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  • A lot of entirely unwarranted anti-Asian sentiment in the USA and elsewhere has emerged on social media since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had its original source in Wuhan, China, but is a global problem we all must face. Researchers from China and the USA have investigated how this xenophobia can be classified on one particularly prominent social media platform, Twitter, with a view to understanding how it might best be addressed.

    Writing in the International Journal of Society Systems Science, Peng Zhao and Xin Wang of the Big Data and AI Lab, IntelligentRabbit LLC, New Jersey and Xi Chen of the School of Humanity and Law, Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, suggest that deep learning can be used to investigate public sentiment regarding political opinion and geographical diversity.

    The team has developed a new method to classify those Twitter users posting updates with pandemic-related anti-Asian sentiment. They used a novel dataset for tracking users based on 10 million tweets. It was possible to home utilise known sentiment surrounding the US elections and geolocations. "The empirical result indicates that the political sentiments and the county-level election results make significant contributions to the model building," the team writes. They trained a deep neural network (DNN) model with data from more than 190,000 Twitter users and were able to classify their Twitter activity as "hate" or "non-hate" with 61% accuracy, the team reports.

    Such a classification should be sufficient to guide other classification systems and manual intervention to determine those users expressing xenophobic sentiment. This could then be used to decide whether any given user should be liable for further investigation, suspension, or education. The team points out that anti-Asian sentiment is not confined to the Twitter platform nor is it confined to the USA, it is seen on all platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and others with comments and posts from around the world. As such, the team adds that extracting features from the other platforms – images, voices, and videos will also be helpful in providing a multidimensional understanding of anti-Asian xenophobia and hate online in the COVID-19 context at the global level.

    Zhao, P., Chen, X. and Wang, X. (2021) 'Classifying COVID-19-related hate Twitter users using deep neural networks with sentiment-based features and geopolitical factors', Int. J. Society Systems Science, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.125–139.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSS.2021.116373

  • Research published in the International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management has looked at the concept of obsolescence. A. Sánchez-Carralero and C. Armenta-Déu of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain explain how they have developed a model to simulate the obsolescence process that leads to the need to replace durable goods.

    The team shows how the benefits of replacement eventually outweigh the various costs of maintaining the original item nudging the user towards replacing the aging item. The model takes into account servicing as well as an irreparable failure that is the end-point of obsolescence in one sense.

    "Prediction of obsolescence is difficult since many factors intervene in the process," the researchers explain, "some depend not on technology or market aspects but on user perception." They add that it is possible to model the obsolescence process and predict when an item may become unusable and so need replacing using sophisticated statistical models such as Bayesian analysis. Such analyses might even be used to optimise the manufacturing process itself. Of course, in a modern, capitalist society, consumerism is key to growth and so obsolescence is necessary if a company is hoping to have repeat sales from users once they and their competitors have saturated the market.

    As such, the much-derided, and the perhaps unethical notion of "planned obsolescence" is prevalent. In this, the manufacturers design their durable goods to essentially have a lifespan limited by factors they might control rather than the lifespan being governed by the way in which a user uses the item. There is an amusing and universal tale of the broom one's grandparent used the same broom throughout their lives bought with their first home, used daily and only having had 6 replacement heads and 7 replacement shanks!

    Obsolescence is essentially entropy, the tendency of a system to move towards disorder and chaos. Understanding the obsolescence process of more sophisticated systems than a broom can help in the marketing of new products as well as perhaps allowing manufacturers and sellers to predict their future profits based on a model of obsolescence for their products and the reliability and replaceabilty of those products. Brooms wear out and have to be replaced, even Grandma will admit that.

    Sánchez-Carralero, A. and Armenta-Déu, C. (2021) 'Modelling and characterisation of the obsolescence process', Int. J. Product Lifecycle Management, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.140–158.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJPLM.2021.116208

  • There are numerous malware detection and antivirus apps for mobile devices running the Android operating system. However, a team in China introduces a new approach that can detect malicious activity at the source code level. They provide details in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security.

    Junaid Akram, Majid Mumtaz, Gul Jabeen, and Ping Luo of The Key State Laboratory of Information Security at Tsinghua University, explain how their approach is not only scalable but offers self-optimisation of the signature set as it detects malicious apps by reading their source code. The team has developed a prototype of their software, DroidMD. They have tested it against almost 30000 applications of which 3,670 are already identified as malware. It is reliable because it analyses only the code and has a high detection accuracy of 95.5%. The team points out that one of the unique characteristics of their software is that it can detect malware that is a clone or "near-miss" of known viruses and malware. Conventional antivirus and malware detection often fails to detect such malware where the software signature may well be only marginally different from the original virus.

