Research Picks for October 2015

Social media and disasters

Researchers in South Korea and the USA hoped to determine whether public organisations can encourage people to use social media during a natural or other disaster for mutual benefit and safety. Using the 2013 Seoul Emergency Management Survey covering the Seoul floods as a basis for their analysis, the team found that social networking services do indeed help organisations communicate more effectively during a period of upheaval and increased dangers to the public. Information and advice, they found can spread rapidly via such networks especially if the public is encouraged to participate in risk communication via this medium.

Song, M., Kim, J.W., Kim, Y. and Jung, K. (2015) ‘Does the provision of emergency information on social media facilitate citizen participation during a disaster?’, Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.224–239.

Down to Earth in Australia

There is a growing need for commerce to innovate and become sustainable. The example of indigenous food entrepreneurship offers many lessons for businesses around the world, according to a study by researchers in Australia and France. The team has used Mark Olive and Indigiearth, an Aboriginal owned and operated business, employing local Aboriginal staff, strengthening Aboriginal People and Culture, as examplars of success in this sphere. Olive is often referred to as the “Australia’s Jamie Oliver” because of his ethical approach, but the team points out that the indigenous people of Australia have always had a strong association between the land, nation, families, individuals and communities that inspires innovative cooking and food use at the local level. The team concludes that, “the entrepreneurial capacity of indigenous people can be strengthened by promoting commercially viable but culturally ethical business ventures.”

Ratten, V. and Dana, L-P. (2015) ‘Indigenous food entrepreneurship in Australia: Mark Olive ‘Australia’s Jamie Oliver’ and Indigiearth’, Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp.265–279.

Fitness Trackers

Scientists at Portland State University working with colleagues at Intel and Nike have investigated the decision-making process when consumers wish to purchase a wearable fitness tracker. Their findings show that a hierarchical decision model defines and organises the decision-making criterion that is used in the selection a fitness tracking device. Factors such as water resistance for different types of sport, what metrics the device records (heart rate, distance travelled, steps taken etc), as well as other functionality such as connectivity with social media and email, operating system (Android, Apple’s iOS etc) are all involved in the purchase decision. Intriguingly, the decision algorithm recommended all users in their test cases to use the UP Jawbone fitness tracker device.

Daim, T.U., Al-Mulla, N., Sengupta, S.B., Shah, K. and Demchig, B. (2015) ‘Technology assessment: case of the wearable computing for fitness’, Int. J. Medical Engineering and Informatics, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.321–364.

Aggregated assessment

A team in Azerbaijan has investigated how an aggregated “score” for scientific output might prove a better metric for how well researchers are…researching. An aggregate score must be based on reliable and validated indices, the team says, but many are somewhat lacking or focus on a specific aspect of the scientific process, such as publication, rather than taking a holistic view. The team’s aggregate score gives a weighted index which was compared with 25 indices against two citation data and the results suggest that it could be used as a valid supplement to the familiar h-index. Future work will investigate whether “fuzzy clustering” can be used to improve the aggregate still further.

Alguliyev, R., Aliguliyev, R., Fataliyev, T. and Hasanova, R. (2015) ‘An aggregated index for assessment of the scientific output of researchers’, Int. J. Knowledge Management Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.31–62.

Author: David Bradley

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