2019 Research news

What does it mean for a worker to have a "voice"? The moral and sociological implications are more far complicated than a cursory listen to employee voice…or silence…might at first suggest. The employee voice might influence suggestion-box systems, grievance systems, dispute reporting and resolution, whistle-blowing, issue selling, upward influence with management, voice through collective representation, also known as unionisation, employee participation, and employee involvement in the management or company development.

Now, a US team has used advanced bibliometric mapping tools to plot the sciencebase of the voice and silence literature. "Our findings indicate that employee silence and employee voice are terms that are largely claimed by the organisational behaviour (OB) and human resource management (HRM) literature," the team reports in the International Journal of Bibliometrics in Business and Management.

Debra Casey of Temple University, Philadelphia and Steven McMillan of Penn State University, Abington, both in Pennsylvania, USA, explain how they examined 376 articles, notes, and book chapters from the Web of Science (WoS) system. Importantly, from the perspective of reviewing the literature in this area and understanding the sociological and political implications, they found that the terms are defined much more narrowly in this part of the literature than they are in the industrial relations or employment relations disciplines, where one might imagine a clearer definition of the terms might be even more important.

"One of the benefits of using bibliometric techniques is that they provide a quantitative analysis that many times confirms what the astute researcher already knows," the team reports. "We hope that by further exploring and clarifying this important area of scholarship, both seasoned scholars and those new to this area will have a better appreciation of their own 'invisible college' and how to make good use of it," they add.

Casey, D.L. and McMillan, G.S. (2019) 'Employee voice and silence: a bibliometric analysis of the literature', Int. J. Bibliometrics in Business and Management, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.251-266.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBBM.2019.097729

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been widely adopted by higher education institutions for teaching more widely on-campus courses. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a team from Hong Kong explain how they have carried out case studies and examined best practice for running a MOOC.

Kam Cheong Li and Billy Tak-Ming Wong of The Open University of Hong Kong, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, demonstrated three principles that can help with the development and ongoing maintenance of MOOCs. First, the division of labour in the implementation of a MOOC is important. Secondly, technology must be used effectively. Finally, a MOOC must be adaptable so that a course might be redesigned based on teacher and learner experience with the MOOC. They point out that there are many diverse ways in which MOOCs have been implemented on-campus, specifically.

MOOCs allow huge numbers of students to participate in a course at the same time in far greater numbers than is possible with a conventional on-campus lecture and tutorial approach to teaching. It has also been demonstrated in the past that MOOCs can be used to improve accessibility, equity and inclusiveness of education given that many people might be excludes from a conventional course for any number of reasons depending on personal circumstances and geopolitics of a particular campus.

"Following the trend of adopting online technology for teaching in higher educational institutions, this study illustrates how 'online technology can be used to deliver hybrid courses with reduced class time without compromising student outcomes'," the team concludes.

Li, K.C. and Wong, B.T-M. (2019) 'Advancing teaching with massive open online courses: a review of case studies', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp.141-155.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2019.097660

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects communication, social skills and other behaviours. Characteristic of some cases in both children and adults is repetitive movements or unusual behaviour - stereotyped movements.

A research team from France and Morocco describe in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, an automated detection system for diagnosing stereotyped movements that uses the motion detector system of the "Kinect" video game. The Kinect system is based on a webcam type peripheral computer device that allows the player to control the computer through movements and gestures (as well as spoken commands via a microphone input). The Kinect was originally an add-on for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console.

The team of Maha Jazouli of Sidi Mohamed Benabdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, and colleagues have used a $P Point-Cloud Recogniser to identify multi-stroke gestures as point clouds as recorded by the webcam component of the Kinect and its processing system for gesture and movement determination. Their new methodology can automatically detect five stereotypical motor movements: body rocking, hand flapping, finger flapping, hand on the face, and hands behind back.

The researchers report that for many people with ASD tested using this system, satisfactory results were obtained in identifying stereotyped movements. They suggest that the system might be used in a clinical setting or in the home as a temporary smart surveillance system to augment early diagnosis of ASD by expert clinicians.

