Welcome to Research Repository UCD

Research Repository UCD is a digital collection of open access scholarly research publications from University College Dublin. Research Repository UCD collects, preserves and makes freely available publications including peer-reviewed articles, working papers and conference papers created by UCD researchers. Where material has already been published it is made available subject to the open-access policies of the original publishers. This service is maintained by UCD Library.

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  • Publication
  • Publication
    Corporate governance, accountability and mechanisms of accountability : an overview
    Purpose – This paper reviews traditional corporate governance and accountability research, to suggest opportunities for future research in this field. The first part adopts an analytical frame of reference based on theory, accountability mechanisms, methodology, business sector/context, globalisation and time horizon. The second part of the paper locates the seven papers in the special issue in a framework of analysis showing how each one contributes to the field. The paper presents a frame of reference which may be used as a 'roadmap' for researchers to navigate their way through the prior literature and to position their work on the frontiers of corporate governance research. Design/methodology/approach – The paper employs an analytical framework, and is primarily discursive and conceptual. Findings – The paper encourages broader approaches to corporate governance and accountability research beyond the traditional and primarily quantitative approaches of prior research. Broader theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, accountability mechanism, sectors/contexts, globalisation and time horizons are identified. Research limitations/implications – Greater use of qualitative research methods are suggested, which present challenges particularly of access to the “black box” of corporate boardrooms. Originality/value – Drawing on the analytical framework, and the papers in the special issue, the paper identifies opportunities for further research of accountability and corporate governance.
      33140Scopus© Citations 289
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    Elderly care in Ireland - provisions and providers
    (University College Dublin. School of Social Justice, 2010-04) ;
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  • Publication
    Equality in education : an equality of condition perspective
    (Sage Publications, 2005) ;
    Transforming schools into truly egalitarian institutions requires a holistic and integrated approach. Using a robust conception of 'equality of condition', we examine key dimensions of equality that are central to both the purposes and processes of education: equality in educational and related resources; equality of respect and recognition; equality of power; and equality of love, care and solidarity. We indicate in each case some of the major changes that need to occur if we are to promote equality of condition. Starting with inequalities of resources, and in particular with inequalities tied to social class, we argue for abandoning rigid grouping policies, challenging the power of parents in relation to both selection and grouping, and changing curricula and assessment systems to make them more inclusive of the wide range of human intelligences. In relation to respect and recognition, we call for much more inclusive processes for respecting differences, not only in schools' organizational cultures, but also in their curriculum, pedagogy and assessment systems. Regarding inequalities of power, we call for democratization of both teacher-student relationships and school and college organization. For promoting equality of love, care and solidarity, we argue that schools need to develop an appreciation of the intrinsic role that emotions play in the process of teaching and learning, to provide a space for students and teachers to talk about their feelings and concerns, and to devise educational experiences that will enable students to develop their emotional skills or personal intelligences as a discrete area of human capability.
      23039Scopus© Citations 133
  • Publication
    Discretionary disclosure strategies in corporate narratives : incremental information or impression management?
    (University of Florida. Fisher School of Accounting, 2007) ;
    The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesize the literature on discretionary narrative disclosures. We explore why, how, and whether preparers of corporate narrative reports use discretionary disclosures in corporate narrative documents and why, how, and whether users react thereto. To facilitate the review, we provide three taxonomies based on: the motivation for discretionary narrative disclosures (opportunistic behavior, i.e. impression management, versus provision of useful incremental information); the research perspective (preparer versus user); and seven discretionary disclosure strategies. We also examine the whole range of theoretical frameworks utilized by prior research, and we put forward some suggestions for future research.
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    Using Twitter to recommend real-time topical news
    Recommending news stories to users, based on their preferences,has long been a favourite domain for recommender systems research. In this paper, we describe a novel approach to news recommendation that harnesses real-time micro-blogging activity, from a service such as Twitter, as the basis for promoting news stories from a user's favourite RSS feeds. A preliminary evaluation is carried out on an implementation of this technique that shows promising results.
      21302Scopus© Citations 334
  • Publication
    From asset based welfare to welfare housing? The changing function of social housing in Ireland
    (Routledge, 2011) ;
    This article examines a distinctive and significant aspect of social housing in Ireland – its change in function from an asset-based role in welfare support to a more standard model of welfare housing. It outlines the nationalist and agrarian drivers which expanded the initial role of social housing beyond the goal of improving housing conditions for the poor towards the goal of extending home ownership and assesses whether this focus made it more similar to the ‘asset based welfare’ approach to housing found in south-east Asia than to social housing in western Europe. From the mid-1980s, the role of Irish social housing changed as the sector contracted and evolved towards the model of welfare housing now found in many other western countries. Policy makers have struggled to address the implications of this transition and vestiges of social housing’s traditional function are still evident, consequently the boundaries between social housing, private renting and home ownership in Ireland have grown increasingly nebulous.
