Faculty Development Scheme (FDS) - Project Abstract

Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H13/20
Project Title: Functional Adequacy in Second Language Speaking and Writing Tasks: Measurement and Pedagogy
Principal Investigator: Dr BUI Gavin Hiu-yuet (HSUHK)


The past 30 years have witnessed a vast increase in research on second language (L2) task-based language teaching and learning (TBLT). In TBLT, students’ L2 performance has been typically measured along the dimensions of complexity, accuracy, lexis and fluency (CALF, see Bui & Skehan, 2018; Housen & Kuiken, 2009). Criticism on CALF’s inadequacy in assessing L2 task performance has begun to appear in recent years (e.g., Kuiken & Vedder, 2018; Pallotti, 2009), highlighting that learners may speak fluently and accurately while talking nonsense; the linguistic forms they produce may not be pertinent to the goal or the completion of a learning task. Functional adequacy, defined as the extent to which a learner’s performance is successful in fulfilling the task’s goals efficiently (Pallotti, 2009), has been largely overlooked in TBLT literature.

This project will explore functional adequacy together with conventional CALF measures in L2 task-based language teaching with four major aims: 1) To validate several recently proposed European frameworks of functional adequacy in the cross-cultural L2 context in Hong Kong and explore a new functional adequacy framework suitable for L2 learners of a different cultural background; 2) To examine the relationship between the conventional CALF model and the proposed functional adequacy framework in different task types and conditions; 3) To investigate the consistency and variation of the proposed functional adequacy framework in terms of modes of production: effects of L2 speaking and writing tasks; and 4) To explore the pedagogical implications for more effective TBLT with due emphasis on functional adequacy.

The findings of this research will have a major impact on the practice of task-based language teaching and learning in terms of both pedagogical intervention and assessment methods. They will help to shift teachers’ focus from linguistic competence to both forms and functions that are required for effective communication. This project will provide language teaching professionals around the world with a comprehensive framework for task performance evaluation which involves complexity, accuracy, lexis, fluency, as well as functional adequacy (CALFFA) suitable in a cross-cultural context. In the long run, this research will provide evidence for further theory construction in task-based language teaching. It will also serve as an important reference for education policymakers, testing services and textbook publishers.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E10/20
Project Title:
A study of a highly efficient carbon capture and utilization (CCU) approach for microalgae biofixation of CO2 enhanced by recombinant carbonic anhydrase immobilized onto magnetic nanocomposites
Principal Investigator:
Dr CHAN Cho-yin (THEi)


In past decades, many efforts have been focused on using more clean and renewable energy as well as increasing energy efficiency by the latest technology to reduce the emission level of carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas (GHG) that would cause serious problem on global warming. However, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global CO2 emission is still increasing because of the high demand for fossil fuel combustion for electricity generation to satisfy the rapid population and economic growth in developing countries. As a result, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has recently exceeded a record to over 400ppm and is projected to further increase to 530ppm by 2100. Significant climatic changes with adverse impacts of the global warming have been reported, for example, reduction of crop production, loss in biodiversity (i.e., damage to corals), and rising sea level due to icebergs melting are observed. In light of the Paris Agreement committed on climate change control in 2015, it is required to limit the increase of average global temperature to less than 1.5°C by 2030 compared with the pre-industrial temperatures, thus approximately 45% of existing CO2 emission should be urgently reduced. Low-carbon emission measures nowadays are commonly integrated into many energy-related sectors that attempted to achieve carbon neutrality. Moreover, the concept of carbon-negative emission has been introduced to remove a significant amount of CO2 from the atmosphere by using the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) approach. Currently, CCS is mainly proposed by absorbing CO2 from flue gas of fossil fuel combustion power plants or other industries, the absorbed CO2 is sequentially desorbed, concentrated by compression and permanently stored at underground sinks. However, major challenges are limiting this CCS for wide applications such as lacking robust materials for CO2 adsorption/absorption and their respective regeneration methods. Besides, CO2 compression and transportation require intensive energy supply that would contribute to another CO2 emission. Moreover, potential carbon leakage along with the processing steps and difficulty in site selection for deep storage (i.e. >800m underground) critically affect the success of this CCS approach. Instead, the Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) approach is proposed to use such captured CO2 as ingredients of different carbon-based materials such as polymers or solid carbonate for construction materials (i.e., MgCO3 and CaCO3). Recently, onsite microalgae biofixation of CO2 is suggested to capture CO2 from flue gas of fossil fuel combustion power plants and microalgae biomass produced eventually could be converted into biofuel and used as renewable energy source that the overcall CO2 emission can be significantly reduced. Therefore, in this study, the feasibility of the CCU approach designed for microalgae cultivation will be investigated. In order to increase CO2 capture by microalgae, the rate of CO2 hydration in culture medium will be firstly enhanced by using a recombinant enzyme, carbonic anhydrase (CA) originated from Bacillus halodurans. Thus, the conversion of dissolved CO2 into bicarbonate ion (HCO3) can be significantly increased while bicarbonate ion can be readily used by microalgae for carbon metabolism. The effect of CO2 levels on CO2 hydration in the presence of CA will be firstly investigated in both simulated flue gas (i.e., 5-15% CO2) and low CO2 conditions (ambient air with 400ppm CO2). Besides, effects of flue gas impurities like NOx and SO2 will be evaluated on both CO2 hydration process as well as microalgae growth and biomass production using freshwater species Scenedesmus obliquus and marine species Nannochloropsis oculata. The enzyme stability of CA can be further improved by immobilization (using cross-linking method) on a newly synthesized magnetic nanocomposites with specific coating (i.e., Fe3O4-SiO2-APTES). After enzymatic reaction, immobilized CA can be effectively separated from culture medium and reused by applying an external magnetic field. Besides, the possibility of using secondary treated wastewater for this CCU approach will be attempted because microalgae can effectively remove nutrients like nitrogen and phosphate from wastewater that effluent quality can be improved for water reuse purpose and freshwater footprint required for microalgae CCU can be reduced. Finally, a low-cost and high energy efficient continuous photobioreactor (PBR) integrated with immobilized recombinant CA will be developed for microalgae biofixation of CO2 to provide an alternative approach used for carbon emission reduction.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/B02/20
Project Title:
Book-Tax Relationships, Tax Avoidance and IPO: Evidence from China
Principal Investigator:
Prof CHAN Koon-hung (Caritas)


The main objective of the proposed research is to investigate and compare, with reference to the book-tax tradeoff theory, the relationship between taxable and accounting earnings immediately before and after a firm’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). IPO is an important event for a firm and its shareholders. The Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges are two of the leading players in the global IPO market. Between 2016 and 2019, the Shanghai Stock Exchange ranked as one of the Top 5 worldwide in terms of IPO fund raised. The Shenzhen Stock Exchange also ranked as one of the Top 5 in 2017. Given the large number of foreign and institutional investors involved in IPO, our research findings from China should also be relevant for economies beyond China. In particular, the Shanghai and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect facilitates Hong Kong investors to invest in the Mainland Chinese market.

If the framework of a sound theory can help establish a significant relationship between corporate tax avoidance and IPO, then the proposed research will provide important implications for investors (domestic and foreign), tax authorities, regulators, auditors, and other capital market stakeholders. Our research results can help various stakeholders make more informed decisions and formulate policies and regulations to address tax avoidance during the pre- and post-IPO periods.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/M09/20
Project Title: Chitosan-flocculated microalgal biomass as a supplement of food waste fish feed and its enhancement effects to growth and immunity of Scortum barcoo
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAN Sidney Man-ngai (OUHK)


The cost of running aquaculture is increasing drastically in recent years and exert financial pressure to the aquaculture industry. One of the reasons is the loss of fishes due to infections. Other than applying antibiotics or fish medicines, health of fish can be improved by addition of supplements to fish’s diet. Scortum barcoo (Jade Perch) is a popular aquaculture fish species in recent years. Unlike other common aquaculture species such as Tilapia and Carp, there are little reports on Scortum barcoo. Further understanding on its diet and physiology are crucial for the development of aquaculture and wellbeing of the species in aquacultures.

Microalgae is referred as the “green gold” of this century. It is one of the ideal replacements of crude oil and raw materials for manufacturing plastic, fertilizers, carbon fixation agent, etc. Microalgae can also be supplemented to the diet of fish for improving fish health and aquaculture productivity. The extensive application of microalgae is also hindered by its production cost. One way to lower the cost is to use wastewater, such as food waste leachate, rather than culture medium as nutrients for supporting the growth of microalgae. Harvesting the microalgae from liquid culture is another expensive process in microalgal biomass production. Flocculation has been proposed as an alternative technique for lowering the cost of harvesting. Some flocculants such as chitosan are non-toxic and biodegradable, and are safe to use for fish feed production. Indeed, chitosan itself has also been reported as supplement for fish. Although both microalgae and chitosan have been reported as supplements for fish, their combined effects remain unknown. Furthermore, the ratio of these supplements in diet of fishes is species-specific and should be worked out before application.

This project aims to produce chitosan-flocculated microalgal biomass as supplement for food waste fish feed and to investigate the beneficial effects of the supplement on the growth and immunity of Scortum barcoo, a recently popular fish species in aquaculture. In the project, a robust and nutritive local microalgal species will be selected from a microalgae library. The microalgal biomass will be produced in an internal illumination photobioreactor using diluted food waste leachate to support the growth of the biomass. By adjusting the food waste leachate dilution ratio, the microalgal biomass productivity will be optimized. The relationship between microalgal biomass harvesting efficiency and the quantity of chitosan, the flocculant, applied will be worked out. The effects of food waste fish feed supplemented with microalgae, chitosan and the mix of the two on the growth and non-specific immunity of Scortum barcoo will be elucidated. Finally, the best ratio of microalgae and chitosan for food waste fish feed will be proposed. The cost of microalgae- and chitosan-supplemented food waste fish feed will also be calculated and compared with commercial fish feed. The deliverables of the project include a formula of a high quality, cost-effective and environmental-friendly fish feed, journal and conference papers and a seminar to the aquaculture industry. Seminars will also be organized for local aquaculture industry to promote application of the fish feed formula.

It is believed that this project is beneficial to the society. The project contributes knowledge on microalgae harvesting techniques and diet and nutrition of Scortum barcoo. Furthermore, the waste-to-product strategy proposed in this project is in-line with the concept of sustainable city. Food waste and its leachate are highly polluting wastes. Chitosan can also be produced by recycling of fishery wastes. The project proposes a method recycling these wastes to a high-quality fish feed, a product with economical value. With the help of this waste-to-product strategy, the pollution by human activities is reduced. At the same time, high-quality aquaculture products can be produced at a lower cost and in long term the sustainability of aquaculture is enhanced.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/E02/20
Project Title: A low cost autopilot system for built environment applications
Principal Investigator: Dr CHAU Chun-pong (PolyU SPEED)


In 2014, the autopilot system was offered to some civil vehicles which had generated great impact on our society. The system was equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) for determining the position of the vehicle and providing maps for the navigation function while it was equipped with cameras, ultrasonic sensors, high-speed embedded system for analyzing the distances and directions between the proximity objects and the vehicles in order to autonomously drive the vehicles to the destination without any collision. Despite some accidents are reported due to the failures of the system, the autonomous driving experiences and results are still promising, and therefore, more and more people apply the autopilot system in their driving journeys.

With the success in the autopilot system, which was primarily applied to outdoor environments, researchers started to develop a similar system for the indoor environment as people spend around 90% of their time indoor. Therefore, the indoor autopilot system should definitely assist many applications for improving our living standard. For example, autopilot shopping trolleys can assist customers in a shopping mall for delivering their purchased goods. In Hong Kong, the government has a keen determination on the development of the smart city for its sustainable development and to attract businesses and talents around the world to contribute to the development of Hong Kong. Therefore, the Hong Kong Government announced the Smart City Blueprint in 2017 which promoted the use of innovation and technology to enhance the living quality, efficiency and safety of Hong Kong. Certainly, the development of the indoor autopilot system is an undoubted benefit to the smart city development as many automatic positioning and navigation applications can be built to assist human being. However, the positioning technologies developed in outdoor environments cannot be applied to indoor environments readily. The major problem faced by the indoor autopilot system is that the GPS is out of service in the indoor environments. In addition, the indoor environment is usually so complicated which makes the analysis of image, video or sensor signals more difficult than that in outdoor environments. As a result, the development of the indoor autopilot system lags the outdoor counterpart. Yet, still, no workable solution has been proposed.

In order to alleviate the mentioned problems found in the indoor autopilot system and its applications, we would like to propose our solution with the following goals:

  1. Develop a reliable indoor autopilot system using RF signals, vision data and data collected by other relevant sensors in different indoor environments and conditions without the installation of positioning hardware to the infrastructure.
  2. Apply the indoor autopilot system in the edge computing devices for reducing the reliance of cloud computing.
  3. Design a generic navigation robot which applies our developed autopilot system.

We will tackle the above goals of the project in sequence with the supports of the RGC and our Institute. If our application succeeds, we will use the fund to recruit research staff, purchase equipment and train students. Certainly, when each stage of the project is completed, we will present the research findings in conferences or journals.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H02/20
Project Title: The Study of Chuci in the Qing Dynasty
Principal Investigator: Dr CHEN Hung-to (HSUHK)


Since the Western Han dynasty, Chuci [the Songs of the South] has received serious attention among scholars. It is of crucial significance in the history of Chinese literature. In the premodern era, the study of Chuci was mainly conducted based on transmitted texts. Findings in philology, phonology and semantics were incorporated in order to explore the meaning and literary features of the text. Modern scholars, while inheriting the traditional methods of textual research, are also committed to sort out the reception history of Chuci. The Qing dynasty, with its compelling intellectual developments, marks the end of the premodern era and the beginning of modern scholarship. The study of Chuci at this juncture is significant both from a micro or micro level, and its influence has continued till today.

This project aims at exploring the development of Chuci in the Qing dynasty from the perspectives of textual history and intellectual history. First, this project will create an annotated bibliography that critically examines the texts related to Chuci in the Qing dynasty. Secondly, the project will analyze the historical contexts and formats of these Qing texts, delineate the methodologies adopted, and provide a comprehensive picture of Chuci studies in the Qing. Third, this project will position the works on Chuci in Qing intellectual history, and use this as a reflection of the interactions between the study of Chuci and the intellectual research at that time. An exuberant number of works has been written on Chuci in the Qing dynasty. This project will also create a database to facilitate further research on the subject matter.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/E03/20
Project Title: Theoretical Investigation and Control Scheme Development of a Compact Desiccant-enhanced Evaporative Cooling System
Principal Investigator: Dr CHEN Yi (PolyU SPEED)


In recent decades, the world has witnessed a rapid increase in building energy consumption, of which the air-conditioning (A/C) accounts for around 50%. It is expected to keep increasing with the raised demand for better indoor living environment. The desiccant-enhanced evaporative cooling system (DEVap) is regarded as one of the most promising alternative A/C solutions to traditional vapor compression system. A DEVap system is consisted of a desiccant dehumidifier and an indirect evaporative cooler (IEC) in series. The air is firstly dehumidified and then sensibly cooled by IEC. Without dependence on energy intensive compressor and environmental harmful CFCs as refrigerant, the DEVap takes the advantages of ultra-efficient and environmentally friendly. Besides, the possible use of low-grade energy for desiccant regeneration further contributes to its sustainability. However, one problem facing the DEVap technology is the complexity of the system. Numbers of components are connected, exert higher demand on installation space and maintenance. This situation creates obstacles in technology promotion, especially in the location where space shortage and high labor cost is the reality. Therefore, simplification of the DEVap by using more compact and efficient components is one of our motivations to propose the project. A newly developed liquid desiccant dehumidifier (LDD), named evaporative cooling-assisted internally cooled LDD, is proposed to be used in the DEVap. The internally self-cooled dehumidifier can avoid adding extra device (cooling tower or chiller) for desiccant solution cooling, contributing to a more compact DEVap system. Two further improvements have also made to this dehumidifier to enhance its heat and mass transfer, including: 1) adopt hexagon heat exchanger to realize counter-flow; 2) use cool and dry exhaust air as the secondary air for efficient evaporation. Besides, it is found that current research on DEVap focuses on the cooling system alone, less attention has been paid to the interaction with the indoor thermal environment. The regulation strategy of the spraying solution and water under changeable conditions for better indoor thermal comfort had seldom been discussed. Such a situation serves another motivation for us to propose this project. In this project, firstly, the heat and mass transfer model of the new DEVap will be established and experimentally validated. Focus will be placed on the closed-loop interaction among the indoor thermal condition, dehumidifier and evaporative cooler. Secondly, the thermal and energy performance of the system and sub-components will be evaluated under a wide range of operating conditions. The optimal design and operational parameters and guidelines are therefore proposed. Finally, a predictive model for system regulation under changeable indoor and outdoor conditions will be put forwarded. The outcomes of the research work can provide a reliable simulation basis, regulation strategy and useful guidelines on a next-generation DEVap.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H01/20
Project Title: Transitions across productive engagement patterns in late adulthood: Antecedents and consequences
Principal Investigator: Dr CHENG Grand Hak-land (OUHK)


Population aging is a global phenomenon. Against this backdrop, productive engagement, referring to people’s contributions to family and society (e.g., volunteering, caregiving), is a topic of sustained interest in the gerontology literature. Given the nature of productive engagement, governments in many regions, including Hong Kong, are keen to encourage this behavior among older people.

In the broader social sciences, an increasingly commonly used approach is to model the intertwinement among the multiple dimensions of interest to characterize prevalent patterns that approximate the reality. However, the literature on productive engagement is limited by the use of traditional methodologies that examine productive activities individually or combine the activities to form a single aggregate score. Few studies have attempted to identify prevalent patterns of productive engagement. Indeed, to date, there is a lack of data on productive engagement patterns among older people in Hong Kong.

