Stephenson, M.H., et.al. Abrupt environmental and climatic change during the deposition of the early permian haushi limestone, Oman (Article of the Future, <http://www.articleofthefuture.com/S0031018208004690/>, first published in Paleography, Paleoclimatology, Palaeoecology 270.1, 1-18)
Like other «Articles of the future», this article begins with both research highlights in the form of bullet points and an abstract. In this case the abstract is more detailed than the research highlights, and both include hyperlinks that can make a timeline or the Gharif formation of Oman’s record in the Paleobiology database appear in the right sidebar. The research highlights also include an animated figure, the print from some kind of analysis I am not familiar with.
After a short introduction follows a longer section on Geological Setting. This sums up much prior work on paleogeography in the area, and features a large map of continental plates, as well as a map of where core drillings were made and two stratigraphies. The map can be swapped with an «interactive» Google map of the places.
The disciplines I am most familiar with emphasize the discussion of research methods, and it was new to me to see an article that just states that «the methods used […] are given by» three earlier articles cited. This is just an overview, however, and more details on method is given in the following four subsections, where the methods and results from different disciplines are exposed in detail. Closer and closer photographs and interpretations makes up the sequence in this section. From quantitative analysis of whole samples to cross sections, further to single pollen particles, and, finally, electromicroscopy of isotopes.
Different kinds of species found in the core samples are listed in section 3.3 on Palynology. Each taxa is hyperlinked to a lookup in the Paleobiology database and the brachiopod photo collection, which appears in the right sidebar. This is rather impressive to me, as it provides lots of extra information. I can’t say whether it would impress a palynologist, though.
Section 4 is the discussion, which interprets the details from section 3 to paint a large picture of how the geology and climate developed in the area studied.
This article bases very much of its arguent on visuals, it contains fifteen figures and plates, and the references «see figure n» appears frequently. Several «plates» of photographs from the microscopy are given as examples, while figures show the relation between the samples studied. Just clicking on the reference and having the right illustration appear in the right sidebar independent of the text is very convenient. This convenience is diminished, however, in plate I, where eight figures are labeled a-h, and I have to read the long caption to understand which represent clusters 1-7 mentioned in the text.
All the images are also in the print version of the article, so the only visual advantage of the Article of the future is the ability to view them independent of the running text. The print publication, on the other hand, presents the images much larger and more detailed, so anyone really interested in this research would like to have a large computer monitor and download full-resolution imagery to get the same information on the web.
The text is also strewn with hyperlinks to the table of geologcial periods. I suspect these are put in automatically, and I would guess researchers within this disciplines know these periods by heart, so it seems less interesting.