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  • Might a platform-based business model be used in the food industry to reduce waste and improve sustainability? That's the question a research team from Finland sets out to answer in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management.

    Globally, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Given that food waste also equates to wasted water, lost energy, and needless carbon emissions, and pollution. Indeed, the carbon footprint of food waste is about 4.4 million tones of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, which is almost as much as road transport emissions. We must find ways to drastically reduce this figure. Seemingly, it is consumers that contribute to the larger proportion of wasted food rather than it occurring on the side of production, transport, and retail. However, little information is available about food waste from restaurants, cafés, and canteens, and the catering and accommodation services, this alone could also be generating millions of tonnes of food waste.

    Malla Mattila, Nina Mesiranta, and Anna Heikkinen of the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University explain how food waste is a growing challenge for companies in the food services sector hoping to improve their sustainability credentials. They have examined the research literature in the realm of business sustainability in the developed world and looked at sustainable business models and digital platforms, that might provide guidance for such companies. They specifically scrutinize two real-life business cases that provide digital services and show how they help food service companies to reduce their food waste. The benefits of sustainable business models are wrought in their scalability and attractiveness the team points out.

    While the consumer side seems to be the bigger problem, supermarkets and other outlets generate vast tonnages of waste as products pass their "sell-by" dates. As such, there is a wide open niche for mobile device applications that connect consumers to products that are about to expire in a more effective way so that such stock might be purchased rather than it going to waste. However, applications at every step from farm and factory to retail to outlet or home could reduce waste, the research suggests.

    Mattila, M., Mesiranta, N. and Heikkinen, A. (2020) 'Platform-based sustainable business models: reducing food waste in food services', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Vol. 24, Nos. 4/5, pp.249–265.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2020.108258

  • Mobile devices are a fairly ubiquitous feature of our lives. Some would say that their huge and yet compact computing power has made life easier for millions of people by providing information, entertainment, and services at a tap or a swipe. Of course, every technology has its abusers and our always-connected smartphones, tablets, and laptops are no different.

    Writing in the International Journal of Internet Technology and Secured Transactions, researchers from India discuss the security measures available for mobile devices that utilize Google's Android operating system. They suggest that the more open nature of Android and its applications ecosystem can in some sense make it more vulnerable to malware than the rather more closed and cloistered operating system used by devices manufactured by Apple. Indeed, evidence suggests that 97 percent of malware targets Android rather than any other operating system on mobile devices.

    The team has analysed hundreds of Android apps from the official store and unofficial download repositories. They used applied permission-based and behavioural footprinting methods to detect malware. Shockingly, they demonstrated that almost 13 percent of the apps on the official Play store had some kind of malware. This figure was more than double at 28 percent for third-party stores.

    Much malware discussed in the context of conventional desktop computing is associated with criminal activity such as harvesting bank details and logins, duplicating and spreading the malware further afield, and creating zombie computers. Zombie PCs not only propagate the malware further but they are recruited into a bot-net and provide the controllers with the computing power to manipulate large numbers of PCs for carrying out denial of service attacks on large corporate or governmental networks with malicious or hacktivist intent.

    The team found that almost all of the malware in Android apps was created to steal personal information from the infected device and send it to a remote server. Given that even legitimate applications do this endlessly, it is difficult to see where the line is being drawn. Nobody wants their personal and private information stolen whether by a small third-party app or a major corporate organization such as a search engine or social media company.

    As such, the team has also assessed a number of the most prominent apps aimed at precluding infection with mobile viruses and malware. Unfortunately, even the best antimalware apps tested could detect a mere seven of twelve different classes of malware found on Android systems. The underlying reason is that new, zero-day malware, is emerging all the time.

    "There remains a need for efficient anti-malware software that accurately detects and avoids malware families," the team writes.

