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Next: A modular model for Up: A modular presentation of Previous: Typologies for a modular

  
3.3 Modular models

The idea of a modular structure is made concrete in a `modular model`: the general definition of a modular structure is complemented with a typology for the modules and a typology for the links. Since the readers' requirements, and therefore the style of writing, differ for the different disciplines, these typologies depend on domain and genre. The modular model also determines how modules and links can be composed to form an adequate modular structure.  

A modular model is a model for structuring the representation of information in a distributed storage environment in a particular domain and genre. The modular model gives the definitions of the types of 1) modules and 2) links that can constitute a modular structure, and 3) the rules for the composition of a modular structure. 

A modular article is an article with a modular structure, i.e. an article which consists of modules and links between modules that constitute a coherent unit for the purpose of communication.

Based on a modular model, rules can be specified for the creation and evaluation of actual modular publications. Thus, a modular model has two functions. The first function is an instructive one of helping an author to organise and present scientific information in a modular publication. The second function is a critical-evaluative one, enabling readers and referees to evaluate a modular presentation of information.

The domain and the genre for which a modular model has been designed constitute its scope. The model we present in chapter 4 has been designed for the domain of experimental sciences and for the genre of the scientific article , in particular the refereed account of original scientific research dealing with a particular topic that is addressed to peers and published in a scientific journal. As the idea of a modular presentation of information is intimately connected to the electronic media, the scope of modular models is in practice restricted to the electronic environment.

As specified in definition 3.3, a modular model consists of different components, including the typologies for the modules and the links.   The multidimensional typologies in their turn consist of different components, corresponding to the different points of view from which the modules and links are characterised. The components of the model interact with each other: the definition of the types of links depends on the types of modules that are defined, and the composition of the modules is based on the relations between them. Nevertheless, there is some leeway in the consistent choice of components.3.19

A modular model in one domain can serve as a basis for establishing a similar model in an adjacent domain. Certain components of the model can be substituted by other components with a similar function; for instance, a scientific classification can be replaced by another one. It is also possible to obtain a new model by removing components, or adding components that turn out to be relevant for communication in a particular context. For instance, the typology for the modules can be expanded, in order to classify the dangerous substances that are used, labelling them as toxic, radioactive or explosive, and to what degree.

We have developed a general modular model for electronic scientific articles in the domain of experimental sciences, which is presented in chapter 4. Based on this model, we have specified rules for modular articles in the domain of experimental molecular dynamics, as a test case for the application of th model to actual articles. These rules are given in appendix A.

Summarising, a modular model has the following distinguishing characteristics:

1.
The purpose of the model is to structure the representation of information in a distributed environment. Rules obtained by specifying the model fulfil two functions: to support the creation and evaluation of modular articles in practice.
2.
The scope of the model is a specified subject domain and a specified genre in an electronic environment.
3.
The model defines a modular structure that satisfies the following general criteria. These criteria can in practice only be used in conjunction with an interactants profile, such as formulated in section 2.2.2.
4.
The model contains typologies for modules and links with categories that are exhaustive, clearly defined, homogeneous, and economical. The types of modules and links are also mutually exclusive, although particular information can be represented in more than one type of module.

The general definition of a modular structure is adequate, in the sense that it can allow for effective and efficient communication, if an adequate modular model can be designed. A modular model is adequate, if it has the distinguishing features listed above and if it yields adequate modular articles, i.e. articles that are consistent with the model (and thereby adequately modular) and that satisfy the interactants' demands, so that they are adequate as articles.

We assume that an article has to meet the communication criteria given in section 2.4 to satisfy the interactants' requirements. The practical validity of the modular approach can only been verified in user tests. In this work, we develop and examine a modular structure, on the assumption of the authors' and readers' requirements given in section 2.2.2.



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