Basic Text Mining in R

Back to the QDA Course Site Note: The QDA Course Site is open only to students that are, or have been, registered for the Qualitative Data Analysis course at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

To start, install the packages you need to mine text
You only need to do this step once.

Needed <- c("tm", "SnowballCC", "RColorBrewer", "ggplot2", "wordcloud", "biclust", 
    "cluster", "igraph", "fpc")
install.packages(Needed, dependencies = TRUE)

install.packages("Rcampdf", repos = "", type = "source")

If you get the following message:
‘Update all/some/none? [a/s/n]:’ enter “a” and press return

Loading Texts

Start by saving your text files in a folder titled: “texts” This will be the “corpus” (body) of texts you are mining.

Note: The texts used in this example are a few of Donald Trump’s speeches that were copied and pasted into a text document. You can use a variety of media for this, such as PDF and HTML. The text example was chosen out of curiosity. If you would like to use these same texts, you can download them here.

Read this next part carefully. You need to do three unique things here:
1. Create a file named “texts” where you’ll keep your data.
2. Save the file to a particular place
+ Mac: Desktop
+ PC: C: drive
3. Copy and paste the appropriate scripts below.

On a Mac, save the folder to your desktop and use the following code chunk:

cname <- file.path("~", "Desktop", "texts")   
## [1] "~/Desktop/texts"
dir(cname)   # Use this to check to see that your texts have loaded.   
##  [1] "Trump Black History Month Speech.txt"         
##  [2] "Trump CIA Speech.txt"                         
##  [3] "Trump Congressional Address.txt"              
##  [4] "Trump CPAC Speech.txt"                        
##  [5] "Trump Florida Rally 2-18-17.txt"              
##  [6] "Trump Immigration Speech 8-31-16.txt"         
##  [7] "Trump Inauguration Speech.txt"                
##  [8] "Trump National Prayer Breakfast.txt"          
##  [9] "Trump Nomination Speech.txt"                  
## [10] "Trump Police Chiefs Speech.txt"               
## [11] "Trump Response to Healthcare Bill Failure.txt"

On a PC, save the folder to your C: drive and use the following code chunk:

cname <- file.path("C:", "texts")   

Load the R package for text mining and then load your texts into R.

## Loading required package: NLP
docs <- VCorpus(DirSource(cname))   
##                                               Length Class            
## Trump Black History Month Speech.txt          2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump CIA Speech.txt                          2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Congressional Address.txt               2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump CPAC Speech.txt                         2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Florida Rally 2-18-17.txt               2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Immigration Speech 8-31-16.txt          2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Inauguration Speech.txt                 2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump National Prayer Breakfast.txt           2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Nomination Speech.txt                   2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Police Chiefs Speech.txt                2      PlainTextDocument
## Trump Response to Healthcare Bill Failure.txt 2      PlainTextDocument
##                                               Mode
## Trump Black History Month Speech.txt          list
## Trump CIA Speech.txt                          list
## Trump Congressional Address.txt               list
## Trump CPAC Speech.txt                         list
## Trump Florida Rally 2-18-17.txt               list
## Trump Immigration Speech 8-31-16.txt          list
## Trump Inauguration Speech.txt                 list
## Trump National Prayer Breakfast.txt           list
## Trump Nomination Speech.txt                   list
## Trump Police Chiefs Speech.txt                list
## Trump Response to Healthcare Bill Failure.txt list

For details about documents in the corpus, use the inspect(docs) command.

## <<VCorpus>>
## Metadata:  corpus specific: 0, document level (indexed): 0
## Content:  documents: 1
## [[1]]
## <<PlainTextDocument>>
## Metadata:  7
## Content:  chars: 3974

In this case, you are getting the details on only the second document in the corpus. But this is not a lot of information. Essentially, all you get is the number of characters in each document in the corpus. Documents are identified by the number in which they are loaded.