    Given that there are millions of users downloading thousands of apps every day, it is imperative that an effective and reliable approach to controlling malware be found to slow the assimilation of devices into bot nets and other malicious networks and reduce the risk of user data and privacy being compromised by malware.

    "In our future work, we will make DroidMD more resilient for minimising the obfuscation and improving its run time. Meanwhile, we will extend it for other programming languages to detect malware or malicious code fragments from source code to overcome security threats," the team writes.

    Akram, J., Mumtaz, M., Jabeen, G. and Luo, P. (2021) 'DroidMD: an efficient and scalable Android malware detection approach at source code level', Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 15, Nos. 2/3, pp.299-321.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2021.116310

  • The industrialised world has responded in disparate ways to the emergence of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the ensuing pandemic it caused, COVID-19. Technology was repursosed to track and monitor the disease and research and development focused on the development of vaccines and investigated pharmaceutical and physical interventions to treat the disease.

    New research published in the International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development has looked at the response from a developing nation, Nigeria. This nation has, not unlike many others with fewer resources and less money to spare, not yet contributed in a significant way to R&D into the coronavirus and our response to the pandemic. Through a case study, the team has gleaned lessons that might be applied to lessen the crisis in Nigeria of the next pandemic.

    Morolake Bolaji, John O. Adeoti, and Joshua Adeyemi Afolabi of the Innovation and Technology Policy Department at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), in Ojoo, Ibadan, Nigeria, explain that Nigeria may have the capability but has remained a "laggard in R&D spending as well as R&D activities, particularly in the health sector." One might suggest that the term "developing nation" can only be applied if that country is active in the areas that lead to development.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has, the team suggests, reinforced "the imperative for Nigeria to significantly and urgently increase its R&D spending not only to combat subsequent health challenges but also to facilitate rapid structural transformation and economic development." A country that fails to rise to such crises and challenges by boosting its Sciencebase will inevitably continue to suffer the worst consequences of such a pandemic.

    The team has five recommendations. The first is that the government must increase the nation's R&D budget. Secondly, health infrastructure needs considerable improvement. The third recommendation is that public R&D needs to integrate more effectively with the private sector to improve technological results. Fourthly, the government must improve the transfer of the currently limited R&D "outputs" to the end-users. Finally, education in science and technology must be given a boost through governmental scholarships that focus on problem-solving rather than promotion.

    Bolaji, M., Adeoti, J.O. and Afolabi, J.A. (2021) 'The imperative of research and development in Nigeria: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic', Int. J. Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.168–189.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTLID.2021.116342

  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to distort our perceptions of normal as the days and weeks and months go by. The occupational welfare of those caring for the elderly in residential carehomes has been an important aspect of the new-normal as those not-for-profit organisations that offer those services must look after their carers to ensure consistent care of their customers.

    New research in the International Journal of Managerial and Financial Accounting, has looked at how we might rethink occupational welfare in the long term by adopting an organisational ethics approach.

    Giorgio Mion, Angelo Bonfanti, and Francesca Simeoni of the University of Verona, Italy, and Cristian Loza Adaui of the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, have used the Fondazione Monsignor Alessandro Marangoni as a case study to examine the ethical questions of the new-normal. This NPO organisation adopted occupational welfare policies, enabling it to manage the early COVID-19 outbreak without negative consequences, the team writes.

    The team points out that many NPOs offering care services to the elderly have suffered badly in the wake of the pandemic because their customers were particularly susceptible to infection with the causative coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the ensuing disease COVID-19, which had a high mortality rate in this cohort. This was especially so prior to the development of working vaccines and efficacious therapies for the disease. The team adds that long-term care (LTC) organisations needed to implement strategic and operational policies to safeguard the health of employees and residents, the team writes, these policies concern both healthcare and managerial/organisational aspects. This was especially true in the north of Italy where the negative impact of the unfolding pandemic in the first few weeks of 2020 was relentless.

    Many NPOs in this sector reorganised their internal spaces, adopted flexible working, as well as engaging in effective communication with stakeholders and family members, all at the same time as endeavouring to comply with new lockdown and other laws aimed at halting the spread of the disease and reducing hospitalisations and deaths.