      20871Scopus© Citations 29
  • Publication
    Constructive approaches towards water treatment works sludge management : an international review of beneficial re-uses
    (Taylor & Francis, 2007-03) ;
    Till date, virtually all known drinking water processing systems generate an enormous amount of residual sludge, and what else to do with this rapidly increasing 'waste' stream in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner remains a significant environmental issue. Perhaps, the realization of this fact has led to series of concerted efforts aimed at beneficial re-uses in an effort to close the loop between efficient water treatment and sustainable sludge management. This paper therefore presents a comprehensive review of available literature on attempts at beneficial reuses of water treatment plant sludge, in an effort to provide a compendium of recent and past developments, and update our current state of knowledge. Four broad categories of uses, which included over eleven possible ways in which waterworks sludges can be reused were identified and examined. Obvious advantages of such reuse options were highlighted and knowledge gaps identified. Future issues that will assist in the development of sustainable waterworks sludge management options with a multi-prong approach were equally discussed.
      19766Scopus© Citations 378
  • Publication
    Expansive cements and soundless chemical demolition agents : state of technology review
    Expansive cements and soundless chemical demolition agents (SCDAs) were first introduced in the early 1970s but failed to gain widespread adoption for selective removal of rock and concrete due to their proprietary nature and a lack of usage guidelines. Nearly 40 years later, the patents have expired, and a large number of competitive products have entered the market. These factors coupled with a heightened interest in their potential environmental benefits have greatly expanded their usage. Specifically, these chemicals can be introduced into a pattern of small, drilled holes in concrete and/or rock. After a specific period (usually less than 24 hours), the in-situ material will crack sufficiently that it can be removed without the use of traditional explosives or further percussive efforts. The products generate substantially less noise and vibration than usually associated with the removal of rock and concrete. This paper provides a state-of-the-technology review of five available products. The focus is on the proposed applicability of various products under specific conditions. Special attention is paid to the viability of such agents under varying temperatures and with materials of particular strengths.
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    Clustering with the multivariate normal inverse Gaussian distribution
    Many model-based clustering methods are based on a finite Gaussian mixture model. The Gaussian mixture model implies that the data scatter within each group is elliptically shaped. Hence non-elliptical groups are often modeled by more than one component, resulting in model over-fitting. An alternative is to use a mean–variance mixture of multivariate normal distributions with an inverse Gaussian mixing distribution (MNIG) in place of the Gaussian distribution, to yield a more flexible family of distributions. Under this model the component distributions may be skewed and have fatter tails than the Gaussian distribution. The MNIG based approach is extended to include a broad range of eigendecomposed covariance structures. Furthermore, MNIG models where the other distributional parameters are constrained is considered. The Bayesian Information Criterion is used to identify the optimal model and number of mixture components. The method is demonstrated on three sample data sets and a novel variation on the univariate Kolmogorov–Smirnov test is used to assess goodness of fit.
      17471Scopus© Citations 59
  • Publication
    Inequality and crime
    (MIT Press, 2000-11)
    This paper considers the relationship between inequality and crime using data from urban counties. The behavior of property and violent crime are quite different. Inequality has no effect on property crime but a strong and robust impact on violent crime, with an elasticity above 0.5. By contrast, poverty and police activity have significant effects on property crime, but little on violent crime. Property crime is well explained by the economic theory of crime, while violent crime is better explained by strain and social disorganization theories.
      17192Scopus© Citations 418
  • Publication
    Agent-based coordination for the sensor web
    The approach described advocates the use of a multi-agent system, and specifically the use of multi-agent distributed constraint optimisation algorithms. Developing software for low powered sensing devices introduces several problems to be addressed; the most obvious being the limited computational resources available. In this paper we discuss an implementation of ADOPT, a pre-existing algorithm for distributed constraint optimisation, and describe how it has been integrated with a reflective agent platform developed for resource constrained devices, namely Agent Factory Micro Edition (AFME). The usefulness of this work is illustrated through the canonical multi-agent coordination problem, namely graph colouring.
      16016Scopus© Citations 2
  • Publication
    Curriculum Design in Higher Education: Theory to Practice
    (University College Dublin. Teaching and Learning, 2015-09)
    This eBook emphasises the theory to practice of curriculum design in higher education. The book focuses on programme (not module) level of design; incorporates face-to-face, blended and online curricula; attempts to link theory to practice by giving some practical resources and/or exercises; draws the author's experiences of working and researching into curriculum design in the Irish higher education sector; is aimed at all staff involved in curriculum design, including academic staff (faculty), institutional managers, educational developers and technologists, support staff, library staff and curriculum researchers; is primarily drawn from literature and experiences in the higher education sector, however those in adult and further education may also find it useful. The structure of this book is based on a curriculum design process that the author has developed as part of her experience and research on curriculum design. 
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    Visualization in sporting contexts : the team scenario
    Wearable sensor systems require an interactive and communicative interface for the user to interpret data in a meaningful way. The development of adaptive personalization features in a visualization tool for such systems can convey a more meaningful picture to the user of the system. In this paper, a visualization tool called Visualization in Team Scenarios (VTS), which can be used by a coach to monitor an athlete’s physiological parameters, is presented. The VTS has been implemented with a wearable sensor system that can monitor players’ performance in a game in a seamless and transparent manner. Using the VTS, a coach is able to analyze the physiological data of athletes generated using select wearable sensors, and subsequently analyse the results to personalize training schedules thus improving the performance of the players.
