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  • For many years, the death knell for high street shopping has been sounded by the pioneers of online. The high street brands responded with some success by counterbalancing their "bricks and mortar" realm with a virtual world of e-commerce. New work published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, suggests that the end may well be in sight for retail websites.

    Ricardo Ramos and Sérgio Moro of the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, and Paulo Rita of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, have investigated the attitudes and behaviour of marketing professionals with respect to social media and commercial mobile applications and found that online strategy is focusing very much on search engine positioning and thence retail websites rather than the former two overlapping and interconnected realms.

    The team suggests that this flies in the face of consumer attitudes and experience where 90 percent of most user time online is on social media and apps and only 10 percent involves using search engines to find specific websites. Where there is resistance to accepting this reality, marketing professionals must disconnect themselves from an out-moded approach and face up to users where users are active online.

    Ramos, R.F., Rita, P. and Moro, S. (2021) 'Is this the beginning of the end for retail websites? A professional perspective', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.260–280.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2021.115422

  • The security-conscious among us use a PIN, a personal identification number, to "lock" our smartphones so that if the device is lost or stolen, a third party should not be able to access our contacts, messages, and other information held in myriad apps without a lot of effort to guess the PIN.

    However, so many modern devices that hold our personal and business information are touchscreen and hackers and thieves are always resourceful. Picture the scene you give your phone screen a clean before tapping in your PIN to access your emails etc. The smudges left by your fingertips remain on the screen, marking out the likely numbers from the virtual keypad on your phone that you used to tap in your PIN.

    Soon after, the phone is lost or stolen and that malicious third party carries out a "smudge attack" – they look at the screen and can have a good guess at the digits in your PIN and try them in various combinations pretty quickly. It is far easier to brute-force a four-digit PIN if you know the four digits rather than having to try all possible combinations of the numbers 0 to 9, after all!

    So, how might one avoid a smudge attack? The obvious answer is to clean the phone's screen more frequently and immediately after entering a PIN, but a less "onerous" approach would be for the device itself to have a randomised keypad for unlocking. In a scrambled keypad, the numbers 0 to 9 would be arranged differently each time you go to unlock your phone, so there would be no build-up of your frequently smudged keys as it were and thus far less chance of a successful smudge attack.

    At the moment, a scrambled keypad is not a feature of Android nor iOS devices. New work from a team in the USA published in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, demonstrates how a scramble keypad might be implemented to protect smartphones from smudge attacks. Geetika Kovelamudi, Bryan Watson, Jun Zheng, and Srinivas Mukkamala of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, in Socorro, have carried out a usability and security study of a scramble keypad. They explain that it works perfectly to protect from smudge attacks. The scramble keypad also reduces the risk of someone illicitly gleaning your PIN by "shoulder surfing" (watching over your shoulder) while you tap it in, because the digits of the pad 0 to 9 will not be in the familiar places for their eye to quickly ascertain as you tap.

    The implementation of a scramble pad would require very little additional coding to the touchscreen device's boot-up system but would offer a new level of protection from smudge attacks, a degree of protection from shoulder surfers, and potentially some protection from side-channel attacks.

    Kovelamudi, G., Watson, B., Zheng, J. and Mukkamala, S. (2021) 'On the adoption of scramble keypad for unlocking PIN-protected smartphones', Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.1–17.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2021.115345

  • While every lightning flash is unique in the way the discharge travels through the atmosphere, whether cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-ground or the more esoteric sprites, halos, jets, and elves of the upper atmosphere. There are common features in these different types of lightning and for cloud-to-ground flashes, it has been assumed that there are two main types of flash known to meteorologists and atmospheric scientists – negative ground flashes and positive ground flashes.

    The difference between the negative and positive flash is simply that the polarity of the discharge reaching the ground in the lightning flash. Most (90 percent) cloud-to-ground flashes are negative ground flashes. Just 10 percent are positive. The positive ground flash involves a single stroke. However, writing in the International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology, physicist Pitri Bhakta Adhikari of the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal, explains a novel phenomenon seen in the sub-tropical, mountainous region of Nepal.

