Components of the Linking Screen
Specifying Linkages
Forms of the Elicitation Question
Order of Questions
Changing Answers
Using the Thumbnail Chart

An action can occur only after other actions have produced necessary conditions for occurrence of the focal action. The Link Actions form asks questions that help you identify which actions in a narrative are prerequisites for other actions. The elicitation procedure taps your understanding of the process in order to build a model of the overall event.

Actions must be defined and time ordered before their linkages can be specified.

Components of the Linking Display


A popup menu titled Type of question allows you to use different elicitation questions.

Radio buttons under the label Begin questioning with: allow you to change the order in which questions are asked.

A Redo button restarts questions regarding the action shown just above the button.

A Done button terminates questions regarding the action shown just above the button, leaving just the links established in prior questions.

The pop-up menu titled Unlink Actions allows you to clear linking information for some or all actions.

Elicitation Question

The elicitation question presents two actions within a question frame. Yes and No buttons allow you to answer the question. A Next question button records your answer and displays the next question.


A thumbnail chart showing linkages among actions is displayed at the middle of the screen. (Select Chart in the Operations menu to see the full-size chart with action names.)


A scrollbox titled Log of answers and comments automatically indexes all questions that have been asked, and indicates whether the answer to each question generated a link or not. You can type comments in this box while engaged in linking. You also may type comments in the box after linking is completed.

Information is appended in this box when you change linkages by editing the chart, or while testing a model.

The entire log is included in the saved data when you export a model.

Specifying Linkages

The basic procedure is as follows.

  1. An action name is printed in the topmost box at the right of the screen, and another action name is printed in the box below it. The two action descriptions are embraced within a question asking you if the actions relate. Answer the question by clicking either the Yes or No button below the boxes.
    The texts appearing in the boxes are full descriptions of actions if you have entered such descriptions. Otherwise the boxes show the short names of the actions.
    The Yes and No buttons disappear after you click one of them. This is a time when you can enter comments. The buttons reappear as usual when the next question is presented.
    Initially the next-question button says either No. Next question or Yes. Next question. Clicking this button instead of Yes or No records that a linkage is lacking, and you move directly on to the next question. Absence of linkage is common and often uninteresting, so you may be willing to bypass the Yes and No buttons and the opportunity to type comments.
    You may click the Done button at the point where you have specified all of the linkages of the action printed above the button. This saves you from having to click the Next question button repeatedly in answer to additional linkage questions for that action.
  2. Your answer is recorded in the Record of answers and comments box at the bottom of the screen. You may click in the box to type remarks of your own, in particular about why actions are linked.
    The record of answers is structured as follows. The short name of the focal action is printed on a separate line as a heading. The answer to each question about the focal action is printed on an indented line. Each indented line identifies the other action in the question by the other action's short name. The line then specifies whether or not the other action was linked as a prerequisite to the focal action. The kind of question and the direction of questioning are specified in parentheses.
  3. Click on the Next question button. Once again, two action descriptions will be presented, embraced within a question. Continue answering the questions until the program announces that you have reached the end.

Forms of the Elicitation Question

The question that you are asked can be varied by selecting from the Type of question pop-up menu. The four options are:

The last two questions reverse the placement of the actions in the boxes, as compared to the first two questions.

The questions are equivalent logically. Answering Yes to the first three questions, or No to the counterfactual question, indicates that the two actions are linked. Answering No to the first three questions, or Yes to the counterfactual question, indicates that the two actions are not linked.

Switch among these questions as desired when you are linking two actions. One form of question may seem more lucid than the other forms.

Order of Questions

Under the title Begin questioning with: are two radio buttons at the left of the screen, End actions and Initial actions. These control the order in which questions are asked.

If you select End actions the program develops questions about a focal action by starting with actions that have the longest strings of prerequisites. This eliminates many questions if the focal action is linked to an action at the end of a prerequisite string. Answering that the focal action requires the action means that the focal action also requires all of the action's prerequisites, so questions about the prerequisites are skipped.

If you select Initial actions the program develops questions about a focal action by starting with actions without specified prerequisites. This avoids many questions if the new action is not dependent on any of the actions in a long prerequisite string. Answering that the focal action does not require another action means that the focal action is not dependent on any of the other action's consequences, so questions about the consequent actions are skipped.

In general, it is easier to answer questions involving end actions, and the chances of answering wrong are less.

Changing Answers

If you give a wrong answer and you catch your error while the program still is asking questions about the same focal action, you may start over and re-answer the questions for that focal action.

Click the Redo button. The program forgets answers you gave regarding the focal action, and re-starts the series of questions regarding the focal action. Your answers about prior focal actions are retained.

You can jettison answers that you gave regarding previou actions, in order to answer questions about those actions again. Open the pop-up menu titled Unlink Actions. Select the first action whose linkages you want to change. A red window will pop up asking whether you really want to erase links for the selected action and all of those that follow it. If you click the OK button, the model will be returned to the state it was in just before you began considering the action you selected in the menu. 

An erroneous link between actions also can be corrected by selecting Chart from the Operations menu. You can add or delete links graphically with the Editing option in the submenu

Using the Thumbnail Chart

The thumbnail chart showing linkages among actions indicates actions by dots rather than by names. You can determine the name and description of a dot's action by pressing the Control key and clicking on the dot. The information about the action is presented in a dialog window, which can be removed by clicking Okay.

The chart is updated each time you complete elicitation questions for a focal action.

The chart also tracks your progress in answering elicitation questions about a focal action by using different colors for dots.

After about 175 actions the thumbnail graph is hard to decipher because it has so many points and lines in its limited space. The program continues to work, however.