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    Provision of childcare services in Ireland
    (University College Dublin. School of Social Justice, 2008-03) ;
    External report commissioned by and presented to the EU Directorate-General Employment and Social Affairs, Unit G1 'Equality between women and men'
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    Michael White's narrative therapy
    (Springer Verlag, 1998)
    A systematized description of a number of practices central to Michael Whites' narrative approach to therapy is given. These include collaborative positioning of the therapist, externalizing the problem, excavating unique outcomes, thickening the new plot, and linking the new plot to the past and the future. The practices of remembering and incorporation, using literary means to achieve therapeutic ends, and facilitating taking-it-back practices are also described. A number of questions are given which may be useful for those concerned with narrative therapy to address.
      15155Scopus© Citations 103
  • Publication
    Financial statement fraud : some lessons from US and European case studies
    (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007-07) ;
    This paper studies 14 companies which were subject to an official investigation arising from the publication of fraudulent financial statements. The research found senior management to be responsible for most fraud. Recording false sales was the most common method of financial statement fraud. Meeting external forecasts emerged as the primary motivation. Management discovered most fraud, although the discovery was split between incumbent and new management.
      14897Scopus© Citations 37
  • Publication
    The effectiveness of family therapy and systemic interventions for child-focused problems
    (Wiley, 2009-02)
    This review updates a similar paper published in the Journal of Family Therapy in 2001. It presents evidence from meta-analyses, systematic literature reviews and controlled trials for the effectiveness of systemic interventions for families of children and adolescents with various difficulties. In this context, systemic interventions include both family therapy and other family-based approaches such as parent training. The evidence supports the effectiveness of systemic interventions either alone or as part of multimodal programmes for sleep, feeding and attachment problems in infancy; child abuse and neglect; conduct problems (including childhood behavioural difficulties, ADHD, delinquency and drug abuse); emotional problems (including anxiety, depression, grief, bipolar disorder and suicidality); eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia and obesity); and somatic problems (including enuresis, encopresis, recurrent abdominal pain, and poorly controlled asthma and diabetes).
      14280Scopus© Citations 153
  • Publication
    Focus groups versus individual interviews with children : A comparison of data
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2006) ;
    In recent years there has been an increase in the use of qualitative data collection techniques in research with children. Among the most common of these methods are focus groups and individual interviews. While many authors claim that focus groups have advantages over individual interviews, these claims have not been tested empirically with children. The present study reports on the use of focus groups and interviews to collect qualitative data from 116 children in three age groups, with mean ages of 8.4, 11.5 and 14.3 years. The children were randomly allocated to participate in either focus groups or individual interviews where they were presented with identical material and questions relating to their beliefs about peers with psychological disorders. In line with previous research, the interviews produced significantly more relevant and unique ideas about the causes of these disorders than the focus groups, but the latter gave rise to greater elaboration of ideas. The participating children showed no significant difference in their preference for one method over the other. Thus, whether to choose individual interviews or focus groups is likely to depend on the nature of the research question in any given study.
      14052Scopus© Citations 42
Recent Submissions
  • Publication
    Advancing national animal health and welfare policy
    The University College Dublin (UCD) School of Veterinary Medicine has a broad research agenda covering areas such as veterinary public health, epidemiology and national disease control, herd health management, drug delivery, pharmacology, parasitology, and One Health research. We work with national and international collaborators and, with the support of Zoetis, have a longstanding “UCD Squared” partnership with the University of California-Davis, which has established an ambitious program of research, drawing on expertise from a diverse community of veterinary and medical scientists and clinicians.
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    A framework for assessing confidence in freedom from infection in animal disease control programmes
    In the Surveillance Tool for Outcome-based Comparison of FREEdom from infection (STOC free) project (https://www.stocfree.eu), a data collection tool was constructed to facilitate standardised collection of input data, and a model was developed to allow a standardised and harmonised comparison of the outputs of different control programmes (CPs) for cattle diseases. The STOC free model can be used to evaluate the probability of freedom from infection for herds in CPs and to determine whether these CPs comply with the European Union's pre-defined output-based standards. Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) was chosen as the case disease for this project because of the diversity in CPs in the six participating countries. Detailed BVDV CP and risk factor information was collected using the data collection tool. For inclusion of the data in the STOC free model, key aspects and default values were quantified. A Bayesian hidden Markov model was deemed appropriate, and a model was developed for BVDV CPs. The model was tested and validated using real BVDV CP data from partner countries, and corresponding computer code was made publicly available. The STOC free model focuses on herd-level data, although that animal-level data can be included after aggregation to herd level. The STOC free model is applicable to diseases that are endemic, given that it needs the presence of some infection to estimate parameters and enable convergence. In countries where infection-free status has been achieved, a scenario tree model could be a better suited tool. Further work is recommended to generalise the STOC free model to other diseases.