    He has used a simple circuit and antenna system to measure the electrical signature of lightning flashes in the Himalayan region and found that positive ground flashes there are unique. Instead of involving a single strike, lightning here involves up to four strikes per flash, or discharge.

    Adhikari explains that the lightning signature in this region is characterised by a relatively slow, negative electric field event preceded by a pronounced opposite-polarity pulse. The average duration of the main waveform was about 500 microseconds and the average duration of the preceding opposite-polarity pulses was approximately 40 microseconds. These figures are based on measurements of more than 5000 lightning flashes.

    A likely explanation may lie in the fact that Nepal has regions that are a mere 60 metres above sea level and then within just 160 kilometres we can figuratively scale the giddy heights of Mount Everest, the peak at 8848 metres above sea level. Moreover across this altitude gradient and through the course of the seasons, Nepal can have a temperature ranging from a balmy 30 degrees Celsius down to –50 Celsius. All such characteristics are unique of themselves and so it is perhaps no surprise that the lightning seen in this region is unique too.

    It is worth pointing out that lightning signatures not dissimilar to the unique flashes measured in Nepal have been seen occasionally in Sweden and Florida but not at anything like the frequency compared to other flashes seen in Nepal.

    Adhikari, P.B. (2021) 'Unique lightning signatures observed from sub-tropical, mountainous country, Nepal', Int. J. Hydrology Science and Technology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.405–414.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHST.2021.115488

  • Everyone the world over has been left unaffected by the emergence of a novel coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2 in late 2019, which led to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have been disrupted enormously by the medical, social, and economic implications of this lethal disease. Writing in the World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, a team from Finland offers a view from the small business manufacturing and logistics perspective in Finland.

    Olli-Pekka Hilmola and Oskari Lähdeaho of LUT University, Kouvola Unit, point out that medium and large companies have continued to serve their customers and some have performed well in certain sectors. Hospitality and travel have obviously been limited in their performance because of lockdowns and social restrictions but online food retail, the information, and communications technology sector, and the pharmaceutical industry seem to be thriving in the face of the ongoing crisis. The smaller companies that need face-to-face interaction with customers for marketing, as well as their transactions, have not fared so well. Moreover, supply, logistics, and their ability to deliver their services and goods have been hurt significantly.

    Smaller companies surveyed in Finland no longer have strong expectations with regard to their future ability to sell into and supply markets in China and Russia, the researchers report. They suggest that as we emerge from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, smaller companies will grow to depend on rail transport whereas the larger companies will still be able to readily access air freight.

    The team adds that as weaknesses and indications of stagnation become apparent in their case studies of small businesses, more work is now needed to improve our understanding of the various scenarios that are developing and to help predict how things might develop or continue to fail among small businesses. They point out that previous large-scale events, such as the economic crisis of 2008-2009, have enormous long-term implications. We cannot yet see how this current pandemic, which is very much still with us in many parts of the world at the time of writing, will play out for business and economies.

    If we learn at least one lesson from its effects, it is that sustainability needs to built into future economies starting now. Sustainability is key to address the much larger problem of climate change, pollution, water and food security, and perhaps allow us to face the next pandemic in the years to come with greater resilience and a more timely response so that we experience less hurt in our medical, social, and economic lives.

    Hilmola, O-P. and Lähdeaho, O. (2021) 'Covid-19 pandemic: small actor point of view on manufacturing and logistics', World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.87–105.
    DOI: 10.1504/WRITR.2021.115411

  • Can social data mining reveal student feelings? A new study in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology suggests that this could be the case given that a student's digital footprints on social media often reveal their personal experiences and opinions on a variety of subjects, including their course, their friends and family, and their own mental health.

    Hua Zhao, Yang Zuo, Chunming Xu, and Hengzhong Li of the College of Computer Science and Engineering at Shandong University of Science and Technology in Qingdao, Shandong, China, suggest that educators and course administrators could benefit from social data mining to understand their students' moods and provide appropriate help when needed. The same social data mining might also be used to spot trends and patterns as a course progresses and perhaps allow the course itself to be adapted within limits to best serve the students and their education.