    The team has highlighted the positive outcomes obtained by the Marangoni Foundation in its management of the pandemic emergency through the implementation of extraordinary occupational welfare policies. "The activities implemented were related to the ethical dimensions of management in terms of their effects on individuals, managers, the organisation and society," the team explains. These were "decisive for meeting the most urgent needs particularly during periods of crisis," the team adds. The researchers point out that it was the empowerment of workers that was critical for enhancing organisational performance during the pandemic especially given that safety protocols often limited some voluntary activities.

    Mion, G., Bonfanti, A., Simeoni, F. and Loza Adaui, C.R. (2021) 'Rethinking occupational welfare policies in long-term care organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic: an organisational ethics approach', Int. J. Managerial and Financial Accounting, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.48–63.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMFA.2021.116216

  • "Rhinos are a charismatic symbol of Africa's thriving wildlife," so says a team writing in the International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, "but their future is threatened."

    There is growing demand for rhino horn and thus increased poaching. The animals' plight is not helped by corruption and ineffective protection. Deirdre Dixon, Raymond Papp, Chanelle Cox, Melissa Walters, and Julia Pennington of the University of Tampa in Florida, USA, point out that thousands of these magnificent beasts are killed simply for their horn every year. Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa are at the forefront of the problem, but scant attention is paid to understanding the position and viewpoint of the local people.

    In order to investigate the issues from an ethical stance, the team has conducted qualitative interviews with local ranchers, conservationists, and the general population, and used analytical tools to extract meaning from their data. As they offer in the title of their paper the ethical issues are not "black and white".

    The poachers are at odds with the rangers and conservationists, the locals are often at odds with the wildlife itself. The conservationists vehemently disagree with any rhino hunting and want to secure the future of the species. Others are less concerned with such matters and more concerned with their own life and livelihoods.

    "Given the different stakeholder vantage points, it is difficult to find common ground and unanimously agree upon one solution for the rhino crisis. However, we can apply ethical frames to foster understanding of each stakeholder group and use these vantage points to explore a combination of solutions," the team writes.

    The team offers a range of further discussion points and frames questions that might improve education and understanding in and around this sensitive subject.

    Dixon, D., Papp, R., Cox, C., Walters, L.M. and Pennington, J.R. (2021) 'Ethical leadership is not black and white: a case study on stakeholders and African rhino conservation', Int. J. Teaching and Case Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.176–188.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTCS.2021.116145

  • Many of the effects of national lockdowns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be enduring across society. Work published in the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology looks at one aspect of those effects and their impact on a vast and important industry, tourism.

    Raoni Borges Barbosa and Jean Henrique Costa of the State University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, Bintang Handayani of the University of Malasia Kelatan, Malaysia, and Maximiliano Korstanje of the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, pose some central questions regarding our sense of the "new normal" with regard to measures such as social distancing and how it affects human relation and activities. They also consider the domestication and perhaps trivialisation of death as the pandemic continues.

    "In the pre-pandemic world, tourists were valorised as ambassadors of the civilised order, but now they appear to be demonised as potential carriers of a lethal disease," the team writes. They liken the perception of disease-carrying tourists to our perception of the terrorist threat where life for many is lived in fear of threats that may well be hiding in plain sight. The team adds that the unparalleled effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the closure of borders, travellers stranded for months away from home, geopolitical conflict between nations, as well as a rising chauvinist and separatist world view that demonises the once positive notion of the so-called global village. Moreover, they suggest, "The new normal symbolically equates to the banality of life and the normalisation of death."

    One day this pandemic will pass into history as all previous pandemics have done, our descendants may, to paraphrase poet Neil Peart, "read of us with sadness for the seeds that we let grow".

    Barbosa, R.B., Costa, J.H., Handayani, B. and Korstanje, M.E. (2021) 'The effects of COVID-19 in the tourist society: an anthropological insight of the trivialisation of death and life', Int. J. Tourism Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp.179–192.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2021.116094

  • Mobile devices have become a major viewing platform for movies in recent years. Indeed, for many consumers they are the main outlet for such content as traditional cinema and television become less attractive to them for a wide variety of reasons, such as cost, accessibility, and content availability.