  • Publication
    A Qualitative Exploration of Challenges and Opportunities for Dog Welfare in Ireland Post COVID-19, as Perceived by Dog Welfare Organisations
    This novel qualitative study identifies challenges and opportunities to improve dog welfare in Ireland, as perceived by dog welfare organisations (DWOs), a previously underutilised stakeholder. This study sought the views of this predominantly voluntary sector of the next steps for policy and action in dog welfare, in light of the effects of the “puppy pandemic”, increased costs and COVID-19 restrictions. An integrated online focus group and interview design involving DWOs was analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Thematic analysis identified 2 key themes: (1) Key challenges and solutions in general dog welfare and (2) Challenges and opportunities in the welfare organisation sector. DWOs perceived poor public awareness of appropriate dog-husbandry, inadequate legislation enforcement, negative impact of puppy farms, and increased financial and volunteer burden. DWOs helped construct a best practice rehoming pathway, identified how overall standards could be improved and recommendations to enhance dog welfare. The DWOs perceived an increased numbers of households acquiring dogs, difficulties in rehoming, and financial challenges as threatening their viability as organisations and Irish dog welfare. Greater enforcement of legislation, greater communication between organisations and the government, and more media awareness were seen as helpful by the DWOs to improve dog welfare standards and their organisations.
  • Publication
    Introduction to Inspiration from the Saints: Stories from the Lives of Catholic Holy Men and Women
    (Angelico Press, 2018-03-09)
    This is a book about Catholic saints, a book intended to inspire the reader with their stories and their words. The lives of the saints are all about Christ. How they lived that out is the subject of this book, one possible book out of the endless number that could be written. While I expect that most people who read this book will be practicing Catholics, my goal is to make it accessible to non-Catholics, non-Christians and those who may be feeling their way to faith.
  • Publication
    bTB eradication in Ireland: where to from here?
    (Springer, 2023-07-04)
    Background: In an earlier paper from 2019, this author concluded that successful eradication of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) from Ireland by 2030 would be unlikely, given control strategies in place at that time plus the addition of badger vaccination. He argued that additional measures will be needed, broadly focusing on bTB risks from wildlife, risk-based cattle controls, and industry commitment. This paper considers these points in further detail. Main text: Ongoing monitoring of the badger vaccination programme (which is progressively being rolled out nationally) and associated research will be critical, with a focus both on programme inputs and outcomes. The direct contribution of cattle movements to bTB restrictions in Ireland has been evaluated. However, it is the indirect role of cattle movements in bTB restrictions that is likely of greater importance, particularly towards the latter phase of the eradication programme. In other national programmes, a range of risk-based approaches have been used to address the challenge of residual infection in cattle (that is, the presence of animals with persistent but undetected infection), and similar approaches are needed in Ireland. A number of authors have highlighted the critical importance of industry commitment to programme success, and the key role of programme governance to achieving this. In this commentary, the author briefly considers experiences from Australia and New Zealand in this regard. The author also reflects on the challenge of uncertainty in decision-making, the relevance to Ireland of lessons from other countries, and the potential contribution of new methodologies in support of the national programme. Conclusions: ‘The tragedy of the horizon’ was a term first used in the context of climate change, referring to the costs imposed on future generations that the current generation has no direct incentives to fix. This concept is equally relevant to bTB eradication in Ireland, where current decisions will have long-term consequences for future generations, including both the general public (through the Exchequer) and future Irish farmers.
  • Publication
    Investigation of the association between the Enferplex bovine tuberculosis antibody test and the future risk of bovine tuberculosis in irish cattle in infected herds: a pilot field study
    The Single Intradermal Comparative Tuberculin Test (SICTT) and the interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) assay are the approved diagnostic tests for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Ireland. The aim of this pilot study was to explore if there was any added diagnostic benefit from applying the Enferplex bTB test (an antibody test) in severe bTB herd breakdowns after the removal of cattle that had tested positive to the SICTT and the IFN-γ test. In addition to the normal bTB testing and management protocols, the animals in these herds that tested negative to SICTT and the IFN-γ test were followed forward for a period of two years. All animals were tested by Enferplex at enrolment. The time to subsequent bTB detection (diagnosed with SICTT/IFN-γ tests or detection of visible lesions at routine slaughter) for animals that tested positive or negative to the Enferplex bTB test at the start of the study was compared using Kaplan–Meier survival curves and Cox based survival models. Of the 484 enrolled animals (from 11 herds), 171 (35.3%) and 151 (31.1%) initially tested positive in the Enferplex assay under the high sensitivity and high specificity interpretation settings respectively. The results of the survival analysis showed that there was no difference in the survival time to a positive diagnosis with bTB during the follow-up period between animals initially classified as positive and negative by the Enferplex test. Further research is warranted to explore the potential benefit of using the Enferplex test in other scenarios.
