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CADDIS Volume 5: Causal Databases

Interactive Conceptual Diagrams (ICDs)

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About conceptual diagrams

ICD help files

Example conceptual diagrams

Once you have registered for and logged in to the ICD application (or have decided remain a public user and not register; see ICD User Roles & Modes for more detail), you are ready to start using the tool. View mode of the ICD application allows you to select shapes within a diagram and view scientific literature that provides support for linkages among those shapes. Public users can view EPA-constructed diagrams; registered users can view any diagrams that they have created, that they have been designated as collaborators on, or that have been set as registered user-viewable by their creators.

To get started in View mode, click the Open Diagram button, select the diagram you wish to open and click Open.

  • Initially some shapes in the diagram may be hidden, indicating that parent-child relationships have been assigned among shapes. A black triangle under a shape indicates that there are additional shapes (i.e., child shapes) associated with that shape (i.e., the parent shape). To show all shapes in a diagram, click Show All; to show only the child shapes under a specific parent, click the black triangle under that parent.
  • When shapes are hidden in View mode, arrows and lines will not be displayed; to view all arrows and lines, click Show All to make sure all shapes are displayed.
  • The large EPA diagrams in the ICD application (composite ICD, metals ICD, and sediment ICD) were drawn without arrows and lines, given the scope of these diagrams and the number of shapes they contain. By selecting shapes and highlighting the shapes linked to them (see below), you can still "view" potential causal pathways among these shapes, even without arrows explicitly included.

You can select any shape within the diagram by single-clicking it.

  • The first shape you select will highlight blue.
  • Any shapes linked to the shape you selected (by literature evidence entered into the ICD database) will highlight purple.
  • If a shape linked to your selected shape is hidden (i.e., it is a hidden child shape), its visible parent shape will outline in orange; show that parent's child shapes (i.e., click on the black triangle under that shape) to see any purple child shapes.
  • You then can select any purple shape to view citations for papers supporting a linkage between the shapes you’ve selected. If no shapes highlight purple, it means that no literature supporting linkages between the shape you selected and any other shapes has yet been entered into the database—not necessarily that these linkages do not occur, or have not been observed anywhere in the scientific literature.
  • Once you select a second shape (i.e., a first purple shape), the shape-highlighting will change: your second selected shape also will highlight blue, and shapes linked to that second shape will highlight purple. You can continue to select purple shapes in this manner, to view supporting literature for multiple pair-wise linkages.
  • To deselect any shape you've selected, click it again (it will return to its original color); click Deselect All to clear your search (i.e., deselect all shapes) and begin again.

Once you have selected your shapes, click on the References panel icon reference icon to view supporting citations.

  • The References panel will list the shapes you’ve selected (Selected Shapes, top sub-panel), references supporting pair-wise linkages among these shapes (Selected Linkages, middle sub-panel), and any references you’ve saved from all the searches you conducted in a given session (Saved References, bottom sub-panel).
  • Buttons at the bottom of the Selected Linkages panel allow you to save references into to the Saved References sub-panel. Any references you save into the Saved References sub-panel will remain there, even if you clear your search (by clicking Deselect All on the View mode toolbar) and begin again.
  • Buttons at the bottom of the Saved References sub-panel allow you to download selected references from this panel.

A brief description of features on the View mode toolbar (Figure 1) follows; please see the ICD User Guide (53 pp, 4.3MB, About PDF) for more information on viewing diagrams in the ICD application.

Figure 1. View mode toolbar in the ICD application.

  • Inset icon inset icon: Pan around the open diagram by zooming in and dragging the blue window around the Inset (you also can use the Esc key to show/hide the Inset)
  • Open Diagram: Open a diagram
  • Legend: View a legend of the shapes used in the EPA-constructed diagrams
  • Collapse/Expand: Vertically collapse a diagram and remove any unoccupied white space/Vertically expand a diagram and include any unoccupied white space (typically used when child shapes are hidden)
  • Hide All/Show All: Hide all child shapes (shapes designated as sub-categories of another shape)/Show all child shapes (i.e., view all shapes in diagram)
  • Deselect All: Reset the shape selection process by deselecting all currently selected shapes
  • View as Image: View an image of the diagram as it currently appears on the screen
  • Log In/Log Out: Log in to the ICD application/Log out of the ICD application
  • Register: Register in the ICD application (only need to do this once; after that, can just log in)
  • Help icon help icon: Access the ICD User Guide for more detailed help with using the ICDs
  • Search icon search icon: Conduct a text-based keyword search of references (rather than a diagram-based search)
  • References Panel icon reference icon: View/Hide the References panel, which shows you selected shapes and supporting references for linkages among those shapes


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