Research news

Science, philosophy, and religion all attempt to distill the essence of reality, the essence of being – albeit from very different points of departure. Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, Austrian scientist Franz Moser presents a foresight paper that looks at humanity's path from ignorance to knowledge and how ego structures have evolved into truth. Moser points out how our history is littered with war, misery, and suffering, yet none of our philosophical meanderings of whatever kinds have reconciled us. None has yet pulled us out of the paradigm that leads to that state of being to give us a new holistic paradigm.

"The present world view, the k0ktonian paradigm, confronts us with a divided world of contradictions, antagonism, and egotism," writes Moser. This arises from the basic human delusion of dualism wherein we imagine mind and matter to be separate rather than our minds, our consciousness, emerging from the electrochemistry of our brains. "Ego illusions prevail and dominate man's behaviour towards his fellow man and towards himself," adds Moser.

Our modern scientific understanding and our spiritual lives also thus exist in a dualistic place. The next evolutionary steps in the wellbeing of humanity must find a holistic approach that allows what one might have thought of as the heart and mind to become one and to guide us forward to a better world where misery, suffering, and war are greatly reduced if not entirely precluded from the human condition. The current philosophical paradigms cannot correct this dualistic world view at any level.

Ultimately, once we cast off the dualism, humanity can move from a place of ignorance, scarcity, and fear to knowledge and truth.

Moser, F. (2020) "Mankind's path from ignorance to knowledge – from ego structures to truth: a foresight", Int. J. Foresight and Innovation Policy, Vol. 14, Nos. 2/3/4, pp.264-274.

The way in which strawberry plants propagate has been modelled mathematically and used to develop an algorithm that can help solve complicated problems. Writing in the International Journal of Innovative Computing and Applications, a team from Algeria has shown how such a plant propagation algorithm can be used to decide on an efficient nursing roster in a hospital.

Salim Haddadi of LabSTIC at the 8 Mai 1945 University in Guelma, explains that the nurse rostering problem is a combinatorial optimisation problem that has to be solved in every healthcare institution. It is a computationally hard problem with huge numbers of possible solutions and so requires a sophisticated approach that can find the optimal solutions from that huge number. There are many additional constraints on the solutions that might be tenable in a healthcare environment because nurses with different skills are needed at different times. There are also many regulations that must be complied with in the healthcare setting. Such constraints make solving the problem even tougher than a roster for shop assistants would be, for instance.

Plants have evolved many different propagation strategies. The most obvious is sexual reproduction which produces seeds that are dispersed by various mechanisms and grow into new plants. However, some plants, such as the strawberry plant can produce runners that branch from the main plant and generate new plants asexually with roots implanted from those new buds along the branches. The way in which strawberry plants project these runners and the positions of the new asexual offspring along the runners is determined by the plant's sensing of sunlight, moisture levels, and nutrient concentrations. If conditions are inadequate when shorter runners are sent out, the parent plant will allow the runners to grow longer before a new plant bud forms to set roots. The algorithm models this process as a proxy for positioning nursing staff in the roster.

Haddadi, S. (2020) 'Plant propagation algorithm for nurse rostering', Int. J. Innovative Computing and Applications, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.204–215.

Fake news is another level of media manipulation beyond propaganda and it is becoming increasingly commonplace thanks to social networking and ubiquitous connectivity. Researchers in India, writing in the International Journal of Advanced Media and Communication suggest that India needs an evolution in policy to stem the flow of fake news.

Raj Kishore Patra of the Department of Mass Communication and Media Technology at Khallikote University, in Berhampur, Odisha, and Arpita Saha of the Xavier School of Communications at Xavier University, in Bhubaneswar, suggest that the spirit and ethics of journalism are compromised by fake news and the public perception of the place of ethical journalism within the modern information sphere. The social media giants seem not to have the strength of policy to cope with fake news and the regulatory authorities too are apparently somehow debilitated by the scale of the issue. The team adds that frail and inadequate public policies cannot monitor nor counteract this progressive dysfunction within the media.