    Rani, S. and Dhindsa, K.S. (2020) 'Android application security: detecting Android malware and evaluating anti-malware software', Int. J. Internet Technology and Secured Transactions, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.491–506.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJITST.2020.108142

  • Is six-seconds long enough for an advertisement to woo a potential customer? The corporate executives who place short, "bumper ads" on the video-based social media service, Youtube, think so. Now, research published in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing, shows what kind of content in bumper ads is most engaging for Youtube users. Ultimately, the insights could help guide advertisers hoping to improve brand awareness and consumer attitude towards a product, and ultimately increase sales.

    Youtube introduced this ad format in 2016. Bumper ads are there to boost an advertiser's reach and allow them to deliver a short, but hopefully memorable message to their potential customers. Critically, although bumper ads are of an incredibly limited duration set by Youtube, they are also unskippable, so viewers hoping to watch user-generated content on the site are commonly forced to wait until the bumper ad runs before they can do so. Whether they choose to stare at the screen and absorb the ad is a moot point. Most users are unlikely to turn away knowing that an ad is going to be so short and will thus be exposed to the message within, as is the intention of the advertiser.

    Jay P. Trivedi, Siddharth Deshmukh, and Amit Kishore of MICA in Gujarat, India, based their findings on data collected from almost 300 Youtube users analysed in detail with various statistical techniques.

    "Video advertising is seeing an upswing in ad spends, and advertisers need to understand the strengths and limitations of each video ad format. This work is arguably the first academic research done to understand the type of content which can work for bumper ads," the team writes. They suggest that it is particularly pertinent to Generation-Y consumers in the emerging market of India. Gen-Y is usually defined as the "millennial generation", people who were born between the early 1980s and early2000s.

    Fundamentally, the team found that bumper ads do not lead directly to sales, but if they are able to convey the core message and involve the consumer, then they may drive sales later. "Advertisers can draw from [our results] and plan to convey the message by increased frequency of bumper ads or by placing them across multiple video genres to involve viewers more."

    Trivedi, J.P., Deshmukh, S. and Kishore, A. (2020) 'Wooing the consumer in a six-second commercial! Measuring the efficacy of bumper advertisements on YouTube', Int. J. Electronic Marketing and Retailing, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.307–322.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEMR.2020.108131

  • So...you've built your smart home, it's got smart heating and lighting, all the latest smart communications and entertainment systems, and of course, smart power generation to make it smart and green. But, how do you keep it secure and stop forced digital or physical entry? Well, you need smart security too, of course.

    Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Information and Database Systems, a team from India discusses how the sensor-enabled internet of things (IoT) has improved many aspects of daily life and how the same tools and devices might be used to make us safer and more secure too.

    Nishtha Kesswani of the Department of Computer Science at the Central University of Rajasthan, in BandarSindri, Ajmer and Basant Agarwal of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, at the Indian Institute of Information Technology Kota (IIIT Kota), MNIT Campus, in Jaipur, describe their approach to digital security for the smart home.

    "We present an intrusion detection system, SmartGuard that can be deployed in the smart home," they write. "The system would be able to detect malicious behaviour within the [home] network as well as any malicious communications from outside." Obviously, a hacker who can break into a smart home's network would easily be able to override security features, such as lights and electronic locking systems.

    "In order to reduce the overhead on the energy-constrained IoT devices, a cluster-based approach has been used," the team explains. "The proposed approach will be a smart choice in today's smart homes full of vulnerabilities," the team concludes.

    Kesswani, N. and Agarwal, B. (2020) 'SmartGuard: an IoT-based intrusion detection system for smart homes', Int. J. Intelligent Information and Database Systems, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.61–71.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIIDS.2020.108218

  • We all know terrorism when we see it or so we would hope, although it take many disparate forms. One aspect of the response is the media coverage of such happenings. Writing in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, a team from Indonesia discusses the urgency of media coverage of terrorism.