Jazouli, M., Majda, A., Merad, D., Aalouane, R. and Zarghili, A. (2019) 'Automatic detection of stereotyped movements in autistic children using the Kinect sensor', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp.201-220.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2019.097621

Extracting relevant information from the scientific literature about side effects and adverse drug reactions to pharmaceutical products is an important part of data mining in this area. Writing in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, a team from China has developed a new search strategy that offers the optimal trade-off between retrieving pertinent abstracts and coping with the vast amounts of information available.

The team's "corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies" of side effect and ADRs could be, they suggest, an important tool in a thriving area of pharmaceutical research and development – drug repurposing.

Alex Chengyu Fang of the Department of Linguistics and Translation, at City University of Hong Kong, Yemao Liu, Yaping Lu, and Jingbo Xia of the College of Informatics at Huazhong Agricultural University, Jing Cao of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China, describe their approach as offering a useful compromise between the relevance of the content retrieved given a large body of work. The terms "side effects" and "adverse drug reactions" are commonly used interchangeably and the latter might in some sense be considered a euphemism of the former term used by members of the public.

Indeed, side effects and ADRs are synonyms. The two, of course, have many hyponyms, terms that are essentially related to examples of both side effects and ADRs, which by definition are the hypernyms to those hyponyms. These terms too must be retrievable by any data mining algorithm that analyses a body of work and is intent on seeking relevant abstracts discussing the "hypernyms. Phrases such as "adverse drug event", "drug toxicity", "undesirable effects", and others all fall into the same clade and so must be involved in the retrieval.

Fang, A.C., Liu, Y., Lu, Y., Cao, J. and Xia, J. (2018) 'A corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies of side effect and adverse reaction in support of text retrieval for drug repurposing', Int. J. Data Mining and Bioinformatics, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp.269–286.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDMB.2018.097684

Rice straw is the waste product of growing rice. Normally, it is simply burned adding sooty pollution to the local air and nudging up atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. What if there were a better alternative to simply burning this material? Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management a team from India offer an alternative. Pardeep Aggarwal and Anu Prashaant of Amity University in Gautam Budh Nagar, India, suggest that rice straw could instead be utilized for power generation or bioethanol production.

Unfortunately, the team explains, some farmers believe that rice straw open burning can remove weeds, control diseases and release nutrients for the next crop. There is little evidence that rice straw burning does anything but pollute. Rice straw length, low elevation land, and even the great distance from farmhouse to farmland are additional factors that influence the field burning of rice straw. Rice straw cannot be used as cattle feed either and there is very little time between successive crops to do much with the fields other than eradicating the stubble.

In order to make the alternative proposition viable both commercially and logistically, they explain that there is a need for a sustainable supply chain management of rice straw. At the moment, there is but a single 12-megawatt power plant that uses 100% rice straw as its fuel, one million tonnes annually, but that is a fraction of the tonnage of this agricultural waste product. The team points out that the numbers of rice straw power plants in China too is low and actually falling. However, the environmental and economic benefits of utilizing a ubiquitous waste product could make power production and bioethanol production tenable given the right geopolitical conditions.

The team concludes from the study that "only when such infrastructure with proactive planning is available, a secured supply of rice straw can be maintained for continuous year-long operations of a power plant."

Aggarwal, P. and Prashaant, A. (2019) 'Economic utilisation of rice straw – an effort for preventing social hazard', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.97-112.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2019.097606

Spirituality is good for the bottom line, according to research from India. Writing in the International Journal of Business Excellence, researchers from Anna University, in Chennai explain how spiritual theories in India are based on the principle of unanimity, integrating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of people through dharma (righteousness). They point out that the Bhagavad Gita highlights the practice of spirituality and ethics in the workplace. In their paper, they review twenty years of research into the spiritual aspects of business practice in this context and define workplace spirituality from a new perspective. They also delineate its dimensions as a persistent positive state of work environment that promotes spiritual awakening and enhances business ethics.

The team suggests that there is a need for a new wave of spirituality in business suggesting that workers must carry out their tasks not only with their brain and limbs but also with heart and spirit. They add that "Western" thought has often been concerned with spirituality and finding links to "Eastern" philosophy. "Workplace spirituality is applicable to practically every organization," they suggest, in the West or the East.

