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Table of Contents
Index
Glossary
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Next: II Content relations Up: Scientific discourse relations Previous: Scientific discourse relations

  
I Relations based on the communicative function

Scientific articles are aimed at a successful communication between authors and readers. For successful communication, the article and its constituent modules must fulfil certain communicative functions. In section 4.2.6, we used the communicative function of the representation of scientific information to determine the internal structure of modules. The communicative function can also be used to characterise links between modules.

The two basic aims of the author are to increase the reader's understanding of the source, or to increase his acceptance of it. In order to understand and accept a module, readers may need additional information, for instance about the causes of a certain phenomenon. The author can make that information available to the readers by means of a link. The target of the link then consists of a representation (such as a statement, a figure or an entire module) which has a particular communicative function with respect to the source, for instance that of an explanation. This asymmetric relation based on the communicative function can be made explicit in the characterisation of the link. The relata of such a relation are representations of information units, which form modules or segments of modules. The different types of relations based on the communicative function are respectively elucidation, in particular clarification and explanation, and argumentation.

  In practice, explanatory and argumentative discourse often cannot be easily distinguished.4.34 Both are concerned with the question ``why is that the case", as opposed to the question ``what does that mean", which requires clarification. The reasoning of an author can serve to increase both the readers' understanding and their acceptance. Furthermore, scientific articles do not contain many explicit indicators of argumentation, as the preferred style is explanatory rather than argumentative, presenting the information as objectively as possible. The reasoning is especially intertwined when the acceptability of a particular explanation also has to be justified, which usually is the case in scientific articles.4.35 Nevertheless, the modular model makes a systematic distinction between aiming at an increase in the readers' understanding and aiming at an increase in their acceptance. This implies that a link aimed at both represents different kinds of relations based on the communicative function. In section 5.4 of the evaluation, we shall see how this distinction works in modularised articles.    
[To the full figure] Figure 4.12: The different types of scientific discourse relations distinguished in the modular model.

I 1
Elucidation relations 
An author can provide a link to a target for the purpose of increasing the reader's understanding, i.e. to elucidate a particular representation of information. That link can be characterised by the asymmetric `elucidation relation' between the `elucidandum' (what is to be elucidated) in the source module, and the `elucidans' (that what elucidates) in the target module. For example, in a Results module, the author states that the resonance energy of a particular reaction is $H_{12} = 4.5 \times 10^{-2}$ eV. This statement may require an elucidation. In particular, it can require an explanation why the resonance energy has that particular value, supposing that the reader understands the statement itself. If that is not the case, the reader demands a clarification of what the author means by `resonance energy', and in particular the formula defining H12.

I 1.1
Clarification relations 
Suppose that the author anticipates that part of his intended readership will not understand what he means by a particular text or figure in a module. Then the author has to make a further clarification available to the reader, either within the module itself, or through a link to another module, which provides information that should increase the readers understanding. This link represents an asymmetric clarification relation between a ``clarificandum" (what is to be clarified) represented in the source module, and a clarificans (that what clarifies) represented in the target module. The modular model allows for the distinction of different types of clarification relations. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [Van Eemeren and Grootendorst, 1984] distinguish a particular type of speech acts, `usage declaratives', that are aimed at facilitating or increasing the understanding of other speech acts. In the application of the model to the domain of experimental molecular dynamics in appendix A, we shall only use a `definition relation' and a `specification relation' as special cases of a clarification relation

I 1.2
Explanation relations 
When the authors anticipate that some of the readers will not understand how a state of affairs has been brought about, they can provide an explanation in which they inform the reader of the factors (such as the causes and circumstances) that determined how that state of affairs came about. The asymmetric `explanation relation' between the explanandum (what is to be explained) and the explanans (that what explains) can be made explicit in the link connecting the source and target.

I 2
Argumentation relations 
If the author can presume that not every reader in the intended readership will immediately accept a particular representation of information, it has to be justified. In the example of the value for the resonance energy presented in a Results module, the reader may not be convinced that the statement is reliable and relevant to the solution of the central problem of the article. In that case, arguments have to be put forward in favour of the standpoints that the statement indeed is reliable and relevant. Counterarguments aimed at refuting the standpoints can also be taken into account. The asymmetric `argumentation relation' between the standpoint contained in the source module, and arguments supporting or attacking that standpoint represented in the target module can be made explicit in a link.

In a polemic domain, in which articles contain a lot of explicit argumentation, it is useful to take into account, in the characterisation of the links, whether a module provides arguments supporting the standpoint formulated in the connected module, or counterarguments aimed at refuting it. Therefore, the modular model allows for the explicit distinction of supportive argumentation and counterargumentation. In the specification of rules for the domain of experimental molecular dynamics in appendix A, however, we shall not make this distinction.4.36



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