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Revolutionary possibilities?

Hear Steve Powell from Causal Map Ltd talk about the implications of the use of ChatGPT on social research, and related approaches to interrogating text.

  • 29 Mar 2023, 1.15pm to 29 Mar 2023, 2.45pm BST (GMT +01:00)
  • Room 3.15, The Chancellors' Building, University of Bath
  • This event is free

Steve Powell from Causal Map Ltd will explore ChatGPT’s significance for qualitative causal coding and we will invite discussion and sharing of other experiences. This event is organised by the Centre for Qualitative Research.

About the event

ChatGPT is changing how we do evaluation. Causal mapping – the process of identifying and synthesising causal claims within narrative text – is about to become much more accessible to evaluators.

Causal Map Ltd uses causal mapping to solve evaluation problems, for example to create “empirical theories of change” or to trace evidence of the impact of inputs on outcomes. The first part of causal mapping has involved human analysts doing “causal QDA”: reading interviews and reports in depth and highlighting sections where causal claims are made. This can be a rewarding but very time-consuming process.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) models like ChatGPT can now do causal mapping pretty well, causally coding documents in seconds rather than days. And they are going to get much better in the coming months.

During this event, we'll explore four major themes:

  • Move voices: It is now possible to identify causal claims within dozens of documents or hundreds of interviews or thousands of questionnaire answers. We can involve far more stakeholders in key evaluation questions about what impacts what; and it is possible to work in several natural languages simultaneously.

  • More reproducibility: To be clear: humans are still the best at causal coding, in particular at picking up on nuance and half-completed thoughts in texts. But NLP is good at reliably recognising explicit information in a way which is less subject to interpretation.

  • More bites at the cherry: With NLP we can also do things that were practically impossible before, like saying “that’s great but let’s now recode the entire dataset using a different codebook, say from a gender perspective”.

  • Solving more evaluation questions: we hope to be able to more systematically compare causal datasets across time and between subgroups (region, gender, etc).


This in-person event will take place in the Chancellors' Building on our University of Bath campus. You do not need to book your place.

Room 3.15 The Chancellors' Building University of Bath Claverton Down Bath BA2 7AY United Kingdom

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