The team has extended the theory of the positive relationship between workplace spirituality and business ethics. Indeed, they suggest that supporting and nurturing spiritual practices in an organisation can maximize the “triple bottom line": people, profit, and planet.

Srilalitha, R. and Supriya, M.V. (2019) 'Workplace spirituality: insights from the Bhagavad Gita', Int. J. Business Excellence, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.210–229.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBEX.2019.097544

Electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming more and more prevalent. There is thus an increased risk of data leaks, breaches or other ways in which personal and private medical information might be compromised. As such, a team from India has now described an efficient two-stage encryption for securing personal health records stored "in the cloud".

KrishnaKeerthi Chennam and Lakshmi Muddana of Gitam University, in Hyderabad, explain how accessibility to remote servers for the storage of huge amounts of data – the storage aspect of cloud – computing is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to on-site data storage. Given the vast amounts of medical information stored in patient records, this is a useful alternative for any healthcare facility. The cloud approach also means that patient EHRs are more readily available to a healthcare worker regardless of their location, whether with the patient in their home, at the doctor's surgery, in hospital, in an ambulance en route to another site, or perhaps even at the scene of an accident.

Regardless there is a critical need for EHRs to be safe from the prying eyes of third parties whether simply other members of the public, unconnected health workers or those with malicious intent. The team explains how their approach uses a hierarchical clustering algorithm that determines the different user roles associated with the EHRs. Once clustering is done twofish-based encryption algorithm is used to lock down the data. The team's novel approach to encryption has lower encryption and decryption times than other approaches.

Chennam, K. and Muddana, L. (2018) 'An efficient two stage encryption for securing personal health records in cloud computing', Int. J. Services Operations and Informatics, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.277–296.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSOI.2018.097487

Bullying is as old as humanity, but in today"s world of ubiquitous and always-connected devices, there is a whole realm of bullying that can take place out of sight but be just as devastating to its victims – cyberbullying. Detecting and so having the opportunity to prevent cyberbullying in open online forums and social networking sites, for instance, requires technology that can automatically detect trollish and thuggish behaviour. Once detected, the problems that victims face might be addressed but more importantly, the cyberbullies might be shut down or otherwise punished.

Writing in the International Journal of Autonomic Computing, a team from India reveals their algorithm which detects and weighs the words in forums and calculates whether or not particular clusters of words are associated with cyberbullying behaviour.

The team explains the problem and why it matters so much: "Cyberbullying has emerged as a major problem along with the recent development of online communication and social media. Cyberbullying has also been extensively recognised as a serious national health problem, in which victims demonstrate a significantly high risk of suicidal ideation," they write. They add that "This proposed framework shows better results while the action is to stop the online users becoming the victims of cyberbully."

Sheeba, J.I., Devaneyan, S.P. and Tata, P. (2018) "Improved cyberbully detection techniques using multiple correlation coefficient from forum corpus", Int. J. Autonomic Computing, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.152–171.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAC.2018.097620

The presence of tiny deposits of calcified tissue in the breast remains an important indicator of early breast cancer. However, the standard diagnostic, the X-ray mammogram, cannot always distinguish between benign tissue artifacts and such microcalcifications because there is a great diversity in the shape, size, and distributions of these deposits. Moreover, there is only very the low contrast between malignant, cancerous areas and the surrounding bright structures in the mammogram.

Writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, a team from Algeria explain how they have devised an effective approach based on mathematical morphology for detection of microcalcifications in digitized mammograms. The approach first extracts the breast area from the image, removes unwanted artifacts and then boosts contrast and eliminates noise from the image.

The team has now tested their approach on 22 mammograms with a known outcome. They successfully compared the "diagnoses" they obtained with their technology with a radiological expert manual examination of the mammograms. The team says that their approach is quick and very effective, especially in terms of sensitivity. They suggest that a digital analysis of this sort could be used to complement conventional examination of mammograms by a radiologist and perhaps help to reduce the number of false positives and false negatives that occur with X-ray mammography.