    Of course, there are such vast amounts of social data online and more added each data that mining such information can only ever tap the seam rather than extracting all of the putative knowledge within. At least that is the received wisdom, but the development of novel data mining tools and artificial intelligence algorithms might change that allowing new insights to be extracted in a timely manner.

    The team has developed a new approach to help them understand the emotions and moods of a sample of Chinese students. First, they collect the appropriate social data related to the students and then build a hierarchy category system based on a content analysis. In the second step, they apply an effective multi-class classification method to classify the data into several categories of concern. Finally, a "sentiment" analysis around each category is undertaken to look for emotional content and language that can reveal changing moods in the students as a group or individually, for instance, surrounding exams and other matters. Obviously, exams are a major concern of students the world over and such an approach might be applicable elsewhere in social data mining student mood.

    Several categories of concern. Finally, a "sentiment" analysis around each category is undertaken to look for emotional content and language that can reveal changing mood in the students as a group or individually, for instance, surrounding exams and other matters. Obviously, exams are a major concern of students the world over and such an approach might be applicable elsewhere in social data mining student mood.

    Zhao, H., Zuo, Y., Xu, C. and Li, H. (2021) 'What are students thinking and feeling? Understanding them from social data mining', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 65, No. 2, pp.110–117.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2021.114985

  • Flight shaming is a modern social phenomenon. It emerged in Sweden in the summer of 2019 where people with an environmental bent feel obliged to embarrass friends and relatives who are taking more flights than they feel necessary – "flygskam". It is apparent across the globe now and could be a growing issue for the aviation industry to address through better practices as well as marketing.

    Given the emergence of COVID-19 towards the end of that year and its elevation to a global pandemic, flying became briefly less about the negative environmental impact than about avoiding the spread of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Nevertheless, there are environmental issues still to consider and new research in the International Journal of Sustainable Aviation has looked at whether or not "flygskam" has led to a change in attitude among the ardent jetsetters?

    Scott Winter, Tracy Lamb, Ryan Wallace, and Carolina Anderson of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA, suggest that this initially European phenomenon of flight shaming is growing. It perhaps pivoted initially on the well-publicised activism of the young, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, a relative of Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius who qualifited and quantified the nature of global warming in the late 19th Century.

    The US team carried out three studies with 847 participants and found that people were significantly less willing to fly when they had been flight shamed. Moderators of the attitude – value with sustainability and willingness to pay for sustainability – had a significant effect on whether or not a participant was inclined to fly or not. The team points out that making flight a more sustainable mode of transport would be the way to counter the effects of flight shaming.

    "These results suggest that flight shaming may affect passengers' willingness to fly, and the industry should consider promoting their efforts to reduce environmentally harmful effects of air travel and their initiatives for improving the sustainability of air travel," the team concludes.

    Winter, S.R., Lamb, T.L., Wallace, R.J. and Anderson, C.L. (2021) 'Flight shaming consumers into aviation sustainability: which factors moderate?', Int. J. Sustainable Aviation, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.21–45.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSA.2021.115340

  • The search for sustainable energy sources continues apace. Research highlighted in the International Journal of Renewable Energy Technology, looks at one such source – algae, from which biodiesel can be derived, The work discusses production issues, characterisation, and compares the performance of such fuels with other sources of diesel.

    Alpesh Virendrabhai Mehta and Nirvesh Sumanbhai Mehta of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Government Engineering College, Gujarat, India, explain how ongoing industrialisation is increasing energy demands worldwide. This is giving rise to various interlinked problems for humanity – dwindling resources, increased pollution, and climate change. The fossil fuels on which we have relied for decades represent an entirely unsustainable and highly polluting resource.

    The potential to use carbon compounds derived from sustainable sources such as crops and algae offer an energy stop-gap. Sustainable sources have the benefit of being renewable and will be required while we continue to rely on combustion for vehicles, heating, and power production at least until completely sustainable and non-polluting power sources, such as wind, solar, and tidal can be made more universally available. There is also the potential for certain approaches to biofuels that replace fossil fuels to have a smaller carbon footprint for the same power output. The use of algae rather than fuel crops would have the added benefit of not displacing food agriculture.

