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Table of Contents
Index
Glossary
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Next: The composition of modules Up: A modular structure Previous: The general definition of

  
The general definition of links

Our definition of modules as self-contained representations of information units does not imply that they are independent of other modules: readers can only understand and accept the information represented in the module, when they are sufficiently aware of the scientific context. In this respect, modules do not differ from `traditional', linear articles, which also are self-contained and yet depend on their context. Articles are embedded in the literature on the research programme as a whole (see section 2.1.2). This dependence of articles on their contexts is expressed, for example, by the fact that they are published in a  journal dealing with a particular topic or programme, and also by references to related articles. While the representation of information in an individual module can be consulted separately, that information coheres in particular with information represented in other modules within the same article and in general with information represented in the literature as a whole.

As we stated in section 2.2.2, effective and efficient communication requires that the coherence of the information is made visible in its presentation. In a modular environment, this coherence firstly finds its expression in links made explicit between the modules, which we discuss here, and secondly in the composition of the modules. By a link we mean the following:
\begin{define}\index{Link ! general definition} A {\bf link} is a uniquely chara...
... that represents one or more different kinds of relevant relations. \end{define}
  A link can, in principle, be followed from the source to the target, as well as in the opposite direction. The source and target of a link can be either a complete module or a particular segment of a module, such as a phrase, a paragraph, a mathematical formula or a figure. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, we shall in the following mean by a `link between modules', a `link between modules or segments of modules'.

Links connect modules to other modules within the same article, or within the same collection of related articles, or in other collections of articles. Thus, the modular article represents a network of information that is embedded in the network of all information represented in modular scientific documents. Readers can choose a route through the network that suits their particular information needs.

In these links, we express relations that are relevant in the communication between the author and the reader of a module.  The `relata'3.7 of the relations that are expressed in such a link can be 1) the modules or segments of modules, or 2) the information units represented in those modules or segments of these information units, or 3) the `real world' entities they refer to.3.8

 Different kinds of relations can be distinguished; two particular relata can be related in more than one way. Different relations between two particular relata can be represented in one single, complex link connecting the modules. Consequently, links between modules can vary in function and hence in structure. The function and structure of a link can be made explicit in the modular structure, in the full characterisation of the link. The specific types of links that are allowed in a modular presentation must be defined for the domain and genre at hand, i.e. for the readership that is intended to use the links. In section 4.3, the definitions are given for articles on experimental sciences.



Next: The composition of modules Up: A modular structure Previous: The general definition of