    New research in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, looks at the various routes corporate marketing departments can take in terms of promoting movie content to mobile users. The web, social media, brand extension, electronic word of mouth, and timing and regional "windowing" strategies are all reviewed to discern what time of marketing works best in the mobile world and which approaches are likely to be less successful.

    Sang-Hyun Nam of the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, Hun Kim and Byeng-Hee Chang of Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, and Sylvia Chan-Olmsted of the University of Florida, Gainesville, USA have based the current study on movie industry data from South Korea. The team points out that this country has one of the most established mobile industries and is the first market in the world to approach mobile saturation. Other countries, one might suggest, are always playing catch-up with the technological advances taking place in South Korea. As such, understanding the successes and failures of companies there as well as consumer response and behaviour might provide a way to predict what might happen in the future elsewhere.

    The team reports that certain web content activities, brand extensions, celebrity and star power, sequels, and movie length can influence significantly the performance of a movie on mobile platforms. They also found that there were clear differences in the impact of each marketing approach depending on the specific platform used. Website content and activity continues to play an important role in the performance of movie releases on mobile platforms by providing consumers with advance information and insight regarding a given movie release.

    Social media and eWOM provide a type of peer review that engages putative consumers prior to theatrical once a movie has already created some buzz online. However, this buzz does not translate to take-up on mobile platforms in the way it once did with theatrical release of movies. It all contributes to branding for a movie's stars. Indeed, the present study has demonstrated that the most effective tools are the movies stars themselves and the existence of sequels. It is these factors that influence mobile viewers the most in whether they will watch a particular release.

    "Our results here confirm that brand extension, especially via co-branding with stars and the adoption of an established movie franchise, benefits movie marketers by positively leveraging the existing equity in affecting consumers' attitudes, quality perceptions, and purchase intentions toward the extended product," the team writes.

    Nam, S-H., Kim, H., Chang, B-H. and Chan-Olmsted, S.M. (2021) 'Marketing theatrical films for the mobile platform: the roles of web content/social media, brand extension, WOM, and windowing strategies', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.413–438.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2021.116117

  • Drivers of conditionally automated vehicles become fatigued more quickly than drivers of completely manual vehicles, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Vehicle Performance. They are investigating ways to counteract this effect and so reduce the risk of fatigued drivers being involved in a road traffic accident. One promising approach is to use olfactory stimulation, specifically exposing the driver to the odour of peppermint periodically.

    Qiuyang Tang, Gang Guo, and Mengjin Zeng of Chongqing University in Chongqing, China, have looked at how olfactory stimulation with peppermint odour affects fatigue and more critically vigilance in drivers. They looked at subjective and objective variables with a group of 34 volunteers some of whom were tested with peppermint exposure and others with simply air. They found that those drivers given a puff of peppermint odour reported a lower feeling of fatigue compared to the drivers given a puff of unscented air. Indicators of reaction time and ocular variables also supported that the drivers' vigilance increased during the peppermint stimulation but not with air exposure.

    Given the advent of self-driving and conditionally automated vehicles, it is critical that the "driver" be relieved of the main duties of operating the steering wheel, the accelerator, and brakes, under normal conditions but be present in a supervisory capacity and ready to take back control from the vehicle's computer when the automated driving system meets its system limitations or when conditions change and so to avoid a collision or other accident.

    The team points out that peppermint can be a little too pungent for some drivers and so an additional less noxious smell might be mixed with the olfactory stimulant, the team's testing roadmap includes such a modification. They also point out that stimulation with the odour of peppermint has little effect on drivers if they are not fatigued. The researchers have also focused on how one might determine whether a driving supervisor in a conditionally automated vehicle is tiring or falling asleep. As such, one day the vehicle's sensors may well be programmed to detect driver fatigue and release an appropriate stimulant at an opportune time to ensure that safety is prioritized.

    Tang, Q., Guo, G. and Zeng, M. (2021) 'The effect of peppermint odour on fatigue and vigilance in conditional automated vehicle', Int. J. Vehicle Performance, Vol. 7, Nos. 3/4, pp.266-278.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJVP.2021.116060

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked lives and wreaked havoc on economies around the world. Part of the problem has been our solution to disease. The measures, such as social, business, and educational lockdown and border controls that are aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 – have disrupted the supply of agricultural food products to markets and consumers.

