|Table of Contents|
|Table of Contents|
When a new method that is likely to be used in later research is presented in an article, the information should be represented in such a way that the module can easily be used in subsequent articles, by the same authors or by other authors. For example, a report on an experimental set-up is provided elsewhere, in a module designed for multiple use, and included in the article at hand by link. However, the article-specific measurement parameters are described in the individual article itself.
When more than one method is used in the article, which is generally the case, the Methods module is a complex module consisting of constituent modules focusing on those different methods. The typology by the conceptual function of the information distinguishes between experimental, numerical and theoretical methods. The different methods can be the components of an aggregate `complete method', in which case the complex Methods module is a compound module. In the case that various specific types of methods are used in parallel, the Methods module is a cluster module.
In the Methods module, sufficient information is made available to allow in principle even the least informed members of the target audience to understand, accept and reproduce the methods. That implies that the restrictions of the methods must be included.
m3a Experimental methods
The general modular model allows for a further distinction, for specific domains, of this module into a constituent module focusing on the set-up and one focusing on the measurement procedure. In the domains of biochemistry and medicine, for instance, measurements are often carried out following highly standardised protocols, which are explicitly given in journals like Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry.
m3b Numerical methods
Numerical methods can be used to do `experiments on the computer', or to approximate other calculations, like integrations, that cannot be executed analytically.
m3c Theoretical methods
In response to the central problem at hand, theoretical methods can be used to provide a qualitative explanation of observed phenomena or to calculate quantitative theoretical results. The `theoretical toolbox' contains the existing theories and models, theoretical assumptions and approximations. We consider data analysis techniques to be part of the theoretical toolbox.
The module Theoretical methods gives an account of the theoretical methods, including their restrictions, which pertain to the assumptions made in the model and the calculations, such as neglecting higher order terms. Apart from a report on the theoretical methods, the choices that were made can be justified in this module, in order to convince the reader of the reliability of the theoretical methods and their applicability in the situation at hand or in other situations.