|Table of Contents|
|Table of Contents|
This thesis addresses the general problem of how to structure the presentation of scientific information in electronic articles. Given the idea of modularity, we focus on the following questions: (1) Is it possible to develop a systematic model for a modular structure for electronic scientific articles? (2) Does the modular structure indeed allow for more effective and efficient scientific communication?
The adequacy of the structure of such a presentation depends on the needs of the scientists involved in this type of communication. Therefore, we first analyse in chapter 2 the characteristics of scientific communication via articles in order to formulate an `interactants profile'. This profile summarises the characteristics and the needs of the prototypical readers and authors of scientific articles, and it yields communication criteria for the presentation of scientific information.
The definitions pertaining to the idea of a modular structure are given in chapter 3. In chapter 4, the idea of a modular structure is realised in a modular model for articles on experimental sciences: a model for the creation and evaluation of modular articles. In the modular model, the basic notions are complemented with a typology for the different types of modules and one for the different types of structured links that can be created using the model.
In order to make the modular model applicable to the creation and evaluation of concrete modular articles, the typologies have to be specified for the scientific domain at hand. In addition, specific rules for the composition are necessary, in order to determine which modules and links are required, and which are allowed, in a particular modular article in this domain. In appendix A, we provide such a specification in terms of guidelines for authors of modular articles in the field of experimental molecular dynamics.
The general modular model for experimental science and its specification for experimental molecular dynamics are developed in conjunction with an empirical analysis of a corpus of published, linear articles. The bibliography of this corpus is given in appendix B. This analysis involved modularising articles from the corpus, i.e. reconstructing linear articles in modular form, rather than writing new modular articles, in order to ground our work in the existing scientific practice. We firstly aimed to determine whether it is indeed possible to write articles with a modular structure that satisfies both the abstract definitions and the concrete guidelines. Examples of modularised articles are given in appendix #ap-modules">C. Secondly, we compared the modularised versions with the original articles in the light of the communication criteria, to see if the modular structure can indeed meet the requirements specified in the interactants profile, better than the structure of the original articles. Thus, we tested if the model allows for more effective and efficient scientific communication via electronic articles. This discussion takes place in chapter 5.
In chapter 6, we give an overview of our main findings. We also illustrate the applicability of the model to other types of publications by means of examples, which are discussed in more detail in appendix C. Furthermore, we briefly consider how the modular model can be implemented and tested, discussing in particular the demands on the technical realisation of modular articles in an electronic environment.