It is also noted that social scientists have long advocated studying intraindividual changes. Specifically, there has been a call for research on transitions across productive engagement patterns. However, such transitions have not been investigated, and the related antecedents and consequences thus remain unknown. To fill the gaps in the literature and address local concerns, the proposed longitudinal study will adopt latent transition analysis to examine eight productive activities among older Hong Kong people: employment, formal volunteering, informal volunteering, caregiving for spouse, caregiving for parents (in-law), caregiving for grandchildren, housework support to children, and life-long learning. We will identify prevalent patterns of productive engagement at two time points (one year apart) and reveal the transitions across these patterns over time. To illustrate, results may show that some individuals will sustain “working-family contributions” (high chance of employment, housework support and caregiving), whereas some others will change from “working-family contributions” to “inactivity” (lacking all considered activities).

Moreover, with reference to the role perspective, we will examine the effect of transitions across productive engagement patterns on positive and negative psychological well-being. A possible finding is that compared with other transition types, a consistent demonstration of “working-family contributions” will entail higher levels of meaning in life (positive well-being) as well as depressive symptomatology (negative well-being). Also, in light of the resource theory, we will explore the antecedents (in terms of human, social, and cultural capital) of transitions across productive engagement patterns. Our data may reveal, for instance, that poor functional health (less human capital) will lead to a shift from “working-family contributions” to “inactivity”.

Conceptually speaking, by examining transitions across patterns of productive engagement, as well as the corresponding determinants and outcomes, the proposed study will construct a comprehensive picture of productive engagement. This study will also inform policymaking and service development. It will reveal distinct subgroups of older Hong Kong people in terms of changes in contributions to family and society, extending the understanding of social demography of this population. Furthermore, evidence on the antecedents and consequences of transitions across productive engagement patterns, if obtained, would indicate that when promoting productive engagement and well-being, it is critical to consider the intertwinement of productive activities longitudinally. Overall, this study will have significant conceptual and applied implications.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B02/20
Project Title: Audit Fee and Political Connections: The Moderating Effects of Local Institutional Environment and Gender Diversity
Principal Investigator: Mr CHEUNG Pat-yan (OUHK)


This project examines the impact of political connection on audit pricing and the moderating effects of local institutional factor and gender diversity on the relationship of political connection and audit fee in Chinese family firms. Family businesses represent a dominant form of businesses worldwide. According to the statistics of Family Firm Institute (2017, http://www.ffi.org/page/globaldatapoints), family business accounts for two-thirds of global business, occupies 70-90% of annual global GDP, and generates 50-80% of employment of many countries globally. China has been chosen as the research setting because private sector has grown to account for more than half of business enterprises in China by 2012 and more than 80% of private sector in China are family-owned. In addition, a Reuters article (2017, http://fortune.com/2017/03/02/china-rich-parliament-wealth/) reveals that many millionaire entrepreneurs joining the political world by becoming members of the People’s Congress and People’s Political Consultative Conference. Hence, this project explores how this recent phenomenon in family firms impacts audit pricing.

The audit pricing studies which examine the impacts of political connection show mixed results. Some studies report positive relationships between political ties and audit fees, while other studies show negative relationships. Motivated by the inconclusive evidence, this project analytically investigates the relationship. We consider two countervailing effects of political connection. First, because political ties can reduce the quality of pre-audit accounting information, political ties can increase the perceived audit risk and audit fees. Second, because political ties can provide legal advantages and shield the firms from legal liability, political ties can decrease the perceived litigation risk and audit fees. Because the two effects are countervailing, we cannot determine a priori whether political ties will increase or decrease audit fees.

Based on the audit fee model, we then develop hypotheses regarding the dynamic relationships between audit fees and political connectedness under different institutional and governance environments. Because the legal advantage brought by political connectedness should be smaller in a region with high-quality judiciary, we hypothesize that political connection will increase audit fees in such region. In addition, we investigate the impacts of board gender diversity. This project explores how female directors respond to the presence of politically-connected directors, as reflected through audit fees. Because female board representation is found to be positively associated with the quality of accounting information, we anticipate that female directors are able to alleviate the negative impacts of political connection on accounting information quality. We develop alternative hypotheses based on the “supply side” and the “demand side” views in the auditing literature. The “demand side” argument and the “supply side” argument suggest the relationship between political ties and audit fees to be positively and negatively moderated by female representation, respectively. In addition, we further test if the moderating impact of female representation on the level of audit fee varies in regions with different degree of gender egalitarianism.

Accounting in family firms is a worthwhile area for future research. However, many extant accounting studies do not consider the recent distinctive features of family businesses (e.g., appointment of politician directors and entry of entrepreneurs into the political system). This project investigates the implications of politician directors on audit pricing in family firms. We extend the previous studies by exploring the moderating effects of the external institutional factor (local judicial quality) and internal governance tool (board gender diversity) of family firms on the level of audit fees. This project should add value to the literature on auditing in family firms. Our result should provide new evidence in response to the calls for more accounting research in family firms.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B20/20
Project Title:
Sail away from the safe harbour? Examining the socio-psychological factors influencing Hongkongers to stay in Hong Kong and/or the Greater Bay Area, or to relocate elsewhere for work
Principal Investigator:
Dr CHOW Dawn Yi-lin (OUHK)


Our foremost aim is to understand what socio-psychological factors may encourage Hong Kong students to stay in the Hong Kong SAR for work and thereby contribute to HKSAR’s workforce and society. Our focus is on examining the well-educated youth cohort or population, with possible extensions for future studies assessing executives’ and civil servants’ responses. At the same time, we wish to explore this propensity to stay in Hong Kong SAR in connection with relocating to the Greater Bay Area of China. In other words, if Hongkongers are to leave Hong Kong for work, are they willing to leave the Hong Kong SAR for the mainland? Or do they leave China altogether? We hypothesize that “attachment to home country” (or rather home domicile in our case), a concept recently developed by our co-investigator Ying-yi Hong, would help answer these questions. Our attachment to home domicile concept is derived from attachment theory as originally proposed by John Bowlby (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1982), a theory which was initially applied to understand the role of relationships in human development from the cradle to the grave. Through our proposed theoretical framework, we wish to understand and identify a number of contextual and personal factors that may predict or moderate our hypothesized relationships in relation to staying in one’s home domicile. This research is relevant and timely for the Hong Kong SAR, for like other developed economies, the HKSAR’s workforce is expected to shrink in the medium-to-long term due to the demographic trends of a rapidly ageing population, low fertility rates, as well as the increased global mobility of its skilled workforce. The results of our study will be of interest and application to educational institutes, government agencies, as well as HR practitioners. At the same time, the answers to our questions will be of interest to the Chinese State Council, which has laid out the roadmap for greater integration between the Hong Kong SAR and 10 other neighboring cities (Cheung and He, 2019). Other researchers have posited that although Hong Kong and mainland China share some similarities, tensions between the two remain due to the radically different historical experiences they have gone through (Ho et al., 2003). Thus, this study scrutinizes how these tensions relate to attachment to home domicile in assessing the challenges that policy makers may face in attempting to get youthful talent to move to the Greater Bay Area.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/H02/20
Project Title:
Identifying Supply and Demand Gaps that Influence Employability and Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry
Principal Investigator:
Dr CHOY Monica Wai-chun (THEi)


The aim of this research is to identify, in the hospitality and tourism industry, existing supply and demand gaps that may influence new recruits’ employability and the industry’s sustainable quality.

The hospitality and tourism industry (“the industry” hereafter) is a key economic pillar in Hong Kong. It is a labour -intensive industry in which human capacity building is crucial for sustainability. A key concern in the industry is a supply-and-demand balance, not only to employers, but also for the Government’s human resource planning in general. While the industry has a tremendous demand for new recruits of high calibre, new blood who join the industry may not be equipped with the professional knowledge, practical skills, and appropriate attitudes that meet the expectations of employers. To ensure new recruits meet such demands, vocational and professional education and training (VPET) plays a significant role. VPET has the responsibility of producing new employees who can demonstrate operational effectiveness, maintain service quality, and contribute to corporate profitability to support the long-term development of the local economy. To optimise VPET’s function of training new blood and talent, it is imperative for VPET providers to understand any gaps that may exist between the current supply (i.e., VPET) and demand (i.e., the labour market). With this understanding, VPET will be in the best position to equip new blood with the attitude, skills, and knowledge that match the expectations of employers in the industry. Generation Z with different skill sets and career expectation is about to join the labour market. The divergence in capabilities and expectations among existing employees and those of the newest generation can be prejudicial to individual employees, business entity and industry as a whole. How can VPET build a pipeline of future workforce and how industry can attract and engage new talents present an emerging challenge.

Hence the objectives of the research are:

  1. To identify the needs of undergraduates undertaking VPET in the industry.
  2. To identify discrepancies in expectations between employers and potential Generation Z employees.
  3. To elucidate supply and demand gaps to discover strategies to improve VPET programmes for the industry.
  4. To compare perceptions of practitioners in various roles and stages of professional development to recommend employment strategies, and developmental pathways to facilitate sustainable quality of the industry.

The research will target a sample of: (1) hotel industry practitioners who are currently working in the capacity as managers (often referred to as supervisor, officer, manager, executive, general manager, or director in the industry), (2) hotel industry practitioners who are serving as frontline employees in room divisions and food and beverage department , (3) local full-time undergraduate and sub-degree students who are studying in hospitality-related VPET programmes in Hong Kong, and (4) tutors who are teaching the sampled students.

This research adopts a two-stage mixed methods approach. The quantitative component in stage 1 will be conducted through a survey of managers, employees, students, and tutors, designed on the basis of the literature identifying crucial Attitude-Skill-Knowledge (ASK) elements, self-concepts, and students’ sources of support as predictors of short-term and long- term outcomes relevant to the training and development for the industry. With background variables such as age, gender, experience, etc., statistical modelling will identify which predictors best predict which outcomes with controlled backgrounds. Data from 1,040 surveys will enable us to identify the needs of undergraduates, any discrepancies between their perceptions and their potential employers’ and current employees’ and make recommendations for VPET providers. The qualitative component in stage 2 will involve managers, employees, students, and their tutors in a total of 90 interviews, analysed using grounded theory as the guiding framework. The interview data will enable us to recommend employment strategies and developmental pathways to facilitate the sustainable quality of the industry. The research is expected to generate new theory-led and evidence-based knowledge to enable Hong Kong to be the best in the world in hospitality and tourism.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/H09/20
Project Title:
A study on the academic stress of social work students in their fieldwork placement
Principal Investigator:
Dr CHU Cheong-hay (Caritas)


The proposed study is the first study in Hong Kong to examine the perceived academic stress of students exhibited in their placement. The relationship between the background of students, their level of perceived academic stress, and the response of students will be examined. It will also study the impact of the perceived academic stress upon students’ satisfaction with their placement, their well-being and professional identity. A mixed methodology approach will be adopted and all local recognized social work degree and post-degree students having their fieldwork placement will be invited to participate in this study. The level of academic stress students perceived, their coping methods, and their level of satisfaction towards their placement, well-being and professional identity will be measured by quantitative methods while the explanation of the relationship of the variables will be explored through in-depth qualitative interviews of a small group of voluntary informants. The findings will be useful to develop strategies that can better prepare students for their practice learning.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS13/E01/20
Project Title: Truthful Mechanism Design for Facility Location Game with Agents' Migration Scheme
Principal Investigator: Dr FONG Ken Chi-kit (Chu Hai)


In the proposed research, we consider a general class of facility location problems (FLPs). In FLPs, we have a set of users residing within a set of countable locations (e.g., residential neighborhoods) and a set of public facilities (e.g., parks) that can be located to serve the users. The general aim of the FLPs is to design efficient mechanisms that elicit preferences from the users (e.g., users’ locations) and decide the optimal placement of the facilities to minimize some predetermined objectives (e.g., the transportation time among all users to the located facilities). Typically, the designed mechanism is known to all the users. As a result, all users understand how the mechanism operates, and the users can potentially benefit (i.e. minimize his transportation cost) by reporting false information (e.g., reporting location that is different from the resided location). Therefore, our aim is to design mechanisms to locate the facilities to prevent the users from misreporting their information as well as optimally place the facilities to minimize some objectives.

FLP has been well studied in social choice literature, and majority of the studies focus on the setting on single stage, where the mechanism only makes a single-period decision to place the facility according to the users’ preference. However, in many real-world scenarios, it is possible that the mechanism makes decisions in multiple rounds/periods such that the facilities may be relocated to some other locations over time. Let us consider one scenario where we have several ice-cream vendors from the same company located on the beach. Over time, the beach may be visited by a number of customers, and the customers’ locations may vary from time to time. Naturally, the customers would like to pick the closest vendor to buy ice-creams. If we only make a single decision to place the vendors in a fixed location, the vendors may lose their customers over time as their locations can be far away from the customers (who move over time) when time changes. Therefore, in this scenario, in order to maximize the profit throughout the day, multiple stages are required (e.g., the ice-cream vendors need to change their locations over time).

In the example above, it is possible that not all of the customers will be served (e.g., due to limited supplies). In this project, we will consider an extra constraint of capacity and aim to model the scenario below.

Assume that we have a long and narrow street where several bus stops are located on the street in order to pick up the citizens to work. The demand of the usage of the bus may vary from time to time (e.g., there will be higher demand during the rush hour). Throughout the day, a bus may arrive in an interval of 15~30 minutes with limited seats. If the number of citizens is more than the number of the seats of the bus, then some of the citizens may need to wait for the bus in the next round. From the perspective of the citizens, they would like to have more buses in order to guarantee that they can get on the bus to work as soon as possible. From the perspective of the government, sending more buses may cause traffic jams on the road and wasting resources if the buses are not fully loaded. Therefore, the government wants to send the minimum number of buses in order to handle the demand.

The objective of this project is to develop new models by introducing capacity constraints in the FLPs with multiple stages. Our ultimate goal is to design truthful mechanisms that determine the optimal placement of facilities to minimize the total waiting time and walking distance in the bus stop scenario over time.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/P01/20
Project Title: Improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) management through Scientific IAQ monitoring and App Survey with an indication of energy demand reduction
Principal Investigator: Dr HAN Jie (OUHK)


Indoor air quality (IAQ) has recently become a cause for concern among people in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government thus has introduced the IAQ Certification Scheme (in short 2019 IAQ Scheme and hereafter) to provide a two-level of IAQ objectives ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ classes for offices and public places, so as to improve and promote public awareness on the IAQ issue. However, the current Scheme implemented in Hong Kong has a lot of pitfalls and inadequacies.

In this study, firstly, we will attempt to expose the pitfalls and inadequacies of the 2019 IAQ Scheme by investigating (i) the extent to which is representative in the premises; (ii) the number of sampling points required for the floor area and (iii) the approachability in manipulating measurement conditions/locations to meet the benchmarks. Different places in our University, Jubilee College campus (OUHK JCC) such as the library, classrooms and offices will be selected as a pilot study for IAQ measurement. By looking at the deviations of measurement data among different spatial and temporal measurement points in different types and sizes of places, we will provide suggestions for optimizing the current IAQ Scheme in Hong Kong. In addition, we will conduct pre-survey and post-survey walk-through inspections to identify the sources of poor IAQ in OUHK, and attempt to rectify the problems. The relevant findings will also be used to provide scientific suggestions on 2019 IAQ Scheme in Hong Kong and may extend to optimize international standards/guidelines in the future.

Secondly, we will design sets of personal experience surveys through a mobile app survey system. We expected to invite more than 800 students and staff to contribute the personal thermal comfort survey. Respondents can view the real time survey results, and such kinds of instant response data will be analyzed and correlated with IAQ monitoring parameters (e.g. temperature, air speed, CO2, PM10, relative humidity, etc.). The data obtained will help to examine the current IAQ enhancement practices of building management and look for solutions to benefit staff and students. In addition, a metamodel based ventilation control scheme will be developed based on the IAQ monitoring and survey results, which can be used to achieve an integrated optimization of indoor air quality and energy demand. The developed metamodel is highly dependent on the massive and reliable data from real-time monitoring, so that the model training process will help exam and determine the required number and locations of wireless sensors in return. The model built will contribute to the blueprint of smart buildings in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS17/H01/20
Project Title:
The loneliness of older adults being cared for by live-in migrant workers and their dyadic relationship: A mixed methods study
Principal Investigator:
Dr HO Hok-man (TWC)


This is the first mixed methods phenomenological study to investigate the association between the loneliness of community-dwelling older adults being cared for by live-in migrant workers (MWs) (known as ‘foreign domestic helpers’ in Hong Kong) and their dyadic relationship quality. Live-in MWs are migrants employed by local families to provide domestic labour. Older adult loneliness is a major public health issue, and four developments make this research topic particularly important. First, 10% of older adults in Hong Kong suffer from high levels of loneliness which can lead to severe negative health outcomes. However, the loneliness of community-dwelling older adults is largely unexplored among the Chinese population. Second, 183,000 older adults in Hong Kong are being cared for by live-in MWs. Their dyadic relationship is under-investigated, and the influence of their relationship quality on older adult loneliness is unknown. Third, the proportion of retired couple households with live-in MWs has increased more than threefold in the past decade and the proportion of older singleton households with live-in MWs has increased fourfold over the same period. The need to understand the association between these two factors is pressing. Fourth, the Hong Kong government has a policy of ‘ageing in place as the core, institutional care as back up’. The findings of this study can provide direction for offering appropriate support to alleviate the loneliness of community-dwelling older adults, thus contributing to ageing in place.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E04/20
Project Title:
Distributed Multi-hop C-V2X Self-Optimizing Network
Principal Investigator:
Dr HOU Yun (THEi)


There has been a growing research interest in vehicular communication to facilitate smart city applications, including road safety, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and autonomous driving. Vehicular network is a special kind of wireless networks in terms of its high mobility that causes rapid changing radio propagation channels, and dynamic network topology that leads to low reliability and high latency. In the past five years, a new vehicular technology emerged, i.e., the Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X), which is standardized by 3GPP and evolving from 4G to 5G. However, most of the research on C-V2X focused on its single-hop performance. Although as a direct communication means, C-V2X offers the flexibility of autonomous networking without the present of a base station (BS), the networking performance of C-V2X in a multi-hop network was not thoroughly investigated in prior studies. Therefore, it is of critical importance to develop algorithms and techniques to improve the efficiency of C-V2X networking and optimization. This project aims to develop a distributed optimization framework with controlled mobility for multi-hop Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) networks, in which we will develop the mathematical models of controlled node mobility in vehicular networks, establish a link capacity model for the physical layer of C-V2X that conforms to the 3GPP standard and devise a Network Utility Maximization (NUM) framework to consider joint optimization over transmission power, controlled node mobility, as well as the time-frequency resource allocation under the developed physical-layer link model of C-V2X.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H21/20 (Withdrawn)
Project Title: A Relational-cognitive Perspective on E-coaching: A Multi-level Moderated Mediation Model of Self-efficacy and Leader-member Exchange
Principal Investigator: Dr HUI Tak-yin (OUHK)


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/H06/20
Project Title: An exploratory study on the institutionalization of a case management model for community care services in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr KAN Wing-shan (Caritas)


Hong Kong is facing the challenges of population ageing. Along with this is a serious gap between the supply of long-term care services and their demand. In response, the case management model has been recommended as a new service delivery mode for community care services in Hong Kong. The literature on case management has been critically reviewed, and it is found that most of the studies focus on evaluating the outcomes of case management, and only a few have examined the process. In Hong Kong, none of the research on case management has focused on the social welfare sector. To address this knowledge gap, the study will conduct a process evaluation of case management in community care services in Hong Kong, utilizing a qualitative research approach.