Hadjidj, I., Feroui, A., Belgherbi, A. and Bessaid, A. (2019) 'Microcalcifications segmentation from mammograms for breast cancer detection', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp.1–16.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIJBET.2019.096877

The question of how much energy a virus needs to replicate in its host translates into how likely a single infection is to become an epidemic. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, Sevgi Eylül Ferahcan, Ayse Selcen Semerciöz, and Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering, at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how poliovirus is an RNA virus which proliferates in the host's intestines ultimately leading to a crippling disease.

Despite its apparent eradication through extensive worldwide vaccination, there have been major polio epidemics in modern times. In 1988, 350,000 cases were reported. The team has calculated mass, energy, and exergy balances to show that the energy and exergy leeched from a host cell by a single virus are 4.65 × 10-19 and 3.35 × 10–17 kilojoules, respectively. During the 1988 epidemic, a total of 1.627 × 10–9 kJ of energy and 1.174 × 10–7 kJ of exergy was exploited by the multitude of viruses in infecting more than a third of a million people. The energy and exergy are used in the biochemical machinations of replicating the virus and its RNA by exploiting the molecular machinery of the host cells.

These are small numbers in terms of energy and exergy, as such the team argues that it is the almost vanishingly small figures that facilitate the spread of the virus to epidemic levels so readily. It almost makes the disease "going viral" inevitable, the team suggests. As such, it serves as a cautionary tale that we must be ever vigilant as old and new viral diseases emerge or pay the toll in the huge numbers of people that might be afflicted during an epidemic.

Ferahcan, S.E., Semerciöz, A.S. and Özilgen, M. (2019) 'Extremely small energy requirement by poliovirus to proliferate itself is the key to an outbreak of an epidemic', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp.1–28.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEX.2019.097269

Social media has become a useful tool for the rapid dissemination of information. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, a UK team describes their investigations into whether or not the likes of Twitter can be integrated effectively into emergency management.

Sophie Parsons and Mark Weal of the Web and Internet Science Group, at the University of Southampton, Nathaniel O'Grady of the Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, at the University of Manchester, and Peter Atkinson of the University of Lancaster explain that at the moment integration remains ambiguous. The team has used the winter floods of 2013-2014 as a case study to reveal the pros and cons of social media in this context.

The team found that emergency responders were wont to post cautions and advice during an emergency. However, it seems from their results that information about structures and utilities affected by any given incident would be most likely to engage and be of use to the public. Moreover, the team found that responders do perceive social media as a useful tool for them to effectively deliver information to the public. However, while that might be the case, responders did not appear to fully exploit it in the emergency studied.

The team concedes that before they can say whether or not social media is an effective tool for emergency management, there remain several questions about how it might fulfill a useful role for emergency responders and the public that rely on them during an incident. Uppermost among those questions are: Who are the responders' followers on social media? Are the responders actually reaching the public in emergency situations? Do the public find the responders' social media activity useful in an emergency? What do the emergency responders actually gain by having a social media presence? If future research can answer these questions then we might be in a position to make the most of social media in the event of an emergency.

Parsons, S., Weal, M., O'Grady, N. and Atkinson, P.M. (2018) 'Social media in emergency management: exploring Twitter use by emergency responders in the UK', Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.322–343.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2018.097360

"The digital divide is the gap between those who are digitally literate and those who are not, between those who do and do not have access to digital environments." So begins a paper in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning from Gila Cohen Zilka of the Department for Teaching Social Science and Communication, at Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel. She has now investigated the implications of the digital divide for the "online" safety of children and adolescents.

Cohen Zilka studied three hundred forty-five Israeli children and adolescents who participated in her mixed-method study. Fundamentally, the research found that youngsters who have digital equipment at home displayed higher eSafety skills and computer literacy than did children who have no digital equipment or those who have only a few such devices, as one might perhaps expect. A lack of access to information and communications technology (ICT) results in a lack of or limited skills in this critical area of modern life. One result is that those youngsters on the wrong side of the digital divide are at greater risk of cyberbullying and other problems, online hazards and the problem of predatory adults, than the more computer literate with better access to ICT at home.

