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Next: Links Up: The module Meta-information Previous: The module Meta-information

   
m1 META-INFORMATION

The module META-INFORMATION is a compound module providing information about the article in six constituent modules with different types of meta-information.

The modular model distinguishes six different types of meta-information, which together form the complete meta-information. The module Meta-information and its constituent modules do not directly represent scientific information, and consequently they are not characterised using the domain-oriented characterisation.



m1a Bibliographic information 
Bibliographic data are used to characterise each module in order to allow readers to locate it. Once readers have found and retrieved a module, or an entire article, they can use bibliographic data to put the module in context. The author names, their institutions, the name of the journal in which the module has been published and the date of that publication all help the reader to judge the relevance of the module to his needs. An informative title plays an important role as an `ultra-short abstract' of the article.

Furthermore, stating the authors' names in this module indicates their intellectual ownership, and mentioning their affiliations at the time when the research was conducted gives due credit to those institutions. Providing the current addresses of the authors allows readers to contact them. Therefore, this information about the article is grouped and made explicit in full detail in the elementary module Bibliographic information, which in our case is defined as follows:

The elementary module BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION contains the bibliographic information identifying the article, which consists of at least the following explicit parts:

The contents of the module Bibliographic information largely coincide with the bibliographic labels associated to each module, which are further discussed in section 4.2.5. The model does not require a one-to-one correspondence between the information specified in this module and the bibliographic labels attached to the modules: firstly this module pertains to the article as a whole. Therefore, it contains the general unique identification of the article as a whole, and not the more specific unique identification of the individual modules. Secondly, this module can contain additional bibliographic information that is not explicitly used in the bibliographic labels to characterise the modules.



m1b Lists of domain-oriented index terms 
As we stipulated above, the second point of view for the characterisation of the information is a domain-oriented one. From that point of view, modules about specific scientific subjects are distinguished. These are labelled with domain-oriented index terms, so that readers can perform complex  search operations and assess the relevance of the module to their needs. This domain-oriented characterisation of the information has been discussed in section 4.2.3.

In order to provide readers with an overview of the subjects addressed in an article, all domain-oriented labels, specified by module, are made explicit in the elementary module Lists of domain-oriented index terms.

The elementary module LISTS OF DOMAIN-ORIENTED INDEX TERMS lists the domain-oriented characterisation of the modules in the article, by specifying the key words or classification codes characterising each module.



m1c Map of contents  
It is crucial to provide readers with an overview of the information that is presented in a modular environment in order to prevent disorientation. In the map of contents, a graphical representation of the entire modular structure of the article, including all modules and the characterised links between them, is made available to the reader. The elementary module MAP OF CONTENTS contains an overview of the modular structure of the article, in the form of a `road map' of the whole article. From this map, all modules in the article can be accessed directly. Such a road map of the article allows the reader to quickly asses the subject of the components of the article, survey the global coherence of the information, and navigate efficiently within the article.

    
Figure 4.4: The map of contents: from this map all modules in the article can be accessed.

m1d Abstract 
Abstracts play an important role in the present day scientific communication. In a modular article, the abstract will even be more important. The abstract, connected to all modules, serves as a linchpin, holding the distributed modules together.

The elementary module ABSTRACT contains a textual summary of the main issues and lines of the article.

Like the Map of contents, the Abstract gives an overview of the article as a whole. Each main module can be accessed directly from the abstract, through characterised links. An adequate Abstract has three functions. Firstly, it allows browsers  and  searchers to quickly evaluate the relevance of the article to their information needs. This is a selection function. Secondly, it provides readers who are only concerned with the broad outline with sufficient information, which is a substitution function. Thirdly, it assists readers of separate modules, by clarifying the broader coherence of the article. This orientation function is particularly important in a modular environment.4.22



m1e Lists of references 
From the modules in a modular article, various information units can be referred to using explicit links. An individual elementary module can be cited in this manner, as well as an entire article.

In addition to the direct links between the citing module and the cited module, a complete list of references to information units outside the article is provided in the elementary module Lists of references. Such a list provides the reader with additional context of the article and the `environment' in which the authors operate: ``References are browsed by some readers in order to further their impressions of the article" [Dillon et al., 1989, p.186];. The list also gives the reader an additional opportunity to locate a relevant article and it creates another route for the browsing expert.  

The elementary module LISTS OF REFERENCES contains the full bibliography of other works that are referred to in the different modules of the article.

The references are provided in two formats. Firstly, all references in the article are listed, with the identification of the modules in which they are cited. Secondly, for each separate module, a separate list is given of the external references, with the link types through which they are connected.



m1f Acknowledgements  

The elementary module ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS is an optional component of the compound module Meta-information. It contains the names and roles of non-author contributors and sponsors.

In the module Acknowledgements, institutional acknowledgements (e.g. of financial support by funding agencies) can be included, as well as personal acknowledgements of contributions by supervisors, technical staff and colleagues. Acknowledgements are a way of assigning due credit for contributions that do not warrant a full co-authorship. The informed reader can be interested in this information, because it embeds the article in its context [Cronin, 1995]. This module can also be of administrative interest.  



Next: Links Up: The module Meta-information Previous: The module Meta-information