  • Publication
    An observational study of ear-tagged calf mortality (1 to 100 days) on Irish dairy farms and associations between biosecurity practices and calf mortality on farms participating in a Johne's disease control program
    Postnatal mortality among replacement stock has a detrimental effect on the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of dairy production. Calf mortality rates vary between countries and show differences in temporal trends; most, however, are characterized by high levels of between-farm variability. Explaining this variation can be difficult because herd-level information on management practices relevant to calf health is often not available. The Irish Johne's Control Programme (IJCP) contains a substantial on-farm monitoring program called the Veterinary Risk Assessment and Management Plan (VRAMP). Although this risk assessment is largely focused on factors relevant to the transmission of paratuberculosis, many of its principles are good practice biocontainment policies that are also advocated for the protection of calf health. The objectives of this study were (1) to quantify mortality in ear-tagged Irish dairy calves between 2016 and 2020 using both survival and risk approaches, (2) to determine risk factors for 100-d cumulative mortality hazard in ear-tagged Irish dairy calves between 2016 and 2020, (3) to determine whether 100-d cumulative mortality hazard was higher in ear-tagged calves within herds registered in the IJCP versus those that were not registered in the IJCP and whether there were differences between these cohorts over time, and (4) within IJCP herds, to determine whether VRAMP score or changes in VRAMP score were associated with 100-d cumulative mortality hazard. Excluding perinatal mortality, the overall 100-d cumulative mortality hazard was 4.1%. Calf mortality was consistently underestimated using risk approaches that did not account for calf censoring. Cox proportional hazards models showed that cumulative mortality hazard was greater in male calves; particularly, calves born to Jersey breed dams and those with a beef breed sire. Mortality hazard increased with increasing herd size, was highest in calves born in herds that contract-reared heifers, and lowest in those born in mixed dairy-beef enterprises. Mortality hazard decreased over time with the mortality hazard in 2020 being 0.83 times that of 2016. Mortality hazard was higher in IJCP-registered herds than nonregistered herds (hazard ratio 1.06, 95% CI 1.01–1.12), likely reflecting differences in herds that enrolled in the national program. However, we detected a significant interaction between IJCP status (enrolled vs. not enrolled) and year (hazard ratio 0.96, 95% CI 0.92–1.00), indicating that the decrease in mortality hazard between 2016 and 2020 was greater in IJCP herds versus non-IJCP herds. Finally, increasing VRAMP scores (indicating higher risk for paratuberculosis transmission) were positively associated with increased calf mortality hazard. Postnatal calf mortality rates in Irish dairy herds declined between 2016 and 2020. Our study suggests that implementation of recommended biocontainment practices to control paratuberculosis in IJCP herds was associated with a reduction in calf mortality hazard.
  • Publication
    Time-resolved studies of colliding laser-produced plasmas
    (University College Dublin. School of Physics and Czech Technical University in Prague, 2018)
    This thesis presents work done on investigating colliding laser-produced plasmas with time-resolved, UV-visible spectroscopy and time-resolved visible imaging. A nanosecond Nd:YAG laser pulse was split with a wedge prism and the two laser pulses created were focused onto the target surface, with power densities of ϕ = 1:6 x 10^12 W/cm2. The separation between the two plasmas was 2.6 mm and in between them a stagnation layer was formed. Plasmas of silicon (Si, Z=14), tin (Sn, Z=50) and lead (Pb, Z=82) were investigated. Time-resolved spectroscopy was used to determine the expansion velocities for different ion stages of Si and Pb, for both single plasmas as well as in the case where two plasmas collided to yield stagnation layers. Time-resolved visible imaging was used to obtain the expansion velocities of both seed plasmas and stagnation layers plasma-plume front. Colliding plasmas of different elements, Pb and Si, were studied and expansion velocities of different ion stages were compared with those obtained for colliding two identical plasmas. Acceleration of ions due to an electric potential difference is observed in the stagnation layer. Obtaining information about expansion velocities of different ion species provides great insight into the dynamics of laser-produced plasma expansion. Charge and time resolved dynamics have not been used before to study stagnation layers.
  • Publication
    Inferring bovine tuberculosis transmission between cattle and badgers via the environment and risk mapping
    Bovine tuberculosis (bTB), caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is one of the most challenging and persistent health issues in many countries worldwide. In several countries, bTB control is complicated due to the presence of wildlife reservoirs of infection, i.e. European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland and the UK, which can transmit infection to cattle. However, a quantitative understanding of the role of cattle and badgers in bTB transmission is elusive, especially where there is spatial variation in relative density between badgers and cattle. Moreover, as these two species have infrequent direct contact, environmental transmission is likely to play a role, but the quantitative importance of the environment has not been assessed. Therefore, the objective of this study is to better understand bTB transmission between cattle and badgers via the environment in a spatially explicit context and to identify high-risk areas. We developed an environmental transmission model that incorporates both within-herd/territory transmission and between-species transmission, with the latter facilitated by badger territories overlapping with herd areas. Model parameters such as transmission rate parameters and the decay rate parameter of M. bovis were estimated by maximum likelihood estimation using infection data from badgers and cattle collected during a 4-year badger vaccination trial. Our estimation showed that the environment can play an important role in the transmission of bTB, with a half-life of M. bovis in the environment of around 177 days. Based on the estimated transmission rate parameters, we calculate the basic reproduction ratio (R) within a herd, which reveals how relative badger density dictates transmission. In addition, we simulated transmission in each small local area to generate a first between-herd R map that identifies high-risk areas.