She concludes on the basis of her research, that it would be desirable for children and adolescents who are part of a disadvantaged population in terms of access to ICT to be encouraged and educated and given greater access to computer time and eSafety skills in school or in public digital environments. The work corroborates the earlier research of others that those youngsters that are especially vulnerable to internet risks are often those whose families have financial difficulties, are part of a minority or immigrant group, are in poverty, have disabilities, or have simply moved from one educational setting to another.

Zilka, G.C. (2019) 'The digital divide: implications for the eSafety of children and adolescents', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.20–35.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2019.096736

After the Second World War of 1939-1945, Western democracies had attempted to reconcile their criminal law in democratic, "republican" terms aimed at the citizen. However, in the last two decades, new criminal law has been written that pertains not to the citizen, but to the foreigner. Writing in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, Alessandro Spena of the Department of Law, at the University of Palermo, Italy, discusses these new laws. The research focuses on how these new laws essentially treat foreigners as inferior to the citizen and proffer fewer human rights on those individuals when compared to the natives of a given nation.

Spena describes the ephemeral, and yet legally consequential notion of good and bad citizens, good and bad foreigners and 'ugly' mass-foreigners that invokes the neologism of "crimmigration". He further explains how in contemporary criminal law, citizens have renewed importance despite the notion of globalization. Indeed, while globalization is apparent in many developed countries and those we might refer to as "developing" nations, the natural geological, geographical, and political obstacles to human mobility are becoming more apparent.

Indeed, globalization and an urge to become more cosmopolitan both have their opponents and populism and nationalism are on the rise with worries among some pundits and political observers that these are beginning to lead towards fascism in some arenas. Reaction and collective anxieties about political borders, and an "us and them" attitude that has arisen in some quarters during the last two decades are growing stronger as concerns about unfettered immigration get nudged higher up the agenda by those with their own political power agenda.

Of course, the notion of us and them is entirely artificial as is the notion of borders and national identity. Human mobility has been extant since we took our first steps from the cradle of humanity. Moreover, we are all the same within, there are good, bad, and ugly among us and our legal system recognize this and the humanity of us all whether "citizen" or "foreigner".

Spena, A. (2018) 'The good, the bad and the ugly: images of the foreigner in contemporary criminal law', Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.287–302.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2018.096752

The seminal research on the concept of product globalization was published by Levitt in 1983. And yet, business, branding, and marketing researchers are yet to settle on a clear understanding of how an international product is perceived by people from different parts of the world. A product, such as the caffeinated soft drink, Red Bull, may well be considered an international brand but how is this originally Austrian product and its associated "cartoon character", really perceived by people in France and Great Britain, for example? Researchers from Germany writing in the International Journal of Comparative Management hoped to find out.

Kerstin Bremser and Véronique Goehlich of the Department of International Business, in the Faculty of Business and Law, at Pforzheim University, Nadine Walter of the University's Department of International Marketing carried out an exploratory study. They found through their analyses of viewers' perceptions of advertisements that cultural background affects a person's feelings towards the marketing character associated with this soft drink and in addition the articulation and style of the background music are perceived in different ways by the British and French respondents to the research.

The team points out that celebrity endorsement is often a strong factor in marketing products, but in the case of Red Bull, it uses more traditional advertising, especially on television, where cartoon-like advertisements that centre on the slogan that 'Red Bull gives you wings' is the focus rather than an association with a famous person who purportedly imbibes the drink. The advertisements are standardised between nations but for the language of any narration or written word display. That said, Red Bull used Napoleon as a famous character in their advertising campaign for 2012 and there would likely be a very different perception of that between the British and the French.

However, the team found that although the perception of Napoleon is very different, the branding and sloganising of the campaign transcended these cultural differences. The same famous person can still convey the same meaning to the consumer despite their feelings, positive, negative, indifferent, to that celebrity, in this case, a controversial historical figure.

Bremser, K., Walter, N. and Goehlich, V. (2018) 'A comparative study on global commercial advertisement perceptions – British and French viewers' responses to Red Bull', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.333–354.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCM.2018.096777

Researchers in the USA have found a way to extract information from the well-known internet search engine, Google, that can be used to assist with understanding trading on the stock market. The approach follows, what the team refers to as "a long short-term memory approach".