The team has examined the origins of fake news, its gradual emergence and how the advent of social media which gave everyone a place to voice their opinions in public has pushed it to such a level that even those in power not only utilize it without impunity but endlessly accuse their opponents of exploiting it to their detriment.

Fake news can confuse and dupe adults, it can lead to culture jamming, polarization of opinion, obstruction of reality, and harassment of conventional mainstream media who become perceived not only as purveyors of fake news but also being biased against those who believe the fakery and peddling lies those who believe they are beyond that confusion. The presence and spread of fake news on social media and elsewhere represent a setback to what we might otherwise perceive as human progress. In many circles, there is little desire to impose legal constraints, which might be seen as restrictions on free speech. We must hope that journalistic integrity and professional ethics will prevail and ultimately quash the voices of those peddling and echoing fake news.

Patra, R.K. and Saha, A. (2019) 'Fake news circulation on social media and the need for a policy evolution in India', Int. J. Advanced Media and Communication, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.282–308.

For people predisposed to take part in non-sexual nude activities body image, self-esteem, and life-satisfaction are improved by such participation. Now, research published in the International Journal of Happiness and Development suggests that for people who may not be predisposed to such activities, a nudity-based intervention may nevertheless lead to positive improvements in body image.

Negative body image is a mental health problem that is widespread. Surveys of thousands of people across many different countries suggest that dissatisfaction with one's own body is common across many diverse body types. This dissatisfaction can lead to deeper, problems, such as depression, substance abuse, self-harm, risky sexual behaviour, eating disorders, and suicide.

Conversely, those with a positive body appreciation, enjoy better psychological well-being in this context are often proactive in coping with personal crises and other problems, have greater optimism, and take part in safer sexual behaviour. Overall, "Body image is an important aspect of one's self-concept, and has a profound influence on both self-esteem," writes researcher Keon West of the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

West emphasizes how a person's body image can profoundly affect their self-esteem and life-satisfaction and if of a negative nature can be a predictor for the onset of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. West has undertaken a small-scale study to test the hypothesis and found that participants reported a positive effect of the intervention that persisted for at least a month after the four-day trial period.

"Results suggest that nudity-based interventions can meaningfully and enduringly improve body image and related outcomes, even among non-nudists," West reports. West adds that this area of research is still in its infancy and much is to be studied and understood. However, he points out that as society becomes more diverse and tolerant of different types of activity once perceived as taboo, we might find new approaches to confronting old and widespread problems, such as those that arise from negative body image.

West, K. (2020) 'A nudity-based intervention to improve body image, self-esteem, and life satisfaction', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.162–172.

With the emergence of the pandemic coronavirus and the spread of Covid-19 throughout 2020, many people who work in the service sector have been forced to work from home rather than commuting to offices. The social and economic impact of such measures, put in place to help restrict the spread of this disease, are yet to be fully understood.

Writing in the International Journal of Social and Humanistic Computing, a team from India describes the impact on the education "industry" of the work-from-home rules that have been put in place in many parts of the world. Rajwinder Kaur and Gagandeep Kaur of the University School of Business at Chandigarh University in Ghruan, Mohali, Punjab, suggest that there have been pros as well as cons for higher education in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The researchers suggest at among the benefits are a reduction in office distractions and office politics for those in the education industry. There are also the benefits of essentially zero commuting time and the ability to schedule work more efficiently. Of course, such benefits have been well-known for many years among those who previously worked from home. Conversely, the delivery of lectures, tutorials, and assessment via online tools while also having benefits means that students are missing out on direct contact and conversation with their educators. There are many barriers to having students take examinations throughout and at the end of a course because of physical (also known as social) distancing measures.

This is the first time that educators have been forced to handle their students in this way and they are only now beginning to face the challenges and recognise some of the benefits. Whether or not we see an end to the Covid-19 pandemic is a moot point, but the "new-normal" must take education into account to ensure a positive future for learners.

Kaur, R. and Kaur, G. (2020) 'A study on work from home in education industry due to COVID-19', Int. J. Social and Humanistic Computing, Vol. 3, Nos. 3/4, pp.339–358.

