Our monthly research picks for October are ready, packed with plenty of resources, reviews, and studies to keep you updated. Sharing research with you remains one of our top priorities. For this reason, we curate interesting articles and publications for you every month.
This month’s top picks cover a wide array of subjects, including economic theories, infertility studies, discourses among teachers, synthesis of important chemical compounds, retinal function studies, cancer growth and risk factors, and plenty more.
1. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: Impact on Retinal Neurovascular Integrity and Function
In this editorial from the Journal of Ophthalmic and Vision Research, the authors review the impact of one of the most common types of brain injury, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), on vision. HIE affects one to eight live births in developed countries. The high number of HIE patients displaying visual impairment was generally attributed to lesions in the neural visual structures and processing in the brain, but newer preclinical studies also suggest a direct impact on retinal cells. The authors conducted a similar study following the Rice-Vannucci model, a frequently adopted method to measure HIE effects on the brain by experimenting on mice and rats. The study showed that the blood vessels in the retina were either degenerating or had failed to form. It is unknown why different individuals respond differently after exposure to the same HI conditions. For example, retinal damage in neonates was significantly more severe as compared with juvenile mice. Could maturation stages of blood vessels and neurons play a role in determining the severity of damage?
2. The factors affecting male infertility: A systematic review
Infertility rates appear to be spiking internationally, making the problem of male infertility more pressing than ever. This review from the International Journal of Reproductive Bio-Medicine considers the many factors affecting male infertility within the Iranian population. The review closely examines 14 studies, which assess a total of 26,324 infertile males. The researchers found the two most common factors associated with male infertility to be semen abnormalities and varicocele. Lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, testicular overheating (which can harm sperm DNA), and anabolic steroids could negatively influence fertility. Other factors affecting infertility include genetic issues, chronic disease, sexual disorders, genital ulcers and penile discharge, vascular abnormalities, urological diseases like urinary tract infections and painful micturition, and simplex herpes infections even when asymptomatic. The review found evidence that taking medications like ranitidine and cimetidine (anti-histamines used to reduce stomach acid and treat ulcers) and anti-depressants seem to be closely linked to infertility. Could assessing lifestyle patterns of infertile men and relevant counselling programs help in overcoming infertility?
3. Optimal Price Level Under Slowing Economic Performance Using Simple Growth-Inflation Threshold Models
Since inflation is one of the key indicators for optimal economic growth, the central bank of Indonesia has made the Inflation Targeting Framework (ITF) one of the main targets of its monetary policy. While controlling the inflation rate can be risky because it might suppress economic growth, allowing a very high inflation rate can be equally disastrous to the economy. This study from KnE Social Sciences calculates and evaluates the threshold of inflation considered safe enough to foster economic growth in Indonesia. Using macroeconomic data related to inflation and economic growth between 1969 and 2017, the researchers followed a threshold regression model repeated manually by entering an acceptable inflation simulation value based on previous inflation experience in Indonesia. The simulation results showed that an inflation rate of up to seven or eight per cent was safe for the economy, but that 3% was the optimal inflation rate for growth. Do previous studies support this claim? Can inflation control stabilise the economy?
4. Sol-Gel Synthesis of Nonstoichiometric Titanium Dioxide for Photo-Oxidation of Toxic Organic Substances
According to this study from KnE Materials Science, Nanoscale modifications of titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) could be used as “functional media of renewable energy sources, inorganic sorbents, resistive memory elements, application in nanobiomedicine as part of complex hybrid designs for targeted delivery medicines, in photocatalysis”. Like most other chemicals, the functionality of nano-TiO2 relies on its properties as a substance. Currently, there seems to be no clear, comprehensive understanding of the synthesis parameters for the formation of TiO2 nanoparticles in various modifications. This study details the process for synthesising titanium dioxide nanoparticles through the sol-gel method, which is both simple in application and cost-efficient. The influence of the initial solution pH on the nano size of the titanium dioxide synthesised by sol-gel methods was studied, and XRD data showed the formation of the anatase crystal structure in an acidic medium even without annealing. Could controlling the PH levels of the solution result in the creation of nanoscale titanium dioxide with different sized particles?
5. Dominant Discourses and Teachers’ Comparative Sensemaking through Internationally Sited Professional Development Experience
This research article from the Gulf Education and Social Policy Review discusses teachers’ perceptions of education policies. The author examines teachers’ sensemaking of “world class” educational policies by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The study examines how teachers use comparison to make sense of the world-class education during short-term international professional development experiences, specifically the Teacher Exchange Program – a partnership between a UAE-based foundation and the MOE. According to the article, teachers’ sensemaking of global education discourses “can either constrain or enable teachers’ understanding of the policy and its implementation”. Teachers’ participation in internationally sited professional development has primed comparative sensemaking to support transfer, but that exposure alone might not significantly or positively alter teachers’ long-term practices. Might the changes that the UAE is making towards greater gender inclusion and representation at the ministry level empower more teachers to influence education policies in the future?
