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Table of Contents
Index
Glossary
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Next: m3 METHODS Up: The characterisation by the Previous: The characterisation by the

  
m2 POSITIONING

A problem-solving process starts with the identification of the problem that is to be solved in a specified situation. This amounts to positioning the research in its context. The  compound module Positioning consists of two constituent modules: the first stage in the problem-solving process as described in section 2.1.2, determining the situation in which the problem arises, is represented in the module Situation m2a. The second stage is represented in the module Central problem m2b.4.12

In the compound module POSITIONING, the contextualised scientific question addressed in the article is set out. This compound module contains constituent modules Situation and Central problem.

The situation and the central problem are presented in different modules, to allow for separate consultation of a clearly defined central problem. They are also grouped into the same compound module, to emphasise the strong dependency of the problem on the situation.



m2a Situation  

In most domains, the research is embedded in a research programme or some other long-term research endeavour. In particular in experimental science, research tends to be organised in projects, because the required experimental set-up is too elaborate and too expensive to allow for isolated experiments. This implies that the readers must be sufficiently aware of that context, if they are to understand the research and accept its reliability and the relevance. In some domains, such as pure mathematics, research is not necessarily explicitly embedded in a context and can stand alone. In that case, an article giving an account of such research can be truly self-contained.

The prototypical Introduction section of linear scientific articles contains a sketch of the situation in which the research is conducted. In a given situation, more than one problem may arise, so that the same sketch may be useable in more than one article dealing with its own central problem encountered in that situation. In addition, more informed readers are probably already aware of the situation, whereas readers who are relatively unacquainted with the subject of the article need such an introduction in order to understand the article.

In a modular article, the situation is therefore represented in a separate elementary module Situation. This allows for efficient reading, as the module can be consulted by novices and ignored by experts. It also allows for efficient authoring, because the same Situation module can be used in more than one article.

The module SITUATION contains an account of the situation in which the central problem addressed in the article has arisen.

The description embedding the article in its context can be a comprehensive introduction to the subject at hand, e.g. from a historical point of view, or emphasise possible future applications. If the article contributes to a larger research project, by addressing a problem that is subsidiary to the problem to be solved in the project as a whole, this module includes a report on the status of the project and a description how this article fits into it. This provides an embedding of the article in a specific scientific discipline and more particularly in the research project. The module can also contain explicit argumentation on the relevance of the problem in this situation and on the relevance of this research to other domains in science, or even to non-academic applications.



m2b Central problem 
As a scientific article is supposed to reflect a problem-solving process, the article has to contain an explicit statement of the problem to be solved. In a modular article, the central problem is stated clearly and concisely in the elementary module Central problem, so that the aim of the work can be pinpointed easily.

The module CENTRAL PROBLEM contains a concise description of the central problem addressed in the problem-solving process reported in the article.

In regular research articles, in which the problem and the author's response to it are clear cut, the problem can be described in terms of a well-defined goal. The central problem can also be formulated as a question that the authors attempt to answer in the article.

More, and different, research can be necessary to solve the same general problem, so that the Central problem module can contain a link to a description of that problem elsewhere. Nevertheless, the precise goals of the individual article are specific to that article and have to be described in this module. Even if the authors repeated some experiment, the Central problem would explicitly state that the article deals with a repetition, and provide a link to a further description of the problem elsewhere.



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