Researchers have demonstrated that there is very little, if any, servitisation in the UK and Ireland publishing industry. They present their results in the International Journal of Business Environment.

Alexander Kharlamov and Glenn Parry of the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of the West of England (UEW) Frenchay Campus, in Bristol, UK, explain how "servitisation is a strategic transition of firms towards the creation of additional value through services." They have used a data-driven approach to investigate the activities of publishing companies as revealed by the descriptions those companies use to represent themselves. "If there is a trend of traditional publishing firms adopting servitisation strategies, this should emerge from textual analysis of company descriptors," the team suggests.

Despite the apparent servitisation of other commercial endeavours, it seems that there is no significant evidence of strategic diversity in publishing, the team found. An alternative explanation might be that the publicly available dataset is not representative of corporate strategy in the publishing industry but one might assume that for an industry the stock in trade of which is sharing information that this explanation is unlikely.

A critical point that emerges from the research independent of the subject or its research conclusions is that it demonstrates how unsupervised clustering can be used to detect naturally occurring groups in large datasets without the need for prescribing categories of companies. This allows an analysis to be undertaking without introducing bias that would result from anticipating the conclusions that might emerge from said analysis.

Kharlamov, A.A. and Parry, G. (2020) 'Limited evidence for servitisation in UK publishing: an empirical analysis', Int. J. Business Environment, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.336–346.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to significant disturbances to motor control resulting in involuntary tremor, shuffling gait, muscular rigidity, and other problems. The disease also leads to cognitive decline and a reduction in the patient's ability to understand facial expressions and other people's emotions from their faces. Work published in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, has used bioinformatics to examine this change in this ultimately fatal disease.

K.N. Rejith and Kamalraj Subramaniam of the Karpagam Academy of Higher Education in Coimbatore, India, explain how electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been used in much of the work into understanding the recognition of six "standard" emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust – in Parkinson's disease.

The team points out that EEG offers a simpler alternative to more sophisticated techniques for studying the brain, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). But, despite its relative simplicity, the quantification of EEG rhythms could provide an important biomarker for several neuropsychiatric disorders. The researchers suggest that this could be critical for early diagnosis and thus intervention in such diseases allowing better disease management and treatment to be put in place at an earlier stage of the disease's progression.

Rejith, K.N. and Subramaniam, K. (2020) 'A review on emotion recognition in Parkinson's disease using bioinformatics', Int. J. Medical Engineering and Informatics, Vol. 12, No. 6, pp.542–552.

Word-of-mouth has always been a powerful mantra for marketing, whereby a positive consumer passes on their recommendation of product or service to their friends, family, and work colleagues. In the age of social networking, electronic word-of-mouth (eWoM) becomes a potentially even more powerful tool. Social media can amplify the positive message especially of those one might refer to as "influencers" people with larger than average reach and audience on the various websites and apps. Of course, the negative of the power of eWoM is the potential for negative messages to be amplified too.

Writing in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing, an international team has looked at the world of online information bombardment and how eWoM within that might affect consumer purchase intentions.

Muddasar Ghani Khwaja and Shaheed Zulfikar of the Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Saqib Mahmood and Ahmad Jusoh of the Azman Hashim International Business School at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, in Skudai, Johor, Malaysia, suggest that eWoM is a great marketing opportunity. Social media conversations can grow exponentially given how such a large proportion of the world's population now has access to always-connected devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and how so many of those people use social media and networking as well as email on a daily basis.

The team surveyed some 342 social media users with respect to their purchasing intentions and how eWoM affected their decision-making process. Statistical analysis of the responses provided a framework around which the team could build their conclusions. As one might expect the quality of information users receive had a positive effect on their perceptions of how useful that information is and whether it would influence their purchase intentions. The implication is that marketing management has to keep abreast of information that is being disseminated about their products. They must ensure that the information being shared is useful and of the highest quality to ultimately reflect a positive message through eWoM that can translate into sales.

Khwaja, M.G., Mahmood, S. and Jusoh, A. (2020) 'Online information bombardment! How does eWOM on social media lead to consumer purchase intentions?', Int. J. Grid and Utility Computing, Vol. 11, No. 6, pp.857–867.