The goal of this research is to obtain evidence that will allow policymakers understand when and how case management will be effective, how to institutionalize such a system, and what particular forms of case management would be recommendable.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H03/20
Project Title:
Sounds in Two Cities: Soundscape and Auditory Culture in Shanghai and Hong Kong Literature (1930s -1950s)
Principal Investigator:
Dr KWOK Sze-wing (HSUHK)


This research project probes into the soundscape and auditory culture represented in Shanghai and Hong Kong literature in 1930s-1950s. Unlike many previous studies emphasizing on visual culture and printed matter, this project is going to revisit the modernity of the two cities’ literature from the perspective of “sound”. Since late-Qing dynasty, Shanghai has been one of the most advanced cities in China. It had also become the most famous cosmopolis of the Far East in the 1930s. At the same time, colonial Hong Kong was also experiencing progress of modernization. The western material culture had not only changed the landscapes of Shanghai and Hong Kong, but also created new soundscapes for citizens of the two cities. When writers wrote about Shanghai and Hong Kong, they captured and carved the landscapes full of different kinds of sound. This reminds us that auditory culture is no less important than visual culture in the project of modernity, though it is somehow not easy to be noticed.

This research project is going to focus on two aspects of auditory culture: “soundscapes of the city” and “sound media of mechanical reproduction”. It analyzes how soundscapes were represented and how acoustic spaces were reconstructed in Shanghai and Hong Kong literature before and after the War, i.e. 1930s-1950s. It also explores how the sound media of mechanical reproduction were presented and transformed into literary works. It would lead to a new understanding of the alternative modernity and a different imagination of urban culture in Chinese literature.

Besides, this research project attempts to trace a linkage between Shanghai and Hong Kong literature from the perspective of auditory culture. The flowering of urban culture in Shanghai nourished new forms and techniques of Chinese literature. As most scholars tend to agree, literature and culture of Haipai (i.e. Shanghai school), which was a mixture of Chinese and western cultures, had a significant influence on early Hong Kong literature. During and after the War, many Chinese writers came to Hong Kong. Some of them had only stayed for several years, but some of them stayed in Hong Kong for the rest of their lives. By comparing the characteristics of sound writing and representation of auditory culture of these writers, this project attempts to uncover another possible relationship between Shanghai and Hong Kong literature. It would nourish the comparative studies of auditory modernity about the literature of the two cities and finally illuminate the significance of auditory culture in the studies of modern Chinese literature.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E06/20
Project Title:
Modelling building rehabilitation costs to combat the problems of ageing apartment buildings in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator:
Dr LAU Wai-kin (THEi)


The ageing of building stock is taking place in more developed regions. Old and dilapidated buildings, especially those in high-rise, high density cities, are urban time bombs posing safety hazards to the occupants and the general public. Hong Kong, a typical high-rise, high-density city, is facing rapid ageing of its buildings. Immediate attention and actions to combat urban decay are required. The lack of funds and malpractice have been barriers to timely maintenance and rehabilitation. Although the government introduced subsidy schemes and building rehabilitation platform to remove these barriers, knowledge about rehabilitation costs, and malpractice such as bid rigging is inadequate. With aims to facilitate rehabilitation in Hong Kong’s apartment buildings, this project applies machine learning techniques to predict building rehabilitation costs and examines the pricing strategies of building rehabilitation projects.

In developing prediction models of building rehabilitation cost, the determinants of building rehabilitation cost will be investigated, and the indicators measuring building rehabilitation projects will be identified. Machine learning techniques will be used to develop the prediction models. Project and cost data, including project-scope parameters and physical building characteristics of more than 450 rehabilitation projects completed between 2009 and 2018 collected from the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), together with other data such as building slenderness ratio and project locality, will be the input data. The relationships between building rehabilitation costs and socioeconomic factors will be explored to reveal pricing strategies. The findings will not only help to alleviate urban decay in Hong Kong and other similar cities experiencing the ageing of building stock, but they will also help to evaluate and fine-tune policies on urban renewal.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/B03/20
Project Title: Motivating Seasonal Influenza Vaccination among College Students: A Social Marketing Intervention Study
Principal Investigator: Dr LEE Suet-mui (PolyU SPEED)


Seasonal Influenza-associated illnesses and deaths continue to be a global health burden (WHO, 2018). Influenza is a highly infectious disease and the risk of a campus-wide outbreak is high due to the close study, social, and living environment among college students. Although vaccination is evidently the most effective measure to prevent seasonal influenza, the annual vaccination rate among college students is exceedingly low. Increasing the uptake rate of influenza vaccines among college students benefits both the students and the community. First, the prevention of influenza among college students averts impaired academic performance and social interaction caused by influenza-related symptoms. Second, vaccinated students with immunity to influenza virus also protect their close contacts and the community from influenza complications and subsequent morbidity and mortality. Therefore, an effective strategy to promote seasonal influenza vaccination among college students is essential.

While health promotion campaigns aiming at motivating vaccination through information provision and education do not effectively affect vaccination behaviour, researchers and practitioners called for social marketing intervention strategy to address the shortcoming of traditional cognitive approach (Nowak, Gellin, MacDonald, & Butler, 2015; WHO, 2013). Since the World Health Organization (WHO) advocated exploring the potential value of social marketing approach to addressing low vaccination rate (WHO, 2013), empirical studies predominantly focused on high-risk population groups such as young children and elderly people. To address the gap in knowledge and a neglected important topic, this research intends to use a formative research study to inform the development of a social marketing campaign designed to motivate seasonal influenza vaccination among college students.

The proposed research will contribute to the understanding of the potential value of marketing principles and practices in public health promotion with emphasis on seasonal influenza vaccination. This study also has significant practical implications for Hong Kong with four months of winter influenza surge in a year (GovHK, 2019a). The findings of this research will help healthcare policymakers and health promotion practitioners in higher education institutions to effectively affect influenza vaccination behaviour among college students. Results of the research will also offer insights for teaching courses in relation to social marketing and the application of marketing principles in public health promotion.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/M06/20
Project Title: Mechanism Underlying Algicidal Activity of P4, a Novel Bacterium Isolated from an Algal Bloom in Hong Kong, against Icthtyotoxic Dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi
Principal Investigator: Prof LEE Wang-fat (OUHK)


Harmful algal blooms (HABs), also called “red tides,” are caused by excessive proliferation of harmful algal species in bodies of water. HABs occur frequently worldwide and have severe effects on the aquaculture industry and human health. Most of these microalgae species are highly toxic. Karenia mikimotoi is among the most toxic and deadly species; its fish-killing ability is notably dangerous. Both Hong Kong and mainland China have been adversely affected by K. mikimotoi blooms. For example, in 2016, K. mikimotoi blooms killed more than 200 tons of fish in several local fish-farming zones in Tolo Harbor.

The frequency of HABs has been increasing in recent years; failure to effectively control HABs will greatly threaten our economy and human health. However, effective HAB control measures have yet to be developed. Although both physical and chemical methods have been proposed, such methods are costly and may engender major pollution problems. Several researchers have published articles on the use of marine bacteria for HAB control.

In general, algicidal bacteria are defined as bacteria that can inhibit or kill algal species. Bacteria play a major role in reducing algal blooms, and numerous studies have demonstrated that algicidal bacteria have considerable potential for use in HAB control. Increasing numbers of algicidal bacterial species have recently been identified, and their algicidal activities have been extensively studied and reviewed. However, the algicidal mechanism of such bacteria is poorly understood. In particular, algicidal bacteria specifically isolated from waters in Hong Kong have yet to be reported. Accordingly, to effectively use such bacteria for controlling HABs, studying their algicidal mechanism is imperative.

A novel algicidal bacterial strain, namely P4 (Maribacter dokdonensis), has been isolated from an algal bloom sample collected from an HAB caused by K. mikimotoi in Hong Kong. The bacterial strain shows strong algicidal activity against K. mikimotoi. We propose a study with the aim of investigating the algicidal mechanism of P4 against three different K. mikimotoi strains isolated from Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand separately. The algicidal activities of P4 cultures with various cell concentrations and growth phases will be assessed through the cocultivation of P4 and K. mikimotoi in a system in which P4 and K. mikimotoi will be physically separated by a semipermeable membrane. The physiological and biochemical responses as well as cell cycle of K. mikimotoi during P4-induced cell death will be investigated. Furthermore, the molecular mechanism of P4-induced K. mikimotoi cell death will be investigated using comparative proteomic approaches. In parallel, molecular responses of both P4 and K. mikimotoi cells through their interaction in the algicidal process will also be deduced.

The integrated physiological, biochemical, cellular, and molecular analyses in the proposed study will provide a comprehensive picture of how different molecules are regulated in algal cells upon exposure to algicidal bacteria, which will in turn provide valuable insights into the interaction between bacterial cells and algal cells during the algicidal process. Knowledge of the algicidal mechanism will help to explain the cellular regulation and possible pathways in algal cells exposed to algicidal bacteria and should contribute to the eventual development of an effective strategy for the control of HABs. In the long term, successful completion of the proposed study will have significant implications for fish farms and shellfish industries; the results could be applied locally, throughout mainland China, and even internationally.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/M12/20
Project Title:
"Dirty work": A photovoice study of residential aged care in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator:
Prof LEE Yin-king (OUHK)


The notion of “dirty work” (厭惡性工作) as a socially constructed metaphor of caregiving work in “residential care homes for the elderly” (RCHE) has been a critical factor in RCHE’s acute shortages of health care staff in Hong Kong which operates within the context of rapid population ageing and increasing social demand for RCHE work. The term “dirty work” has not been well-defined yet and this term is generally used by a variety of stakeholders in social discourses at all levels to describe RCHE work or to explain RCHE staff shortages in Hong Kong. Although RCHE work has been socially perceived as a kind of “dirty work”, the RCHE workers’ insider experiences with the meaning of RCHE work are largely absent from the community and the literature.

This study adopts a descriptive qualitative design within an epistemologically essentialist/realist framework of analysis and employs “photovoice” as a participatory research methodology based on the principle of empowerment to guide the processes of inquiry. Potential participants will include personal care workers, health workers, and registered / enrolled nurses working in RCHE. Convenience sampling method will be used to ensure the availability of participants working in RCHE, and maximum variation sampling method will be used to ensure heterogeneity of the participants in terms of such characteristics as ranks, years of RCHE work experiences, and types of RCHE they work for in order to maximise the variety of RCHE workers’ perspectives on the phenomenon being studied.

An estimated number of about 30 participants will be recruited to participate in a ‘five-stage’ process of data collection and data analysis, including (1) first interviews, where the participants will be involved in in-depth individual semi-structured interviews to examine their perceptions about RCHE work and the “dirty work” metaphor; (2) photo-taking, in which the participants will take photos that best represent the “dirty work” metaphor and their own meanings of RCHE work; (3) initial data analysis, researcher conduct preliminary data analysis; (4) second interviews, researcher invites participants for a second interview and they will be invited to present and deliberate on their photos in order that the meanings of their work will be further clarified and explained; and (5) data analysis,  researchers analyse the second interviews’ data thematically, and the results from the initial analysis of the first and second interviews will be put together for further thematic analysis in order to identify patterns of meanings (themes) within the entire data set.

The results of the study will significantly add to our understanding of the RCHE workforce crisis in Hong Kong and contribute to generating new insights on the development of public policy initiatives to cope with the workforce crisis from a socio-cultural perspective.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/H13/20
Project Title: Stress-Buffering Effects of Coping Strategies and Social Supports on Psychological Distress: A Longitudinal Panel Study of the Antecedents of Problematic Social Media Use
Principal Investigator: Prof LEUNG Louis Wing-chi (Shue Yan)


Social media are a necessity in modern life. According to a recent Pew study (2018), over 80% of teenagers and post-Millennials said that social media made them feel more connected, built stronger friendships, provided emotional support, and exposed them to a more diverse world. However, previous research suggested that the excessive and compulsive engagement with FDS1 (Nov 2019) 12 social media and their users’ perceived need to be constantly connected to social media are considered problematic (Kuss & Griffiths, 2017). Moreover, recent research showed a potential association between problematic social media use and psychiatric disorders (Hussain & Griffiths, 2018).

Although there are high levels of public, scholarly, and clinical interest in the relationship between mental health and the use of digital media, there are three major shortcomings in the existing research on problematic social media use: 1) the amount of time spent on social media as an indicator of the problematic use of social media; 2) the focus on individual attributes as antecedents, whereas external factors are overlooked; and (3) few causal mechanisms in examining how the use of social media might affect psychological distress (PD). Hence, the variables of usage and frequency may have failed to capture the nuances of specific social media engagements. In addition, there is little knowledge about which specific social media engagements are associated with PD, emotional problems, and a range of other non-specific declines in mental health.

The proposed research is aimed to bridge these gaps in the literature by further explicating problematic social media use in the context of its symptoms and examining the roles of both external (i.e., life stress and technostress) and individual antecedents (i.e., deficient self-regulation and fear of missing out [FoMO]) to provide a holistic overview of why and how problematic social media use occurs and influences mental health. Among a variety of risk factors, stressful life events are viewed as the leading cause of psychological distress (Siegler, 2014). Another risk factor, technostress, is the phenomenon in which end users experience stress due to information and communication overloads. However, the effects of stressful life events and technostress vary depending on the individual’s coping strategies in using social media to solve problems. In times of stress, individuals who seek social support through social media (e.g., using Instagram or WhatsApp for a brief chat) often experience decreased distress. Thus, this study tests the stress-buffering effects of coping strategies and social support received both online and offline on PD and psychological well-being.

The onset of most lifetime mental disorders occurs between 17 and 24 years of age (i.e., post-Millennials or Generation Z) (Kessler et al., 2005). Mental health problems among young adults have become a significant public health concern worldwide. Today, social media are used heavily by digital kids and adults. This study is focused on subjects aged 17–54 years who are likely to be frequent social media users. A longitudinal panel study approach is used to determine whether and how external and individual antecedents have causal effects on problematic social media use and consequently on PD. The data are collected in two waves one year apart. A questionnaire survey will be administered to a random panel sample of N = 1,000 participants in Wave 1. In Wave 2 (12 months later), because the expected moderate drop-out rate is 50%, to a follow-up sample of N = 500 using the same questionnaire but through online survey. The panel participants who express interest in continuing to participate in the study will be contacted again. Although experimental research is unparalleled in establishing causal relationships in the short term, a longitudinal design is useful in identifying the causal paths that will help illuminate the roles of individual and external antecedents in problematic social media use and its influence on mental health.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/B15/20
Project Title:
Demystifying Audit Pricing: Is There Auditor's Optimistic Bias?
Principal Investigator:
Dr LEUNG Tak-yan (OUHK)


This project examines the impacts of demographic and institutional factors on optimistic bias in audit pricing, upon receiving news of financial statement fraud committed by an auditee or a peer firm. Financial statement fraud, which is the intentional misrepresentation of the financial affairs of a firm, is a common phenomenon worldwide and has become increasingly serious. According to the Report to the Nations 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (https://www.acfe.com/report-to-the-nations/2018/), the firms lose about 5% of their annual revenues to fraud. The usefulness of the financial statements depends on their creditability, i.e., financial reporting quality. Audit is an external governance mechanism investors can rely on to monitor corporate behaviors. Hence, one reliable monitoring device to protect the interest of the shareholders is the appointment of auditors. The differences in financial reporting credibility and quality can be reflected in different levels of audit fees. Auditors charge a higher audit fee for an auditee with higher audit risk. Hence, auditees which are perceived by the auditors as having lower litigation risk can pay lower audit fee.

There are four hypotheses in this project. We first examine the influence of demographic factors and optimism of auditor on audit pricing. Auditors form their belief about the legal and regulatory environment based on the previously observed signals. For example, auditors re-assess the hostility of legal and regulatory environment each time that they receive news about the detection and sanction of financial statement fraud. An auditor with more optimistic belief about the legal and regulatory environment will charge a lower audit fee, and vice versa. Optimistic bias tends to be more prevalent under some circumstances and among individuals with certain demographic traits. We expect male auditors are more optimistic upon receiving the bad news about the legal and regulatory environment and hence the increase in audit fee is smaller for a male auditor than for a female auditor. In addition, we expect subsequent to receiving bad news about legal and regulatory environment, an increase in audit fee is different for a young auditor and an older auditor. Next, we explore the cultural difference on optimism. China is a large country consisting of people from various racial and cultural backgrounds. There is a major psychological difference between people in the North and the South in China. Because people in the North of China tend to be more individualistic and individualism is positively related to optimism, auditors locating in the North of China should exhibit greater optimism in audit pricing. Therefore, we expect the increase in audit fee is smaller for an auditor locating in the North of China than in the South of China subsequent to receiving bad news about the legal and regulatory environment.

In addition to demographic and cultural factors, we examine the perception of control. People tend to be more optimistic for controllable events than uncontrollable events. Chinese legal and regulatory institutions have been criticised for ambiguity and inconsistency. Since ambiguity and inconsistency reduce the auditor’s perception of control, the auditor’s optimism in audit pricing should be lower. We expect that an increase in audit fee is smaller for an auditor locating in a region with more developed legal infrastructure than in a region with less developed legal infrastructure subsequent to receiving bad news about the legal and regulatory environment.

