelleke Oostdijk
Traitement Automatique des Langues, Volume 47, Numéro 2 : Discours et document : traitements automatiques [Computational Approaches to Discourse and Document Processing]

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Data for question answering: The case of why
Suzan Verberne | Lou Boves | Nelleke Oostdijk | Peter-Arno Coppen
Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC’06)

For research and development of an approach for automatically answering why-questions (why-QA) a data collection was created. The data set was obtained by way of elicitation and comprises a total of 395 why-questions. For each question, the data set includes the source document and one or two user-formulated answers. In addition, for a subset of the questions, user-formulated paraphrases are available. All question-answer pairs have been annotated with information on topic and semantic answer type. The resulting data set is of importance not only for our research, but we expect it to contribute to and stimulate other research in the field of why-QA.