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Abstract

Today's readers of scholarly literature want to read more in less time. With this in mind, this study applies the idea of the functional unit to the use of digital documents. A functional unit is the smallest information unit with a distinct function within the Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion components of scholarly journal articles. Through a review and analysis of the literature and validation through user surveys, this study identifies a set of common functional units and examines how they are related to different tasks requiring use of information in journal articles and how they are related to each other for a particular information use task. The findings, presented in the form of a taxonomy, suggest a close relationship between functional units and information use tasks, and furthermore among a set of functional units for a particular information use task. This taxonomy can be used in the design of an electronic journal reading system to support effective and efficient information use.