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  • The concept of privacy in the age of the web and social media remains high on the agenda for many people – those on the business and marketing side who would like to advertise with greater precision and those on the consumer side who would not wish for their personal information and profile to be compromised. A new survey of data privacy in the context of applications, apps, available on the Android operating system and the mobile devices it runs, such as smartphones and tablets, has now been published in the International Journal of Information Privacy, Security and Integrity.

    Dirk Pawlaszczyk of the Hochschule Mittweida – University of Applied Sciences in Mittweida, and Jannik Weber, Ralf Zimmermann and Christian Hummert of the Central Office for Information Technology in the Security Sector (ZITiS), in Munich, Germany, explain how users leave the online equivalent of a paper trail as they use different apps and websites, they share information deliberately but also unwittingly as they hop from one app or site to another.

    A naïve user perhaps imagines that the information they share is kept private among their friends and associates and obviously the app they are using at any given time. However, the apps and websites they visit are themselves often interconnected and networked together, harvesting data and information about their users and commonly sharing that information with their associated companies, usually for some kind of fee.

    The companies would have it that this data harvesting allows them to offer consumers more pertinent advertising. But, of course, users may be oblivious to this targeting and succumb to the advertising when under normal circumstances they would never see a poignant advertisement and would simply see the same as all other users.

    aThe team has now analysed the advertising networks associated with the top 100 free apps in the Google Play Store, the official source of software for use under the Android operating system. They have analysed the behaviour of the apps as well as the networking each does and to what other systems it connects. They found that the top apps all have direct connections to multiple advertising networks, up to fourteen in one instance.

    There are many rules and regulations regarding advertising and in some parts of the world transparency for the user is paramount. Consent is needed in advance before such advertising network activity can be carried out under French law, for instance. Moreover, the European Union put in place General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws which apply to everyone dealing with EU citizens' data. However, users like their apps and often accept "terms & conditions" without reading them thoroughly or worrying about the implications of giving consent to apps and the third parties with which those apps are associated.

    The compromising of privacy by apps is a global problem. Rules and regulations are in place but the companies and their connections are not entirely transparent. Indeed, some are wholly opaque. The implications for the protection of individual users in the face of such opacity are enormous and there is a pressing need for revision in the way apps are allowed to function and what information they are allowed to access and assimilate from their users. The team points out that apps and their associates can gather all kinds of normally private information about a given device and its use and so discern a "fingerprint" for that device. Given that users commonly must login to various apps to make full use of them and also store personal details such as home and work address, contacts etc etc, it is no huge leap from that fingerprint being associated with an individual and thus the inescapable compromise of their privacy.

    Pawlaszczyk, D., Weber, J., Zimmermann, R. and Hummert, C. (2020) 'Android apps and advertising networks – a survey on data privacy', Int. J. Information Privacy, Security and Integrity, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.261–275.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIPSI.2020.115509

  • Crowdfunding has proven a useful way to gather funds for charitable and activist causes, to help launch a product or book, and even to provide financial backing for individuals or groups in all kinds of endeavours. The concept involves calling on other people to make a donation to the worthy cause, promotion is usually done through a website, social media, email, and other communication routes, but might well also involve more traditional approaches such as posters, billboards, and conventional media advertising.

    Writing in the International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Socrates Shahrour and M.H. Uma of the CMS Business School at the Jain (Deemed-to-be) University in Bangalore, discuss the notion of crowdfunding in the context of start-up companies in India. The team points out that start-up companies make an important contribution to the economy as well as offering new opportunities for employment. Moreover, as the company grows so too should its contribution to the economy and its role as an employer.

    By the very nature of a start-up company, it is at its beginnings and all such fledgling companies need capital investment of some sort. Traditionally, this might come through a bank loan or investment from individuals or even other companies. However, without a proven track record, it is often difficult for an entrepreneur to garner the funds to lift their business plan from the word processor and into the real world of developing and offering a product or providing a service.

    Crowdfunding is an alternative approach where a multitude of small financial contributions, microfinance, accumulate sufficiently to allow the entrepreneur to make this leap. In return, those who provide the microfinancing will earn some kind of reward, perhaps something small like the kudos of being recognised officially as an early backer or something substantial like an early offering of the product or service for free or at a discount commensurate with their initial financial contribution.

