Improving the quality of predictions using textual information in online user reviews

Gayatree Ganun, Yogesh Kakodkar, Amélie Marian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Online reviews are often accessed by users deciding to buy a product, see a movie, or go to a restaurant. However, most reviews are written in a free-text format, usually with very scant structured metadata information and are therefore difficult for computers to understand, analyze, and aggregate. Users then face the daunting task of accessing and reading a large quantity of reviews to discover potentially useful information. We identified topical and sentiment information from free-form text reviews, and use this knowledge to improve user experience in accessing reviews. Specifically, we focus on improving recommendation accuracy in a restaurant review scenario. We propose methods to derive a text-based rating from the body of the reviews. We then group similar users together using soft clustering techniques based on the topics and sentiments that appear in the reviews. Our results show that using textual information results in better review score predictions than those derived from the coarse numerical star ratings given by the users. In addition, we use our techniques to make fine-grained predictions of user sentiments towards the individual topics covered in reviews with good accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInformation Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture


  • Personalized recommendations
  • Probabilistic clustering
  • Social information filtering
  • Text classification
  • User reviews


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