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- Social media contact tracing
It will soon be two years since the World Health Organisation declared that COVID-19 had reached pandemic status. In that time, millions have died from the disease and many more than that have been infected, some suffering from seemingly chronic illness after recovering from the initial symptoms. From the beginning, there was an obvious need to detect those who were infected with the causative pathogen, SARS-CoV-2. This was not only important for treating those people or ensuring that they self-isolated but also to alert anyone with whom the infected and putatively infectious person had come into contact.
Research in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, has used a statistical analysis using artificial intelligence to show that social network communications might be a useful tool in contact tracing during a pandemic. An international team from India, Iraq, and Malaysia explains that contact tracing is used to alert people who have been in contact with a person who has reported testing positive for the disease.
"Creation of awareness and preventive measures against any infectious disease demands the need of certain methods like contact tracing approach," the team writes. The researchers have now used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyse social media data. They have validated their analysis based on online social networking and conventional contact tracing tools. They point out that to be effective any test and trace service needs to be quick to note those who are reported as carrying the infection and then to be quick in contacting those people they may have encountered in the preceding days. As we know, many infectious disease, including COVID-19, can be infectious even when the carrier is asymptomatic or before symptoms appear.
The team suggests that contact tracing is key to bringing the present pandemic under control. Conventional contact tracing tools are vital, but the addition of approaches based on analysing social media could allow more people who are potentially infectious to be caught in the net and advised to self-isolate before they pass on the virus to other people.
Swain, A., Satpathy, S., Dutta, S., Sahoo, S. and Hamad, A.A. (2021) 'A statistical analysis for COVID-19 as a contract tracing approach and social network communication management', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 66, Nos. 3/4, pp.279–285.
- Fake news alert
Fake news represents an important challenge for democracy as it can interfere with public perception of actual events and happenings in society, politics, economics, and influence them in untoward ways to holding and acting on opinions based on lies and misinformation.
We all have access to far more information than we ever did at any point in history. Every hour of every day is filled with streams of information from news outlets, social media and beyond. Much of that information is output with intent well beyond its sharing for the sake of knowledge. Much of it is misinformation or disinformation, propaganda, manipulative content designed to help a third party fulfil their agenda. We have come to know this as fake news in the era of soundbites and social media doom scrolling.
Writing in the International Journal of Applied Decision Sciences, researchers in Germany, explain how they have taken an empirical view of internet-based false news stories and looked at the experiences, problem awareness, and responsibilities associated with those stories among university students exposed to them. Hypotheses that emerge from the work of Sven Grüner at the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Saale, Germany, are multifarious and require careful consideration if we are to address the problem of fake news. Grüner describes the hypotheses to be tested.
First, people are less likely to assume that they are dealing with false news stories the greater their trust in others and the more emphasis they put on the opinions of others. Secondly, fake news are perceived as a problem at the societal level but not at the individual level. Thirdly, men overestimate their ability to spot fake news. Finally, people perceive the operators of media platforms as being in charge of fake news.
The unimaginable challenge we face is how to develop an efficient and effective information system that precludes the dissemination of fake news. Unfortunately, in the words of George Orwell
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
Grüner, S. (2022) 'An empirical study on internet-based false news stories: experiences, problem awareness and responsibilities', Int. J. Applied Decision Sciences, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.15–45.
- The sexual harassment of Generation Z
Workplace policy and training in addressing matters concerning sexual harassment need to ensure that the youngest members of the workforce are also protected from this kind of abuse, something that has not necessarily been dealt with comprehensively by many companies in the past. Research in this area published in the International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management focuses specifically on members of the workforce in the demographic group commonly referred to as Generation Z.
Those people classed as being in Generation Z are considered to have been born any time from the mid to late 1990s into the early 2010s. They are thus the successors to the Millennial Generation (the Millennials) who would have reached adulthood at the turn of the century. They are commonly the children of Generation X who succeeded the Babyboomers. Generation Z people are often known as "digital natives" as they were born after the advent of the World Wide Web and the broad emergence and ubiquity of portable electronic communication devices, such as tablet computers and smartphones. They are the predecessors to Generation Alpha who are those people born from the mid-2010s onwards.
Susan M. Stewart of the School of Management and Marketing at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities in Moline, Illinois and H. Kristl Davison of the Department of Management at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, USA, suggest that members of Generation Z are increasingly finding themselves victims of sexual harassment hence the importance of a new focus on this worrying issue from their perspective.
As such, the researchers consider the following points in some detail: the rights and responsibilities of Generation Z workers regarding sexual harassment and the legal issues and recent court cases involving Generation Z workers. They also suggest various ideas for how research in this area might pan out in the future and the organisational actions that might be instigated to address the problems. Certainly, they point out there may be more victims of sexual harassment among those of Generation Z in specific demographic groups and that should be a topic of future research too.
