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  • Visual surveillance of crowds is an important part of event management as well as policing. Now, a team from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have looked at the various tools that have become available in recent years for automatically assessing the number of people in a crowd and determining the dynamics and movement of that crowd. Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, the team finds several gaps in the current state-of-the-art technology and points developers to how those gaps might be filled.

    Huma Chaudhry and Mohd Shafry Mohd Rahim of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Tanzila Saba of Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, and Amjad Rehman of Al Yamamah University, also in Riyadh, point out that computer vision research has moved towards crowd control and management in recent years with a view to addressing issues of security and safety when large numbers of people are gathered in one place. The fundamental problem that has to be addressed is how to manage multiple data streams from closed-circuit television (CCTV) and other sources that monitor crowd dynamics at events, in busy towns and cities and elsewhere. There a limit to how visual assessment of CCTV and so automated, computerised solutions are needed.

    The team highlights some major events where there have been numerous casualties. Sometimes casualties at some events might be fewer than 100 people, but larger events might see thousands of casualties over a prolonged period. Automated crowd assessment could open up new ways t understand crowd dynamics and reduce those numbers. Some of the same insights from aerial crowd surveillance and other methods might also help in disaster relief activities where large numbers of people might be present in a given location.

    Chaudhry, H., Rahim, M.S.M., Saba, T. and Rehman, A. (2019) 'Crowd detection and counting using a static and dynamic platform: state of the art', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.228–259.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCVR.2019.099435

  • How do personality traits affect one's use of the online social networking site, Facebook? That is the question researchers from Greece hope to answer in a paper in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising. The team surveyed 367 university students and analysed their answers concerning Facebook with the backdrop of different personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness.

    The team report that "agreeable individuals use Facebook to express their orientation to other people rather than to themselves," whereas "extroverts use Facebook as a relationship building mechanism". They add that neurotic people strive to bring out the best of themselves. Oddly, the personality traits of openness and conscientiousness do not seem to affect significantly Facebook use.

    The bottom line is that extraversion is the main driver for Facebook use. Extroverts are heavy users and have more friends and interact with them and others at a higher rate. But, neurotic people also use it heavily to create a comprehensive and detailed profile of themselves to present to the public. There are limitations to the research in that those surveyed were students and some of them may well be aware of research into personality types and their use of social media, whereas the lay public would perhaps be less aware of such research. The obvious next step is to survey a wider group of people to reduce any inherent bias in the results.

    Hatzithomas, L., Misirlis, N., Boutsouki, C. and Vlachopoulou, M. (2019) 'Understanding the role of personality traits on Facebook intensity', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.99–119.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2019.099494

  • Climate variability, which might arise through global warming or other factors has been shown to have an impact on mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, according to research published in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development.

    Baishali Bakshi of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, Raphael Nawrotzki of Deutsche Evaluierungsinstitut der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (DEval) in Bonn, Germany, Joshua Donato of Houston Engineering, Inc. In Maple Grove, Minnesota, and Luisa Silva Lelis of Universidade de Sao Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil, explain how the persistence of high mortality rates in this region are stifling development and sustainable development in particular.

    They have look at climate variables over the last half a century and more to see if climate patterns correlated with mortality rates. Any insights in this regard might then be returned to policymakers, healthcare, and education to find ways to ameliorate the effects and perhaps lower mortality rates and thence allow sustainable development to proceed without this intrinsic hindrance.

    The team looked at elevated mortality in rural Kenya, Mali, and Malawi during the period 2008 to 2009 and then analysed this against climate variability at this time against a long-term climate normal period, 1961-1990. The results were quite enlightening: Cold snaps led to increased mortality in Kenya but reduced mortality in Mali and Malawi, the team reports. Too much rain, as well as droughts, was also associated with increased mortality in Kenya and Malawi. Moreover, adverse climatic conditions increased mortality where HIV/AIDS was prevalence but led to lower mortality in malaria-stricken areas.

    "Programs for reducing climate-related mortality through early warning systems, agricultural extension services, and improved access to health infrastructure will help more fully realise sustainable development goals of mortality reduction for sub-Saharan Africa," the team concludes.