A high frequency of law violation discourages investment. There are always calls from the public to improve corporate governance and provide more investor protection. Traditional corporate governance mechanisms, which include government supervision and board monitoring have been widely explored. In this project, we argue one mechanism to determine the merits of governance is to consider from the auditor’s perspective through the study of auditor’s belief about the legal and regulatory environment, optimistic bias, and audit pricing (audit effort). The findings may contribute to auditing and corporate governance literature by considering the impacts on audit pricing from demographic, cultural, and legal perspectives.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/B04/20
Project Title: To Give or Not to Give? Investigating the Effects of Trust on Time Banking Participation: A Longitudinal Study in Hong Kong Aging Population
Principal Investigator: Dr LEUNG Wilson Ka-shing (PolyU SPEED)


Hong Kong is entering an aging society, with 40% of the population reaching 65 or above by 2050 according to the report of WHO in 2018. A rapid aging population has become a critical long-term challenge for the Hong Kong government. However, the current public health care system is not ready for the full-scale aging society. In the absence of essential measures to mitigate this pressure, the supply of elderly-related care services will be severely inadequate.

A sustainable way to meet the huge demand for elderly welfare services is time banking which connects the communities and social services in providing the welfares mutually. In the time banking system, volunteers will receive an “hour” of payment for each hour of their volunteer work. Using this payment, they can ask for an “hour” of service in a later time. Many governments started to adopt this new measurement to meet different kinds of service needs in the local community. 

Although the Hong Kong government advocates the "public-private partnership" approach in developing long-term elderly welfare services in recent years, there is a lack of managerial guidance for time banking organizers such as non-government organizations (NGOs). In addition, time banking is a new form of service exchange among peers, individuals may lack knowledge of it and doubt the fairness of the time banking system, which further leads to discouraging the willingness to participate. 

Prior studies have found that trust is a key factor in the success of collaboration because trust is the foundation for individuals to justify their contribution decisions or to freely share their resources. However, establishing and sustaining trust is challenging. This empirical research is the first to investigate individuals’ swift trust and knowledge-based trust development and their trusting behaviors in relation to time banking via a longitudinal approach. 

We propose a three-stage model drawn from trust transfer theory, social support theory, and organizational justice theory to explain and predict individuals’ time banking participation, combining online surveys and a qualitative focus group study. We will empirically test the research model with a three-wave longitudinal survey of time banking participants with the assistance of an NGO in Hong Kong. The long-term objective of this study is to promote time banking activities in Hong Kong so as to alleviate the excessive burden on the public health care system and attract more manpower for elderly care services. Also, there will be practical and educational implications for NGOs and tertiary education.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/M03/20
Project Title: Is time perception band-pass filtered? An examination of the aftereffect of time adaptation with rTMS
Principal Investigator: Dr LI Wang-on (Shue Yan)


Subjective time perception depends on the physical time experienced and is modulated by a set of internal and external factors. Recently, a time adaptation aftereffect has been reported after presenting stimuli of similar duration repeatedly to participants. As a result of repeated exposures to the stimuli of similar durations, subsequent perception to duration slightly similar to the adapted duration was repulsed away. A Channel Based Duration model is proposed to explain the time adaptation aftereffect. It specifically hypothesised that the perceptual mechanism of time is band-pass tuned to various durations. Time adaptation is a result of the recalibration of the mechanism. Adapting to a certain duration repeatedly and specifically would change the reactivity of that channel. Therefore, subsequent perception is affected. This proposed mechanism is similar to other sensory adaptation models, while the changed reactivity is argued to be a change in activities or their gain control. The reported bandwidth of the channels is much finer than the common debate of time perception that sub- and supra- second perception is governed by different mechanisms. Further, there is supportive evidence that the adaptation extends across the sub- and supra-second range.

Time adaptation paradigm allows researchers to study the mechanism of time perception with a new perspective. Existing theoretical models of time perception are usually continuum models without channels tuned to different durations, though there is a long debate concerning the neurological difference between sub- and supra-second perception. The Channel Based Duration model proposes a further sub-division of the neural mechanism. We propose to test the sensitivity changes with a time bisection task and the potential aftereffect after adapting to duration across different channels. Specifically, the Channel Based Duration Model would predict an enhanced sensitivity and no repulsion aftereffect. There is a possibility that the result does not conform to the Channel Based Duration Model and can be explained by a continuum model without neurons specifically tuned to durations. Besides, the present study will use an additional time production task attempt to reduce a potential bias resulting from presenting a reference duration after the adaptation phase.

The second phase of the proposed study will examine the time adaptation effect with repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). A previous rTMS study has demonstrated a double-dissociation of sub- and supra-second that they were perturbed by applying rTMS to cerebellum and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC), respectively. Most theoretical models argue for a comparison with a mental reference or a prior probability in making timing decision. We hypothesize that a time-adaptation setup would allow us to study whether the rTMS perturbation is a result of a change to this mental reference of time or the timing process. For instance, we would examine whether applying rTMS to rDLPFC would inference the time adaptation aftereffect of sub-second. The production of sub-second would be unaffected if rTMS specifically influence the mental reference or the prior probability in the supra-second regions, but its influence in supra-second production task will retain. Another similar hypothesis with the cerebellum can also be formulated. A control condition with sham stimulation and a rTMS without adaptation condition will be administered for comparison and the administration of the conditions will be randomized.

The result of the proposed study would provide evidence to the underlying mechanism of time perception, in particular, whether the mechanism is tuned to different duration. The results of the rTMS study will provide evidence whether the rTMS effect is state-dependent and related to the neuronal state after adaptation. In addition, the findings will shed light on the representation of time reference.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H05/20
Project Title:
Tian Han, the Le Midi Movement, and the Cultural Salon in 1920s Shanghai: Bohemianism and Transcultural Modernity
Principal Investigator:
Dr LO Man-chi (OUHK)


Tian Han (1898-1968) was an important cultural figure in modern China. He is renowned as the lyricist of the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China, and also as the founder of modern Chinese drama and film. However, his remarkable contribution to modern Chinese art, thought and culture has rarely been acknowledged. Due to his highly political image, Tian Han has usually been interpreted merely as a leftist nationalist among the studies done by scholars from mainland China. The Le Midi Movement (also known as the Nanguo Artistic Movement, 1924-1930) is acknowledged to be the climax of Tian’s creative career, but previous studies have mostly confined its significance to theatrical activities. Since the beginning of the new millennium, the study of Tian Han has gained increasing international attention, as he is re-evaluated as an important and unique representative of proletarian modernist, leftist cosmopolitan and avant-garde artist in modern China.

Tian Han and his troupe in the Le Midi Movement are acknowledged as the most bohemian organization in the history of modern Chinese literature, and this issue has begun to raise attention by recent studies. Bohemianism is a concept closely aligned with urban culture, Western modernity and modernist art in the European context. It traveled through a tortuous path from France and the European world, via America and Japan, and rooted in 1920s Shanghai. By putting into the framework of transcultural modernity, the proposed project will study how Tian Han played an important role as a cultural intermediary, translator, and negotiator in the formation of the discourse, practice, and social circle of bohemianism in 1920s Shanghai.

A multi-dimensional study of Tian Han will be launched in this project, supported by the introduction of a substantial amount of newly excavated original materials. First, the study will examine the intertextuality between the early works of Tian Han published in Le Midi magazines and the classics in Western literature related to bohemianism. Second, the study will explore how the cultural practice of Tian Han and the Le Midi members interacted with the cultural milieu of 1920s Shanghai, as well as their interrelationship from the perspective of bohemianism. Third, the study will discuss the transcultural exchange between Tian Han and the cultural field, especially the Francophile writers and artists in China and Japan in 1920s Shanghai. The study will also investigate the important role of Shanghai as a cultural salon, as the traveling and wandering of foreign (especially Japanese) writers to 1920s Shanghai constituted a remarkable cultural phenomenon at that time, with Tian Han as an important intermediary.

The project will consist of the following tasks: (1) Explore the contribution and significance of cultural translation by Tian Han and his Le Midi Movement to modern China; (2) Examine the traveling of the concept and discourse of bohemianism in a transcultural perspective; (3) Study the diversity and complexity of the cultural milieu of 1920s Shanghai, such as the intricate relationship between modernist art and literature, as well as the two biggest Asian cities Shanghai and Tokyo in the 1920s.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/M01/20
Project Title:
Examining current practices and attitudes of staff towards physical restraint and restraint-free care in institutionalized older persons with and without dementia
Principal Investigator:
Prof LOW Lisa Pau-le (Caritas)


Aim: The aim of the study is to examine current practices and attitudes of staff towards physical restraint and restraint-free care for older people with and without dementia and residing in residential care homes.

Design: A descriptive qualitative approach and critical incident technique.

Settings: Two non-government organizations and a private aged home will provide residential care home service for the elderly in Hong Kong.

Participants: Purposive sampling will be used to recruit staff in residential care homes. Selection criteria include those providing physical or social care to the residents with and without dementia; at least one staff from each grade; has worked in this home for more than 3 months; and have used restraints before. It is estimated to recruit around 70 staff.

Methods: Participant observations and audio-taped interviews will be used to collect the data. An interview guide will be piloted before collecting data. Staff will be invited to provide information about their own experience of using restraints in order to understand the incidents. Content analysis will be used to analyze the data.

Results and Conclusion: The findings will provide data to understand the current practices adopted and attitudes of staff towards the use of physical restraints of older people with and without dementia in institutionalized settings. Situations warranting restraint-use and situations when restraint-free care can be considered will be identified and compared. This study will provide a basis for further research and teaching into proper restraint use and restraint reduction for older people in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E12/20
Project Title:
Modelling the social aspects of interactive objects for pedestrian trajectory prediction in urban areas
Principal Investigator:
Prof LUI Kwok-fai (OUHK)


A basic function of modern urban authorities is to build a safe, comfortable and convenient environment for residents. Smart city applications are now exploiting the large amount of available real-time data sources and applying predictive analytics in sectors ranging from transportation, business to personal safety. A good understanding of pedestrian movement will enable emerging downstream applications including self-driving cars, smart retail, intelligent crossings, and safety surveillance. Pedestrian movement prediction in urban environments poses significant technical challenges. Urban living experience is centered around places where people congregate in numbers, such as shopping malls, transportation stations, office buildings, parks, and university campuses. A reliable movement predictor should be perceptive on the reactions of pedestrians in a crowded place. Human interactions are essentially social. Unwritten social rules and norms can be observed in situations like staying at a distance from strangers, skirting a noisy crowd, or moving close to a good friend. Recent mainstream research approach has concentrated on developing models of social interactions between pedestrians. Artificial Neural Network (ANN) is proven an effective technique for modelling social interactions because it can learn arbitrary social rules from observation data. State-of-the-art solutions are predominantly based on deep neural learning architectures that can exploit a comprehensive, large and balanced training sample.

Interactive objects are defined as static non-living objects that invite human interactions. Examples include escalators, bench chairs, drinking fountains and shop windows, which are commonly found in urban areas. An interactive object has physical, functional and social properties in the context of pedestrian movement trajectory prediction. The physical property describes the accessibility at the location of the object. The functional property describes the engagement and disengagement with pedestrians. The social property describes the reactions of pedestrians towards the object and other nearby pedestrians. The physical and the functional properties have been investigated in past research and empirically modelled for trajectory prediction. The social property however has been virtually ignored. Interactive objects are intrinsically non-social but appear to be social due to at least two reasons. Pedestrians are social beings and interactions involving pedestrians are social. Pedestrians, who are interacting with an interactive object around the same time, are also interacting with each other. A model for evaluating the social information in pedestrian trajectory is needed.

This proposed project investigates the social property of interactive objects in pedestrian trajectory prediction tasks. Based on a data-driven approach, a deep learning architecture for evaluating the social property of interactive objects will be developed. A focus of investigation will be on the formulation of the social property of interactive objects based on pedestrian social reactions embedded in the trajectories. For model reusability and computation efficiency, a novel interactive object embedding layer will be designed and integrated into the deep learning architecture.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/E03/20
Project Title: How Can Giant Air Cargo Forwarders be Enhanced by Partnership with Airlines: A Utilisation of Unused Baggage Capacity Approach
Principal Investigator: Dr MA Hoi-lam (HSUHK)


Air cargo demand is expected to grow by 4.2% over the next 18 years owing to international trade, especially the popularity of e-commerce. 1In 2017, a record US$2.3 trillion was made in global retail e-commerce sales. It is forecasted that in 2021, the amount will be more than doubled to US$4.9 trillion. As strong air cargo demand is anticipated, forwarding industries are expanding accordingly. Currently, many giant forwarders have their own aircraft to efficiently facilitate their operations, shorten the delivery lead time, and expand their service network level, e.g. DHL, UPS, and FedEx own more than 250, 260, and 650 aircraft, respectively. To survive under fierce market competition, they have to strive for excellence in delivery lead time and network coverage. Therefore, they also deliver by using flights operated by commercial airlines. In practice, they reserve a certain storage capacity from flights in commercial airlines in advance. However, the baggage capacity in an aircraft’s belly is not always fully utilised because most passengers carry less than their baggage allowance. This unused baggage capacity can be exploited by air cargo forwarders for delivery. Motivated by this idea, the aim of this proposed research project is to investigate whether the operation of giant forwarders can be enhanced by partnership with airlines in utilising the unused baggage capacity. We focused on giant forwarders because they typically have their terminals at airports, which enables their cargo to be transported to airlines in a very short time. We believe that both airlines and air cargo forwarders will benefit from this partnership. This can provide airlines with additional revenue generated from the sale of unused baggage capacity. Giant air cargo forwarders can gain profit from the increased number of flights and storage capacity made available by the partnered airline. Moreover, their network coverage may also increase.

Boeing, World Air Cargo Forecast 2018–2037. https://www.boeing.com/commercial/market/cargo-forecast/


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS17/P01/20
Project Title:
An investigation into the use of fire extinguisher dry powder to develop latent fingerprints
Principal Investigator:
Ms MAK Deejay Suen-yui (TWC)


Fingerprints are among the most powerful physical evidence in criminal investigations because of their uniqueness and their substantial value in biometric identification. Conventional detection techniques are unable to process large crime scenes and bulky evidence items with large surface areas in an effective, cheap, safe, simple and timely manner. A new and innovative latent fingerprint detection technique that uses dry powder from a fire extinguisher (known as ABC powder) was found to detect fingerprints with excellent quality and contrast on nonporous surfaces; however, no exhaustive application and comparison experiments under various environmental conditions have been presented to evaluate its performance. Before it is used in the field, a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the use of ABC powder to detect latent fingerprints is required. The proposed project will aim to characterize the ABC powder by determining the average size, shape and morphology of the particles, assess the technique’s selectivity and sensitivity by comparing the effectiveness of detecting latent fingerprints with common routine fingerprint development methods, and determine the compatibility of the use of ABC powder with mass spectrometry imaging. The results will help forensic scientists, criminologists and other investigators to make an informed choice when selecting a detection technique for ‘in situ’ latent fingermarks when working on criminal cases. In terms of crime scene use, the relatively low cost of such powder makes it significantly more amenable as a practical tool for crime scene investigators. Spraying the crime scene can be done in a few seconds, which is a significant advantage for processing large crime scenes and handling bulky evidence items with large surface areas in an efficient, simple and timely manner.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E01/20
Project Title:
The development of polylactide green composites with coffee grounds and tea leaf powder waste
Principal Investigator:
Dr MAK Shu-lun (OUHK)


Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world due to its stimulating and refreshing properties, with more than 400 billion cups consumed each year. The consumption of coffee bean is around 9.9 billion kilogram in 2018 (ICO, 2019). The coffee chain shop, Starbucks has over 29,000 stores across nearly 80 countries around the world (Starbucks, 2018). The customer may produce thousands tones of plastic waste after they enjoyed a cup of coffee. During the coffee brewing process, a lot of spent coffee grounds (SCG) wastes were generated because a small number of select compounds were extracted from the coffee bean. The 50% dry mass of SCG mainly consists of polysaccharides, cellulose and hemi-cellulose (Campos-Vega, 2015). As SCG contains several organic compounds that are detrimental to the environment, it will cause pollution to the soil if we use it as compost and thus disposed of in landfills (McNutt, 2018). The coffee manufacturers and researchers paid efforts to develop solutions to reuse SCG while reducing the amount of the SCG waste. For instance, Nestle plans to use SCG as renewable energy source in order to reduce SCG waste by 2020 (Campos-Vega, 2015). As over thousand tons of SCG were generated every day, it can be used as a cheap and reliable source of renewable and recycled materials. Many researchers considered to convert the different compositions of SCG into useable materials.

The consumption rate of coffee has been increasing and many spent coffee grounds (SCG) waste has been generated. As SCG contain many different organic compounds, it may cause negative impact to the environment when disposed of in landfill. There is a room for the industry and researchers to develop the solution to reduce the amount of SCG waste. Several recycling strategies were developed for converting SCG into different materials including agriculture fertilizers, construction materials, adsorbent materials and fuels. During the recycling processes, many chemicals were used and it may pollute the environment and harm to the operators. Further improvement shall be made to reduce the use of harmful substances by applying the mechanical cold press instead of chemical extraction method to remove the oil from SCG.

Tea is the most common beverages in Eastern Asia. There are over million tons of tea leaf wastes produced every year. As the percentage of oil in tea leaf powder wastes is not high, pretreatment is not required like as SCG. Some researchers had studied to recycle the tea leaf powders to mix with polymeric material make the recycling materials as the Fabre will improve the tensile strength of products. In this study, we will find out the optimum compositions of green composite materials made of SCG, tea leaf powder wastes and PLA materials to achieve the best tensile and shear strength. Besides, the concept of green composite materials can be promoted to the additive manufacturing technologies. For instance, the availability of SCG-PLA composite 3D printing filaments is seldom known. The domestic users of additive manufacturing technologies such as primary and secondary schools users are encouraged to the SCG-recycled 3D printing filaments. The development of these biodegradable 3D printing filaments is beneficial both economically and environmentally.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/B04/20
Project Title: Untangling the Complexity of Customer Negative Brand Engagement in the Digital Era
Principal Investigator: Dr NG Chi-ho (Shue Yan)


Customer engagement refers to the connection between a user and a business, and can be derived from the consumer’s experiences with the products, services, and activities of the business (Hollebeek 2011). Customer engagement has emerged as a prominent construct that is capable of affecting customer relationships with brands, surpassing satisfaction and loyalty, and thus providing a real competitive advantage (Kumar et al., 2010).

