We review over 10 years of research at Elsevier and various Dutch academic institutions on establishing a new format for the scientific research article. Our work rests on two main theoretical principles: the concept of modular documents, consisting of content elements that can exist and be published independently and are linked by meaningful relations, and the use of semantic data standards allowing access to heterogeneous data. We discuss the application of these concepts in five different projects: a modular format for physics articles, an XML encyclopedia in pharmacology, a semantic data integration project, a modular format for computer science proceedings papers, and our current work on research articles in cell biology.