If you so desire, you can read your documents in the R terminal using writeLines(as.character(docs)). Or, if you prefer to look at only one of the documents you loaded, then you can specify which one using something like:

## list(list(content = c("Well, the election, it came out really well. Next time we’ll triple the number or quadruple it. We want to get it over 51, right? At least 51.", "", "Well this is Black History Month, so this is our little breakfast, our little get-together. Hi Lynn, how are you? Just a few notes. During this month, we honor the tremendous history of African-Americans throughout our country. Throughout the world, if you really think about it, right? And their story is one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work, and faith in America. I’ve gotten a real glimpse—during the campaign, I’d go around with Ben to a lot of different places I wasn’t so familiar with. They’re incredible people. And I want to thank Ben Carson, who’s gonna be heading up HUD. That’s a big job. That’s a job that’s not only housing, but it’s mind and spirit. Right, Ben? And you understand, nobody’s gonna be better than Ben.", 
## "", "Last month, we celebrated the life of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history. You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office. It turned out that that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished, it’s one of the favorite things in the—and we have some good ones. We have Lincoln, and we have Jefferson, and we have Dr. Martin Luther King. But they said the statue, the bust of Martin Luther King, was taken out of the office. And it was never even touched. So I think it was a disgrace, but that’s the way the press is. Very unfortunate.", 
## "", "I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.", "", "I’m proud to honor this heritage and will be honoring it more and more. The folks at the table in almost all cases have been great friends and supporters. Darrell—I met Darrell when he was defending me on television. And the people that were on the other side of the argument didn’t have a chance, right? And Paris has done an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community. He’s all by himself. You’ll have seven people, and Paris. And I’ll take Paris over the seven. But I don’t watch CNN, so I don’t get to see you as much as I used to. I don’t like watching fake news. But Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you.", 
## "", "We’re gonna need better schools and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages, a lot better wages. We’re gonna work very hard on the inner city. Ben is gonna be doing that, big league. That’s one of the big things that you’re gonna be looking at. We need safer communities and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re gonna make it safe. We’re gonna make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really—you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show.", 
## "", "I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this: We’re gonna work together. This is a great group, this is a group that’s been so special to me. You really helped me a lot. If you remember I wasn’t going to do well with the African-American community, and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting—and I won’t go into details—but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. And now we’re gonna take that to new levels. I want to thank my television star over here—Omarosa’s actually a very nice person, nobody knows that. I don’t want to destroy her reputation but she’s a very good person, and she’s been helpful right from the beginning of the campaign, and I appreciate it. I really do. Very special.", 
## "", "So I want to thank everybody for being here."), meta = list(author = character(0), datetimestamp = list(sec = 7.1230309009552, min = 40, hour = 1, mday = 6, mon = 3, year = 117, wday = 4, yday = 95, isdst = 0), description = character(0), heading = character(0), id = "Trump Black History Month Speech.txt", language = "en", origin = character(0))))
## list()
## list()

In this case, you will have called up only the second document you loaded - as indicated by the ‘[2]’. Be careful. Either of these commands will fill up your screen fast.


Once you are sure that all documents loaded properly, go on to preprocess your texts.
This step allows you to remove numbers, capitalization, common words, punctuation, and otherwise prepare your texts for analysis.
This can be somewhat time consuming and picky, but it pays off in the end in terms of high quality analyses.

Removing punctuation:
Your computer cannot actually read. Punctuation and other special characters only look like more words to your computer and R. Use the following to methods to remove them from your text.

docs <- tm_map(docs,removePunctuation)   
# writeLines(as.character(docs[1])) # Check to see if it worked.
    # The 'writeLines()' function is commented out to save space.

If necesasry, such as when working with standardized documents or emails, you can remove special characters.
This list has been customized to remove punctuation that you commonly find in emails. You can customize what is removed by changing them as you see fit, to meet your own unique needs.

for (j in seq(docs)) {
    docs[[j]] <- gsub("/", " ", docs[[j]])
    docs[[j]] <- gsub("@", " ", docs[[j]])
    docs[[j]] <- gsub("\\|", " ", docs[[j]])
    docs[[j]] <- gsub("\u2028", " ", docs[[j]])  # This is an ascii character that did not translate, so it had to be removed.
# writeLines(as.character(docs[1])) # You can check a document (in this case
# the first) to see if it worked.