Previous research studies have predominantly focused on positive engagement (positive emotional connections) (Baldus et al., 2015; Hollebeek et al., 2014; Vivek et al., 2012) and have neglected the ‘negative’ side. Thus, the first part of the present study enhances the previous research by examining the key dimensions of negative brand engagement and developing and validating a scale to measure negative brand engagement.

In today’s digitalized society, customers are interconnected with each other both physically and virtually. Their satisfaction and relationship with brands are derived from their brand experience and the experience generated through interactions with other customers. Customers have different touch points such as brand offerings (Hollebeek et al., 2014), brand events (Vivek et al., 2012), and brand-related social media platforms (Dolan et al., 2016). Thus, this study explores how a consumer’s personal experiences, expectations, and social contexts relate to negative brand engagement.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/P02/20
Project Title: Investigation of metal oxide-based nanofiber as cost-effective catalyst for biodiesel synthesis
Principal Investigator: Dr NG Christie Morgan Ching-man (OUHK)


Biodiesel is a green and sustainable fuel that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuel that gained attention over the past decades.  Conventional biodiesel synthesis relies heavily on edible, high purity feedstocks oil extracts and uses non-reusable catalysts with high acidity or basicity.  Intensive purification is required to ensure the resultant biodiesel meets the international standards, resulting in a discharge of large amount of contaminated wastewater as one of the major disadvantages.  The development of metal oxides nanofibers catalysts benefits from easy separation, possibility to reuse and their ability to use oil feedstock with low purity.

Metal oxide nanofibers have a high surface-to-volume ratio and can serve as high performance catalysts for biodiesel synthesis.  In the proposed project, acidic metal oxides nanofibers will be synthesized to test their catalytic performance and improvement in the product yield.  Nanofibers will be synthesized by electrospinning with the aid of polymer. It is hypothesized that finer nanofibers will produce a higher product yield due to the enhanced surface-to-volume ratio and area of contact site for reaction.

The reaction time and energy input can be minimized by using microwave irradiation for heating under pressure.  Crude oil extracted from inedible biomass and waste oil from the food industry will be used as oil feedstocks for biodiesel synthesis.  The use of inedible oil would decrease the production cost and provide an alternative waste management route to solve the problem generated from waste or gutter oil.  The results of the proposed study would provide implications on environmentally friendly biodiesel production and demonstrate the feasibility to turn waste into a green energy source.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS11/H13/20
Project Title:
Attitudes towards School-Based Sexuality Education among Secondary School Students and Teachers: An exploration of its Associated Factors
Principal Investigator:
Dr NG Hoi-nga (Caritas)


This study aims to study (1) opinions of students and teachers on the implementation of school-based sexuality education; (2) appraisal of sexuality topics (e.g., menstruation, puberty, self-image, sex harassment, wet dreams, etc.) by students and teachers; (3) students’ and teachers’ sexual attitudes; and (4) their attitudes towards school-based sexuality education. The influence of sociodemographic characteristics, religiosity, and spirituality on the above four aspects; similarities and differences between students and teachers with regard to sexual attitudes and factors associated with would be examined.

Data would be collected from 1800 students and 300 teachers of secondary schools from four major districts of Hong Kong, i.e., Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories East, and New Territories West. The findings would contribute to the development of curriculum sexuality education and teacher-training course on sexuality education, which respectively meets the needs of students and teachers. With a well-planned school-based sexuality education programme delivered by well-trained teachers, students would not only acquire valid sexual information that helps avoid negative sexual outcomes, but also develop healthy sexual attitude and prepare themselves for a healthier sexual life.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/H10/20
Project Title:
Spurious Moderated Mediation Effect: A Methodological Remedy
Principal Investigator:
Dr NG Jacky Chi-kit (Shue Yan)


A spurious effect is a null effect that is incorrectly found to be significant due to statistical artifacts. Under some conditions, a statistical method (e.g., correlation and regression analyses) may indicate the presence of an effect that does not actually exist (i.e., a spurious effect). Critically, if a statistical method has been extensively used, the likelihood of finding a spurious effect can also be high.

In the past decade, a statistical method of moderated mediation analysis has been widely and increasingly employed. According to the Google Scholar Citation Index, the key papers that outline the use of moderated mediation analysis have been cited 43,404 times, indicating its extensive use in the past decade. In social science research, the use of moderated mediation analysis also increased exponentially over the past 13 years. With the extensive and emergent use of moderated mediation analysis, the likelihood of there being a spurious moderated mediation effect may also increase. And yet, limited research has been conducted exploring this spurious effect. To fill this gap, we initiate this timely project to investigate the spurious moderated mediation effect, bringing academic, practical and educational benefits to a range of beneficiaries in society.

In this project, we identify how a spurious moderated mediation effect might be found and then propose a methodological remedy to rule out the spurious effect. This project focuses on two basic moderated mediation models, namely a second stage moderated mediation model (Part I) and a dual stage moderated mediation model (Part II). In Part I, we illustrate that the use of a regression-based moderated mediation analysis may result in a spurious moderated mediation effect when researchers incorrectly specify a direct moderation model as a second stage moderated mediation model. To resolve this problem, we propose an approach based on structural equation modeling (SEM). This SEM-based moderated mediation analysis offers a new path-analytic specification for a second stage moderated mediation model and uses an omnibus measure of model fit to rule out the spurious moderated mediation effect. In Part II, we identify the condition in which the index of moderated moderated mediation (IMMM) may result in a spurious moderated mediation effect in a dual stage moderated mediation model. This condition involves the inverse collinearity between two moderators. As a remedy, we propose a novel index of spurious moderated mediation (ISMM) to detect this condition and rule out the spurious effect for a dual stage moderated mediation model.

To comprehensively propose and develop the methods in Parts I and II, this project takes three perspectives in different phases, namely method evaluation in Phase 1, method implementation and application in Phase 2, and method education in Phase 3. In method evaluation, two simulation studies will be conducted to evaluate the empirical performances of the methods and outline the favorable data-analytic conditions. In method implementation and application, an R package will be developed so that researchers can implement the methods and power analysis easily. Also, through applying the methods to real data sets, we will validate the published studies and bring either refinement or confirmation to the original results. In method education, a learning website and two social media learning tools (a Facebook page and an Instagram account) will be established to promote the effective learning of the methods.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/H08/20
Project Title: Promoting Children's Pro-environmental Behavior: A Multilevel Analysis
Principal Investigator: Dr NG Mei-lan (PolyU SPEED)


Children’s pro-environmental behavior is crucial to achieve a more sustainable future. Increasing attention has been paid to identify what factors are vital to children’s pro-environmental behavior. To promote the notion of sustainability, government deployed significant resources to environmental education in primary schools. In 2018, The HKSAR Government injected HK$45 million on environmental education and community action projects to raise environmental knowledge of the public and to motivate behavioral change for environmental conservation with the ultimate goal of developing pro-environmental behavior (Environmental Protection Department, 2018), yet limited research investigates its impacts on pro-environmental behavior.

Previous research showed that increasing the level of environmental knowledge and awareness did not directly lead to pro-environmental behavior due to the discrepancy between attitude and behavior. To address this discrepancy, recent empirical studies have focused on the influence of parents and peers on children at individual level, but it offered inconsistent results. Thus, the association between children’s environmental attitudes and pro-environmental behavior is still inconclusive. The individual-level approach does not fully explain the variances of children’s pro-environmental behavior due to the neglect of other contextual factors (e.g. teachers’ environmental knowledge sharing).

Up to date, less work has explored the impact of environmental knowledge sharing of teachers on children’s pro-environmental behavior, raising interesting questions about whether teachers’ environmental knowledge sharing can add “value” to children’s pro-environmental behavior. Yet, there are no previous empirical research considering both the student and teacher-level factors concerning children’s pro-environmental behavior thus creating a research gap.

Addressing this gap in literature, this study uses multilevel analysis to examine both individual children-level and the teacher-level to provide a more holistic picture in the development of children’s pro-environmentalism. Drawing on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), a multilevel framework is proposed to analyze children’s pro-environmental behavior incorporating the moderating effect of teachers’ environmental knowledge sharing. Data collection will be conducted by both experiments (from children aged 8-11) and questionnaire (from their General Studies teachers) in twelve primary schools in Hong Kong. Also, school principals of selected primary schools will be invited for in-depth interviews to further understand the current situation and challenges of implementing environmental education in primary schools and how children’s pro-environmental behavior can be encouraged.

The present study is the first empirical study to investigate children’s pro-environmental behavior using a novel multilevel modeling approach. The results of this study can significantly contribute to existing literature regarding the association between children’s environmental attitude and their pro-environmentalism. The ultimate long-term objective of this study is to encourage children’s pro-environmental behavior, thus, the findings of the study would also inform primary schools (school principals and General Studies teachers) and government related bodies (e.g. Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC)) how children’s pro-environmental behavior can be encouraged.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/E07/20
Project Title:
Development of Plant Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites (PFRPCs) with Enhanced Mechanical and Flame-Retardant Properties
Principal Investigator:
Dr NG Sun-pui (PolyU SPEED)


Fiber-reinforced polymer composites have been used in many engineering applications. Carbon, glass and aramid are common fiber materials used in composites but the recycling processes for these materials are costly and inefficient. Since plant fibers have high mechanical performance with relatively lower density and cost, a high availability from the environment and with lesser associated health and safety problems, the trend towards the development of plant fibers for the reinforcement of composites is growing rapidly nowadays. Despite that, the strength of interfacial bonding between the fiber and polymer in a composite is relatively weak. Moreover, plant fibers are flammable and release more heat than conventional reinforcement fibers, which are more hazardous to users in case of fire incidents. To overcome these problems, the micro-size graphene oxide particles and the Atmospheric Pressure Plasma treatment will be used to develop some Plant Fiber-reinforced Polymer Composites with enhanced strength and flame-retardant properties in this project.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/H10/20
Project Title:
Linking moral dilemmas and social dilemmas: Examining moral principles that drive cooperation
Principal Investigator:
Dr NG Ting-tat (OUHK)


Social dilemmas and moral dilemmas are the two most widely studied conflicts in daily life. People in a social dilemma situation experience conflict between maximizing individual gains (i.e. defection) and maximizing collective benefits (i.e. cooperation). For example, the Earth will benefit the most if everyone engages in pro-environmental behavior (i.e. cooperation), but individuals may choose to be selfish to enjoy the convenience of using plastic bags and utensils (i.e. defection). People in a moral dilemma situation experience conflict between adhering to the norms and rules such as doing no harm (i.e. deontology) and maximizing the overall welfare (i.e. utilitarianism). For example, demolishing an old building for urban renewal can enhance the overall welfare of the city (i.e. utilitarian decision), but some people may lose their home. Despite sharing several common properties, these two kinds of dilemmas have been largely studied separately. Whether and how moral decisions and moral principles can predict cooperation in social dilemmas are unclear. The present research attempts to connect social dilemmas and moral dilemmas in three research directions.

Building on the past research showing that people who make deontological decisions are perceived as more trustworthy (Everett et al., 2016), the first research direction investigates whether and why people who make deontological decisions in moral dilemmas, compared with those who make utilitarian decisions, are perceived as more cooperative in social dilemmas. We propose and test a theoretical framework which explains why deontologists are perceived as more cooperative. The second research direction examines whether and why people cooperate more with deontologists than utilitarians in social dilemmas using the same theoretical framework. The third research direction scrutinizes how deontology and utilitarianism can actually predict cooperation in social dilemmas.

The three research directions are important and interrelated because although deontologists are perceived as more trustworthy than utilitarians, recent studies showed that they may not actually be more trustworthy (Capraro et al., 2018). Given that wrongly trusting a non-cooperative individual can be costly, it is thus essential to understand why deontologists are perceived as more cooperative than utilitarians and whether it is merely a perceptual bias. This proposed research can enhance the accuracy of individuals in identifying cooperators and non-cooperators in daily-life and provide insights for policy makers on how to enhance cooperation in the society.

Four studies will be conducted to address our research questions. Study 1 tests whether and why deontologists are perceived as more cooperative than utilitarians. Study 2 examines whether and why people cooperate more with deontologists. Studies 2 to 4 scrutinize how deontology and utilitarianism can actually predict cooperation in social dilemmas.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/P01/20
Project Title: Inference for Multiple Change-points in Piecewise Locally Stationary Time Series
Principal Investigator: Dr NG Wai-leong (HSUHK)


Change-point analysis in time series has received considerable attention in various scientific fields such as financial econometric, genetics, environmetrics, astronomy and engineering in recent decades. Empirical evidence often demonstrates that sharp structural breaks occur in time series data. One major goal of change-point analysis is to identify the locations of structural breaks in order to segment the time series into stationary pieces for separated modeling.

However, the assumption of piecewise stationarity could be violated in some datasets in econometrics, finance and engineering. There exist time series which appear to be stationary when examined locally but their stochastic properties such as autocovariance function or spectral density function are changing gradually over time. For example, Adak (1998) studied an earthquake dataset and found that there were excessive change-points in the autocovariance structure upon fitting by a piecewise stationary time series model. The findings of Adak (1998) is due to the gradually changing spectrum of the underlying process. The presence of the excessive change-points is the result of over-segmentation of a locally stationary process approximated by stationary pieces. The results indicate that segmenting the piecewise locally stationary time series into locally stationary pieces for separated modeling is more appropriate.

Although detection of abrupt changes occurred in the locally stationary time series is important for understanding the general structure of the datasets, change-point analysis in locally stationary time series is not extensively studied. To the best of our knowledge, only Last and Shumway (2007) proposed a change-point detection procedure for piecewise locally stationary time series by using a symmetrized Kullback-Leibler information discrimination. However, since bootstrap procedure by simulation on sequences of white noise is involved in determination of the cut-off value, conservative results are obtained due to ignorance of the serial dependency in the bootstrap procedure.

Moreover, the asymptotic distribution of the change-point estimator is not established in Last and Shumway (2007) and hence confidence intervals cannot be constructed based on their method. In this proposal, the main objective is to develop a statistical inference methodology for multiple change-points in locally stationary time series. We aim at estimating the number of change-points and the locations of each change-point where the time-varying spectrum exhibits an abrupt change, and then constructing a confidence interval for each change-point.

In this proposal, we plan to proceed as follows.

  1. (Efficient change-points estimation) A nonparametric scan statistic for fast computation and a model selection approach using information criterion are applied to estimate the number and locations of change-points.
  2. (Construction of confidence intervals) The asymptotic behavior of the change-point estimators is studied. Confidence intervals can be constructed by means of bootstrap procedures.
  3. (Asymptotic statistical properties) The consistency and validity of the proposed method are established.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/M01/20
Project Title:
The fate and effects of PPCPs in soil-plant systems and their metabolization by plants with potential use in phytotreatment/remediation applications
Principal Investigator:
Dr PAN Min (THEi)


Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) may enter the environment through municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and cause some associated adverse effects. They have been proven to cause microbial resistance, acute toxicity or endocrine disruption in the environment and even in humans. Sulfamethoxazole (SMX) and diclofenac (DLF) are two of the most prescribed classes of PPCPs. They are frequently detected in WWTPs, with concentrations ranging from ng/L to μg/L worldwide (Kosjek et al., 2012). More than 75% of SMX and DLF residues could cause further contamination in soil-plant systems through wastewater irrigation or biosolid amendment. They can undergo photochemical degradation in the environment; thus, its metabolite compounds are also easily detected and have high bioactive in aquatic or terrestrial organisms.

Bioindicators in ecosystems can be used to assess the effect of environmental contaminants. Microbes and earthworms are the most widely used bioindicators. Earthworms can mix and translocate soil constituents, serve as carriers for the transportation of contaminants to predators. They can be used to monitor the potential SMX and DLF bioavailability in soil and corresponding assessment of health risks to the environment and humans. Plant cell cultures are most commonly used as model systems to investigate the metabolism of various xenobiotics, as they have simpler matrices and are more easily manipulated. Arabidopsis thaliana and carrot callus cells will be chosen as the experimental organisms due to their extensive consumption by animals and humans, as well as their commercial availability. Both of these are model plants that are widely used in molecular and plant biology, with well-established and standardized cultivation protocols for both the cell lines and the whole plant.

Knowledge regarding the fate, degradation, toxicity, accumulation, and metabolism of SMX and DLF within the soil-plant system is particularly limited as many studies only focused on the parent compound. To date, phytotechnologies have only been scarcely applied for PPCP depuration and available data on metabolization, phytotreatment, and remediation in plants are currently very limited.

Therefore, we will investigate the fate, degradation pathways and bioaccumulation of PPCPs in soil-plant systems through soil pore water uptake. To quantitatively and qualitatively determine PPCPs and their metabolites, an analytical method for the detection of target PPCPs in system soil, microorganisms, and plants will be developed and optimized. The effects of PPCPs on microbial and earthworm responses in the soil will be studied by using the response curves, respiration and RT-qPCR analyses involved in N and P cycles. The main goal is the evaluation of PPCP uptake capacity by two plants and their ability to metabolize target PPCPs with the end purpose of using these plant species for phytotreatment and remediation in the environment.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS51/H03/20
Project Title: Solving the unsolvable: Effecting speedy, massive and quality translation of Hong Kong case law on a human-machine-interactive translation platform
Principal Investigator: Prof SIN King-kui (UOWCHK)


This project aims to carry out a massive, speedy and accurate Chinese translation of Hong Kong English criminal judgments by means of an intelligent human-machine interactive platform with a view to providing an effective and feasible methodology for the long term development of legal bilingualism in Hong Kong.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/P02/20
Project Title:
Generalized Sethi Advertising Model and Extensions
Principal Investigator:
Dr SIU Chi-chung (HSUHK)


Advertising is a common form of communication the firms use to enhance consumers’ awareness of their products. Various marketing channels, such as newspaper, radio, and internet, exist to reach different types of consumers in the market. As large amounts of the firms’ expenses have been placed on advertisements, the study of the optimal advertisement problem has been a recurring theme in the marketing and supply chain literature. Various models have been proposed to assess the efficacy of the firm’s advertising strategies on sales. Classical advertising models typically place a strong assumption that the firm’s advertising effort has a linear impact on the sales or goodwill of their products. Although it leads to model tractability, such an assumption cannot capture the “word-of-mouth” effect drawn from advertisements, especially for newly launched products in which the word-of-mouth effect has a significant impact on sales. Sethi (1983) made an important contribution to the marketing literature by extending the classical advertising models to include the word-of-mouth effect and the external randomness while maintaining tractability. More importantly, the standing features of the Sethi model are shown to be maintained in various game-theoretic extensions, as many papers have demonstrated that the Sethi model can be adopted to study the impact of advertisement on sales in the presence of retailer competition, and also cooperative advertisement in a manufacturer-retailer supply chain, to name just a few applications.