    Bakshi, B., Nawrotzki, R.J., Donato, J.R. and Lelis, L.S. (2019) 'Exploring the link between climate variability and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa', Int. J. Environment and Sustainable Development, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.206-237.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJESD.2019.099518

  • Haggling will be familiar to anyone who has visited a market during the last few thousand years! If a deal is to be done between hawker and customer, then the price has to be right. A modern twist on this is that the seller has no input and the customer simply pays what they want for the goods; although there has always been free access to some things where a donation is welcomed. It is rare that this approach becomes the predominant pricing model although there have been numerous experiments, such as pay-what-you-want for digital goods online, including music from famous artists.

    Now, Vinaysingh Chawan of the Indian Institute of Management Indore, writing in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management explains that the pay-what-you-want pricing model whether for digital goods, services, or entrance to a museum or exhibition is perhaps counterintuitive. This is especially so given that the buyer may opt to pay nothing and so the seller makes no financial gain from the transaction. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the PWYW model does have its supporters and many companies give their customers the option.

    It turns out that the vast majority of people will take the view that this "honesty box" type approach deserves to be rewarded and will pay what they perceive as a fair price. Few pay nothing at all. Some people might even pay more than the price the seller hoped for and this can offset the loss due to those who pay nothing. The seller has to assume a majority of fair-minded customers and few freeloaders.

    Chawan has investigated with PWYW works for the restaurant industry. If the menu gives a fair suggested price rather than an obligatory price, then it seems customers will pay a fair price. There is always the option of setting an absolute minimum which precludes freeloading and allows the restaurateur to at least cover costs, perhaps with a small profit margin. Indeed, when a minimum is set and a guide price is given, profits commonly end up being higher than when the restaurateur sets absolute pricing. There is much research to be done before this paradigm becomes widespread if not universal.

    Chawan, V. (2019) 'A pay-what-you-want pricing model for restaurants', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp.431-449.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSOM.2019.099476

  • Many online shoppers will take a look at the reviews for the product or service they're about to purchase. The majority will presumably trust that the e-commerce site will only be posting genuine reviews of any given product, posted by other customers. However, as several recent high-profile cases have shown this is not always the case. Unfortunately, e-commerce sites are littered with fake reviews. These can persuade innocent shoppers to make a purchase and anticipate a certain level of quality to which the product or service they receive ultimately does not reach.

    Even the most respected of sites can succumb to fake reviews because it is very difficult to automate detection despite the many protections that some operators of such sites have implemented to do so. Now, writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking, a team from China has demonstrated how a dynamic multimode network might be employed to efficiently detect fake reviews.

    There are four fundamental concepts that might be examined to detect fake reviews, explain Jun Zhao and Hong Wang of the School of Information Science and Engineering, at Shandong Normal University, China. These are the quality of the merchandise, the honesty of the review, the trustworthiness of the reviewer, and the reliability of the e-commerce site. However, even taken together these cannot discern whether an unscrupulous merchant has employed third parties to post favourable but fake reviews of their products and services. In order to more subtly detect fake reviews, the team's dynamic approach utilizes three algorithms to uncover the nuances common to fake reviews.

    Zhao, J. and Wang, H. (2019) 'Detecting fake reviews via dynamic multimode network', Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.408-416.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHPCN.2019.099264

  • In the context of information technology, IT, a "honeypot" is an attractive online destination usually established to attract malicious third parties who then, assuming they have reached a valuable resource unwittingly reveal details about themselves in order to access what they perceive is within the honeypot. A honeypot might also be referred to as a honeytrap.

    However, writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, US researchers caution that the use of a honeypot to gather personal or private data albeit of a malicious third party, or hacker, may well be in breach of local and perhaps even federal laws in some situations. Use of a honeypot may also leave the operator open to issues of legal liability because of the deception that is the honeypot by definition.

    Also, by opening a honeypot on a system it might attract hackers who then find a way to access the genuine parts of the network or other system and so compromise that legitimate content in some way, exposing the honeypot operator to liability for damages caused.