Removing numbers:

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeNumbers)   
# writeLines(as.character(docs[1])) # Check to see if it worked.

Converting to lowercase:
As before, we want a word to appear exactly the same every time it appears. We therefore change everything to lowercase.

docs <- tm_map(docs, tolower)   
docs <- tm_map(docs, PlainTextDocument)
DocsCopy <- docs
# writeLines(as.character(docs[1])) # Check to see if it worked.

Removing “stopwords” (common words) that usually have no analytic value.
In every text, there are a lot of common, and uninteresting words (a, and, also, the, etc.). Such words are frequent by their nature, and will confound your analysis if they remain in the text.

# For a list of the stopwords, see:   
# length(stopwords("english"))   
# stopwords("english")   
docs <- tm_map(docs, removeWords, stopwords("english"))   
docs <- tm_map(docs, PlainTextDocument)
# writeLines(as.character(docs[1])) # Check to see if it worked.

Removing particular words:
If you find that a particular word or two appear in the output, but are not of value to your particular analysis. You can remove them, specifically, from the text.

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeWords, c("syllogism", "tautology"))   
# Just remove the words "syllogism" and "tautology". 
# These words don't actually exist in these texts. But this is how you would remove them if they had.

Combining words that should stay together
If you wish to preserve a concept is only apparent as a collection of two or more words, then you can combine them or reduce them to a meaningful acronym before you begin the analysis. Here, I am using examples that are particular to qualitative data analysis.

for (j in seq(docs))
  docs[[j]] <- gsub("fake news", "fake_news", docs[[j]])
  docs[[j]] <- gsub("inner city", "inner-city", docs[[j]])
  docs[[j]] <- gsub("politically correct", "politically_correct", docs[[j]])
docs <- tm_map(docs, PlainTextDocument)

Removing common word endings (e.g., “ing”, “es”, “s”)
This is referred to as “stemming” documents. We stem the documents so that a word will be recognizable to the computer, despite whether or not it may have a variety of possible endings in the original text.

Note: The “stem completion” function is currently problemmatic, and stemmed words are often annoying to read. For now, I have this section commented out. But you are welcome to try these functions (by removing the hashmark from the beginning of the line) if they interest you. Just don’t expect them to operate smoothly.

This procedure has been a little hanky in the recent past, so I change the name of the data object when I do this to keep from overwriting what I have done to this point.

## Note: I did not run this section of code for this particular example.
docs_st <- tm_map(docs, stemDocument)   
docs_st <- tm_map(docs_st, PlainTextDocument)
writeLines(as.character(docs_st[1])) # Check to see if it worked.
# docs <- docs_st

Then add common endings to improve intrepretability.

# This appears not to be working right now. You are welcome to try it, but there are numerous reports of 
#   the stemCompletion function not being currently operational.
# Note: This code was not run for this particular example either.
#   Read it as a potential how-to.
docs_stc <- tm_map(docs_st, stemCompletion, dictionary = DocsCopy, lazy=TRUE)
docs_stc <- tm_map(docs_stc, PlainTextDocument)
writeLines(as.character(docs_stc[1])) # Check to see if it worked.
# docs <- docs_stc

If the stemming and/or stem completion worked, then convert the corpus beck to “docs” using ‘docs <- docs_st’ or ‘docs <- docs_stc’.

Stripping unnecesary whitespace from your documents:
The above preprocessing will leave the documents with a lot of “white space”. White space is the result of all the left over spaces that were not removed along with the words that were deleted. The white space can, and should, be removed.

docs <- tm_map(docs, stripWhitespace)
# writeLines(as.character(docs[1])) # Check to see if it worked.

To Finish
Be sure to use the following script once you have completed preprocessing.
This tells R to treat your preprocessed documents as text documents.

docs <- tm_map(docs, PlainTextDocument)

This is the end of the preprocessing stage.