    The team has demonstrated that algal biodiesel is less viscous than conventional diesel and so has a shorter delay before combustion in a diesel engine. A minimal chemical delay also benefits algal diesel in terms of giving the highest brake thermal efficiency. The presence of oxygen in algal diesel also adds to this efficiency because the oxygen atoms act to promote combustion from "within" the fuel itself.

    The team reports that algal diesel gives better performance than conventional diesel. Moreover, exhaust gas analysis of various blends satisfies the emission regulations for biodiesel in India, the team writes. They suggest that algal diesel would be an environmentally beneficial substitute for conventional diesel.

    Mehta, A.V. and Mehta, N.S. (2021) 'Production, characterisation, comparison, and performance of algae biodiesel as an eco-friendly fuel', Int. J. Renewable Energy Technology, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.177–200.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJRET.2021.115283

  • There are various ways to measure success. In research, one of those is to look at citations in the literature, awards, one's position in the academic hierarchy, and other factors. Usually, these are all measured individually but then rounded together to form a bigger picture of the academic status of a given research. In 2005, physicist Jorge Hirsch of the University of California San Diego devised a more formal approach to author-level metrics, the h-index.

    The h-index measures both one's output and the citation impact of that output as well as the quality – high or low – of the publications in which that work has been published. It has been shown that the h-index usually correlates with more obvious indicators of success, such as major and international awards in one's field, fellowships, and position held at higher-level institutions, for instance.

    The h-index has been seen for many years as a more useful indication of a scholar's "intellectual" ranking, as it were. However, there are some drawbacks to this approach that have become more problematic when using it to evaluate or rank scholars. Writing in the International Journal of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, Alberto Boretti of the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, suggests that in the age of citation farms and hyper-authorship the h-index is no longer an "indication of better knowledge or productivity".

    Boretti suggests that there needs to be a new ranking tool that will subsume and improve on the h-index. He points that the h-index itself improved on earlier approaches to academic assessment but there must now be a way to see the inappropriate use of automated tools that boost an author's citations, which is wholly fraudulent. The new tools also need to be able to determine from papers with inordinately long lists of authors exactly who the main contributors are and which authors played minor or even marginal roles and perhaps even which authors have been included as a matter of courtesy rather than content.

    Moreover, suggests Boretti, who has held numerous research positions around the world during his career as well as spending many years in industry at a senior level, the new tools also need to be able to embed the quality of research, innovation, and commercialisation processes undertaken by an individual. Ultimately, the indexing of researchers is about selecting suitable candidates for the next position and being able to discern who will be the best fit for a research team based more on the opportunities they can offer based on their past successes. Moreover, a new approach will help weed out those who are attempting to game the system through "author stuffing" and cheating by using citation farms and other such tools to defraud the academic archives.

    Boretti, A. (2020) 'Is the h-index the best criterion to select scientists?', Int. J. Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.160–167.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJRIC.2020.115339

  • Researchers at Jaipur National University have examined how companies have been affected by COVID-19 lockdown in terms of their programs of corporate social responsibility. Manish Kumar Dwivedi and Vineet Kumar writing in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management looked at this issue from the psychological, social, cultural, and economic perspectives.

    They report that in the wake of the enormous hardships being faced by people in India, many companies have taken their CSR very seriously in response. They have, they explain provided financial assistance in the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund). They have also contributed in different ways to fighting the virus. "CSR activities include engaging in the manufacturing and distribution of masks, sanitisers, and personal protective equipment (PPE), providing meals to the downtrodden and making arrangements for quarantine centres," the team writes.

    At the time of writing, there have been almost 170 million cases of COVID-19, the novel disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It has led to the deaths of approximately 3.5 million people. There are many emergent strains of the virus and one of those, a double mutation variant known as "lineage B.1.617", is wreaking havoc on the population of India and has spread to many other parts of the world. Given the nature of this pandemic, the pressure is on governments to enlist the help of corporate entities in combating the disease and releasing us from the grip of this pandemic.