This proposal aims to contribute to the existing literature in three directions. Firstly, we generalize the Sethi model by finding a general yet tractable form of the word-of-mouth effect due to advertising. Different marketing channels have different advertisement quality, and the general form of the word-of-mouth effect can offer extra modelling flexibility to necessitate the differentiation among various forms of marketing communications. Secondly, we generalize the form of the synergies that various marketing communication channels can bring. Firms typically use more than one marketing channel to advertise their products, and hence they would integrate various marketing channels into one central advertising campaign. When the marketing channels can bring synergies in penetrating the market, significant advertising expenditures can be reduced than when they work separately. Lastly, we develop an advertising model on a durable good with innovation and failure rate. On the one hand, product innovation plays a key role in the new adoption of the durable good and hence we want to quantify this impact on the firm’s optimal advertising effort. On the other hand, revenue of the durable goods is generated not only from the new adoption of the products, but also from the returning customers when their products break down. We want to build a model that can unify these two impacts on sales of the durable goods.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/E09/20
Project Title: A Machine Learning Model for Recommendation System for Generic Competency Development in Higher Education
Principal Investigator: Dr SO Joseph Chi-ho (PolyU SPEED)


Generic competence is an important element in the development of students in tertiary education. Many scholars have emphasised the strong correlation between generic competence and engagement in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Studies along these lines have focused on various dimensions of generic competence. Participation in extra-curricular activities is usually voluntary, however, and students have considerable freedom to choose their learning activities, each with its own expected learning outcomes. Students, especially freshmen without experience in tertiary education, may not be sufficiently well informed to develop the generic competence needed to achieve their life and career goals. Even professional academic staff members and advisors are often not fully informed about the students’ background information when they provide consultation.

Students’ personal needs are multi-dimensional, including their personal interests, personalities and career aspirations, the generic competence needs of their specific disciplines and the gap between their needs and their current status. The complexity of these multiple factors can overwhelm students and their advisors when choosing suitable developmental activities.

Recent technological advances have enhanced the educational environment with data analytics and machine learning. Some of these advances have facilitated the development of recommendation systems and personalised learning in smart learning environments. Most of that research has focused on academic areas, which raises a number of timely questions: How can activities suitable for development of generic competence be recommended to students to address their needs in an evidence-based and systematic way? Can machine learning help? If so, how?

The proposed study will develop a framework to facilitate the personalised development of student generic competence in higher education with the potential to apply data analytics and machine learning. To accommodate the diversity of developmental and training needs among students, the framework can accommodate personalised analysis of data about each student, including students’ participation in co-curricular activities, their self-assessments of generic competence, their previous learning experiences, their personalities as assessed by various tests and their expected institutional learning outcomes in the tertiary institution. This process can reveal patterns of student involvement in activities and their trajectories of generic competence and academic achievement.

The framework will be investigated based on the potential of the latest advances in machine learning technology. The applicability and user acceptance of the framework will be evaluated using various recommendation algorithms with machine learning. The effectiveness of the framework will be investigated in a self-financing institution in Hong Kong.

The proposed project will benefit students, academics and institutions. Students, especially freshmen, will be able to further enhance their generic competence by selecting suitable activities. Members of teaching faculties will be able to provide advice on non-academic development in an evidence-based and efficient manner. Educational institutions will also be able to use their resources more efficiently to provide student activities that consider students’ whole-person development.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H09/20
Project Title:
Acculturative Stress, Coping Strategies, and Social Support: A Cross-cultural Comparative Study of "Hong Kong Drifters" and "Northward Drifters" in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area
Principal Investigator:
Dr SONG Zhaoxun (HSUHK)


The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) is being promoted constantly by both China’s central authorities and the Hong Kong government to become a more seamless interchange of business, people, and ideas in this increasingly dynamic southern region of China. The inevitable interaction between mainlanders and Hongkongers draws our attention to two special groups of people in the GBA: Hong Kong drifters and northward drifters.

“Hong Kong drifters”, dubbed gang piao, are mainlanders who now live and work in Hong Kong. In contrast, the term “northward drifter” or bei piao refers to the half a million Hong Kong people currently studying, working, or even spending their twilight years in the GBA of mainland China. The word “drifter” in Chinese reflects the restlessness and anxiety experienced by mainlanders in Hong Kong and Hongkongers in mainland China.

Under the current national-local tensions, what acculturative stressors do these drifters in the GBA encounter? What main coping strategies do they use to overcome acculturative stress? What social support do they expect from government authorities, institutions, and family members or friends to smooth their adjustment? What communication-related differences do they see between mainland China and Hong Kong? Under what circumstances do these acculturative groups converge, maintain, or diverge in their social interactions with locals from a cross-cultural communication perspective?

The proposed study will attempt to find answers to the above questions through an interdisciplinary approach drawing on both social psychology and cross-cultural communication and offering both theoretical and practical value. It focuses on drifters in the Greater Bay Area, a unique acculturative group within a single country formed as people relocate to a new area with different sociocultural beliefs, identities, and behavior. The aim of this study will be not only to enrich the pool of knowledge on cross-cultural communication and adaptation by discovering the factors and mechanisms affecting this group’s psychological and sociocultural adaption, but also to provide policy makers with a rich set of data on the mechanisms and conditions that either support or hinder successful integration. The findings will provide an important reference for relevant authorities or social groups to help the drifters in their adaptation and communication with locals.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS23/H04/20
Project Title: Hong Kong Cinema in the Age of Precarity
Principal Investigator: Dr TAM Yee-lok (HKBU SCE)


Since 1997, Hong Kong cinema has gone through a rigorous reconfiguration due to drastic political, cultural, economic and industrial changes. Film scholars have paid critical effort to conceptualise the changes after the handover of Hong Kong from the British government to the People's Republic of China. Yet, these scholarly efforts are not able to accommodate the recent changes. Politically, localism has gained momentums as mainland China's government desires to exercise more power over Hong Kong. Economically and industrially, the reformation of the infrastructure of the industry initiated by the Hong Kong government and film practitioners introducing incubating programs such as Fresh Wave (2005—), First Feature Film Initiative (2013—) and the Hong Kong Independent Film Festival (2008—).

This project aims to contribute a new critical perspective on the complexity of the social, cultural and political changes in Hong Kong cinema in the 2010s, a time when the political predicament became more intense while an infrastructural reform of the local industry and the development of the independent film sector could be observed. Following the discussion of Judith Butler, Lauren Berlant, Victor Fan and others, the project attempts to theorise the notions of precarity and precarious life in relation to the recent development of Hong Kong cinema by defining the political, neoliberal, physical, mental and communal precariousnesses. Film such as Ten Years, No. 1 Chung Ying Street, Pseudo Secular, Three Husbands, Mad World, Still Human, Gallants, Weeds on Fire, G Affairs, etc. will be covered in this project.

This project aims to answer the question of "how are precarious lives manifested in Hong Kong cinema?" by studying the socio-political, industrial and cultural transformations of Hong Kong cinema in recent years. Through incorporating the study of the industry in the textual and contextual analysis of Hong Kong cinema, the project attempts to show how the recent infrastructure reorganisation plays a role in the reshaping of the local film industry. By analysing the Hong Kong movies from the political, neoliberal, physical/pathological and communal perspectives, this project aims to conceptualise the age of precarity in Hong Kong's context and locate Hong Kong cinema within this framework for shedding a new light on the study of Hong Kong cinema.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H07/20
Project Title: The Impact of the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement on Conception of Citizenship in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Dr TANG Gary Kin-yat (HSUHK)


The Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (Anti-ELAB) movement was characterized by rapid radicalization in terms of the form of protest, degree of violence and ideology. This movement witnessed both moderate and radical protests. Many of them showed signs of a transformation in the conception of citizenship in terms of the relationship between citizens, government and the law. For example, many protesters engaged in activities that were technically unlawful, such as attending a mass rally which had not obtained a “Letter of No Objection” from the police and delivering materials to frontline protesters who charged the police line. Needless to say, some protesters committed militant actions, including attacking the police, arson and vandalism. In addition, some protesters proposed physically attacking pro-government citizens who disturbed the protest activities, naming this “private resolution” and declaring it an extra-institutional way to dispense justice, although the police could no longer do this. At a later stage of the movement, political consumerism prevailed. Some citizens tried to establish a business circle composed of business owners who support the movement.

Citizenship of Hong Kong was viewed as depoliticized and abided by the ideology of “obeying the law”. However, various practices during the Anti-ELAB movement evinced that the conception of citizenship was changing. Furthermore, as the political institution was perceived to be illegitimate, some people attempted to build an extra-institutional framework to administer justice. It was a process of redefining and seeking new meaning of “what is a good citizen”.

The above observations inspired an investigation into the impact of the Anti-ELAB movement on the conception of citizenship of Hong Kong by asking the following questions: (a) How did the discourse of citizenship change during and after the Anti-ELAB movement? (b) Did the conception of citizenship indeed change because of the movement? (c) As the Internet had an important role in mobilizing and coordinating radical protests in the Anti-ELAB movement, what was the Internet’s role in changing the conception of citizenship?

A multi-method approach shall be adopted to answer the above questions. This research will include content and textual analyses of news reports and public discussions in mainstream media, online media and online forums to examine the citizenship discourse before and after the Anti-ELAB movement. The results of a population survey shall be employed to test the roles of this movement and social media in transforming the conception of citizenship, with other factors controlled. Furthermore, focus group interviews shall be conducted to examine how different kinds of protesters articulate their respective personal experience of different citizenship discourses.

This research has strong potential to enrich the literature on the political culture of Hong Kong by addressing a radical shift in the conception of citizenship. At the theoretical level, the Anti-ELAB movement evinced many characteristics of “connective action”. Similar to other cases of connective action, including protests during the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and the Sunflower Movement, mobilization of the Anti-ELAB movement was mainly enabled by peer-to-peer communication online. Moreover, it was leaderless movement with spontaneous participation of protesters and decentralized coordination. As the consequences of connective action are rarely discussed, this research could fill in the research gap relating to this important theory.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/P05/20
Project Title: Variable Selection Methods for Complex Data Analysis
Principal Investigator: Prof TANG Man-lai (HSUHK)


Variable selection procedures aim to identify the correct covariates, which have a significant influence on the outcome variable and could provide robust model prediction. Traditional variable selection procedures such as forward selection procedure, backward elimination procedure, stepwise selection procedure, or model comparison via Bayes factor or some information criterion such as the Akaike information criterion may not be desirable for models with large number of covariates or complex structures. In this project, we particularly develop variable selection procedures for complex data modelling such as high dimensional additive model with interactions under marginality principle and composite quantile regression for ordinal longitudinal data.

Quadratic regression models are natural extensions of linear models by including interaction effects (i.e., cross-product terms) between existing covariates. Interaction effects are important when the effect of one independent variable depends on the value of another independent variable. When the number of covariates is large and variable selection becomes necessary, it is usually recommended that the selected model should follow the marginality principle, i.e., interaction terms can be selected into the model only if their parents (i.e., the associated main effects) are in the model. Additive model generalizes the linear model to high-dimensional and nonlinear model which approximates the mapping function from the covariates to the response using a sum of component functions of each individual covariate. No variable selection procedure has been developed for additive model with interaction terms under the marginality principle.

Traditional linear regression model examines the effect of a set of covariates on the mean of the response variable and has been widely adopted by researchers. Unfortunately, mean regression may loss efficiency when the error distribution is non-normal and its parameter least squares estimates are notoriously sensitive to outliers. On the contrary, quantile regression, which explore the underlying relationship of a particular (conditional) quantile of the response and the multidimensional covariates, yields more robust and efficient estimates. To alleviate the fluctuation of the estimation efficiency associated with the chosen value of the quantile, the composite quantile regression has been recently introduced and the corresponding estimates are more efficient. Variable selection for composite quantile regression for analyzing longitudinal ordinal responses is an attractive alternative to practitioners and has not been developed yet.

In this project, we develop variable selection procedures for (i) additive model with interaction terms under the marginality principle and (ii) composite quantile regression for analyzing longitudinal ordinal responses.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/H01/20
Project Title:
Focus Interpretation and Prosodic Evidence of Nuclear Stress in Hong Kong Cantonese
Principal Investigator:
Dr TONG Man-shan (THEi)


This study explores prosodic focus in Cantonese within the framework of Prosodic Syntax, an emerging field with evidence mainly from Mandarin thus far. Through a series of acceptability judgement, speech production and perception tasks, we seek to test the idea that Cantonese syntax is also prosodically constrained.

In currently prevailing syntactic theories, across languages sentence structures are thought to be governed by a small set of universal *syntactic* rules (Chomsky, 1971, 1981) known as Universal Grammar. However, a recent line of work led by Feng (1995, 2013) demonstrated that prosody as an additional dimension to explaining grammar. That is, (i) an otherwise grammatical sentence can be ungrammatical due to prosodic (e.g. syllable count) reasons (e.g. It is grammatical to say “讀-報 (read newspaper)” but ungrammatical to say “閱讀-報 (read newspaper)” (see Lu & Duanmu 2002)), and (ii) prosodic constraints can make an otherwise uneconomical sentence structure the preferred one (e.g. It is grammatical to say “he put something on the chair” as “他[[放-在]了]椅子上 (He put-on ASPECT chair LOCALIZER)” but ungrammatical to say “他[放-了]在椅子上 (He put-ASPECT on chair LOCALIZER)” in Beijing Mandarin (see Feng 2003)). Prosodic Syntax is a new field that focuses on how prosodic constraints interact with conventional syntactic rules. As evidence for Prosodic Syntax comes mainly from Mandarin, with a handful of other studies from Wenzhou dialect (Zhu 2015; Zhengzhang 2017) whether the principles proposed by Feng (1995) also applies to other languages remains an open question. This study takes Cantonese as a test case, and tests whether (ii) is attested in triadic constructions.

In this study, we will target the canonical triadic construction, Prepositional Dative Construction (PDC), and the non-canonical Inverted Double Object Construction (IDOC) (see Bennett 1978; Xu & Peyraube 1997; Tang 1998, 2003), with special reference to the Nuclear Stress Domain (Zubizarreta 1998; Feng 1995, 2003, 2013). IDOC is a construction attested in Cantonese but not in Mandarin, thus investigating its prosody presents a unique opportunity to better understand the nature of Prosodic Syntax, as well as Cantonese prosody in general. Our findings will be used to verify the hypothesis that the use of IDOC is prosodically-driven and prosodic (re-)phrasing is employed in realizing the narrow focus associates with the Direct Object.

Research questions

-        Is Cantonese grammar prosodically constrained?

-        Which type of Nuclear Stress Rule is employed in Cantonese?

-        Where is the location of Nuclear Stress Domain in Cantonese triadic constructions?

-        Why is Inverted Double Object Construction grammatical in Cantonese but not in Mandarin?


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/E08/20
Project Title:
Hydrogen on demand Development of hydrogel-based hydrogen generator using single atom strategy for flexible power devices
Principal Investigator:
Dr TSANG Chi-wing (THEi)


The use of unmanned aviation vehicles, drones and miniature robotics have become increasingly popular in various industries and businesses in Hong Kong, such as construction, surveying, real time infrastructure and environmental inspection, green manufacturing, cargo transport, etc. Currently, most drones are powered by lithium batteries and they last for only 20-25 minutes before recharge while the development of fuel cell-powered one is promising since fuel cell can continuously produce power provided that fuel are continuously supplied. In addition, it can be powered by clean fuel such as renewable hydrogen to achieve zero emission, in which the purpose is to replace fossil fuels with carbon-free hydrogen fuel. However, the storage of hydrogen is an intrinsic problem and hurdle to its widespread use, especially in the powering of mobility applications and miniature devices. Hydrogen is commonly stored in high pressure compression tank and this increases the safety risk for on board applications. Thus, various options on safe storage of hydrogen have been proposed, such as ammonia borane. Ammonia borane has a very high hydrogen storage mass fraction and volumetric hydrogen storage density (19.6% and 0.145 kg H2/L, respectively), which is far exceeding DOE's 2015 target (9.0% and 0.082 kgH2/L), and H2 can be quantitatively released at slightly above ambient temperature. Together with the non-toxic and non-explosive nature makes AB and related materials attractive options for on-board and potentially portable hydrogen production applications. Upon catalytic hydrolysis reaction, hydrogen gas can be released on demand under ambient conditions, thus has a potential to provide a safe, on-demand energy options for mobile and on-demand applications. Today, flexible and compact hydrogen fuel cells are very close to commercialization, however, the hydrogen sources being used are still compressed hydrogen tank or cumbersome hydrogen generator using electrolysis. There is certainly a gap here to develop a flexible and compact on-demand hydrogen generator to couple with the use of these types of novel hydrogen fuel cells and to integrate the whole into flexible and light devices. Current advancement in the catalytic hydrogen release from AB are still far from being of practical use since fast charging and fast release of hydrogen gas are indispensable for on-site applications. Due to the relatively slow release rate of hydrogen from current nanoparticles metal catalysts, metal leakage and metal aggregation problem, the performance still needs to be significantly improved in order to be comparable with that using conventional hydrogen tank system. The much superior catalytic activities of single atom catalysts (SACs) over traditional nanoparticles have already been demonstrated in various chemical conversions such as oxidation, oxygen reduction reaction, electrochemical CO2 reduction, however, their catalytic activity towards release of hydrogen from ammonia borane remains elusive. We hereby propose the use of a type of mechanical robust hydrogel made from lignin and the incorporation of a highly active metal single atom into the hydrogel which can release H2 from hydrogen storage materials on demand. For the first time, SACs will be used to boost the hydrogen release performance from hydrogen storage materials such as ammonia borane. Hypothetically, single atoms having much higher surface energies than conventional nanoparticles, will be expected to further lower the adsorption energy of ammonia borane onto the metal surface, thus leading to much promising reactivity. The strategy to embed the reactive single atoms onto the hydrogel can also effectively solve the problem of metal leakage and aggregation. One further advantage of this type of hydrogel is that they are light, flexible and can be fabricated into the current flexible hydrogen fuel cell for drone and robotic applications. Due to their sizable and shapeable nature, they can also be fabricated into shape following the aerodynamic and irregular design of unmanned aviation vehicles. Above all, this type of hydrogel can be scaled or sliced into even smaller size for the fabrication of miniature and moveable power devices. Thus, the proposed research can become a reference for the future development for portable power devices using hydrogen fuel cell, and should be comparable to the portable battery power devices in terms of price, safety and efficiency.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/E03/20
Project Title:
An investigation of daylight-linked lighting control system in urban area by simulation approach and development of weather database for daylighting assessment
Principal Investigator:
Dr TSANG Kin-wai (OUHK)


Daylight-linked lighting control system is one of the most popular green building features.  However, the system is usually overridden by manual operation due to unsatisfactory performance.  Problems like wastage of energy, frequent switching, insufficient indoor illuminance levels and discomfort glare are frequently reported.  This does not only waste energy, but also causing unnecessary annoyance for building occupants and give an illusion that green buildings features sacrificed human comfort.