Writing in the International Journal of Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Joseph St. Pierre, Mateusz Klimkiewicz, Adonay Resom and Nikolaos Kalampalikis of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Massachusetts, explain how they have extracted Google search indices from a Google trends tracking website. This allows them to study the putative investor interest in stocks listed on the Dow Jones index (Dow 30). Essentially, they accomplish this task by using a long short-term memory network that finds correlations between changes in the search volume for a given asset with changes in the actual trade volume for that asset.

"By using these predictions, we formulate a concise trading strategy in the hopes of being able to outperform the market and analyse the results of this new strategy by backtesting across weekly closing price data for the last six months of 2016," the team reports. In that proof of principle based on historical data they demonstrated a success rate of 43% and suggest that their algorithm would be scalable beyond the narrow scope of their study and so might be applicable to numerous other assets on the market.

The study begins by citing the received wisdom that the "market" cannot be outperformed and that any attempt to predict stock market rises and falls is effectively doomed to failure. However, given that some investors do regularly "beat" the stock market and make a profit, this conventional theory perhaps does not hold universally and there might be algorithmic methods that look at live data that might allow some investments to predictably outperform the market. They say that their 43% success rate is significant and worth exploring further.

St. Pierre, J., Klimkiewicz, M., Resom, A.and Kalampalikis, N. (2019) 'Trading the stock market using Google search volumes: a long short-term memory approach', Int. J. Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.3-18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFERM.2019.096669

Does the emergence of national democracy lead to economic wealth? Researchers in Hong Kong and the UK suggest that the face pace of change in a new democracy actually leads to detrimental effects initially to a country's macro-economy. However, if the state reaches the well-developed stage, then ultimately it will become democratised without external pressure.

Writing in the International Journal of Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Rita Yi Man Li and Edward Chi Ho Tang in the Department of Economics and Finance, at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, and Tat Ho Leung in the School of Environment, Education and Development, at the University of Manchester, UK, explain how they have carried out research on 167 countries. They used the democracy index, corruption perception index, inflation, population, number of internet users, the balance of trade, foreign direct investment, and other factors to determine democratic state and national wealth. They also included sub-indices such as the electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, culture, and civil liberties, to ensure they got a clear picture of each country's specific level of democracy.

The received wisdom always seemed to suggest that democratization leads to economic growth. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union are often cited in such discussions. But, the flip side of this is the examples of China and Singapore, which are not considered democratic nations in the "Western" sense where economic freedom and equality do not prevail. It seems apparent that an electoral system leads to the establishment and protection of personal rights and private property, which are often precluded in the non-democratic nation. However, the team has found that with the assistance of the political sector, the economic sector cannot perform at as high a level as it otherwise might and so it is demonstrable that the emergence of democracy can slow economic growth indirectly for a short period at least until it is well established and a nation "developed".

Li, R.Y.M., Tang, E.C.H. and Leung, T.H. (2019) 'Democracy and economic growth', Int. J. Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.58–80.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDATS.2019.096622

Rauno Rusko of the Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Lapland, in Rovaniemi, Finland, has studied the roots of and the features of smart specialisation associated with brand slogan management. Writing in the International Journal of Public Policy, he explains how the European Union is using the smart specialisation concept in its documents, plans, and regional fieldwork to portray itself as a growth-efficient organisation.

However, it is obvious that smart specialization is not the sole preserve of the EU. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation And Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all utilize this concept, although perhaps to a lesser degree than the EU. Moreover, within the EU itself the concept has been used with greater success in regions within the EU than the EU as a whole. Rusko suggests that the temptation exists to simply see this concept as little more than a slogan, however, its benefits and utility are apparent. Indeed, it is a process in which the EU is the rule maker and gatekeeper for funding innovations and investments in the region as a whole.

Intellectual reform intellectual was launched to achieve as wide an influence as possible and to enhance competence and to boost regional learning and research and development. Rusko has shown that "The instruments of marketing research, such as brand, slogan, brand management, and brand slogan management, provide incremental value to public management discussions, such as the smart specialisation discourse. " However, although place branding does not necessarily need sloganisation, "It is easy to understand that, if the EU is a brand, then smart specialisation is supporting this brand in a way that is typical for slogans in the business sector," Rusko adds.

