|Table of Contents|
|Table of Contents|
Basically, the reader aims at locating, retrieving and consulting, in an effective and efficient manner, information that is relevant to his information needs. As we stated in section 2.4, the main requirements that we address in this context are clarity and efficiency. These requirements imply that readers should receive, by means of a clearly formulated and structured presentation, all information that they require in order to understand the message and to evaluate its reliability and its relevance to their information needs, and no unnecessary information. The appropriate presentation unit for that purpose is not necessarily the article as a whole: scientists often read articles selectively [Bazerman, 1985], [Dillon et al., 1989], [Line, 1988]. The basic feature of the modular structure therefore is that it explicitly allows for selective reading, as it consists of self-contained modules that can be consulted separately, and of links connecting them.
The modular versions of the articles are both more elaborately and more specifically structured and characterised than the original versions. To improve the readability, the original versions of A05 and A08 are organised in sections, some of which are in their turn subdivided into subsections (see table 5.1). However, a linear article is characterised only at the level of the article itself, and it can be retrieved only in its entirety. The modular articles are organised in modules, some of which are in their turn subdivided into three levels of `submodules'. All individual modules at the different levels (including the article, which is a special case of a complex module) are labelled, and designed to be retrieved and consulted both separately and in conjunction with related modules .
The modules are connected by explicitly characterised links. The links inform the reader of the relations between the module at hand and other modules, thus giving the reader insight in the organisational coherence of the article as well as in the coherence of the scientific discourse. The links also enable the reader to navigate to these other modules. In each module, all links associated to that module are listed in the navigation menu.
The structure of the modular article is not only more explicit and more fine-grained, it is also more systematic. This implies that, once readers have become accustomed to the modular structure, they have a clearer grasp of the structure of the article and they will be able to predict more accurately where the different types of information can be found. The basic modular structure (of the modules distinguished by the conceptual function) is not unfamiliar to the reader, as it reflects the problem-solving process of the research. In fact, the problem-solution pattern is more explicit in the modular version than in the original version. Hence the modular version is more adequate with respect to the communication criterion according to which the structure of the article reflects the ideal research process.
Each module is explicitly characterised by its physics content, the role that the information plays and its range (which is associated to `genre'), as well as by the traditional bibliographic data. In appendix C
, this characterisation is visualised in `characterisation tables', in which all labels associated to a particular representation of information are grouped. The complete bibliographic characterisation in the examples partly consist of a link to the module Bibliographic information, which supplements the concise bibliographic labels that are made explicit in the characterisation table. If modular articles are implemented in a publication environment with a retrieval system that takes into account this characterisation, the readers will be enabled to locate more effectively and efficiently relevant information, or vice versa, filter out irrelevant information.
The crux in matters of clarity and efficiency is that different readers, at different moments, have different information needs. Therefore, the relevance of the concepts differs, as well as the required degree of focus on these particular concepts, and the required level of detail of their presentation. We first examine these issues in general for all types of modules, before we discuss them for each specific module in section 5.3.