  • Publication
    The opinions of farm animal veterinarians in Ireland on antibiotic use and their role in antimicrobial stewardship
    Background: Antibiotic use and resistance in animal production are a concern to public health, and there is an urgent need to reduce antibiotic use in farm animals. To prevent blame shifting, professionals from human medicine, animal medicine and environmental backgrounds must collaborate to tackle this issue. Veterinarians are typically responsible for overseeing and prescribing antibiotic use in animals. There are currently no available studies on the opinions of Irish farm animal veterinarians on antibiotic use, reduction opportunities and their relationships with farmers. A digital survey was developed and sent out to Irish farm animal veterinarians. This paper presents the results of a cross-sectional study of Irish farm animal veterinarians’ attitudes towards antimicrobial stewardship, their prescribing behaviours, antibiotic reduction opportunities and their attitudes for the future of antibiotic use. The veterinarian-farmer relationship is examined and potential interventions to reduce antibiotic use on farms are identified. Results: In total, 114 complete questionnaires were received, representing approximately 11 per cent of all farm animal veterinarians in Ireland. Respondents were aware of the problem of antibiotic resistance and recognise their role in the fight against it. They realise what actions they must take to reduce antibiotic use and identify barriers that prevent their farmer clients from implementing their advice. Many of them say that they can reduce antibiotic use on farms in the future, but some remain doubtful. There was no statistical difference between veterinarians that had less experience working than those that had more experience in their attitudes towards future reduction in antibiotic use. Conclusion: Most of the respondents seek to use antibiotics as judiciously as they can. The majority agree that antibiotic overuse is the main contributor to antibiotic resistance. Possible solutions to reduce antibiotic use include the development of antibiotic treatment guidelines, assigning one unique practice to each farm and compulsory CPD (Continuous Professional Development) courses.
  • Publication
    A mixed-method survey to understand the role of dog welfare organisations in Ireland, including reported challenges and potential solutions
    Background: This novel study forms part of a larger research programme seeking an improved understanding of aspects of the owned dog population in Ireland. Dog welfare organisations (DWOs) in Ireland are recognised as an instrumental pillar of the animal welfare sector with some receiving substantial public funding. We conducted a survey of DWOs in Ireland (n = 39) to gain a better understanding of their role and function, including their policies and procedures and the rehoming of dogs to other regions. In addition, we wanted to get a better understanding of the challenges experienced by DWOs in fulfilling their role and their perspectives on potential solutions to these challenges. The survey questions consisted of closed and open-ended items. Closed items were analysed quantitively; open-ended items were analysed thematically. Results: Most DWOs (> 80%) had written protocols for important welfare actions including rehoming procedures, assessment of owner suitability and euthanasia. DWOs sent dogs to Northern Ireland (13%), Great Britain (38.5%) and to other countries outside the United Kingdom (36%, including Germany, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and Czechia). Reported challenges included a general lack of funding, limited public awareness of the importance of dog welfare and insufficient capacity to handle dog numbers. To address these challenges, the DWOs highlighted the potential contribution of subsidised programmes and access to resources to educate potential owners. In a further qualitative evaluation to capture perceptions of appropriate solutions by DWOs, several themes emerged, relating to legislation, education, an overwhelmed workforce, and funding. Conclusions: This study provides important insights into the roles and functions of DWOs and challenges they experience in Ireland. It is hoped that the findings from this research will inform future research investigating potential solutions to these challenges as well as the development of policy in Ireland.
  • Publication
    Guidance on protocol development for EFSA generic scientific assessments
    EFSA Strategy 2027 outlines the need for fit‐for‐purpose protocols for EFSA generic scientific assessments to aid in delivering trustworthy scientific advice. This EFSA Scientific Committee guidance document helps address this need by providing a harmonised and flexible framework for developing protocols for EFSA generic assessments. The guidance replaces the ‘Draft framework for protocol development for EFSA's scientific assessments’ published in 2020. The two main steps in protocol development are described. The first is problem formulation, which illustrates the objectives of the assessment. Here a new approach to translating the mandated Terms of Reference into scientifically answerable assessment questions and sub‐questions is proposed: the ‘APRIO' paradigm (Agent, Pathway, Receptor, Intervention and Output). Owing to its cross‐cutting nature, this paradigm is considered adaptable and broadly applicable within and across the various EFSA domains and, if applied using the definitions given in this guidance, is expected to help harmonise the problem formulation process and outputs and foster consistency in protocol development. APRIO may also overcome the difficulty of implementing some existing frameworks across the multiple EFSA disciplines, e.g. the PICO/PECO approach (Population, Intervention/Exposure, Comparator, Outcome). Therefore, although not mandatory, APRIO is recommended. The second step in protocol development is the specification of the evidence needs and the methods that will be applied for answering the assessment questions and sub‐questions, including uncertainty analysis. Five possible approaches to answering individual (sub‐)questions are outlined: using evidence from scientific literature and study reports; using data from databases other than bibliographic; using expert judgement informally collected or elicited via semi‐formal or formal expert knowledge elicitation processes; using mathematical/statistical models; and – not covered in this guidance – generating empirical evidence ex novo. The guidance is complemented by a standalone ‘template’ for EFSA protocols that guides the users step by step through the process of planning an EFSA scientific assessment.
