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Table of Contents
Index
Glossary
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Next: Evaluation of the modular Up: Scientific discourse relations Previous: I Relations based on

   
II Content relations

In order to allow the presentation of scientific information to fulfil the communicative functions as specified in the above (i.e. to increase the reader's understanding and acceptance of a particular module or segment of a module) the author can make available another module or segment that is related to it in one or more of the following ways: 1) one relatum depends on the other relatum, 2) one relatum gives an elaboration of the other, 3) one relatum is compared with the other, 4) one relatum is a synthesis of the other, or 5) the relata are causally related.

II 1
Dependency relations in the problem-solving process  
As we stated in section 4.2.1, the modular structure has been defined to reflect the problem-solving process of scientific research. In the coherent problem-solving process, the different steps depend on the previous steps: the results, for example, depend on the methods used to generate them. A `dependency relation in the problem-solving process' is an asymmetric relation indicating that the source depends on the target that is associated to a previous stage of the problem-solving process, or vice versa. The relata of this dependency relation are information units concerning a step in the problem-solving process, or entities.

In principle, the reader of a module representing information concerning a particular stage of the problem-solving process has to be sufficiently aware of the previous stages building up to the stage at hand, and to be sufficiently convinced that they have been completed successfully, in order to understand and accept the information in the module (see section 2.1.2).

II 1.1
Transfer relations 
A special case of a dependency relation in the problem-solving process is the transfer relation. Specific items can be needed as input in a particular step of the problem-solving process. Such items are, for instance, numbers or formulae. These items are taken from another module and included in the module at hand. The cited target and source at hand are then connected by a link characterised by the asymmetric `transfer relation', indicating the fact that a particular manipulable item from the target is used as input in the source, or vice versa.
II 2
Elaboration relations   An `elaboration relation' is an asymmetric relation indicating that the target contains an elaboration of the representation of information provided in the source (meaning that it provides a more in-depth or ``in-breadth" account of the subject), or vice versa. Its relata are representations, i.e. modules or segments of modules.

The mesoscopic sketch of the situation, for instance, provides both more details and a broader perspective than the microscopic Situation module. When one module provides more details, it does not necessarily provide more context as well. Therefore, we distinguish two subtypes, special cases of elaboration, that can be combined in a single link.

II 2.1
Resolution relations   A `resolution relation' is an asymmetric relation expressing the fact that the target contains more in-depth details than the source, i.e. that it provides a finer-grained account of the subject, or vice versa.

An example of a resolution relation is a relation that is made explicit in a link between the module summary in the complex module Methods and a particular Theoretical methods module. The module Theoretical methods gives more details about the model than the module summary. The reverse link from the Theoretical methods expresses the fact that the information about the model is summarised in the module summary.

II 2.2
Context relations   A `context relation' is an asymmetric relation expressing the fact that the target contains more ``in-breadth" background than the source, i.e. that it provides a more broad sweeping account of the subject, or vice versa.

Although a particular module Theoretical methods gives more details about the theoretical model, the module summary in the complex module Methods gives more context and a wider perspective of the situation in which the method is used. Going from the module summary to the Theoretical methods module, the reader focuses on a more narrowly defined subject, which is expressed in the characterisation of the link from the module summary to the Theoretical methods module.

There are two possible combinations of a resolution relation and a context relation. The first one yields a general elaboration relation, in which one of the relata provides both more details and more context. The second combination can be seen as a `zoom lens': zooming in reveals more details on a smaller area, as seen through a tele-lens; zooming out provides a wide-angle lens that shows a wider area, but fewer details.

II 3
Similarity relations  
To fulfil its communicative functions (of elucidating or justifying the content of the source to the reader), the target can also provide information that is similar in relevant aspects to the information represented in the source. For example, results can be compared with the results on a similar system obtained by other authors. This comparison can be used in an argumentation aimed at the justification of the reliability of the results presented in the source. If a link expresses a (symmetric) `similarity relation', the relata are similar enough for comparison. The comparison can entail agreement or disagreement, or remain without unambiguous decision on the agreement. The relata of a similarity relation are `real world' entities.

II 4
Synthesis relations 
In section 3.1.3, we introduced two ways to  compose modules into higher-level complex modules by synthesising the central concepts of the constituent modules: by aggregation and by generalisation. The relation between synthesised concepts and `constituent concepts' not only plays a role between complex modules and their constituents, but also between other information units of different synthesis levels.

Expressing an asymmetric `synthesis relation' in a link implies making explicit the fact that the concept underlying the cited information represented in the target is a synthesis (i.e. an aggregation or generalisation) of various concepts, including a particular concept underlying the information in the source, or vice versa. The category of synthesis relations has two subcategories:

II 4.1
Generalisation relation   A `generalisation relation' is an asymmetric relation between specific concepts and their generalisation. A link expressing a generalisation relation makes explicit the fact that the concept underlying the cited information (represented in the target) is a generalisation of a particular concept underlying the information in the source, or vice versa.

Such a relation can, for example, be represented in the link between a  microscopic module Experimental methods about a specific molecular beam set-up and a mesoscopic module  representing more general information about that type of set-up. The reverse of a link representing generalisation represents specialisation: following the reverse link the reader can navigate from the general to the specific.

II 4.2
Aggregation relation  An `aggregation relation' is an asymmetric relation between particular concepts and their aggregate. A link expressing an aggregation relation makes explicit the fact that the concept underlying the cited information in the target is an aggregate including a particular concept underlying the information in the source, or vice versa.

The reverse of a link representing aggregation indicates that the target represents a component of the concept underlying the source. In the example of the link between the microscopic Experimental methods and the mesoscopic  module with more general information account, that mesoscopic module can focus on a component of the set-up. Then the link expresses the reverse of aggregation (from a complete set-up to a component of it, i.e. segregation), as well as generalisation (from a particular case to a more general one).4.37

II 5
Causal relations 
In scientific reasoning, causal relations between cause and effect play an important role. However, the definition of what exactly are causal relations is a difficult one and we do not attempt to give it in general. As a rule of thumb, causal relations are concerned with the causes of a phenomenon, rather than with the reasons for choosing a particular course of action. The relata of this asymmetric relation are `real world' entities, in particular, phenomena.
  

This concludes the presentation of our modular model for experimental sciences that allows for the creation of different types of modules (hierarchically organised in complex modules and constituent modules), and of different types of links connecting modules.

   



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