Stage the Data

To proceed, create a document term matrix.
This is what you will be using from this point on.

dtm <- DocumentTermMatrix(docs)   
## <<DocumentTermMatrix (documents: 11, terms: 3610)>>
## Non-/sparse entries: 8376/31334
## Sparsity           : 79%
## Maximal term length: 19
## Weighting          : term frequency (tf)

To inspect, you can use: inspect(dtm)
This will, however, fill up your terminal quickly. So you may prefer to view a subset:
inspect(dtm[1:5, 1:20]) view first 5 docs & first 20 terms - modify as you like
dim(dtm) This will display the number of documents & terms (in that order)

You’ll also need a transpose of this matrix. Create it using:

tdm <- TermDocumentMatrix(docs)   
## <<TermDocumentMatrix (terms: 3610, documents: 11)>>
## Non-/sparse entries: 8376/31334
## Sparsity           : 79%
## Maximal term length: 19
## Weighting          : term frequency (tf)

Explore your data

Organize terms by their frequency:

freq <- colSums(as.matrix(dtm))   
## [1] 3610
ord <- order(freq)   

If you prefer to export the matrix to Excel:

m <- as.matrix(dtm)   
## [1]   11 3610
write.csv(m, file="DocumentTermMatrix.csv")   


Er, that is, you can focus on just the interesting stuff…
The ‘removeSparseTerms()’ function will remove the infrequently used words, leaving only the most well-used words in the corpus.

#  Start by removing sparse terms:   
dtms <- removeSparseTerms(dtm, 0.2) # This makes a matrix that is 20% empty space, maximum.   
## <<DocumentTermMatrix (documents: 11, terms: 91)>>
## Non-/sparse entries: 886/115
## Sparsity           : 11%
## Maximal term length: 11
## Weighting          : term frequency (tf)

Word Frequency

There are a lot of terms, so for now, just check out some of the most and least frequently occurring words.

freq <- colSums(as.matrix(dtm))

Check out the frequency of frequencies.
The ‘colSums()’ function generates a table reporting how often each word frequency occurs. Using the ’head()" function, below, we can see the distribution of the least-frequently used words.

head(table(freq), 20) # The ", 20" indicates that we only want the first 20 frequencies. Feel free to change that number.
## freq
##    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15 
## 1602  615  324  212  126  103   77   57   60   51   38   32   29   24   22 
##   16   17   18   19   20 
##   16    8   15   15   11

The resulting output is two rows of numbers. The top number is the frequency with which words appear and the bottom number reflects how many words appear that frequently. Here, considering only the 20 lowest word frequencies, we can see that 1602 terms appear only once. There are also a lot of others that appear very infrequently.

For a look at the most frequently used terms, we can use the ‘tail()’ function.

tail(table(freq), 20) # The ", 20" indicates that we only want the last 20 frequencies.  Feel free to change that number, as needed.
## freq
##  76  77  79  83  88  95 101 102 105 107 111 122 127 139 140 163 174 265 
##   1   1   2   2   1   1   2   2   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1 
## 279 428 
##   1   1

Considering only the 20 greatest frequencies, we can see that there is a huge disparity in how frequently some terms appear.

For a less, fine-grained look at term freqency we can view a table of the terms we selected when we removed sparse terms, above. (Look just under the word “Focus”.)

freq <- colSums(as.matrix(dtms))   
##        also      always     america    american     another        back 
##          54          24         122         107          22          75 
##         bad     believe         big        came         can        care 
##          35          60          45          20         101          37 
##        come     country         day   different        done        dont 
##          55         174          36          16          24          95 
## enforcement        even        ever       every         get     getting 
##          43          55          42          49          79          23 
##        give       going        good       great       group      happen 
##          25         265          58         163          20          36 
##         ive         job        just        know        last         law 
##          35          38          88         127          44          59 
##         let        life        like      little        long        look 
##          40          27          79          24          36          52 
##         lot        love        made        many        much        must 
##          44          45          33         101          68          53 
##      nation        need       never         new         now      office 
##          48          32          83          69         111          24 
##         one      people   president         put      really    remember 
##         139         279          46          35          57          27 
##       right        safe        said         say         see        seen 
##         102          35          83          66          48          34 
##   something     special      states        take        tell       thank 
##          25          26          67          64          50         105 
##       thats      things       think        time       today    together 
##          74          40          77          76          33          34 
##     totally       truly  understand      united        want         way 
##          18          16          29          64         140          71 
##        well        weve        will        work       world        year 
##          55          43         428          64          56          47 
##       years 
##          54