Rusko, R. (2018) 'The European Union's smart specialisation launch and brand slogan management', Int. J. Public Policy, Vol. 14, Nos. 5/6, pp.320–342.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPP.2018.096665

A new research paper in the International Journal of Economics and Business Research uses log-linear models to study the correlation between happiness, employment and various demographic factors.

Sultan Kuzu of the Department of Quantitative Methods, in the School of Business, at Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey together with Sevgi Elmas-Atay and Merve Gerçek of the Department of Human Resources Management there, explain how unemployment is an important economic measurement. It is studied in the context of a nation's development as well as in a sociological context. Importantly, it is known to be closely associated with welfare, quality of life and psychological health of individuals.

The team has now looked at unemployment not as an abstract, statistical concept in the macroeconomic arena but from the personal perspective based on "micro" level data acquired from household surveys carried out by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK). Log-linear models were used to analyse the data and these showed clearly that employment is related to a person's happiness and gender and that there is a statistically significant difference between happiness and gender in a developing country such as Turkey.

Kuzu, S., Elmas-Atay, S. and Gerçek, M. (2019) 'The analysis of unemployment, happiness and demographic factors using log-linear models', Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.87–105.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEBR.2019.096588

Taiwan is one of the most important suppliers of electrical and electronic products in the world; as such it is itself also an important consumer of those products. This means that the amount of electronic waste, e-waste, generated from information technology (IT) products, home electrical appliances and lighting, is increasing rapidly there.

Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, Wen-Tien Tsai of the Graduate Institute of Bioresources, at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, in Pingtung, Taiwan, explains how he has investigated the regulatory promotion of e-waste recycling in Taiwan. He found that although the annual quantity of e-waste recycling through the implementing agencies seemed to increase more than tenfold from 7,321 tons in 2001 to 74,421 tons in 2015, there is evidence that the recycling market in Taiwan has matured in recent years partly because of the country's ageing population and slow economic growth. Tsai also highlights the case of fluorescent lighting tubes and how mercury can be successfully recovered from these at end-of-life.

He points out how the waste composition is still shifting as new products emerge in the realm of personalised medicine, electric vehicles, IT products, novel consumer electronics products, and an increased diversity of food products and home electrical appliances.

We must address these novel waste streams and find ways to recycle such goods, especially those that contain toxic materials, including mercury. Tsai adds that the improper management and disposal of waste or discarded items could lead to significant environmental harm and harm to human health. In addition, there is a need to retrieve from such goods rare elements that are of limited supply such as precious metals and mineral elements.

Tsai, W-T. (2019) 'Current practice and policy for transforming e-waste into urban mining: case study in Taiwan', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp.1-15.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2019.096540

With every news story, the concepts of data mining healthcare information move higher still up the research and policy agenda in this area. Clinical information and genetic data contained within electronic health records (EHRs) represents a major source of useful information for biomedical research but accessing it in a useful way can be difficult.

Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Hassan Mahmoud and Enas Abbas of Benha University and Ibrahim Fathy Ain Shams University, in Egypt, discuss the need for innovative and effective methods for representing this huge amount of data. They point out that there are data mining techniques as well as ontology-based techniques that can play a major role in detecting syndromes in patients efficiently and accurately. A syndrome is defined as a set of concomitant medical symptoms and indicators associated with a given disease or disorder.

The team has reviewed the state of the art and also focused on reviewing the well-known data mining techniques such as decision trees (J48), Naïve Bayes, multi-layer perceptron (MLP), and random forest (RF) techniques and compared how well they each perform in the classification of a particular syndrome, heart disease.

The team concludes that in experiments with a public data set, the RF classifier provides the best performance in terms of accuracy. In the future, they suggest that data mining will benefit healthcare and medicine significant for building a system able to detect a specific syndrome.