  • Publication
    Prescribing and sales of intramammary antimicrobials in Ireland in 2019 and 2020: the role of milk purchasers
    Background: In Ireland between 2008 and 2022, intramammary antimicrobial (AM) products could be prescribed by a veterinary practitioner under what was known as Schedule 8 (or remote) prescribing. Under this prescribing route, an annual herd visit was not required when criteria were met as outlined in Animal Remedies Regulation 2007 to 2017 (statutory instruments No. 786/2007 and 558/2017). Under this prescribing route, the responsibilities of the milk purchaser, the farmer and the veterinary practitioner were each outlined, and a written mastitis control programme (MCP) was required. Milk purchasers implemented MCPs on participating farms (so-called MCP herds) with support from veterinary practitioner(s) who undertook Schedule 8 prescribing of intramammary AM tubes. This study seeks a clearer understanding of the role of milk purchasers in the prescribing and sale of intramammary AM products in Ireland during 2019 and 2020, whilst this Regulation was in force. Specifically, the study sought insights into the role of milk purchasers in the prescribing and sale of intramammary AM products in the Irish dairy industry during 2019 and 2020, using anonymised and highly aggregated milk purchaser data. The study also provided insights into milk quality among supplying herds during this period. Methods: For this study, we had access to anonymised, highly aggregated data from all milk purchasers that operated a MCP on at least some of their supplying herds during 2019 or 2020. Data collection was undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. Data analysis was primarily descriptive. Results: Data were available on 11 milk purchasers (64.7% of all) and 13,251 supplying herds. Of these, 52% were MCP herds. The quality of milk from supplying herds varied significantly by month, year and milk purchaser. During 2019 and 2020, there was a single Schedule 8 prescriber (a private veterinary practitioner prescribing intramammary AMs as part of a MCP), on average, for 549.3 herds. The sale of intramammary AM products through milk purchasers represented 15.2% and 26.9% of national sales in in-lactation and dry cow tubes, respectively. There was an overall 2% increase in sales through milk purchasers between 2019 and 2020. Few European Medicines Agency (EMA) category B (‘Restrict’) intramammary AM products were sold by milk purchasers. For both in-lactation and dry cow tubes, there was a statistically significant association between EMA classification and route of sale (through milk purchasers or otherwise).
  • Publication
    Forensic analysis of epic privacy browser on windows operating systems
    Internet security can be compromised not only through the threat of malware, fraud, system intrusion or damage, but also via the tracking of internet activity. Criminals are using numerous methods to access data in the highly lucrative cybercrime business. Organized crime, as well as individual users, are benefiting from the protection of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and private browsers, such as Tor, Epic Privacy, to carry out illegal activity such as money laundering, drug dealing, the trade of child pornography, etc. News articles advising on internet privacy assisted in educating the public and a new era of private browsing arose. Although these measures were designed to protect legitimate browsing privacy, they also provided a means to conceal illegal activity. One such tool released for private browsing was Epic Privacy Browser. It is currently used in approximately 180 countries worldwide. Epic Privacy Browser is promoted as a chromium powered browser, specifically engineered to protect users' privacy. It operates solely in "private browser" mode and, after the close of the browsing session, it automatically deletes all browsing data. The developers of Epic Privacy Browser claim that all traces of user activity will be cleared upon close of the application. However, there is no forensic acquisition and analysis of Epic Privacy Browser in literature. In this paper, we contribute towards the goal of assisting forensic examiners with the location and type of evidence available through live and post-mortem state analysis of the Epic Privacy Browser on Windows 7 and Windows 10. This analysis identifies how the browser functions during use and where data can be recovered once the browser is closed, the necessary tools that will assist in the forensics discovery, and effective presentation of the recovered material.
  • Publication
    Battling the digital forensic backlog through data deduplication
    (IEEE, 2016-08-26)
    In recent years, technology has become truly pervasive in everyday life. Technological advancement can be found in many facets of life, including personal computers, mobile devices, wearables, cloud services, video gaming, web-powered messaging, social media, Internet-connected devices, etc. This technological influence has resulted in these technologies being employed by criminals to conduct a range of crimes - both online and offline. Both the number of cases requiring digital forensic analysis and the sheer volume of information to be processed in each case has increased rapidly in recent years. As a result, the requirement for digital forensic investigation has ballooned, and law enforcement agencies throughout the world are scrambling to address this demand. While more and more members of law enforcement are being trained to perform the required investigations, the supply is not keeping up with the demand. Current digital forensic techniques are arduously time-consuming and require a significant amount of man power to execute. This paper discusses a novel solution to combat the digital forensic backlog. This solution leverages a deduplication-based paradigm to eliminate the reacquisition, redundant storage, and reanalysis of previously processed data.