    Wenly Lolong and Adensi Timomor of the Department of Law at the Universitas Negeri Manado, suggest that the very nature of terrorism feeds on media coverage. However, while people have a right to be informed of what is happening locally and on a global scale, the team suggests that in Indonesia there is a need for regulation to avoid promoting the terrorist cause through discussion in the media.

    The researchers suggest that media coverage perpetuates terrorism by providing a platform for the perpetrators to share their tragic world view through violence. The greater the media coverage, the more likely a new recruit to the cause might be found whether they act as a so-called "lone wolf" or become part of a large terrorist "organization". Either way, new criminality is generated by the activity of the mass media, the team suggests.

    In their research, they explore the reasons that the media covers terrorist activity in the first place and how this coverage might be regulated without impeding the public's guarantee of the right to information and press freedom.

    "The right of information must not be above the right to live safely and peacefully in the country," the team concludes.

    Lolong, W.R.J. and Timomor, A. (2020) 'The urgency of media coverage arrangements regarding terrorism', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.138–148.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2020.108013

  • The term "blockchain" is familiar to anyone who has delved into so-called cryptocurrency. It represents an incorruptible digital ledger of transactions associated with a given digital coin in this technology. However, the notion of such a ledger might be useful in a whole range of human affairs, such as electoral and other voting systems. Work published in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, suggests that a blockchain might be viable in the US voting system.

    Khaled Zayed and Rebekah Placide of the International School of Management in Paris, France, explain that blockchain technology could be used to build "a secure, efficient, and smart voting system". Used in conjunction with biometric technology, such a system would be far less open to abuse or electoral fraud of any kind. The US has four voting methods commonly used at the moment: optical scan paper ballot systems, direct recording electronic systems, ballot marking systems, and punch-card ballot. Each of those voting methods has its own pros and cons and is open to significant abuse as has been seen in at least one recent election. In essence, the team writes, "The current US voting system is antiquated and in desperate need of a technological and legal overhaul."

    In addition, the current voting machines are in a state of crisis. "They run the risk of malfunctioning, lost votes, shutdowns, and incorrect tallies," the team adds. "The inability to maintain and purchase parts for these aging machines is of an even greater burden for election administrators in many jurisdictions."

    The team further explains how blockchain technology could fix the voting system in a single step, eradicating many of the problems associated with archaic systems and bringing to bear the benefits of the digital realm on an ancient system.

    "Blockchain technology was developed to create security, trust, transparency, and efficiency in communications and business transactions," the team says. "Blockchain allows a recording and transfer of data that can be audited and transmitted safely and more importantly it is resistant to outages. A list of records called blocks linked together using cryptography for secure communication. With blockchain technology, digital information can be distributed but not copied over."

    Such positive characteristics, when applied to a voting system, could be used for voter registration, identity verification, and electronic vote counting. This would ensure that only legitimate votes are counted and the creation of such a ledger of public votes would represent a step towards a fairer, entirely transparent, and fundamentally more democratic election system.

    Zayed, K. and Placide, R. (2020) 'Advocating for a blockchain voting system in the USA', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.306–315.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2020.107985

  • Phytochemicals from the plant Ipomea sepiaria may be useful in the fight against cancer according to a pharmacoinformatics study published in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design. The research undertook "in silico", computer-based, studies of the various chemicals found in this species against a range of enzymes known as metallopeptidases. Inhibiting the activity of these enzymes found in cancer cells could impede the replication of those cancer cells and potentially halt tumour growth in its tracks.

    Thousands of plants contain natural products, chemicals that have physiological activity. Indeed, around 40 percent of modern pharmaceuticals had their roots in botanical natural products. The convolvulus plant species, I. sepiaria, is well known as a component of Ayurvedic medicine in the form of Lakshmana used as a laxative. It is purported to act as an antidote to arsenic poisoning and also be an aphrodisiac, although solid randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are not yet forthcoming for many of the claims around this plant's medicinal properties.