6. The Polymorphisms of Epidermal Growth Factor-driven Signaling and Cancer Pathogenesis
This review from the Sudan Journal of Medical Sciences analyses 40 articles about epidermal growth factor (EGF), polymorphism, and malignant tumours published within ten years, from January 2010 until May 2020. According to this study, “the amplification epidermal growth factor (EGF) signalling pathway has been frequently reported in numerous malignant tumours”. The authors explain that “specific polymorphisms of the genes encoding proteins involved in this cellular pathway may constitute risk factors for carcinogenesis”. Aiming to identify the polymorphisms of EGF and their signalling pathways with relation to carcinogenesis, the study examined multiple types of cancer growths, including “hepatocellular carcinoma, oesophageal cancer, gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, glioma, lung cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and head and neck cancer”. The study concluded that some predisposing variants are common to different forms of cancer. The results of the study confirmed that some predisposing polymorphisms of the genes related to the EGF signalling pathway could pose a higher risk for the development of various forms of cancer. Would further investigation into Rs4444903 and other variants help cancer prevention and the development of better prognosis tools?
7. Enhancing Society Welfare Through Smart City Improvement by the Government in Kediri
The rapid development of technology brought by the fourth industrial revolution has created many opportunities for individuals, especially those living in urban areas. However, while some citizens find it easy to adapt to the technological shift, many others have found adaptation difficult. Government interventions to reduce the potential socioeconomic inequalities caused by this advancement is vital. This study from KnE Social Sciences discusses the significance of smart city programmes that plan, develop, and implement technology in urban areas to create complex interaction systems to improve people’s welfare. The article discusses the efforts of the Indonesian government in the city of Kediri as an example of a smart city programme. By collecting data through observations and literacy studies, the study finds that the quality of government welfare services has improved. How have different aspects of smart city improvements affected society welfare?
8. Haussmannian Buildings Rehabilitation and Strengthening
The Haussmannian buildings scattered around the city of Paris have been there since the 19th century and therefore lack important security, sound, thermal, and fire safety requirements. This article from KnE Engineering describes and documents the renovation and strengthening operations carried out in these buildings through a technical survey of multiple Hausmannian construction sites. Upon closely examining the projects taking place at the sites, the researchers note that it is possible to renovate and fortify basic existing structures to avoid the demolition of these buildings and preserve the cultural heritage they represent. The article describes the different processes in detail and contains images to illustrate the technicalities involved in these projects. The information presented in this publication would be of great value to any engineers or contractors undertaking similar projects in any part of the world to contribute to the sustainable development of cities.
9. Increase of Onion Productivity by Regulation of Growing Technology Elements
The low production of bulb onions in 2016 caused a supply reduction the following year in Russia. The abundance of growth regulators, coupled with the various soil fertility requirements, can be quite overwhelming and cause confusion to inexperienced farmers. Since the soil and climate of the Rostov Region are favourable for bulb onion harvesting and cultivation, this article describes the impact of growth regulators used as a foliar dressing on the high-quality commercial production of Mars and Candy F1 hybrid onion bulbs in the region. The experiment found that the use of foliar feeding of Novosil and Immunocytophyte is effective in reducing the amount of water needed for irrigation, improving the quality of bulb onions, and prolonging their shelf life of during long winter periods. Onion growers hoping to harvest yields of excellent quality bulb onion crops will want to go through this study thoroughly.
10. Applying Global Models of Teacher Development to Improve Student Outcomes: Insights from a Teacher Development & Leadership Program in Qatar
Arabian Gulf countries have prioritised national efforts towards human capital development and education. This article from the Gulf Education and Social Policy Review seeks to assess student academic and non-academic outcomes in relation to progressive and constructivist teaching. To achieve this, the study analyses a Qatari teaching development programme, referred to as TDL for anonymity, which “aims to expand educational opportunities through teacher development with its roots in the United States”. The programme is focused on teacher recruitment, placement, and training based on the following six themes: orientation to student vision; ongoing reflection to improve practice; setting high expectations for students, ensuring content rigour and mastery in students; fostering a positive culture and learning environment; and building positive relationships with students. The study refers to data from 136 classrooms from 2015 to 2017 to examine teacher effectiveness and student outcomes. The results reveal a direct positive relationship between establishing “positive rapport with students, practising ongoing reflection, internalising learning” and higher academic achievement. Could incorporating student vision also influence learning attitudes and promote positive rapport?
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