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Next: Empirical research in the Up: Appendix: modularisation in other Previous: Generating experimental results: high

  
D.2 The development of new methods: bioorganic and medicinal chemistry

[Hutchison and Brouillette, 1998] is an example of a straightforward report on a new method: an article published in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry about the synthesis of a particular compound. It contains only three main sections: an Introduction, a section Results and discussion, which is specified as chemistry9.1, and a section Experimental, which has a subsection general and nine subsections about specific compounds.

Positioning
The central problem addressed in the article is the synthesis of 2-[6-(2,4-Dinitrophenoxy)hexyl]oxiranecarboxylic Acid. In the abstract and the introduction, it is told that this compound is of interest, because it has been reported that it is a selective inhibitor for a particular isoform9.2 of carnitine Palmitoyltransferase-1, also called CPT-1. And the inhibition of CPT-1 may help in the treatment a particular type of diabetes. In a modular publication environment, this information can be summarised in a Situation module, which is linked to a more detailed account elsewhere.

Results
A textual overview of the synthesis process is given in the section Results and discussion. This summary refers to the procedures reported elsewhere that were used in various steps of the process, namely the synthesis of subsequent `intermediary compounds'. The clearest overview of the subsequent steps in the process is provided in schematic form, in terms of chemical structure formulae.

For each step represented in the scheme, a self-contained description of the synthesis of the intermediary compound is given in a subsection of the section Experimental, as a `cookbook' written in past tense and a telegraphic style. In the subsection general, the (commercial) equipment used for specified tasks is listed, as well as the companies where solvents were obtained. It is also specified how the non-commercial reagents were prepared. The instructions to authors of this journal specify that the experimental section must contain all the information necessary to guarantee reproducibility. These subsections can, even automatically, be recast in constituent modules. The schematic overview of the process can serve as an excellent module summary, supplemented with the text summarising the subsequent steps.

This article can be modularised very easily and successfully. In a modular environment, the authors could have restricted their introductory text to a statement of their goal in the module Central problem and a link to a previous discussion of the relevance of the compound they aimed to synthesise. The core of the article is the structured description of the result of their work: the synthesis procedure, which is imminently suited to multiple use. Later authors who employ this procedure in their work merely have to provide in their Methods module a link to the Results module of this article.

In a modular version of this article, the modules Positioning and Results would be supplemented with a module Meta-information, but not necessarily with any others. Little information is required about how the authors came up with the synthesis procedure, so that there is no need for a Methods module . In addition, this type of result does not lend itself to interpretation. For retrieval purposes, the main finding, namely the synthesis procedure, might be stated (redundantly) in a module Findings . Alternatively, the instructions to authors of modular articles of this domain might specify that a new method should be labelled as a finding, rather than as a result, and presented accordingly in a module Findings.



Next: Empirical research in the Up: Appendix: modularisation in other Previous: Generating experimental results: high