The team adds that it might also be time for human resources development and management to draw learning from other disciplines such as developmental psychology. This they suggest might lead to a better understanding of emotional, cognitive, moral, and sexual development in youngsters of this generation, who are of working age and yet still teenagers.
"It is hoped that this article inspires more research ideas and discourse, as well as human resource management practices, on this important topic in an effort to better protect Generation Z workers," the team writes. Sexual harassment is abuse at any age, but protecting the younger members of the workforce who might suffer long-term consequences in a way that older adults might not simply because the youngsters are still developing psychologically, educationally, and physically is an important consideration in protecting all members of the workforce.
Stewart, S.M. and Davison, H.K. (2021) 'Generation Z workers and sexual harassment', Int. J. Human Resources Development and Management, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp.243–251.
- Cloud computing and copyright
When utilising cloud computing services for data storage and processing there are many issues to consider that might offset the benefits of this off-site approach to one's computing resources, not least confidentiality, privacy, and security. However, there is another consideration – copyright. Might there be ways in which the cloud provider might somehow stake a claim on your data and undermine the normal copyright consideration rules?
A team in the USA writing in the International Journal of Forensic Engineering and Management discusses the legal issues surrounding cloud copyright.
Dennis B. Park, Xiaolong Li, and A. Mehran Shahhosseini of the College of Technology at Indiana State University, in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Li-Shiang Tsay of the College of Science and Technology at North Carolina A&T State University, in Greensboro, North Carolina, muse on the idea that someone utilising a third-party file server might somehow succumb to a copyright grab by that third part if the terms of service are not sufficiently well define to protect the user from such interference.
The team first points out that cloud computing – whether for data storage, data processing, or both offers many advantages to users. It delocalises the burden of computing resources, which is otherwise generally not possible except for users with multiple sites. It allows them to offload many of the information technology demands on to the provider. In addition, hardware and software costs can be reduced enormously as well as precluding the need for the endless update cycles faced by companies and individuals purchasing and running their own systems.
However, as mentioned, there are also several cons that have to be weighed up against all of the pros. Data breaches at a cloud provider are perhaps the most obvious of the problems a user might face. But, there are more insidious ways in which a user's data might be compromised without a malicious third party being involved – data and copyright assimilation by the cloud provider itself. The team's assessment of the state-of-the-art and the multifarious legal issues that surround data and the use of cloud services leads them to advise putative users to ensure they read and understand any service agreements they make with such providers in minute detail to ensure that the cloud provider gains no rights over any of the user's copyright materials that might be uploaded to the cloud servers or data that emerges from the use of processes at a cloud service.
Park, D.B., Li, X., Shahhosseini, A.M. and Tsay, L-S. (2021) 'Data ownership in cloud: legal issues', Int. J. Forensic Engineering and Management, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.125–148.
- COVID-19 teams and education
The unimaginably disruptive crisis the world is facing in the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented uptake of virtual teamwork. Workers in many different fields are solving problems and doing their jobs together through video conferencing tools and software in ways that were perhaps optional before the pandemic but are now essential Moreover, many of the members of countless disparate teams are collaborating and conversing online when they may well never have even met offline.
Archana Shrivastava and Pooja Misra of the Birla Institute of Management Technology in Greater Noida, India, have looked into the effect of the pandemic on home-based learning in detail and touch on the parallel world of corporate remote working. The COVID-19 pandemic, as we know, has not been only a global medical crisis but a social and economic crisis. However, there is no history of pandemics that fits with the situation in which we find ourselves today and the tools that are available to us that were not even invented when previous pandemics struck humanity. The team offers details in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations.
The team turned to qualitative methodology for capturing responses related to the pandemic and its impact on the higher education communities, they explains. "Qualitative methods are valuable given their open-ended nature and focus not just on 'what' but on 'how'," the team explains. They add that the method proved to be "extremely useful" given how rapidly the situation surrounding COVID-19 and socioeconomic and educational responses are to it. They were also rather aware that personal perspectives and researcher bias can influence the results that might be gleaned from such studies they made a concerted effort to pursue objectivity in evaluating their results.
"The goal of our study was…to provide insights for higher education institutions, faculty, education policymakers, and corporate organisations to understand the prevailing situation and formulate suitable long and short-term policies for the attainment of optimal performance in this unprecedented time," the team concludes.
Shrivastava, A. and Misra, P. (2021) 'COVID-19 and its impact on global virtual teams: exploring the unexplored', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 25, Nos. 3/4, pp.217–231.
- Big in Japan
Companies come and go. Startups start and then stop, Spinouts whirl and then falter. In one part of the world, however, it is not hard to find companies the history of which might stretch back more than a century, sometimes two or three centuries, and in many cases much, much longer. That place is Japan. Most Western countries might boast a handful of corporate entities with great longevity stretching back to the pre-Industrial era, but Japan has an astonishing 33000-plus companies that are at least a century old. Some of them have their foundations built in the 6th Century of the Common Era.
