Research Picks Extra – February 2017

Students buy counterfeit software

A survey of students in India suggests that many buy counterfeit, or pirated, computer software, do not consider their purchases unethical despite being well aware of the option to buy legitimate versions. Fundamentally, “the results suggests that factors like value consciousness, lesser knowledge of copyright laws and novelty seeking behaviour of users are key determinants for purchasing pirated software,” the team reports. Ultimately, this attitude could have a detrimental effect on company profits for the originators of such software and worse still affect their brand in a negative way of pirated software is over lower quality than the legitimate product. The team suggests that educating students early about how they are breaking the law in using pirated software will be important in reducing this form of product abuse.

Rishi, B. and Mehra, A.K. (2017) ‘Key determinants for purchasing pirated software among students‘, Int. J. Technology Marketing, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.4-22.

On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog

There is a common perception that even shy and introverted individuals are as active as their extrovert counterparts on social media. However, a study from India that investigates personality type with social media use suggests a more obvious correlation that extroverts spend more time spent on social media, share more information and activity publicly. In contrast those with so-called neuroticism show a negative correlation relationship with overall social media use. “A significant difference is found between the time spent on social media and frequency of use of social media on mobile phone for different personality categories,” the team says. There are useful implications for human resource managers in recruitment and training inasmuch as a candidate’s personality type might be betrayed by considering their social media use and this might then inform more effective decision making with better long-term outcomes for a given job.

Jain, A., Gera, N. and Ilavarasan, P.V. (2016) ‘Whether social media use differs across different personality types? Insights for managing human resources‘, Int. J. Work Organisation and Emotion, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.241-256.
Work-life balance

Researchers in India hoped to discover whether or not emotional intelligence contributes to personal contentment. As such, they have explored the association between work-life balance and job satisfaction. Their survey of 180 workers in healthcare organisations suggests that work-life balance and job satisfaction are positively correlated as one might expect. Moreover, this is mediated by emotional intelligence. “The results of the study offer possibility to develop intervention plans which includes wisdom and emotional intelligence as the principal component to increase the overall job satisfaction of employed professionals,” the team concludes.

Pradhan, R.K., Pattnaik, R. and Jena, L.K. (2016) ‘Does emotional intelligence contribute to contentment? Exploring the association between work-life balance and job satisfaction‘, Int. J. Work Organisation and Emotion, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.180-197.

Taking back control with a fuzzy cuckoo

Search optimisation inspired by nature is an important aspect of non-linear control systems. As such, a team in India has now turned to the parasitic bird, the cuckoo, which lays its eggs in the nests of other avian species. The chicks then out-compete the natural chicks of those birds, taking all their nest space and food and thriving to become the next generation to the detriment of the natural offspring, which usually die before reaching adulthood. The way in which cuckoos search for appropriate nests is embedded in a novel algorithm that can quickly seek out solutions to a problem. The team has validated their approach with an experimental setup of a food industry process using a conical tank to determine optimal liquid discharge rate for a given set of parameters.

Kumar, P., Nema, S. and Padhy, P.K. (2017) ‘Fuzzy-cuckoo controller for nonlinear system‘, Int. J. Systems, Control and Communications, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp.41-56.

Architecture’s absent friends

A visionary edifice, a revolutionary feat of engineering, a blot on the landscape, a brutalist carbuncle. Rarely does architecture lead to subtle superlatives. But, sometimes architects design with only a vague notion of the users of their constructions. In the absence of personal profiles of the people that will swing through those grand front doors and ride the escalator to the giddy heights of the top floor, what guides an architect in planning their stucco stairwells, their fantastical fenestrations, and their vaulted visions?

Writing in the Journal of Design Research, Ann Heylighen of KU Leuven, Belgium and her co-worker Lore Verhulst and colleague Catherine Elsen at the University of Li├Ęge, explain that as design processes become more complex, the distance between architect and user increases. “In large-scale projects, future users often remain absent or hypothetical during design, and in some design competitions, architects are not even allowed to interact with the client,” they point out. The team has carried out an in-depth study from the penthouse suite down to the basement to look at real-world design and attempt to fathom who it is that architects have in mind when they design given that actual users of their proposed buildings are usually absent.

Fundamentally, the team has found a significant gap between how users are considered in the research literature in this field and the observations of architects. Indeed, architects themselves apparently do not employ the term “user” at all. Moreover, one has to then question how, in the absence of putative users, architects keep in mind such requirements as sustainability, accessibility, heritage value, and the people, the “stakeholders”, client bodies, consultants, contractors, who will be involved. Architects have to design for “the other” but without necessarily knowing who the other is.

Perhaps it is this disconnect that gives rise to those emotionally charged responses to new buildings whether unsightly carbuncle or dizzying edifice.


Verhulst, L., Elsen, C. and Heylighen, A. (2016) ‘Whom do architects have in mind during design when users are absent? Observations from a design competition’, J. Design Research, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.368-387.

How to reclaim battery metals

Rechargeable lithium ion batteries power our phones and tablets they drive us from A to B in electric vehicles, and have many applications besides. Unfortunately, the devices that they power can fail and the batteries themselves are commonly only usable for two to three years. As such, there are millions batteries that must be recycled. Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy describes a new way to extract the lithium and the cobalt that make up the bulk of the metal components of these batteries.

According to Ataur Rahman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at the International Islamic University Malaysia and colleague in the Department of Economics, Rafia Afroz, explain that the price of both lithium and cobalt is rising as demand for lithium ion batteries which require both metals for their construction are increasingly in demand. They have investigated a recycling technology that can extract with reasonable efficiency the metals from scrap batteries.

The team’s hydrometallurgical method can recover both cobalt and lithium in their laboratory-scale tests from standard 48.8 Wh lithium batteries. This involves first baking the battery in an oven at 700 Celsius to “calcinate” the cobalt, lithium and copper components to destroy organic compounds, such as plastics and foams. The calcined material carrying metal and metal compounds (salts and oxides) is then treated with strong acid, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid, to leach out the metal ions. The team experimented with using hydrogen peroxide as a reducing agent to see whether that reagent would improve the leaching process. They were able to extract the lithium with almost 50 percent efficiency and the cobalt with almost 25 percent efficiency.

Given that each of these metals represent 41% of the weight of a 48.8 Wh battery and 8.5% of the weight, these are useful extraction rates that would on balance, given the heating and acid use, represent a commercially viable approach to recycling the electrodes from such batteries. The leached metals could then be used in the manufacture of new batteries or elsewhere in industry. The contaminated liquid waste could be further treated to make it safe for disposal under recycling regulations.

Rahman, A. and Afroz, R. (2017) ‘Lithium battery recycling management and policy’, Int. J. Energy Technology and Policy, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.278-291.