There are few reasons why Hong Kong facing more challenges in adopting daylight-linked lighting controls system.  Hong Kong is one of the densest urban cities over the world.  There are only a few rules of thumbs for the testing and commissioning of daylight-linked lighting control systems while these rules only provide general principles without accounting for local climate condition, solar position and urban topography.  Worse still the daylight availability has a large variation from lowest to highest floor due to heavy obstruction.  Hence rule of thumbs rarely able to satisfy all design condition.

In this study, design guidelines will be developed for daylight-linked control system in urban areas based on field measurement and simulation studies.  And it will address the selection of typical climatic condition for building designers.  Proposed design guidelines will be focused on zoning of lighting control system, selections of photosensor, calibration conditions, testing and commissioning procedures.  This study will specifically address the lighting design issues related to heavily obstructed urban areas.  The sky model and daylight weather database for simulation program will be established for Hong Kong.

The findings would be useful to architects, building engineers in building layout, lighting system design, energy prediction and daylighting design.  It can also enable facility management professionals to effectively operate their properties and reduce operational cost.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/M08/20
Project Title:
Investigating the functional role of aryl alcohol dehydrogenase in Candida dubliniensis biofilm matrix synthesis via a proteomic approach
Principal Investigator:
Dr TSANG Wai-kei (THEi)


Invasive fungal infections (IFI) have been one of the most serious health problems in humans. The fungus, Candida is an important opportunistic human fungal pathogen that lives harmoniously as commensal inhabitant in the human mouth, the digestive system, and the urogenital tract. However, these microorganisms can become highly invasive to cause both superficial and life-threatening systemic diseases (candidiasis) in individuals with impaired immunity, including those with AIDS, cancer, and those undergoing tissue transplantation / chemotherapy, and broad spectrum antimicrobial therapy. Disseminated candidiasis (“Candida in the blood”) is associated with high morbidity and mortality that exceed 40% despite antifungal interventions. As a result, candidiasis is reported to be the fourth leading cause of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections. Thus, management of these infections exerts a considerable healthcare and economic burden. Although the most prevalent Candida species is C. albicans, recent epidemiological data indicated a dramatic increase in incidence of IFI caused by non-albicans Candida (NAC) species, in particular, C. dubliniensis.

A notable clinically relevant manifestation of candidiasis is the formation of biofilms on living and non-living surfaces. Alarmingly, more than 80% of Candida infections are associated with biofilms. Biofilms are surface-associated communities consisting of microorganisms encased in an extracellular matrix (ECM). Like other Candida species, an important virulence trait of C. dubliniensis is the formation of biofilms. The well-organized biofilm architecture confers a high degree (up to 1000-fold) to antifungal drugs. ECM is complex and composed of carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids. β-1,3 Glucan, a major carbohydrate in ECM, is the core structural component of biofilm matrix which sequesters antifungal agents. Thus, it can be envisaged that suppressing biofilm matrix production to distort biofilm architecture as a tangible antifungal approach through destruction of this protective barrier.

Recently, we have characterized the functional significance of an aryl alcohol dehydrogenase (encoded by IFD6) in biofilm matrix production in C. dubliniensis. Overexpression of IFD6 causes a reduction of the levels of β-1,3 glucan and matrix proteins in C. dubliniensis biofilms. The resulting distorted and scanty C. dubliniensis biofilms were more susceptible to antifungal agents, negatively charged metal ions, and cell surface disrupting agents. Therefore, in this proposed study, we aim to in-depth investigate the functional role of aryl alcohol dehydrogenase in biofilm matrix synthesis via a proteomic approach. Specifically, we aim to identify differentially expressed proteins that could provide insights into the functional role of IFD6 in biofilm matrix synthesis. The regulatory mechanism of biofilm matrix synthesis in C. dubliniensis is ill-defined, as yet. The data generated from this study will not only reveal specific proteins that are associated with C. dubliniensis biofilm matrix synthesis, but also will lay a foundation for novel drug targets in designing novel antifungal regimens – for instance, by activation or inhibition of specific regulatory circuits of cellular proteins in order to modulate pathogenic biofilm development.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS25/H06/20
Project Title:
Mapping the Development of Recording Studios in Postwar Hong Kong
Principal Investigator:
Dr TSANG Yik-man (THEi)



This is a pioneering study on the development of recording studios in Hong Kong from historical and musicological perspectives.

Project Background:

During the early development of Cantopop in the 1960s, record companies established recording studios for music production. In the heyday of Cantopop in the 1980s, independent recording studios mushroomed in Hong Kong Important studios such as Avon Recording Studios, Tang Lou Studio, D&M Studio and Q-Sound Studio were all founded during this decade. Equipped with the state-of-the–art hardware and staffed with dedicated music professionals, these recording studios played an important role in the making of the golden age of Cantopop in Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s. Hong Kong music recording business has entered a new phase of development after the Millennium. Medium-sized and small-sized studios have replaced the big and famous studios as the main force behind music recording. This study will investigate the background of this change and its impact on Cantopop in Hong Kong from historical and musicological perspectives.

Brief Project Description:

This study will be based primarily on historical survey and in-depth interviews. In order to examine the roles of recording studios in the history of Cantopop in postwar Hong Kong, I will visit various recording studios and interview music industry influencers including composers, arrangers, singers, producers, and sound engineers who have been active in Cantopop productions since the 1960s. Archives and collections in the Avon Recording Studios such as master tapes, facsimiles, and other valuable records will be systematically examined. Official reports from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Hong Kong (IFPI), Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong (CASH), etc. will also be used for quantitative analysis. Music magazines such as Music Bus, Headline, Swing Bi-weekly, Music Week, New Era, and MCB will provide another important channel to map the history of recording studios in Hong Kong. It will be the first academic treatment of this important aspect of Hong Kong music industry.

Project Significance:

This study aims to break new ground in the historical study of Cantopop and cultural industry of Hong Kong. Heretoforth, the study of Cantopop has been mostly on the social meaning of lyrics, individual singers or music genres. There is very few works on the technological aspect of music production and studies of recording studios do not exist. This will be a groundbreaking work on an important but little-studied aspect of Hong Kong music industry.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS51/H01/20
Project Title:
Identity and Remembrance: Investigating the Poetry of Qing Adherents in Hong Kong During the Republican Period
Principal Investigator:
Dr TSUI Man-hon (UOWCHK)


Upon the collapse of the Qing Dynasty brought about by the Republican Revolution of 1911, a number of loyal adherents chose to move to the politically neutral British colony of Hong Kong. They assembled to promote Chinese education and cultural affairs, and they left behind many verses. Despite living in seclusion, these intellectuals considered themselves defenders of the traditional Chinese culture, and their poetry reflects their sentiment for the lost empire and values.

This project will compile a complete collection of lyrical works by Qing adherents in Hong Kong. It is hoped that this thorough investigation of the poetry of Qing adherents in Hong Kong will reveal the real identity and values of their works and fill a gap in the study of Hong Kong literature.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/H10/20
Project Title:
Environmental communications: Interplay effects between heterogeneous goal-framed messages on recycling behaviors
Principal Investigator:
Dr WONG Phoebe Wai-sum (PolyU SPEED)


Although environmental consciousness is gradually rising among individuals, the number of people taking pro-environmental behaviors is far from satisfaction. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and advertisers around the world have attempted to address this attitude-behavior gap. Message framing that combines words, images, phrases used for relaying tailored information is a popular communication strategy used for guiding behavioral change. Since human behavior is purposeful and goal-driven, promotional and educational campaigns using goal-framed messages are frequently used to motivate individuals toward a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. There is substantial research investigating the persuasive effects of framed messages in environmental communications. However, prior studies merely focused on framed messages that are designed in reference to a single motivator. The examinations did not account for the fact that goals activating pro-environmental behaviors are multiple and even interact together to determine the final decision on our behaviors. To address the research gaps, the present study adopts an integrative approach offered by goal framing theory to investigate how different goal-framed messages influence recycling attitude and behavior. By using a 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects design, the interplay effects between different goal-framed messages will be investigated. Findings of this proposed study would offer insights into the development of well-rounded public promotional campaigns and advance theory development of environmental psychology and communications.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H12/20
Project Title: Exploring the Idea of Public Reason: Studying the Later Rawls's philosophy by the archival approach
Principal Investigator: Dr WONG Baldwin Bon-wah (HSUHK)


The project explores the later philosophy of John Rawls, especially his view on the coherence and priority of public reason and the relationship between public reason and other religions. The philosophical analysis will be assisted by an archival approach, an approach currently gaining momentum in Rawls scholarship. Although vast literature on his philosophy has been published, the use of archival materials, such as his unpublished notes and letters, is still in its nascent phase. Given that the archival materials are now publicly accessible, Anglo-American political philosophers have increasingly used these materials in their research. Nevertheless, current academic research on the “Rawls archive” remains imbalanced. Researchers are usually concerned with the archival materials related to A Theory of Justice. However, the archival materials related to Political Liberalism, the major work of the later Rawls, have not yet been adequately studied.

I intend to fill in this gap in the research by using the archives to study the idea of public reason, which is a core idea in the later Rawls’s philosophy. This project is therefore significant in two ways: philosophically and historically. From a philosophical perspective, studying the unpublished notes and letters of the later Rawls can shed new light on the existing philosophical debates about public reason. The idea of public reason was criticised by some philosophers as being self-defeating and overdemanding to religious citizens. Although Rawls attempted to address these criticisms in his later writings, his reply was unsatisfactorily brief. The archival papers should provide further hints about Rawls’s views on these critiques and thereby enable us to construct a more robust model of public reason. At the same time, from a historical perspective, this project studies the political and intellectual contexts in which Rawls lived. Specifically, in exploring the changes evident in Rawls’s later philosophy, the project examines how the political causes, such as the rise of American right-wing populism in the 1990s, might shape the later Rawls’s philosophy. Hence, my project is interdisciplinary, situated at the intersection of political philosophy, history of thought and American politics.

To carry out this project, I will (i) study the literature on public reason; (ii) visit the university archives where Rawls’s unpublished papers were deposited, such as the libraries in Harvard University and Princeton University. Research outputs from the project will be beneficial in three ways. First, it is a timely project that makes use of the new materials recently discovered to engage in some philosophical debates on public reason, which are currently in vogue. Second, since nearly every undergraduate student of politics and philosophy has to study Rawls, a fuller understanding of Rawls’s theory will facilitate their learning. Third, the archival papers may provide materials that can be used to develop philosophically robust defenses of liberal democracy, a fundamental concern of Rawls. In an age in which the appeal of democracy is in doubt, this project may contribute to public debates and strengthen the confidence of citizens committed to democracy.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B02/20
Project Title:
The Effects of Global Aviation Network Data Analytic Approach on Strategic Network Development and Traffic Forecasting
Principal Investigator:
Dr WONG Collin Wai-hung (HSUHK)


A change in routes at an airport has a huge impact on airlines’ revenue and the economy of the city where the airport is located. Airlines’ route networks are crucial for obtaining competitive advantages in the market. Planning a successful route is a complicated decision-making process that involves considerations beyond the origin and destination. Airlines seldom consider how their addition of new routes or revision of existing routes (or the addition or revision of routes by competitors) affects the global aviation network which in turn impacts demand. By providing a new route, an airline not only impacts competing airlines but also affects transfer passengers’ choices and demand for existing routes connecting the origin or destination. However, past studies of passenger demand forecasting at the route level have failed to consider network changes. Also, there is no study concretely identifies the relationships between airports that did not directly connect when the global network changes.

Today, the world is fully connected and has entered the big data era. The aviation industry should therefore consider using new methods of strategic route development and revenue management. With the support of increasingly powerful computers, managers can make better use of global aviation data and apply a complex analytic approach to make timely decisions. We propose a new data analytic approach using millions of global route data since 2006 to identify new routes with the potential for long-lasting service, and to assess connection quality from the aviation network perspective. Our approach will include a comprehensive methodology for analyzing the aviation network, partitioning the global network into core and auxiliary substructures to understand its dynamics, thereby evaluating potential route quality, deciding which routes warrant selection, and forecasting long- and short-term traffic volumes for the selected routes. Metrics will be identified to evaluate route selection, covering growth, volume, and connectivity potential. Assessing connectivity potential permits the evaluation of the importance of a potential destination airport on a new route by considering the changes in competitive position that other airports connected to the same destination can expect when that new route is added to the network. Our approach will exploit the geographical relationships between airports and draw on network route supply data for a long period of time to make assessment decisions about new destinations. A list of promising new destinations will be created that can enhance the origin airport’s connectivity potential and improve the competitive advantage of airlines.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS16/M08/20
Project Title: New Development of Rapid and Easy Authentication Method of Single Drug Concentrated Chinese Medicine Granules using Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) coupled with Chemometrics
Principal Investigator: Dr WONG Emily Sze-wan (OUHK)


Concentrated Chinese medicine granule (CCMG) has proved efficacy and is convenient for consumption as the active ingredients are extracted during manufacturing process. Raw Chinese medicines are conventionally identified according to their morphological features; however, this method cannot be applied to the identification of CCMG. Most of the distinctive morphology was lost after processing. Even for the professionals like Chinese medicine practitioners or Chinese medicine pharmacists, they may not be able to distinguish various types of CCMG. Chinese medicine practitioners may only rely on the claimed content on packaging labels when prescribing CCMG. Any misadministration or accidental cross-contamination of CCMG may lead to very severe consequences.

Although Chinese medicine are commonly identified by chemical analysis such as liquid chromatography, the procedures involved are complex, time consuming and demanding skills are required. In order to ensure the safety use of CCMG, there is a huge demand for developing a fast, easy and reliable method for CCMG screening, inspection and authentication.

FTIR-ATR (Fourier Transform Infrared-Attenuated Total Reflectance Spectroscopy) is one of the principle types of infrared spectrometer which provides a relatively fast, easy and reliable method to identify and quantify the contents in liquid or solid samples. The application of this technique in western drug identification has been explored. However, there is lack of systematic studies of the potential use of FTIR-ATR technique in CCMG identification.

In this project, fifty selected CCMG with different medicinal properties will be analysed by FTIR-ATR technique. The identities of the CCMG are first verified by traditional liquid chromatography. The preparative conditions of some of the samples for FTIR-ATR analysis will be optimized and standardized. The spectroscopic fingerprints of all the selected CCMG samples are determined and analysed using chemometric approach.

The spectroscopic profiles generated will also be verified according to the drug testing standard recommended by International Conference of Hamonisation (ICH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO). Impact of temperature and moisture factors on CCMG spectra and the sensitivity and specificity of FTIR detection on impurities will also be investigated. Successful completion of this project will have significant implications in the development of a fast, simple and reliable technique for CCMG identification by FTIR-ATR. The safety of the administration of CCMG will therefore be further proven.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/H11/20
Project Title: A Temporal Relationship Theory for the Justification of Love
Principal Investigator: Dr WONG Muk-yan (HSUHK)


This project will aim to answer the following question: What are the appropriate grounds for love for a specific person, which remains constant when that person changes, like the type of love that typically exists between lovers, friends and family members? I propose a temporal relationship theory (TRT) and argue that love between two people is justified if they share a similar understanding of the temporality of their relationship. By temporality, I refer to the interactive causal-cum-constitutive relation between the interpretation of the past, the understanding of the present and the anticipation of the future. Thus, regarding the selectivity of love, the history of a relationship may be a reason for love because it affects how we anticipate a future with the beloved, while the future of a relationship may justify love because it affects how we interpret our joint history. Regarding the constancy of love, a stabilising force can be found in a relationship with a similar temporality. Specifically, the shared history of two people provides resources, e.g. common values, ways of communication, valuable memories, while their shared future provides motivation or direction to accommodate the discrepancies in their relationship caused by a change of characteristics or personhood of either party.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/B06/20
Project Title: Empirical Tests of Economic Integration and Estimates of Transaction Costs: A Study of Belt and Road Initiative
Principal Investigator: Dr WOO Kai-yin (Shue Yan)


The Chinese Government launched its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, with the aim of fostering economic integration among countries along the two main Belt and Road (BR) routes: the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road. The professed goal of economic integration is to develop an integrated productive and competitive region to promote trade and development and the economic prosperity of the countries along the BR, strengthen regional economic cooperation and achieve mutual learning between different civilisations. The development of transportation infrastructure can augment connectivity along the BR routes and facilitate cross-border trade and investment flows linking cities in China to Europe and Africa via Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. In designing the BR development plan, one important precondition for success is a high level of goods and labour market integration among the BR countries. Validation of purchasing power parity (PPP) requires a high degree of trade integration and the existence of a well-integrated goods market in the economies under examination. If there are PPP relationships among the BR countries, tradable goods will flow freely among them, resulting in the integration of the goods market. Similarly, validation of factor price equalisation or wage convergence indicates free labour mobility and labour market integration. Hence, free trade and free labour mobility encourage convergence in product and labour markets. As such, when the BR countries fulfil the preconditions for closer economic integration, the BRI may call for a platform to form an economic union, and ultimately a monetary union, among China and other BR countries as a long-term policy target.