New research published in International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy mentions how in 2016 Shoko Research listed seven companies with more than 1,000 years of business, but there are two other well-known companies – Nakamura Shaji, which was founded in 970CE and Ichimonjiya Wasuke, which was founded in 1000CE. Of the ten biggest companies in the world, half of them are Japanese, although the oldest is now a subsidiary of yet another Japanese company.
Yasuyuki Yamaoka of The Open University of Japan in Chiba and Hiroko Oe of Bournemouth University, UK, interviewed the business owners of ten Japanese companies that were established more than three hundred years ago. The team text-mined their survey results to extract the key themes associated with their longevity.
The team found that there are four key factors perceived by the owners of these ancient companies that feed into their ethos: 'customers and products', 'owner and employees', 'management and business credo' and 'change and risk management'. The team also demonstrated that non-economic values and the perception of the company as being part of the wider community (Sanpo-Yoshi) are also embedded in the mindset of these business owners. The various factors have been the driving force for the companies' approach to business, the researchers suggest.
"The developed framework will be a guideline for researchers and practitioners to further share the wisdom of long-established firms," the team writes. They add that the work is exploratory in nature at this stage and suggest company size and business sustainability might be examined in research that expands the scope of the present study.
Yamaoka, Y. and Oe, H. (2021) 'Business strategies of companies with a longevity of 300 years or longer in Japan: a concept model', Int. J. Management Concepts and Philosophy, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.283–295.
- Sorting out smart data
Might scoring the contents of scientific papers based on semantics and lexicon allow a representation of textual experimental data from scientific publications to be extracted? That is the question a team from France hope to answer in the International Journal of Intelligent Information and Database Systems.
Martin Lentschat of the University of Montpellier and colleagues there and at the University of Paris-Saclay explain how their approach uses the scientific publication representation (SciPuRe) to describe extracted data through ontological, lexical, and structural features based on the segments in a scientific document. The scientific literature is vast and in many ways readily accessible to experts. However, a substantial amount of the information contained in this enormous space can only be mined, or harvested, for use by those experts, inclusion in meta-analyses or fed into advanced decision-support tools, if it is somehow processed and the data, information, and knowledge extracted into a form that can be used by the available tools.
The team points out that in the biomedical research domain there has been a lot of focus on how knowledge can be extracted automatically from the published literature because of the nature of the often date-rich experimental outputs. However, in other areas, there has been a lack of tools that can home in on useful information without the need to take prior knowledge and expertise into account. Where biomedical research pivots on big data other areas of research require smart data.
Big data needs no assessment, no scoring based on content and context, it can be pulled from a publication and processed because the prior knowledge about what the data mean is intrinsic to the data in a sense. To work with smart data, on the other, hand requires it to be assessed so that irrelevant data in a publication can be discarded, the new work points to how this very process might be automated to allow tools related to those used to handle big data in biomedical research to be used with smart data from other less data-intensive areas of research.
The team's success with the specialist topic discussed suggests that future studies might open up the same approach to other research domains, although whether those are equally as successful will remain to be seen.
"Experiments were carried out on a corpus of fifty English language scientific papers in the food packaging field," the team reports. "They revealed that article segments are an effective criterion for filtering out the majority of the quantitative entity false positives using lexical scores."
Lentschat, M., Buche, P., Dibie-Barthelemy, J. and Roche, M. (2022) 'Towards combined semantic and lexical scores based on a new representation of textual data to extract experimental data from scientific publications', Int. J. Intelligent Information and Database Systems, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.78–103.
- Made in China
New work in the International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies debunks the notion of ever-increasing consumption in China. The topic has been the subject of much debate wherein it had for many years that economic household consumption was consistently rising across the nation. However, the analysis by Kerry Liu of The China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia, looked at gross domestic product data, household survey data, and retail sales data from a new perspective and concludes that expenditure has been slowing since 2011.
There has been an inkling that consumers in China have been "downgrading" their spending, choosing lower prices rather than expensive high-quality goods. Whimsically, it has been reported that Chinese consumers have given up their avocados, switched back to the bicycle rather than taking a taxi ride, slinging their cocktails in favour of beer, and cancelling their gym memberships to exercise outdoors as their grandparents did. There have been some conflicting findings such as increasing numbers of vehicle purchases, particularly sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and some other goods. There are four times as many cars sold in China each year as there are in the great gas-guzzling nation of the USA.
Liu's findings point to an explanation as to why this might be:
The main findings are that disposable income plays a significant role in consumption growth; that wealth effects from the real estate market [rising home rental costs] play a significant role in consumption upgrade; and that increasing rent has significantly contributed to the consumption downgrade.
