20 December 2017

Research Picks Weekly – 20 December 2017

Surveying attitudes to GMO food
A survey of so-called millennials (also known as Generation Y) suggests that many are torn by the hyperbole surrounding the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used by the food industry. The market is enormous and the industrial players are powerful and this colours the debate and has led to an anti-science stance by many people. Unfortunately, the agenda set by those who choose and evidence-free approach to forming their opinions and who then have power to lobby governments and policymakers is not the most positive and professional way to use technology. The team found that overall, millennials are somewhat against GMO foods. Women in particular are more sceptical of the benefits and worry about their safety. “To generate more favourable attitudes toward GMO foods, agricultural producers, distributors, and food retailers will need to provide through corporate websites, news releases to media, and other venues sufficient information that alleviates consumer concerns,” the team concludes.
Linnhoff, S., Volovich, E., Martin, H.M. and Smith, L.M. (2017) ‘An examination of millennials’ attitudes toward genetically modified organism (GMO) foods: is it Franken-food or super-food?’, Int. J. Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.371–390.

Editing Wikipedia
For all the negative press concerning the community-generated content in the online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia it is a powerful and useful resource with substantial support and underpinned by a strong editorial policy on independent verifiable sources and fact checking. Researchers in the USA have now examined a large number of articles and investigated the nature and history of revisions and edits that are carried out on those articles. The aim being to understand and estimate the level of information quality in the articles. They define 14 types of revisions and then looked at almost 7000 such revisions made on a number of articles. They revealed patterns of revision that are common to both high and low quality articles and one type of revision pattern that is manifest only for the high-quality articles. This association might be used to help curate content in a more robust manner.
Ma, Z., Tao, J. and Hu, J. (2017) ‘The dynamics of Wikipedia article revisions: an analysis of revision activities and patterns’, Int. J. Data Mining, Modelling and Management, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.298–314.

Say what?
Researchers in India have been investigating the level of “arousal” in smart phone users and how this correlates with the users’ response – the “wow”, “aha” or “cool” effect of content. “Wow” represents great delight, “aha” is simple pleasure and “cool” is a more tempered response akin to a low level of delight. They suggest that being able to gauge user delight with any given content could be an important part of modern marketing. If a company can get more “wow” than “cool” from its potential customers they are more likely to engage with the company and its products or services, the team suggests. Their findings provide researchers and marketers alike with a framework for assessing and predicting customer response.
Dubey, P., Bajpai, N. and Guha, S. (2018) ‘Classifying customer ‘wow’, ‘aha’, and ‘cool’ affect through arousal: a study on mobile users’, Int. J. Electronic Marketing and Retailing, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.37–58.

Working hard on social media
Can employees be productive even if they’re spending time on personal social media activities in the work place? It’s probably not a question employers would care to ask, preferring their workers to simply work rather than engage in tweeting and updating Facebook accounts. However, the work-life balance has to be met in the workplace too, and perhaps a member of staff happy in being allowed to use social media at work will be more inclined to work hard and be more productive for the rest of the working day. Indeed, social media use might best be encouraged for fear of bruising morale and making staff less productive than they otherwise might be. Nevertheless, researchers investigating the impact on productivity suggest that employers must put in place guidelines for their staff to ensure such a stance is not abused.
Bharucha, J. (2018) ‘Co-existence of social media and work productivity?’, Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.34–43.

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