    Having recognized the putative legal implications of operating a honeypot, the team offers recommendations for how to detect and deceive malicious third parties who may be attempting to fraudulently access the actual online resource without compromising the operator. Moreover, by taking a properly legally compliant approach to a honeypot, the evidence accrued from third parties might then ultimately become useful and admissible in the prosecution of that third party.

    Brown, A.J. and Andel, T.R. (2019) "What"s in your honeypot: a privacy compliance perspective", Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.289–309.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2019.099443

  • "The modern contract cheating industry allows students and ghostwriters to connect to each other over the internet, often using through an essay mill, agency website or other third-party service," explains Thomas Lancaster Department of Computing, Imperial College London, UK, in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management.

    He adds that such contract cheating sees students recruiting a third party to create original work on their behalf and then submitting that work, an essay or another assignment, in order to gain the requisite academic credit. This is an ethically questionable practice that compromises the validity of any course from the lower to the upper echelons of education and makes a mockery of the value of work carried out honestly by other students.

    Little research has been done so far to learn more about the ghostwriters, where they are, and how they operate. Lancaster has now investigated the ghostwriters working in this cheating industry and specifically those working in India. His study is based on openly available data from freelancing websites that operate as so-called "essay mills". The information that can be gleaned from these sites reveals details of the projects ghostwriters have completed and the marketing techniques the ghostwriters themselves use to garner new customers for their services. Lancaster found that there are many prolific writers on one major freelancing website. These writers turn around one or more essays each day. Much of this work is entirely original and of reasonably high quality. By contrast, some of the ghostwriters provide low-quality essays with much of the content plagiarized from other sources.

    "It is hoped that understanding the ghostwriters will aid instructors in taking preventative measures against contract cheating," Lancaster explains. Indeed, he suggests that preventative approaches to avoid validating students that have used ghostwriters would be to monitor ongoing engagement with the course and other assignments and assessments. It would be relatively trivial to examine different pieces of work side by side to see whether writing style differed significantly to show that a third party may have completed an assignment. Moreover, for the lower-quality essays, there are many tools to detect plagiarized text.

    Lancaster, T. (2019) 'The emergence of academic ghost writers from India in the international contract cheating industry', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp.349–367.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICBM.2019.099281

  • Every year computer security companies share their findings regarding passwords and data breaches. Again and again, they warn computer users to use complex passwords and not to use the same passwords for different accounts. And, yet, data breaches and other sources show that too many people use the same simple passwords repeatedly and that some of those passwords are ludicrously simple, the word "password" or the number "123456" really isn't a password at all given even the least-sophisticated hacking and cracking software available to malicious third parties these days.

    Inertia is one important problem: it is difficult to get users, set in their ways, to change their old, easily remembered passwords to complex, difficult to remember codes. It is even harder to get such users to use password managers or multifactor authentication, which would add another layer of security to their logins.

    Now, writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, Jaryn Shen and Qingkai Zeng of the State Key Laboratory for Novel Software Technology, and Department of Computer Science and Technology, at Nanjing University, China, have proposed a new paradigm for password protection. Their approach addresses online and offline attacks to passwords without increasing the effort required of a user to choose and memorise their passwords.

    "Passwords are the first security barrier for online web services. As long as attackers steal and crack users' passwords, they gain and control users' personal information. It is not just an invasion of privacy. It can also lead to more serious consequences such as data damages, economic loss and criminal activities," the team writes.

    Their approach involves having a login system based on two servers instead of one. The user has a short, memorable password to access their longer, computer-generated "hashed” passwords on another server, the key to "de-hashing” those longer passwords are stored on the second server, but the actual password is stored on the user's device too and so the memorable password acts as a token for two-factor authentication. The approach means that attackers with even the most sophisticated hacking tools cannot apply an offline dictionary and brute-force attacks effectively.