    S.S. Ariya and Baby Joseph of the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, in Chennai, India, and Jemmy Christy of the Sathyabama Institute of Technology and Science, also in Chennai, point out that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. As such, the development of anticancer and antineoplastic drugs is high on the pharmaceutical industry's agenda. The team has now screened 247 phytochemicals identified in I. sepiaria against their enzyme computer model.

    The screen showed that eight chemicals, tetradecanoic acid, nerolidol, ipomeanine, dibutyl phthalate, cis-caffeic acid, caffeic acid, moupinamide, and N-cis-feruloyltyramine were active against the target enzymes and so might be further explored as potential anticancer drugs. Moreover, these compounds performed better in the tests than four different drugs currently available in the cancer therapy arsenal. Of course, the next step is to take the "in silico" results to the laboratory testing, in vitro, stage and then to animal testing and finally human trials. The compounds are promising, but as ever with drug development, the path from discovery to market is long and tortuous.

    It should be noted that while there may be physiological activity in the folklore remedy of Lakshmana, its use is no substitute for a medical consultation with an oncologist when cancer arises and the adherence to proven therapies for the best prognosis for the patient.

    Ariya, S.S., Joseph, B. and Christy, J. (2020) 'Exploring the antineoplastic effect of phytochemicals from Ipomea sepiaria against matrix metallopeptidases: a pharmacoinformatics approach', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.255–271.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2020.107889

  • A computer program, an optimisation algorithm, that mimics in software the social interactions of the humpback whale has been used by researchers in Egypt to build a system for the identification of Arabian horses.

    Identification of Arabian racehorses is critical to owner provenance, vaccination handling, disease control, animal traceability, food management, and animal safety. Traditionally, the horses are hot or freeze branded. Today, the branding might be by electronic tag or implant, or even biometric. Classical approaches are invasive and vulnerable to fraud.

    Writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, Ayat Taha and Ahmed ElKholy of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and colleagues Ashraf Darwish of Helwan University, and Aboul Ella Hassanien Cairo University, explain how the whale optimization algorithm helps avoid fraud. The WOA is inspired by the hunting behaviour of humpback whales. These marine mammals use a special strategy for hunting fish called bubble-net hunting. The whales produce bubbles in a spiral or a ring around a target school of fish and then swim to shrink this ephemeral boundary, pushing the fish into a smaller volume of water. They then pinpoint fish to capture within this boundary, which not only confuses the fish and confines them but gives the whales an almost fixed area to focus on. The WOA mathematically models this in two phases: creating a bubble boundary and then allowing "prey" features to be identified.

    The team has now built their algorithm on an optimised Multi-Class Support Vector Machine. The system analyses muzzle imprints from the horses, it having been trained on known horses. It is possible to identify a horse quickly using this system to an accuracy of more than 97%, which surpasses previous machine learning systems that do not rely on biomimetic models such as the whale optimization algorithm.

    Taha, A., Darwish, A., Hassanien, A.E. and ElKholy, A. (2020) 'Arabian horse identification based on whale optimised multi-class support vector machine', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 63, Nos. 1/2, pp.83–92.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2020.107910

  • Lubricating oils deteriorate and oxidize with use as well as accumulating particles from the engines and other machinery in which they are used. Ultimately, their effectiveness worsens and they begin to damage the components they were designed to protect they have to be replaced. Disposing of waste engine oil thus becomes a significant environmental concern. Waste lubricant cannot be simply disposed of as it is highly toxic to ecosystems and harmful to the environment and human health.

    Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, a team from China has turned to a nineteenth century discovery – supercritical fluids – to help them clean up waste oil and remove contaminants efficiently and effectively.

    Supercritical fluids are essentially substances held at a temperature above their boiling point but under sufficiently high pressure that they do not enter the gas phase. Under these conditions water, carbon dioxide, and other substances are in a hybrid state between liquid and gas and have many properties that are very different from the substance in its commonly observed state at ambient temperature and pressure.

