Michael J. Paul
Founding Assistant Professor
Department of Information Science
University of Colorado Boulder

Other affiliations:
Department of Computer Science
Institute of Cognitive Science
Technology Learning Center (TLC) 203
1045 18th Street, UCB 315
Boulder, CO 80309

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I am a founding faculty member in the new Information Science department in the College of Media, Communication, and Information at CU-Boulder (see: CU vs. UC). I received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University in 2015, and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. See my CV. My research is at the intersection of text analysis and health/social science. On the methodological side, I research machine learning and natural language processing, and in particular I develop methods in topic modeling, which I use to discover patterns in large text datasets. On the applied side, I study social media to learn about human behavior, especially in the context of public health.


Social Monitoring for Public Health

Michael J. Paul and Mark Dredze

Part of the Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services, 2017



Public health thrives on high-quality evidence, yet acquiring meaningful data on a population remains a central challenge of public health research and practice. Social monitoring, the analysis of social media and other user-generated web data, has brought advances in the way we leverage population data to understand health. Social media offers advantages over traditional data sources, including real-time data availability, ease of access, and reduced cost. Social media allows us to ask, and answer, questions we never thought possible.

This book presents an overview of the progress on uses of social monitoring to study public health over the past decade. We explain available data sources, common methods, and survey research on social monitoring in a wide range of public health areas. Our examples come from topics such as disease surveillance, behavioral medicine, and mental health, among others. We explore the limitations and concerns of these methods. Our survey of this exciting new field of data-driven research lays out future research directions.


Michael J. Paul and Mark Dredze. Social Monitoring for Public Health. Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services 9(5): 1-185. September 2017. ISBN: 9781681730950.