The above matrix was created using a data transformation we made earlier. What follows is an alternative that will accomplish essentially the same thing.

freq <- sort(colSums(as.matrix(dtm)), decreasing=TRUE)   
head(freq, 14)   
##     will   people    going  country    great     want      one     know 
##      428      279      265      174      163      140      139      127 
##  america      now american    thank    right   theyre 
##      122      111      107      105      102      102

An alternate view of term frequency:
This will identify all terms that appear frequently (in this case, 50 or more times).

findFreqTerms(dtm, lowfreq=50)   # Change "50" to whatever is most appropriate for your text data.
##  [1] "also"        "america"     "american"    "back"        "believe"    
##  [6] "can"         "come"        "country"     "dont"        "even"       
## [11] "get"         "going"       "good"        "great"       "immigration"
## [16] "jobs"        "just"        "know"        "law"         "like"       
## [21] "look"        "make"        "many"        "much"        "must"       
## [26] "never"       "new"         "now"         "one"         "people"     
## [31] "really"      "right"       "said"        "say"         "states"     
## [36] "take"        "tell"        "thank"       "thats"       "theyre"     
## [41] "think"       "time"        "united"      "want"        "way"        
## [46] "well"        "will"        "work"        "world"       "years"

Yet another way to do this:

wf <- data.frame(word=names(freq), freq=freq)   
##            word freq
## will       will  428
## people   people  279
## going     going  265
## country country  174
## great     great  163
## want       want  140

Plot Word Frequencies

Plot words that appear at least 50 times.

## Attaching package: 'ggplot2'
## The following object is masked from 'package:NLP':
##     annotate
p <- ggplot(subset(wf, freq>50), aes(x = reorder(word, -freq), y = freq)) +
          geom_bar(stat = "identity") + 
          theme(axis.text.x=element_text(angle=45, hjust=1))

Relationships Between Terms

Term Correlations

If you have a term in mind that you have found to be particularly meaningful to your analysis, then you may find it helpful to identify the words that most highly correlate with that term.

If words always appear together, then correlation=1.0.

findAssocs(dtm, c("country" , "american"), corlimit=0.85) # specifying a correlation limit of 0.85
## $country
##    cities countries   nothing      jobs      come   biggest    donors 
##      0.94      0.94      0.94      0.92      0.91      0.90      0.90 
##    second     begin    border      plan    crimes     globe     meant 
##      0.90      0.88      0.88      0.88      0.87      0.87      0.87 
## thousands     means   workers      also   despite      take 
##      0.87      0.86      0.86      0.85      0.85      0.85 
## $american
##  restore     task     fair   budget    cycle      new promises  dollars 
##     0.97     0.93     0.92     0.91     0.89     0.89     0.89     0.88 
##  finally millions national     tens  foreign   middle  justice  program 
##     0.88     0.88     0.88     0.88     0.87     0.87     0.86     0.86 
##    break  joining   united 
##     0.85     0.85     0.85

In this case, “country” and “american” were highly correlated with numerous other terms. Setting corlimit= to 0.85 prevented the list from being overly long. Feel free to adjust the corlimit= to any value you feel is necessary.

findAssocs(dtms, "think", corlimit=0.70) # specifying a correlation limit of 0.95   
## $think
## really   well   care    lot happen    see   good 
##   0.89   0.87   0.86   0.76   0.72   0.72   0.71

Word Clouds!

Humans are generally strong at visual analytics. That is part of the reason that these have become so popular. What follows are a variety of alternatives for constructing word clouds with your text.

But first you will need to load the package that makes word clouds in R.

## Loading required package: RColorBrewer

Plot words that occur at least 25 times.

wordcloud(names(freq), freq, min.freq=25)