Mahmoud, H., Abbas, E. and Fathy, I. (2018) 'Data mining and ontology-based techniques in healthcare management', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 6, No. 6, pp.509–526.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIEI.2018.096549

Face recognition is becoming an increasingly common feature of biometric verification systems. Now, a team from India has used a multi-class support vector machine to extend the way in which such systems work to take into account a person's age. Jayant Jagtap of Symbiosis International (Deemed) University in Pune, and Manesh Kokare of the Shri Guru Gobind Singhji Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Nanded, India, explain that human age classification has remained an important barrier to the next generation of face recognition technology but could be a useful additional parameter in security and other contexts.

The team's novel two stage age classification framework based on appearance and facial skin ageing features using a multi-class support vector machine (M-SVM) can classify, the team suggests, classify images of faces into one of seven age groups. Fundamentally, the system examines characteristics of the image coincident with facial skin textural and wrinkles and is accurate 94.45% of the time. It works well despite factors such as genetics, gender, health, life-time weather conditions, working and living environment tobacco and alcohol use. Indeed, accuracy is more than 98% in the first step wherein adult and non-adult faces are distinguished.

"The proposed framework of age classification gives better performance than existing age classification systems," the team reports. They add that future research will look to improve accuracy still further for use in real-time applications. This will be done through the development of an algorithm for extracting facial skin ageing features and through the design of an efficient age classifier, the team concludes.

Jagtap, J. and Kokare, M. (2019) 'Human age classification using appearance and facial skin ageing features with multi-class support vector machine', Int. J. Biometrics, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.22-34.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBM.2019.096559

Sentiment analysis is an increasingly important part of data mining, especially in the age of social media and social networking where there is endless opinion and commentary that could be of use to a wide range of stakeholders in commerce, other businesses, and even politics.

Now, an innovative and efficient method of sentiment analysis of comments on the microblogging platform, Twitter, is reported in the International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management by a team from India. Hima Suresh of the School of Computer Sciences, at Mahatma Gandhi University, in Kottayam, Kerala and Gladston Raj. S of the Department of Computer Science, Government College, also in Kerala explain how sentiment analysis centres on analysing attitudes and opinions revealed in a data set and pertaining to a particular topic of interest. The analysis exploits machine learning approaches, lexicon-based approaches and hybrid approaches that splice both of the former.

"An efficient approach for predicting sentiments would allow us to bring out opinions from the web contents and to predict online public choices," the team suggests. They have now demonstrated a novel approach to sentiment analysis surrounding the discussion of a commercial brand on Twitter using data collected over a fourteen-month period. Their method has an unrivalled accuracy for gleaning the true opinion almost 87% of the time in their tests using a specific smart phone model as the target brand being studied. They suggest that accuracy could be improved still further by incorporating a wider lexicon that included Twitter slang, for instance.

Suresh, H. and Raj. S, G. (2019) 'An innovative and efficient method for Twitter sentiment analysis', Int. J. Data Mining, Modelling and Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.1-18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDMMM.2019.096543

Online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting could be used to combat credit card fraud according to a team from Botswana International University of Science and Technology, in Palapye, Botswana. Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Motlhaleemang Moalosi, Hlomani Hlomani, and Othusitse Phefo explain how there are numerous existing credit card fraud detection techniques employed by card issuers and other stakeholders. Nevertheless, billions of dollars are lost each year to fraudsters.

The team has now combined behaviour and fingerprinting technology to boost the efficiency and efficacy of the fusion approach using Dempster-Shafer theory and Bayesian learning for fraud detection. The approach can spot odd behaviour that is not characteristic of the legitimate user of a given credit card and so detect fraudulent activity on the account. The approach discussed in the paper is at present a theoretical treatise, the next step will be to simulate actual behaviour using synthetic data sets and then apply to a real-world scenario for testing its efficacy. So far efficacy has been demonstrated with data from devices that have already been used in known fraudulent activity.

The team suggests that their approach goes well beyond simply tweaking existing fraud-detection algorithms and could offer what they say is a ground-breaking approach that performs far better than trial and error approaches and reduces the number of false positives.

Moalosi, M., Hlomani, H. and Phefo, O.S.D. (2019) 'Combating credit card fraud with online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting', Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.46-69.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESDF.2019.096527