However, economic disparities between the BR countries result from observable and unobservable transaction costs, which are major obstacles to goods and labour market integration within the BR zone. If the product and factor price differentials do not exceed the transaction costs, the arbitrage process that equalises prices across cities will not be activated. The presence of transaction costs thus creates a neutral band within which the relative prices are too small to induce arbitrage so that deviations from long-run PPP equilibrium are non-mean reverting. When the product and factor price differentials exceed the transaction costs outside the band, the mechanisms of product and job switching are activated, with the resulting restoration of mean-reverting long-run equilibrium. This adjustment process is characterised as threshold nonlinearity.

Our study will undertake a set of nonlinear cointegration models to test the PPP and wage convergence hypothesis in order to assess the feasibility of economic integration and the transaction costs of international trade among China and the other BR countries. The proposed nonlinear cointegration methods can overcome the drawbacks of traditional PPP and wage convergence testing: they can yield higher statistical power and estimation of the transaction costs from the thresholds, using only exchange rate, price and wage data. The empirical results can contribute to the development of one belt one road by identifying specific BR countries as priorities to join an economic union with China; estimating the transaction costs of international trade to assess the feasibility of economic integration along the BR routes; identifying the key factors that can help reduce transaction costs; and formulating policies and strategies to enhance economic cooperation and integration.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/E06/20
Project Title: A Blockchain-enabled IoT System for Pallet-pooling Management
Principal Investigator: Dr WU Chun-ho (HSUHK)


Most recent studies on logistics and supply chain management have focused on improvements to operational efficiency, information management, and network. Pallet management is a crucial yet less-researched aspect of the logistics industry. Currently, the closed-loop network for pallet management is preferred in the logistics industry, as positive environmental and economic impacts can be obtained. However, logistics networks are relatively complex and difficult to manage, due to the presence of the reverse logistics process. Therefore, a blockchain-enabled IoT system for pallet-pooling management is proposed in this project. This system integrates the development of blockchain and IoT technologies to identify, control, and monitor pallets in a closed-loop logistics network. Consequently, pallet standardisation can be established in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao greater bay area, while the efficiency of logistics operations can be further enhanced.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS13/E02/20
Project Title: Developing constitutive models from deep learning for natural clays
Principal Investigator: Dr YANG Yi (Chu Hai)


On February 18, 2019, the state promulgated the outline of the development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao greater bay area. The construction of the area is formally proposed by the government. One of the important tasks is to promote infrastructure connectivity, build a modern comprehensive transportation system, realize the “one-hour urban rail transit circle” of the greater bay area, and improve the competitiveness of the area. Major cities in the greater bay area and their riverbeds and seabed have deep layers of soft clay, so most of construction projects (such as urban underground infrastructure, traffic tunnels, underground garages, large underground transportation hubs, etc.) are built on soft clay deposits or strata. Because soft clay is highly compressible and has complex mechanical characteristics, such as rheology, anisotropy and structure, that are different from other types of soils. It is very easy to have excessive deformation. And the deformation speed under complex load conditions is difficult to control. It will directly lead to uneven settlement and deformation of engineering structures, and then cause damage such as cracking or collapse of structures. The design and construction of existing projects are based on some basic constitutive models for soft soil. These constitutive models (such as Mohr-coulomb model and modified Cam-Clay model) can only be effective for some special cases within few stress paths. Moreover the current advanced constitutive models can hardly accurately simulate the coupling mechanical properties of soft clay under complex stress paths. In order to ensure the construction of complex projects in a safe mode, it is necessary to break through the shortcomings of the existing constitutive theoretical framework, and then propose an intelligent constitutive model for simulating the complex behaviors of soft clay.

Nowadays, the most popular technology in the world is the artificial intelligence (AI). Deep learning (DL) is one of the key topics of AI. It has successfully solved numerous highly nonlinear regression and classification problems which cannot be solved by traditional machine learning (ML) algorithms, such as image recognition and natural language processing (NLP). In view of the high complexity of soil properties and high nonlinearity of stress-strain relationship, DL algorithm can provide a new direction for establishing soil constitutive model. The DL method can directly extract stress-strain relationship from experimental data without making any assumptions, and can realize the simulation of complex soil properties without relying on any phenomenologically mathematical formula. If the training data are enough, the DL-based constitutive model will accurately simulate any complex mechanical properties for a given soil. Thus, this can break through the framework of the traditional constitutive theory (such as elasto-plastic, hyperplastic, visco-elastoplastic) of soil mechanics.

The current proposal will build an experimental database of different clays, like ImageNet for pictures. Then the DL technique is adopted to establish intelligent constitutive models for a given soil based on the pre-collected experimental database. After that the proposed constitutive model will be verified by different types of experimental tests under complex loading paths on the same soil as used in the training. Finally the verified constitutive model is implemented into the finite element code to solve the practical engineering problems.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS24/H12/20
Project Title: Definiteness marking, topicalization and disposal variations in the Chinese: Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Xiang and Min dialects
Principal Investigator: Dr YAO Shuiying (PolyU SPEED)


The Ba construction (S Ba-O VC) in Mandarin normally is mandatory to be used in most cases when people want to express a disposal meaning. It has drawn lots of attention from linguists within different frameworks due to its complicated properties on syntax, semantics and pragmatics in the past decades. Cross-dialectally, existing dialectal studies normally reported and recorded the variants of disposal markers and treated constructions with them as their counterparts of Ba sentences in Mandarin, such as Jeung construction (S Jeung-O VC) in Cantonese and Zei construction (S Zei-O VC) in Shaoxing Dialect. Such practices however never capture native speakers’ intuitions on disposal expressions neither in Cantonese (Cheung 1992), nor in Shaoxing Dialect (Yao 2014) or Xiang and Min (Lin 2005, Wu 2005, Xu 2007). The survey of native speakers’ first response in specific disposal contexts in Yao (2018) illustrates that corresponding to the Ba construction (S Ba-OVC) in Mandarin, Cantonese prefers a strong SVCO (Subject-Verb-Complement-Object) word order to express the disposal meaning and the Shaoxing Dialect adopts an SOVC variation. Such typological difference of disposal expressions among Mandarin, Cantonese and Shaoxing Dialect then will raise many interesting practical and theoretical questions, which, however, have been less touched in the literature.

To better understand the above puzzle on disposal variations among Mandarin, Cantonese, Shaoxing Wu, Xiang and Min dialects, this project will conduct a cross-linguistic study on the structure and semantic interpretations of disposal NPs (Noun Phrases) and examine the degree of sub-topicalization in these five dialects and suggest that such word order variations in the disposal constructions among these Chinese dialects resulted from the different options being adopted to make the object NPs conform to the so-called definiteness constraint of a disposal NP, namely, definite, specific or generic. In the literature, the focus of research is often put on the syntax and semantics of VPs in the disposal constructions. There lacks a cross-linguistic study on the structure and semantic interpretations of disposal NPs. The current project thus will fill this gap in that it highlights the role of the disposed NPs in the formation of disposal constructions in Mandarin, Cantonese, Shaoxing Wu, Xiang and Min Dialects.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B10/20
Project Title: What do Expanded Audit Reports Tell? Initial Evidence from the United Kingdom
Principal Investigator: Dr YAU Belinda Ling-na (HSUHK)


The new auditing standard, ISA (UK and Ireland) 700, which requires auditors to discuss risks of material misstatements (RMMs) in audit reports, has offered a great opportunity to examine auditors’ auditing and reporting choice of RMMs. Unlike past boilerplate audit reports which hardly distinguish outputs by various auditors, RMMs are rich, contextual, and informative.

Using hand-collected audit report data and manual categorization, the proposed research project aims to provide initial descriptive evidence on auditors’ RMM topic choice and audit work choice. First, we will examine and describe the typical RMM topics that appear in audit report, as well as the common audit procedures addressing the more popular RMM topics. Second, we will investigate whether auditors’ risk assessment choice and their corresponding audit response are affected by auditor’s own template. Third, we will further investigate whether the risk assessment choice and audit response choice are affected by audit expert. Finally, we will also consider if fellow auditors blindly follow audit expert’s RMM topic choice or audit work choice. Specifically, we will focus on circumstances when: (1) the fellow auditor is a smaller audit firm with fewer resources, (2) the audit expert itself is perceived to be of “higher audit quality”, and (3) both the fellow auditor’s client and the audit expert’s client are similar along several audit risk dimension.

Overall, this study aims to provide some initial descriptive evidence on auditors’ auditing and writing choice of RMMs and sheds light on various auditors’ behavior, especially the interaction among auditors. The findings of this study may suggest learning mechanism between fellow auditors and audit experts, which has not been examined in prior studies and would be a significant contribution to audit expertise literature. As there have been reforms in the auditor’s report model worldwide, and similar auditing standards have been adopted by IAASB and PCAOB, we expect this study to have implications to researchers, policy makers and industry practitioners around the world.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS17/M03/20
Project Title: Efficacy of biofeedback-controlled game-based swallowing training (BGBST) in stroke survivors
Principal Investigator: Dr YIP Chi-kong (TWC)


Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) are a crucial problem in post-stroke care and its rehabilitation can be achieved through repetitive oral motor exercises that train the muscles involved. However, it is impossible to control training intensity or muscle loading during these exercises, in contrast to muscle strength training protocols for limbs. Thus, there is a lack of systematic training protocol for swallowing in present. Nonetheless, the use of surface electromyography (sEMG) to measure muscle activity and provide visual biofeedback is readily available through current advances in technology. In this connection, we propose a research program to evaluate the efficacy of a newly designed computer game-based training for swallowing muscles, biofeedback game-based swallowing training (BGBST). With an innovative method of using sEMG as an intensity indicator, BGBST provides not only enjoyment for the user but also objective control of training intensity. Besides, the real-time visual biofeedback through sEMG can increase the user’s awareness of swallowing strength in the training. The efficacy of BGBST in stroke survivors with dysphagia in terms of swallowing strength, participation, and quality will be tested and compared with control subjects after training and at a 3-month follow-up visit. The stroke survivors in the BGBST group will undergo the training protocol of 3 sessions per week for 3 weeks, a total of 9 training sessions. A training session will be about 30 minutes, including rest intervals of about 2 to 5 minutes, the BGBST group will be required to produce 80% of the peak amplitude of the swallowing muscles to complete three sets of tasks. The findings of this study will provide (1) evidence on a systematic swallowing muscle training protocol and (2) information on the swallowing quality and participation for stroke survivors. It is anticipated that this research program will benefit stroke survivors with dysphagia with a convenient and effective swallowing training protocol, which could shorten the rehabilitation time and promote their enjoyment of food.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/P03/20
Project Title: Low-rank Matrix Optimization via Nonconvex Regularization with Applications
Principal Investigator: Dr YU Kwok-wai (HSUHK)


The explosion of big data has benefited the development of various disciplines; while the underlying phenomena of data missing and gross error bring an arduous challenge to big data analysis. The low-rank matrix optimization is an important technique to deal with the curse of data missing and gross error and has been successfully implemented in various fields. The nuclear norm regularization is a popular and practical method for solving low-rank matrix optimization problems. However, the nuclear norm regularization inherits limitations of the 1 regularization in both theoretical property and practical applications, including estimation bias, sub-optimal low-rank recovery and sub-least measurements requirement for perfect recovery.

The nonconvex lower-order regularization method is an alternative approach to break through these limitations of the convex nuclear norm regularization. In particular, the Schatten-p (0 < p < 1) norm (Sp) regularization method has gained successful applications in many fields. However, the development of theoretical study of the Sp regularization method is still in its infancy. Furthermore, there is a gap between the theoretical and algorithmic studies of the nonconvex lower-order regularization problem. To the best of our knowledge, there is still no theory to guarantee the convergence of relevant first-order iterative algorithms to the global minimum of the Sp regularization problem or the ground true solution.

In this project, we will consider the Sp regularization model and investigate its theory, including the recovery bounds of the model and the convergence theory of the Sp regularization algorithm. We will also discuss applications to systems biology. In the theoretical aspect, we will introduce a notion of restricted eigenvalue condition (REC) and apply it to establish the exact recovery property and recovery bounds for the global minima (including model error, absolute deviation and 2 consistency) to quantitatively estimate the stability of the Sp regularization problem. Moreover, we will discuss the recovery bound and the second-order growth property for the local minima. In the algorithmic aspect, we will propose a proximal gradient method with continuation technique to solve the Sp regularization problem. Under the REC assumption, we will show that the proposed algorithm converges at a linear rate to the ground true solution within a tolerance proportional to the noise level and the recovery bound. The convergence theory will provide a positive theoretical evidence to the low-rank recovery availability of the Sp regularization algorithm and fill the gap of the nonconvex lower-order regularization method. In the application aspect, we will apply our theoretical results and numerical algorithm to complete single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data and use the enhanced data to carry out downstream analysis. The successful application to scRNA-seq will help biologists to promote the scRNA-seq technology and to understand the gene expression at a much higher resolution.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS15/E02/20
Project Title: Developing and Validating Cloud Intelligence Assessment System on Identification on Developmental Dyslexia of Chinese Language
Principal Investigator: Dr YUEN Connie Man-ching (Shue Yan)


Education is highly important because it brings knowledge and skills essential for survival in the world. A large number of students across the world have developmental dyslexia, which is a specific learning disability affecting reading and writing skills. Some researchers suggested that around 17% of the world’s population experience dyslexia. Detecting dyslexia is the first step towards clinical or teaching interventions for children with dyslexia. In suspected cases, referrals are given to children to undertake dyslexia assessment at assessment centres. However, the waiting time for dyslexia assessment services is often long, the assessment procedure is highly complicated, and the accuracy of the assessment is often subject to teacher biases.

Dyslexia where the Chinese language is concerned is much more difficult to detect, compared to dyslexia involving the English language. Learning traditional Chinese characters is significantly more difficult than learning simplified Chinese characters. There are a number of works on identifying dyslexia where simplified Chinese characters are concerned. However, the literature on identifying dyslexia where traditional Chinese characters are concerned is sparse. Most of the existing works focus on paper-based assessments; only a few of the existing works focus on using the machine-learning approach. Even then, only a few classifiers are evaluated, the experimental results are preliminary and the long processing time on using classifiers is not discussed.

To address the above gaps, I propose to use a cloud platform to develop an application based on machine learning to identify dyslexia involving traditional Chinese characters with a view to improving both prediction accuracy and processing time. The proposed application can serve as a quick and easy way for assessment centres, teachers and parents to identify developmental dyslexia.

The proposed project will design, develop and verify an intelligent dyslexia assessment system on the cloud. This project will have six stages. In the first stage, I will review the literature on identifying dyslexia. This review will be aimed at obtaining more information on the assessments used to identify dyslexia in order to define the set of words that can help distinguish different degrees of dyslexia, which will be the user requirement for the proposed assessment system. In the second stage, I will invite both participants with dyslexia and those without dyslexia to write out the same set of words, a process designed to ensure that the characteristics of the selected Chinese characters are representative and can serve as the training data. In the third stage, I will develop the proposed cloud computing assessment system using Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. When a fully trained model has been developed on AWS Cloud, I will integrate the model into the proposed assessment system and deploy the integrated system on the cloud infrastructure. Users can access the assessment system in the web interface. In the fourth stage, I will evaluate the performance of the proposed system. I will invite both participants with dyslexia and those without dyslexia to test the proposed assessment system to determine the prediction accuracy in identifying dyslexia. In the fifth stage, I will organise seminars and workshops at schools to introduce the proposed assessment system to the public. In the sixth stage, I will use the findings to write technical reports and research papers that are applicable to the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, educational psychology, special education, speech and language.

The proposed assessment system can be used by assessment centres, teachers and parents as a simple and fast way of identifying developmental dyslexia. The data collected by the proposed assessment system will be useful for researchers in analysing the performance of people with dyslexia and understanding how to effectively identify people with dyslexia.


Project Reference No.: UGC/FDS14/B06/20
Project Title: The Polarizing Effects of Electronic Word-of-Mouth: Self-Promotion and Self-Protection Perspectives
Principal Investigator: Dr ZENG Jing (HSUHK)


Online product reviews have fundamentally changed how consumers make purchase decisions, with eight times more consumers relying on electronic word of mouth (eWOM) from their peers than those who are influenced by TV advertising (Conick, 2016).  The blossoming of these highly influential WOM platforms around the world begs an important question:  Given their significant impacts on consumer and business welfare, how trustworthy (i.e., reflective of genuine consumer opinions) is the information available on these platforms?

This proposed research suggests that, contrary to popular belief in academia and industry, the WOM platforms intended to present consumers’ true voice may end up having a biasing effect on product opinions.  We argue that WOM communication about products and brands carries social implications concerning both the WOM communicators and their relationships with other participants on the WOM platforms.  Integrating the classic impression management literature (Leary & Kowalski, 1990; Alicke & Sedikides, 2009) and contemporary research on social media culture (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016), we predict a pattern of eWOM polarization effects by virtue of a self-promotion motive (for positive WOM) and a self-protection motivation (for negative WOM).  Importantly, we expect these platform-induced effects to be stronger for social networking sites (SNSs, such as Facebook) than for product review sites (PRSs, such as Yelp).

With the rapid explosion of WOM platforms, platform managers are grappling with the challenge of sustaining consumer interest to visit and share useful content on their platforms.   One major trend is for PRSs to incorporate more social-interactive features on their sites, partly as a response to consumers’ growing interest in sharing eWOM on SNSs.  The proposed research calls into question this industry practice by arguing that social ties may have detrimental effects on eWOM trustworthiness.  If long-term platform credibility is in view, we caution against the temptation for PRSs to morph into SNSs for short-term gains in visitor traffic or content volume.