    For their part, governments must rise to the challenge too and invest in and strengthen public healthcare. The researchers add that India, specifically, could do well to learn the lessons of how to respond to this pandemic, and perhaps future pandemics, by the approaches taken by Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and China. This is critical given that social distancing and lockdown measures that are plausible in some richer less densely populated parts of the world are not viable in many parts of India, for instance.

    Dwivedi, M.K. and Kumar, V. (2021) 'Impact of lockdown and CSR activities undertaken by the corporates during COVID-19 in India', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp.558–589.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICBM.2021.115001

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is developing rapidly with its rich resources although still lags behind those developing regions that are hard on the heels of the developed nations. New research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Development considers how this development might be sustainable and how it might be financed to be so. Samuel Orekoya and Peter Oluleke of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria suggest that trillions rather than billions are needed.

    The researchers have investigated the impacts of private, public, and multilateral financial opportunities that could be used to drive sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. They have correlated this with the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, life expectancy, human capital development, and fertility rate with data from 1971 to 2018. The fundamental conclusion is that no single source of financing, whether from the private, public or multilateral sectors is sufficient for the sustainable development of Sub-Saharan Africa. They suggest that government needs to play an active role in encouraging the requisite financial backing of sustainable development but without distorting the economic landscape.

    As such, the team recommends that new stable macroeconomic policies should be aimed at creating "a conducive environment for financial sector development". They add that multilateral development by banks and bilateral donors could also be used to strengthen access to private sources of finance by improving the business and investment climate.

    "Development is sustainable if it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," the team writes. They point out that inequality jeopardizes the well-being of those in certain areas and in certain social groups while allowing others to benefit greatly. For truly sustainable development to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, social justice must be integrated into the model to close the social, educational, and economic gaps between different groups and to allow improving equality to persist across the generations.

    Orekoya, S. and Oluleke, P. (2020) 'Financing for Sub-Saharan African sustainable development: from billions to trillions to action', Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 23, Nos. 3/4, pp.288–308.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSD.2020.115231


International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics indexed by Clarivate Analytics' Emerging Sources Citation Index

Inderscience is pleased to announce that the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics has been indexed by Clarivate Analytics' Emerging Sources Citation Index.

Prof. Basil Manos, Editor in Chief of the journal, says, "Getting IJSAMI into the Emerging Sources Citations Index is the outcome of our persistent and methodical efforts to ensure the highest quality of papers, to use competent reviewers, and to have fast email exchanges with our authors and reviewers. I am very pleased and excited with this acknowledgment of our work, and I remain committed to providing the international scientific community with a journal of the highest quality."

International Journal of Hydromechatronics indexed by Clarivate Analytics' Emerging Sources Citation Index

Inderscience is pleased to announce that the International Journal of Hydromechatronics has been indexed by Clarivate Analytics' Emerging Sources Citation Index.

Prof. Yimin Shao, Editor in Chief of the journal, says, "I am very glad that IJHM has been included in the Emerging Sources Citations Index. It is a recognition of the academic achievements and editorial work of the journal. I would like to express our sincerest gratitude to all those who have contributed to this journal. We will continue to adhere to our publishing policy, and to publish high-quality papers to promote academic exchange and development within the fluid power and electromechanical control fields."

International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies indexed by Emerging Sources Citation Index

Inderscience is pleased to announce that the International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies has been indexed by the Clarivate Analytics' Emerging Sources Citation Index.

Prof. Jin Chen, Editor in Chief of the journal, says, "This is really good news. Being indexed in ESCI marks another major milestone for our journal. As the Editor in Chief, I would like to take this opportunity to express my great thanks to our authors, reviewers, global community of readers and editorial board members who have worked for IJKMS as volunteers for the past few years. We will continue to uphold the principle of high-quality publishing and provide more in-depth and wide-breadth coverage of cutting-edge research results for researchers and practitioners in the field of knowledge management."

New Editor for International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science

Prof. Wen-Feng Wang from the Interscience Institute of Management and Technology in India and Shanghai Institute of Technology in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science.

New Editor for Journal of Design Research

Prof. Jouke Verlinden from the University of Antwerp in Belgium has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal of Design Research. The journal's former Editor in Chief, Prof. Renee Wever of Linköping University in Sweden, will remain on the board as Editor.