Research Picks Extra – April 2016

Denying the antivaxxers

New research from Japan suggests that people who are stubborn about their stance on vaccination can affect the spread of seasonal diseases such as influenza. The research shows that “good role models”, i.e. those individuals who accept that vaccination prevents disease safely and always get the appropriate vaccination must offset the “bad role models” who never do. However, both kinds of individual can affect vaccination behaviour in the population as a whole depending on what proportion of each group are present and how much the vaccination itself costs. There are, of course, good reasons to be vaccinated, this prophylactic treatment against disease is highly effect and provides so-called “herd immunity”. On the whole, there are very few and unproven side effects. A resurgence in lethal infectious diseases has, unfortunately, been seen in many parts of the world where the so-called “antivax” movement has held sway against the opinion of those “good role models”.

Fukuda, E. and Tanimoto, J. (2016) ‘Effects of stubborn decision-makers on vaccination and disease propagation in social networks’, Int. J. Automation and Logistics, Vol. 2, Nos. 1/2, pp.78–92.

 

Who is taking over the asylum?

Refoulement, a French word meaning to reject; or backwash, is a topic of hot debate in the current Australian political arena with regards to asylum seekers and other migrants. A discussion of this issue in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, is as pertinent to other regions, such as Europe that are currently facing immigration crises brought about by ongoing conflict, terrorism and dictatorial regimes elsewhere. Refoulement is the process by which a refugee is forcibly removed back to a place where they are re-exposed to the same danger from which they are trying to escape. Who is to decide what constitutes refoulement, where are the borders drawn? In his treatise, Jasper Sugars provides new insights and perhaps raises more questions around this sensitive global issue.

Sugars, J. (2015) ‘Refoulement and refugees’, Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp.343–350.

 

Making time for software development

Working collaboratively across time zone differences is an important issue for distributed software development projects, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology. They point out, in a timely manner, that time zone differences have a negative impact on real-time communications, such as instant message and video conferencing for obvious reasons given that it might be lunchtime for one member of a team but midnight for another. The researchers have now analysed statistically the impact of time zone differences on asynchronous forms of communication, such as email and text messaging, mailing lists and discussion boards and found that these two are strongly affected by time zone differences to the detriment of efficiency and efficacy in software development.

Yu, L., Guan, Z. and Ramaswamy, S. (2016) ‘The effect of time zone difference on asynchronous communications in global software development’, Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 53, No. 3, pp.213–225.

 

Regulating chlorophenols

Regulatory guidance values (RGVs) are developed by US regulators to protect human health by establishing maximum allowable contaminant concentrations, these are particularly important for residential surface soil into which the general population, and children in particular, may come into contact. A new study assesses the RGVs and their impact on chlorophenols, a class of chemicals used as pesticides, herbicides, and disinfectants with putative carcinogenicity. There is, the research shows, little agreement between US states and RGVs can vary by six to eight orders of magnitude and be essentially random! Clearly, there is little universal agreement on the appropriate maximum contamination levels for chlorophenols, a paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Engineering reports.

Hummel, M.A. and Jennings, A.A. (2015) ‘Analysis of regulatory guidance values for six commonly regulated chlorophenols’, Int. J. Environmental Engineering, Vol. 7, Nos. 3/4, pp.236–274.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.