120405_7892_shugars011 I am doctoral candidate currently on the academic job market. I study American political behavior and develops new methods in natural language processing, network analysis, and machine learning. I expect to receive my PhD from Northeastern’s Network Science program in May 2020.

I am interested in how people express their political views, reason about political issues, and engage with others around matters of common concern. I study these phenomena in a variety of settings using a range of methods, including human-subject experiments; large observational corpora of social media and debate transcripts; and dynamic models.

My published work includes multiple studies of engagement in political conversations online, an examination of persuasion and argument strength in formal political debates, and a framework for building core civic skills through interactive games. My substantive focus on political communication, public opinion, and civic participation is enriched by my methodological training; allowing me to identify methodological gaps and develop text and network methods needed to pursue research questions within these domains.

View my full CV.

Why Keep Arguing? Predicting Participation in Political Conversations Online
Sarah Shugars and Nick Beauchamp
SAGE Open: Social Media and Political Participation Global Issue, March 2019

Microblog Conversation Recommendation via Joint Modeling of Topics and Discourse
Xingshan Zeng, Jing Li, Lu Wang, Nick Beauchamp, Sarah Shugars, and Kam-Fai Wong
Proceedings of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL), June 2018

Games for Civic Renewal
Joshua A. Miller, Sarah Shugars, and Daniel Levine
The Good Society, June 2018

Winning on the Merits: The Joint Effects of Content and Style on Debate Outcomes
Lu Wang, Nick Beauchamp, Sarah Shugars, Kechen Qin
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (TACL), July 2017.

Dissertation Topic
Reasoning Together:
Network Methods for Political Talk And Normative Reasoning
Proposed May, 2018. Expected completion, May 2020.


  • Co-Chair: Nick Beauchamp, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University
  • Co-Chair: David Lazer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University
  • Lu Wang, Assistant Professor of College of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University
  • Peter Levine, Associate Dean for Research, Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University

The slides from my proposal defense can be downloaded in Keynote or as a pdf. For those of you who have asked about my use of animation and transitions, note those can only be viewed in the original keynote file.

Under Review and Working Papers
Collaborative Reasoning on Value-Laden Topics: A Game of Giving and Asking for Reasons
Sarah Shugars
Revise & Resubmit

Anchoring and Reasoning Effects on Group Decision-making and Deliberation
Briony Swire-Thompson, Nick Beauchamp, Sarah Shugars, and David Lazer

A Bayesian Model of Engagement in Online Arguments
Sarah Shugars and Nick Beauchamp

Mapping Conceptual Networks
Sarah Shugars, Nick Beauchamp, and Peter Levine

How We Talk When We Talk about Trade
Jane L. Sumner, Andrew Kerner, and Sarah Shugars

View my full CV.