    For instance, supercritical fluids (SCFs) can dissolve many diverse substances that are not normally considered soluble in the "normal" gas or liquid. They also have the advantage of very rapidly reverting to their normal state once the pressure and temperature are reduced. This phenomenon allows a substance such as supercritical carbon dioxide to be used to dissolve a range of compounds so that a dissolved compound might then be separated from a complex mixture. Once the pressure is released the carbon dioxide boils off leaving behind the separated substance.

    Xin Yang, Shuo Xiang, Peng Su, Yan He, and Ping Liu of the Department of Oil, at the Army Logistics University of PLA and Ligong Chen of the Engineering Research Centre for Waste Oil Recovery Technology and Equipment, at Chongqing Technology and Business University, both in Chongqing, China, have now modeled the behaviour of dodecylcyclohexane in supercritical carbon dioxide. This compound is one of the major components of lubricating oils. It is soluble in supercritical carbon dioxide at a specific temperature and pressure.

    The team found the optimal temperature and pressure to be 313.2 Kelvin and 14.68 Megapascals, respectively. None of the contaminants of degraded components have as high a solubility under these conditions and so the technology might then be used to separate the dodecylcyclohexane from the waste materials, the team suggests.

    Yang, X., Xiang, S., Su, P., He, Y., Liu, P. and Chen, L. (2020) 'Measurement and modelling of the solubility of dodecylcyclohexane in supercritical carbon dioxide', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp.35–49.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2020.107866

  • Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Yu-Chi Chen of the Department Computer Science and Engineering, at Yuan Ze University, in Tauyuan, Taiwan , has revisited the concept of plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation that could be utilized in the context of security and privacy in the realm of big data and cloud computing.

    Achieving a specific computing over ciphertext, plaintext checkable encryption (PCE) is a relatively new concept explains Chen. It supports the specific functionality between ciphertext and plaintext. "Given a target plaintext, a ciphertext and a public key, anyone can perform a check algorithm (called Check) to test whether the ciphertext encrypts the target plaintext with the public key," he explains.

    It allows the user to send search instructions to a database, for instance, that are encrypted so that a third party, such as the service provider themselves, cannot see the search terms, but the server has to know that the search is encrypted in a valid way so that it can send back encrypted results; this is where the check function plays its role.

    The new work builds on these concepts and offers a new way to approach them with secure public keys and generic constructions.

    Chen, Y-C. (2020) 'Plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation revisited', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.102–110.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2020.107822


New Editor for International Journal of Reliability and Safety

Prof. Om Prakash Yadav from North Dakota University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Reliability and Safety. The journal's founding editor, Prof. Zissimos Mourelatos of Oakland University, USA, will remain on the board as Executive Editor.

New Editor for International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation

Prof. M. Ángeles López-Cabarcos from Santiago de Compostela University in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation.

New Editor for International Journal of International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering

Prof. Ali Sher from Yorkville University in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering.

International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management to publish special issue with Sustaining Tomorrow 2020/2021

International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management will publish a special issue on "Mitigating Climate Change". The special issue will be based on a selection of expanded papers presented at the combined event for the Sustaining Tomorrow 2020 Symposium and Industry Summit (which was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Mitigating Climate Change 2021 Symposium and Industry Summit, which is still set to go ahead at the University of Windsor, Canada, on 24-25 June, 2021.

International Journal of Global Energy Issues to publish special issue with Sustaining Tomorrow 2020

International Journal of Global Energy Issues will publish a special issue on "Sustaining Tomorrow Globally". The special issue will be based on a selection of expanded papers that were to be presented at the Sustaining Tomorrow 2020 Symposium and Industry Summit. (The event was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The cancelled conference will be combined with the Mitigating Climate Change 2021 Symposium and Industry Summit, which is still set to go ahead at the University of Windsor, Canada, on 24-25 June, 2021.