"In view of the importance of consumption to the rebalancing of the Chinese economy, this study makes significant contributions to the debate on China's economic policies," says Liu. He adds that while some recent government policies have had a positive effect, more needs to be done. "China should improve its monetary policy by balancing the goals of meeting the needs of the real economy and not further inflating asset markets," he concludes.
Liu, K. (2022) 'The Chinese consumption myth', Int. J. Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.103–120.
- myEntropy reveals file type
We are, in the pandemic world, even more dependent on online services than we ever have been before, whether as remote workers, those learning from home, or in healthcare. As such, there is an increasing need to ensure those services are protected from malicious third parties and malware.
New work published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, discusses how the entropy level of critical files might be measured and provided a proxy for determining whether or not those files have been corrupted by a virus or usurped with malware. Tay Xin Hui, Kamaruddin Malik Mohamad, and Nurul Hidayah Ab Rahman of the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn in Malaysia, explain their investigations using "myEntropy" an entropy calculator tool that they have used to examine SQL files, SWF files, and Java files. These three filetypes Structured Query Language, Small Web Format, and Java files are commonly used in a wide-range of online services and can be highly vulnerable to attack.
The team used 250 sample files to calculate the entropy level for each filetype. They could then discern the average entropy level for each. Thus the myEntropy tool might be developed further to be used to quickly and with little computer resources ascertain whether a file of these critical type has been corrupted or replaced with one carrying embedded malware, which would change the entropy of the file considerably.
The team suggests that the tool can be developed for the analysis of many other vulnerable filetypes. They add that a user-friendly front-end for the tool might also be developed to facilitate its adoption by those managing digital devices, emerging computing infrastructure such as Internet of Things systems, cloud computing services and so address the growing problem of cybersecurity threats.
Hui, T.X., Mohamad, K.M. and Ab Rahman, N.H. (2022) 'myEntropy: a file type identification tool using entropy scoring', Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.76–95.
- Modelling the spread of viruses
New research published in the International Journal of Mathematics in Operational Research plots a new route for viral propagation in a computer network.
Anis Rezgui of Ecole Polytechnique de Tunisie and Carthage University in Tunisia has examined an earlier approach to studying the way a virus spreads through a network and found that approaches based on stochastic ordinary differential equations. A second approach, a microscopic approach based on a Markov chain has many similarities with SODEs but can take into account the interconnections between nodes in the network and so provide a clear picture of propagation.
Computer security is a multi-billion dollar industry but money aside it is such an important part of the modern world that it must be the focus of much research out of necessity. Rezgui explains that modelling viral propagation through a computer network has been modelled historically in the same way that we model biological viruses, epidemiologically, in other words. There have been two major types of model used, deterministic and stochastic ones each with pros and cons.
This new work focuses on the latter but introduces a novel approach based on the aforementioned Markov chain, which offers a rigorous way to model viral propagation mathematically. It allows researchers to understand the global behaviour of the network when exposed to malware infection but homes in on the dynamics occurring at each node in the network alone. Such modelling is critical to understanding how a virus spreads and so offers insights into how it might be stopped in its tracks through network analysis. Incorporating a model into an antivirus system might ultimately be able to halt a novel, or zero-day, infection when the viral signatures are not known beforehand and the virus is starting to spread.
It is perhaps a whimsical notion that such modelling when applied to human society might allow biologists and epidemiologists to spot a new and emerging pathogen, such as a coronavirus, before it spreads widely and to stop infection of social nodes that would otherwise lead to a pandemic, for instance.
Rezgui, A. (2021) 'A model for viruses propagation throughout networks', Int. J. Mathematics in Operational Research, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp.373–384
New Editor for International Journal of Low Radiation
Prof. Elena Vanina from Federal State Unitary Enterprise "RADON" in Russia has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Low Radiation.
Inderscience Editor ranks in AD Scientific Index
Inderscience's Editorial Office would like to congratulate Dr. Dafnis N. Coudounaris, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Export Marketing and Nordic Journal of Tourism, for ranking first in Marketing in Aalborg University for 2021, based on a recent announcement from the AD Scientific Index.
New Editor for Atoms for Peace: an International Journal
Prof. Massimo Zucchetti from the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of Atoms for Peace: an International Journal.
International Journal of Comparative Management invites special issue proposals
Inderscience journals newly indexed by Ei Compendex
Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to announce that the following journals have been indexed by Ei Compendex, thus further expanding the range of Inderscience journals listed on this database:International Journal of Bio-Inspired Computation
International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining
International Journal of Cloud Computing
International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies
International Journal of Electronic Business
International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy
International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development
International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology
International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development
International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development
International Journal of Power and Energy Conversion
International Journal of Powertrains
International Journal of Sensor Networks
International Journal of Systems, Control and Communications