back next next
Table of Contents

Table of Contents
back next next

Next: Modules Up: Guidelines for a modular Previous: Physics content


In order to cast the information in a modular structure, take the following steps:

Problem-solution pattern:
 First, organise the scientific information by its conceptual function, into a problem-solution pattern, dividing it into information units following the guidelines specified in section A.2.

In a single article, report on a single problem-solving process. This process can be complex . If you have addressed in your research different problems, report on them in the same article only if they are related `sub-problems' of a higher-level general or aggregate problem. In that case, indicate in the module Positioning how the central problem is structured.

Include in the article one and only one of each of the main modules summarised above, and group the modules of the same type, even if associated to the different lines of inquiry, within a single, complex, module. For example, when different methods were used for the solution of the central problem, give an account of these methods in different constituent modules and include these modules in a complex Methods module.

  • In a parallel problem-solving process, different sub-problems are addressed simultaneously, in parallel lines of research. These lines are brought together in the module Outcome, which addresses the solution of the central problem. For instance, in case you have tried different methods parallelly in order to solve the general problem, provide a report in separate, specific modules that are generalised in a compound Methods module.

  • In a serial problem-solving process, different sub-problems are solved sequentially: the outcome of each sub-problem-solving process is needed for the solution of the next sub-problem. The final step then leads to the Outcome. For each step, give an account of the methods, results and interpretations in a constituent module that is a component of the main modules Methods, Results and Interpretation respectively. Use a sequential path connecting the constituent modules to indicate the sequence of the serial problem-solving process.

  • If a step in the problem-solving process involved the solution of a subsidiary problem, i.e. if the problem-solving process was nested, express the subsidiary problem-solution pattern in the internal structure of the module representing that step.
Physics-oriented structure:
Then, organise the information within those units by its physics content, dividing it into smaller information units that focus on one topic, following the physics classification.

Range-based structure:
If your work is part of a research project, group the information with a mesoscopic range and the information with a macroscopic range.  

  • Check whether the mesoscopic and macroscopic information has already been represented adequately in a published mesoscopic or macroscopic module.

  • If such a module does not exist yet, represent the mesoscopic information in a mesoscopic module designed for multiple use in various articles issued from the same project. Include in these modules a full report of the issue at hand and all argumentation that is necessary to inform and convince even the least informed part of the target audience.

    If part of the information plays a role in the research domain as a whole, if you want to represent that information in a module, and if the information is not adequately represented in another macroscopic module, you can represent that information in a macroscopic module designed for multiple use in works by any author in the domain. However, it is not recommended to created macroscopic modules as a simple side product of an article.

Because these higher level modules are designed for a wider and less informed audience, elaborate and strict guidelines are necessary for mesoscopic modules, and even more so for macroscopic modules. The guidelines we present here focus on the article. Mesoscopic and macroscopic are not really a part of the article itself, although they are part of the larger network of modular publications.

  • If (or as soon as) such a module exists, link it to the microscopic module it corresponds to and represent in the microscopic module only the information that is specific to the current article.
In the resulting modules:
Represent the information units with a microscopic range (i.e. the information that you to want to communicate to the reader in this particular article) in microscopic modules, by expressing the information in a `language' (text, formulae, pictures, tables, or other audio-visual language).
  • Make these modules self-contained, i.e. make sure that the modules contain sufficient information, that is represented sufficiently clearly, to allow at least experienced researchers in the domain of experimental molecular dynamics to satisfy a specific information need. Provide in each module a report of a specific stage or component of the research, in sufficient detail to allow the members of the target audience to understand it. In principle they must be able to repeat the work, and in practice they must be able to use the information in their own research. The details can either be included directly into the module, or made available by means of a link to a previously published module, in particular to a mesoscopic or macroscopic one.
  • If the target audience is unlikely to be convinced beforehand of the reliability of the information, justify it by argumentation. If the target audience is unlikely to be convinced beforehand of the relevance (the applicability), justify that. You can also point out and justify the relevance of the research to other issues.
Following the guidelines given in section A.3, identify the relevant relations between the information units represented in the modules.
  • Represent the collection of information units in a complex module, rather than in unconnected modules, if the complete collection can be considered a larger, single unit, so that separating them obscures the coherence of the information.
  • Represent a coherent collection of information units in a complex module, rather than in a large but monolithic elementary module, if the constituent units can be represented in self-contained modules that members of the target audience are likely to locate, retrieve and consult.
  • Represent information in an elementary module, if representing only parts of it would lead to a unit that is meaningless when consulted separately.
Compose into  complex modules all  elementary modules that represent:
  • microscopic information units that resulted from a division of a unit with a particular conceptual function into smaller units by their physics content.
  • in particular, any information units about the components of an aggregate, when you presume that members of the target audience will want to locate, retrieve, and consult the module representing the aggregate information unit as a whole (a compound module)
  • in particular, any information units focusing on specific concepts that can be generalised, when you presume that members of the target audience will want to locate, retrieve, and consult the module focusing on the generalised concept (a cluster module)
Provide a map of the complex module for an organisational overview.
If readers are unlikely to grasp the coherence of the information distributed over the constituent modules, provide at the level of the complex module a content-oriented overview, similar to an abstract: a  `module summary' in which the coherence both of the information and of the constituent modules are expressed.
Given appropriate authoring tools, the map of a module could be generated from the complete `map of contents' of the article, and included in a module by means of a link. Guidelines for the module summaries and the relation of the module summaries to the abstract of the article as a whole are discussed in [#!VdT99!#].

Group the meta-information about the modules and the links, and represent it in a module Meta-information, following the guidelines given in section A.2.
  • Make the characterisation of each module explicit in a unique label expressing the conceptual function, the physics content, the range of the information and a set of bibliographic data: the title of the article, your names and the names of the institutes where you conducted the research. When the article is accepted for publication, the name of the journal, the name of the publisher, the publication date and a unique identification have to be added (see the guidelines for the module Bibliographic information).
Represent the relations that have been identified in a -potentially complex- link connecting the source module to the target module, and characterise that link explicitly by assigning a label to it expressing 1) each relation represented in the link, and 2) the bibliographic information about the link
  • At least represent in each module the following relations: administrative relations between the content module and the meta-modules Meta-information, Bibliographic information, Map of contents, and Abstract, between the module at hand and the previous step and the next step on the complete sequential path and the essay-type sequential path. Represent the hierarchical relations between every complex module and each of its constituent modules. Represent the proximity-based relation and the range relation in each link that is provided in the module.
  • Create in each module a `navigation table' listing all links, with their characterisations, connected to that module as a whole or to a segment of that module, either as a source and as a target of the link.

Next: Modules Up: Guidelines for a modular Previous: Physics content