    Shen, J. and Zeng, Q. (2019) 'CSPS: catchy short passwords making offline and online attacks impossible', Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.255–274.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2019.099434

  • Researchers in India are developing an "intelligent" system that can monitor energy usage of Internet of Things devices in the home and connect or disconnect them appropriately as needed. The system uses a Hall effect sensor to monitor the current flowing to a device.

    In work described in the International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, the team presents a new approach to IoT control with software and hardware. An IoT device can monitor energy levels while the intelligent system is connected via Wi-Fi to allow control from a remote site, specifically using an internet-connected smartphone. Such a system would be a boon to those with various forms of disability who might thus take back control of their home and its appliances, such as lights, fans, heaters, and other enabled devices, where before many gadgets were wholly inaccessible or required another person to be present to help.

    Experiments with the prototype circuit board offer a proof of principle where two connected devices, a standalone PC fan as a surrogate for a domestic fan and an LED as a substitute for a houselight were used in the tests.

    Nalajala, P., Godavarthi, B. and Prabhakar Reddy, G. (2019) 'An intelligent system to connect or disconnect home appliances and monitoring energy levels using IoT', Int. J. Technology Intelligence and Planning, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.209–222.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTIP.2019.099203

  • In the world of cybersecurity, just as in nature, there are predators and there is prey. The predators are the hunters, the ones that seek out the weak and the vulnerable on which to prey, that applies whether we are talking cat and mouse or hacker and computer system. Writing in the International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, a team from the USA suggests that the waxing and waning, the ebb and flow of cyber attack on the Internet of Things and other systems reflects the natural rise and fall of predator and prey numbers. When predators attack more frequently and with more sophisticated weaponry, the prey ultimately adapts to cope and so the predator must also evolve to have sharper teeth and longer claws to persist in the next round of attack and so on [...]

    Legitimate firms or hackers – who is winning the global cyber war?

News

New Editor for International Journal of Microstructure and Materials Properties

Prof. ZhengMing Sun from Southeast University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Microstructure and Materials Properties.

New Editor for International Journal of International Journal of Virtual Technology and Multimedia

Prof. Charles Xiaoxue Wang from Florida Gulf Coast University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Virtual Technology and Multimedia.

Best Reviewer Awards announced by International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology

Prof. Saeid Eslamian, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology, is pleased to announce the winners of the following Best Reviewer Awards:

2018
Prof. Bachir Achour
University of Biskra
Research Laboratory in Subterranean and Surface Hydraulics (LARHYSS)
Hydraulic and Civil Engineering Department
Algeria

2011-2017
Assistant Prof. Mohammad Javad Zareian
Ministry of Energy
Department of Water Resources Research
Tehran

New Editor for International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science

Prof. Davide La Torre from the University of Dubai in the UAE has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science. The previous Editor in Chief, Prof. Franklin Mendivil, will remain with the journal as Editor.

2018 Best Paper Award announced by International Journal of Masonry Research and Innovation

The International Journal of Masonry Research and Innovation has established an annual award for the best paper published in each respective year.

The best paper has been selected using a new formula for the 2018 competition, with the aim of increasing the involvement of the editorial board members in the procedure. An online voting system was set up, allowing each board member to express his/her vote for one paper published by IJMRI in 2018. Associate Editors and the Editor in Chief were allowed to express two and three votes respectively (or multiple votes for the same paper). The best paper was then awarded by the Editor in Chief according to the results of this online voting system. In order to avoid bias, each paper was labelled with the following alphanumeric string: 3_N_ppp, where "3" represents the volume, "N" the issue and "ppp" the page number of the first page of the paper.

For 2018, twenty papers were eligible for competing, and 32 votes (including the multiple choices of Associate Editors and the Editor in Chief) were received. The first three places were as follows:

The editors and board congratulate the authors for their significant contributions to state-of-the-art research on masonry. They should be very proud of their achievements in a very competitive pool.

The 1st place winners will receive an online subscription to IJMRI's 2018 volume and a certificate.

A sample issue collecting the papers ranked in the top three plus the following papers selected by the Editor (based also on the final ranking) is now available for the readers free of charge:

This sample issue showcases the range and quality of the content provided by the International Journal of Masonry Research and Innovation.