    Microfinance was recognised as long ago as the 1970s if not earlier but in the age of social media it becomes possible for an entrepreneur to reach and so recruit backers in far greater numbers and much faster than was plausible in the world of pen and paper rather than smartphones. Indeed, with a bigger crowdfunding audience, the contribution an individual needs to make to the start-up project can be much smaller than would be required from a smaller niche of backers or investors.

    The team has reviewed the concept of crowdfunding in India and the legality of different approaches. They find that in the context of start-ups in India, the notion of peer-to-peer (P2P) microfinancing is more appropriate where other small companies help the start-ups and pay it forward as they develop. The rationale for this is that crowdfunding for donations in exchange for rewards does not fit well with the current legal framework in India.

    Shahrour, S. and Uma, M.H. (2020) 'Crowdfunding and start-ups: an Indian context', Int. J. Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp.335–343.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSEI.2020.115521

  • Instagram is one of the most popular photo-sharing apps available to users the world over. It allows users to upload photos taken on their phones or indeed their digital camera and to apply various filters to "improve" the look of the photo as well as giving them space to add a description. People who follow a given user can "like" the photos or add comments. Other users may well see the photos if one's account is set to public through the app's search feature, via hashtags associated with a given photo or when a third party comments or shares a photo. The site was launched in October 2010 and was acquired by social media site Facebook in April 2012. It is estimated that more than a billion people use Instagram.

    Researchers in Indonesia were aware that the most active age group on the app are the 18- to 34-year-olds. Moreover, the new users coming to this online realm tend to be teenagers. Writing in the International Journal of Business Information Systems, the team explains how they have analysed Instagram activity and modeled the results to ascertain what broad topic areas are most commonly used on the app by teenage users. They looked at almost active 500 accounts over a three-and-a-half-year period and found that two main categories stuck out in the analysis – school and relationships, with the latter, relationships, being by far the predominant topic.

    Earlier research in Indonesia has shown that despite popular opinion, teenagers generally make use of social media apps, such as Instagram, in a relatively sensible way and that internet use, in general, does not lead to lower educational grades. However, there remains a need to understand the way in which the youth utilize the various apps available on their mobile phones and other devices. Critical to growth and good mental health may well be a clearer understanding among educators, parents and guardians, policymakers, and the social media companies and their app designers.

    Rakhmawati, N.A., Valianta, T., Hafidz, I., Pratama, A., Ridwandono, D. and Annisa, L. (2021) 'What is inside the mind of teenagers on Instagram?', Int. J. Business Information Systems, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp.224–235.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2021.115364

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) has been much flaunted as the future of sensors and controllers allowing remote access to environmental and other information and facilitating feedback systems that would otherwise require human intervention. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote sensing and remote control of equipment has become increasingly important.

    IoT devices already allow many tasks to be carried out in a wide variety of realms across industry, medicine, agriculture, environmental protection and much more. The emergence of a lethal, infectious disease that requires social distancing and increasing pressure on workers to work from home means that the IoT has an increasingly important role to play that will allow normality to continue for many systems and processes without people needing to be in the field, as it were.

    Given that scientists are predicting that future pandemics may well be worse still in a world of drastic climate change and the problems that brings, the IoT could be set to become the new-normal that allows life to go on despite these problems. We might even be able to position ourselves using the IoT to pre-empt the issues that will inevitably arise in the next pandemic and as climate change leads to great unpredictability in weather patterns, sea levels, and other problems.

    Anto Merline Manoharan of Anna University, in Chennai and M.G. Sumithra of the KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, discuss an IoT technology inextricably linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the team describes secure IoT integrated with a wireless sensor network more monitoring the health condition of an infected patient. Writing in the International Journal of Sensor Networks, the team also explains their novel encryption system to ensure patient privacy. Currently, the encryption protocol is implemented on the server, the next step will be to port that software to the IoT devices and the wireless network itself, the team adds.

    Manoharan, A.M. and Sumithra, M.G. (2021) 'Secure data communication IoT and wireless sensor network for COVID-19', Int. J. Sensor Networks, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp.11–24.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSNET.2021.115444

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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."

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

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

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

New Editor for International Journal of Applied Nonlinear Science

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