Memories from childhood can be the most engaging when it comes to marketing. Feelings of nostalgia or of having a shared recognition for times gone by can be strong. Work published in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research, looks at twelve variables that influence memory and brand engagement and awareness in a group of men and women in the age group 21 to 45 years.

Rajagopal of the EGADE Business School at the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico City, Mexico, explains how childhood memories can affect how adults make their purchasing choices when it comes to consumer goods. The strongest effect is simply that of nostalgia, adults wishing to recapture the pleasures of their childhood, through rekindled brand loyalty.

Childhood memories are often retrieved when we are in adulthood during leisure time with family, friends, or in social gatherings. The narratives that emerge may well then influence engagement with the brands and products with which we become familiar as children and lead us to look again at those products in adulthood. The study was based on convenience brands familiar to those in Latin American markets. The research suggests that this effect is strongest in women who took part in the research survey.

If a person was not particularly familiar with a given brand in childhood, there will be only a weak nostalgia association and thus re-engaging with that brand in adulthood is less likely. However, ones where a strong memory is present and some degree of emotional attachment will necessarily lead to a stronger sense of nostalgia and a greater chance of said brand becoming familiar and cherished once more in adulthood.

Rajagopal (2020) 'Childhood memories affecting brand loyalty and consumption behaviour among adult consumers', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp.400–420.

More and more of us choose to watch television while using our smartphones and tablets. This second-screen viewing behaviour often means that viewers are less engaged with the television programming and advertising than they would have been previously because there are the endless distractions of social media, for instance, on that second screen.

This change has been partly driven by the blinkered attitude of television companies to the evolving needs of their viewers. The companies, preoccupied with piracy and surveillance concerns have attempted to control content and information and to limit interaction to their official websites and to have linear programming schedules as their output. Consumers expect more and conventional broadcasting simply does not meet the modern viewer's demands. Viewers are not sufficiently gratified by the programmed content and constantly seek alternative and parallel media consumption opportunities.

Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, researchers in Taiwan have looked at second-screen viewing behaviour in the context of engagement with the "primary screen", the television and the implications for programmers and advertisers of this increasingly prevalent behaviour.

Po-Chien Chang of the Department of Communications Management at Shih Hsin University in Taipei and Cheng-Yu Lin in the University's Department of Radio, Television and Film, explain that traditional television viewing has become a blended experience for many viewers. Some of that second-screen activity may well be related to whatever is being shown on the television at the time. For instance, people may well be discussing a live show, sporting event, or other programming on social networks while it is being broadcast. They may well be involved in gaming or other activities associated with that show. Alternatively, the second-screen activity may be entirely independent of the traditional broadcast.

"k0k features and behaviour are emerging that create challenges and opportunities for attracting advertising revenues and viewer attention in the second-screen environment," the team writes.

Based on a survey of 562 television audience participants, the team has identified four categories second-screen TV viewing behaviour: control, enrichment, sharing, and participation. From an analysis of their data, they have developed an empirical model that integrates an understanding of audience motivation, media engagement, and second-screen behaviour. From this model, they have found that mobile users who are motivated by common interests and social sharing tend to be more engaged with online activities while watching television. They also found that second screen users are often strongly immersed, if not obsessed, with their social connectivity experiences rather than any interactive features that a television program may have of its own.

Chang, P-C. and Lin, C-Y. (2020) 'The roles of motivation and media engagement in second-screen viewing experiences', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 18, No. 6, pp.619–640.

Journal news

Dr. Jian Sun from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Built Environment and Asset Management.

Prof. S.J. Jung from the University of Idaho in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Mining and Mineral Engineering.

Associate Prof. Sasha Baglay from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies.

Dr. John W. Roberts from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Nuclear Knowledge Management.

Dr. Matteo Rossi from the University of Sannio in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance.

Prof. Zafar U. Ahmed from the Academy for Global Business Advancement in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development.

Associate Prof. Andy Connor from the Aukland University of Technology in k0k Zealand has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Creative Computing.

k0kly published title: International Journal of Forensic Engineering and Management

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