      3Scopus© Citations 39
  • Publication
    IPv6 security and forensics
    IPv4 is the historical addressing protocol used for all devices connected worldwide. It has survived for over 30 years and has been an integral part of the Internet revolution. However, due to its limitation, IPv4 is being replacing by IPv6. Today, IPv6 is more and more widely used on the Internet. On the other hand, criminals are also well aware of the introduction of IPv6. They are continuously seeking new methods to make profit, hiding their activities, infiltrate or exfiltrate important data from companies. The introduction of this new protocol may provide savvy cybercriminals more opportunities to discover new system vulnerabilities and exploit them. To date, there is little research on IPv6 security and forensics in the literature. In this paper, we look at different types of IPv6 attacks and we present a new approach to investigate IPv6 network attack with case studies.
      3Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    Learning fine-grained search space pruning and heuristics for combinatorial optimization
    Combinatorial optimization problems arise naturally in a wide range of applications from diverse domains. Many of these problems are NP-hard and designing efficient heuristics for them requires considerable time, effort and experimentation. On the other hand, the number of optimization problems in the industry continues to grow. In recent years, machine learning techniques have been explored to address this gap. In this paper, we propose a novel framework for leveraging machine learning techniques to scale-up exact combinatorial optimization algorithms. In contrast to the existing approaches based on deep-learning, reinforcement learning and restricted Boltzmann machines that attempt to directly learn the output of the optimization problem from its input (with limited success), our framework learns the relatively simpler task of pruning the elements in order to reduce the size of the problem instances. In addition, our framework uses only interpretable learning models based on intuitive local features and thus the learning process provides deeper insights into the optimization problem and the instance class, that can be used for designing better heuristics. For the classical maximum clique enumeration problem, we show that our framework can prune a large fraction of the input graph (around 99% of nodes in case of sparse graphs) and still detect almost all of the maximum cliques. Overall, this results in several fold speedups of state-of-the-art algorithms. Furthermore, the classification model used in our framework highlights that the chi-squared value of neighborhood degree has a statistically significant correlation with the presence of a node in a maximum clique, particularly in dense graphs which constitute a significant challenge for modern solvers. We leverage this insight to design a novel heuristic we call ALTHEA for the maximum clique detection problem, outperforming the state-of-the-art for dense graphs.
  • Publication
    Europäische Chancen und Schweizer Hoffnungen
    (Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur Förderung der politischen Bildung, 2023-11-15)
    Seit 2012 können EU-Bürger:innen direktdemokratische Initiativen unterschreiben und damit die EU-Kommission auffordern, ihre Politik zu ändern. Eine Europäische Bürgerinitiative (EBI) kommt zustande, wenn die Initiierenden eine Million Unterschriften zusammenbringen. Zwar muss die Kommission danach keine EU-weite Volksabstimmung organisieren, dennoch muss sie die EBI ernst nehmen und entsprechende Maßnahmen prüfen. Welche konkreten Erfahrungen haben europäische Gewerkschaften bislang mit EBIs gemacht?
  • Publication
    Towards the Leveraging of Data Deduplication to Break the Disk Acquisition Speed Limit
    Digital forensic evidence acquisition speed is traditionally limited by two main factors: the read speed of the storage device being investigated, i.e., the read speed of the disk, memory, remote storage, mobile device, etc.), and the write speed of the system used for storing the acquired data. Digital forensic investigators can somewhat mitigate the latter issue through the use of high-speed storage options, such as networked RAID storage, in the controlled environment of the forensic laboratory. However, traditionally, little can be done to improve the acquisition speed past its physical read speed from the target device itself. The protracted time taken for data acquisition wastes digital forensic experts' time, contributes to digital forensic investigation backlogs worldwide, and delays pertinent information from potentially influencing the direction of an investigation. In a remote acquisition scenario, a third contributing factor can also become a detriment to the overall acquisition time - typically the Internet upload speed of the acquisition system. This paper explores an alternative to the traditional evidence acquisition model through the leveraging of a forensic data deduplication system. The advantages that a deduplicated approach can provide over the current digital forensic evidence acquisition process are outlined and some preliminary results of a prototype implementation are discussed.
      10Scopus© Citations 1
  • Publication
    Behavioral Service Graphs: A Big Data Approach for Prompt Investigation of Internet-Wide Infections
    The task of generating network-based evidence to support network forensic investigation is becoming increasingly prominent. Undoubtedly, such evidence is significantly imperative as it not only can be used to diagnose and respond to various network-related issues (i.e., performance bottlenecks, routing issues, etc.) but more importantly, can be leveraged to infer and further investigate network security intrusions and infections. In this context, this paper proposes a proactive approach that aims at generating accurate and actionable network-based evidence related to groups of compromised network machines. The approach is envisioned to guide investigators to promptly pinpoint such malicious groups for possible immediate mitigation as well as empowering network and digital forensic specialists to further examine those machines using auxiliary collected data or extracted digital artifacts. On one hand, the promptness of the approach is successfully achieved by monitoring and correlating perceived probing activities, which are typically the very first signs of an infection or misdemeanors. On the other hand, the generated evidence is accurate as it is based on an anomaly inference that fuses big data behavioral analytics in conjunction with formal graph theoretical concepts. We evaluate the proposed approach as a global capability in a security operations center. The empirical evaluations, which employ 80 GB of real darknet traffic, indeed demonstrates the accuracy, effectiveness and simplicity of the generated network-based evidence.