    Ultimately, the ongoing pandemic is threatening food security in many parts of the world. New research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics, has looked at the problem of food security facing Southeast Asia. Fundamentally, the team of Siti Fatimahwati Pehin Dato Musa of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Khairul Hidayatullah Basir of the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali both in Brunei Darussalam, have considered how food safety and hygiene might be ensured in the pandemic and beyond. They also consider how we might evolve a sustainable approach t food security now and for the future.

    The team's basic conclusion from their review and analysis of the current literature on food security and their own work is that in order for ASEAN member states to better respond to the disruption in food supply chain "there should be encouragement towards boosting self-sufficiency in food production, adopting smart and sustainable farming methods, and closer regional cooperation." ASEAN is the Association of South East Asian Nations and members are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

    The researchers add that "Governments must think a step ahead to avoid future shocks to the system and start planning for local farmers to adopt (green) technologies to help them plant and harvest even when short-handed." This and other approaches to improving sustainability and food security will stand the region in good stead to cope when the next pandemic arises and even in the face of the potentially devastating effects of climate change and natural catastrophe.

    Many of the researchers' conclusions are focused on how South East Asian nations might respond to the current crisis, but will be equally applicable to other countries way beyond this part of the world.

    Musa, S.F.P.D. and Basir, K.H. (2021) 'Covid-19 and food security in Southeast Asia', Int. J. Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.90–110.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSAMI.2021.116071

News

Improved Clarivate Citation Reports and Impact Factors for Inderscience Journals

Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to announce that 2021's Journal Citation Reports from Clarivate Analytics have revealed advances in impact factors for many Inderscience journals, including the European Journal of Industrial Engineering, European Journal of International Management, International Journal of Bio-Inspired Computation, International Journal of Exergy, International Journal of Global Warming, International Journal of Mobile Communications, International Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology, International Journal of Shipping and Transport Logistics, International Journal of Surface Science and Engineering, International Journal of Technology Management, International Journal of Web and Grid Services, and Progress in Computational Fluid Dynamics.

The Editorial Office would like to congratulate and thank all editors, board members, authors and reviewers involved, and is pleased to see their endeavours rewarded in these latest Citation Reports.

European Journal of International Management celebrates indexing achievements

We are pleased to announce that the European Journal of International Management has recently improved its indexing scores on several fronts, with a move to Rating 2 in the Chartered ABS Academic Journals Guide, an improved Scopus CiteScore of 3.7 (from 2.7), and a Scimago H index jump to 25 (from 22). EJIM's Editor in Chief and Deputy Editor in Chief, Prof. Ilan Alon and Prof. Włodzimierz, thank their editorial staff, Senior Editors, Editorial and Review Board, reviewers and authors for helping the journal to make such excellent progress.

Inderscience board member Prof. Mohan Munasinghe wins Blue Planet Prize

Inderscience is pleased to announce that Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, an Editorial Board Member for both the International Journal of Global Environmental Issues and International Journal of Global Warming, has been awarded a 2021 Blue Planet Prize. This year marks the 30th awarding of the Blue Planet Prize, an international environmental award sponsored by the Asahi Glass Foundation, chaired by Takuya Shimamura. Every year, the Foundation selects two winners, individuals or organisations who have made significant contributions to the resolution of global environmental problems.

Prof. Munasinghe made the following statement:

"I am deeply grateful and honoured to receive the 2021 Blue Planet Prize, the premier global environmental sustainability award, symbolizing the outstanding commitment of the Asahi Glass Foundation of Japan, to a better future. I am indebted also to many who have contributed generously to my intellectual development and emotional intelligence, including teachers, mentors, colleagues, family and friends. Social ties have been invaluable to survive the pressures of COVID-19.

It is encouraging to learn that the award committee has specifically acknowledged several key concepts I developed and their practical application worldwide, during almost 5 decades, including the Sustainomics framework, sustainable development triangle (economy, environment, society), balanced inclusive green growth (BIGG), and Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs).

My research interests have evolved, from basic disciplines like engineering, physics and economics, to application sectors like energy, water, transport, ICT, and environmental resources, and finally to multidisciplinary topics like poverty, disasters, climate change and sustainable development. This eclectic experience helped me develop Sustainomics, as an integrative, trans-disciplinary methodology. Drawing on my past work and the global platform provided by the prestigious Blue Planet Prize, I will continue my modest efforts to make our planet more sustainable for all."

Inderscience's Editorial Office sends its sincere congratulations to Prof. Munasinghe for this outstanding and significant achievement.

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."