Research news: working hours, stroke, semi-precious stones and data volumes

The research news section gives regular hints about interesting studies in various fields of research.

Social Sciences

Determining one’s own working hours does not increase general flexibility in employment relationships

The EU working time directive allows that, by way of exception, the regulations on working and rest time do not have to be applied to employees with autonomous decision-making powers. Such autonomous employees choose their working hours themselves, depending on the nature of the work. The study analysed whether the introduction of the autonomous employee category into legislation has made the regulation of working time and rest periods more flexible. It was concluded that as the number of employees, whose employer does not interfere in any way in the determination of working time, is small, the use of the autonomous employee category does not make employment relationships significantly more flexible.

Read more in the article.
Further information: Merle Erikson, Professor (labour law),


Stroke risk factors are widespread among young Estonian adults

The prevalence of ischemic stroke among young adults has increased. One reason is the increased frequency of stroke risk factors. The study conducted in Tartu University Hospital and the North Estonia Medical Centre from 2013 to 2020 showed that the prevalence of traditional risk factors in ischemic stroke patients aged 18–54 was 92% and as many as half of the patients had three risk factors or more. The most frequent risk factors were high cholesterol level, smoking, hypertension and obesity. These contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease, which are direct causes of stroke. Compared to studies conducted with similar groups in other countries, young Estonian patients had considerably more stroke risk factors and the frequency of stroke caused by atherosclerosis and heart diseases was higher.

Read more in the article.
Further information: Siim Schneider, PhD student, Faculty of Medicine,

Arts and Humanities

Material meaning-making of semi-precious stones

The last decade in the new spirituality of Estonia was characterised by the great popularity of semi-precious stones. There are many esoteric beliefs related to semi-precious stones, but the ethnological and empirical study of the use of the stones also reveals the material aspect of the meaning. The article published in the collection “Mitut usku Eesti V: esoteerika” (“Multi-faith Estonia V: esotericism”) focuses on the material form of semi-precious stones, the meaning-making of the material, and its entanglement with esoteric interpretive framework. People also ascribe agency to semi-precious stones based on their physical breakdown and its interpretation. The concept of material agency introduces natural processes, which receive a cultural meaning in human interpretation, into the study of material religion and culture.

Read more in the article (in Estonian), which is available in the Estonian Research Information System.
Further information: Tenno Teidearu, PhD student of Ethnology,

Science and Technology

How to manage ever-increasing data volumes and data presented in graphs?

The ever-increasing volumes of data are often presented in the form of graphs. Graphs are invisible multidimensional networks through which the data moves and in the nodes of which computations occur. They allow to do searches and receive answers by monitoring connections that describe the links between the data. The answer is not in a single comprehensive application but in a general communication system between the graphs, which must also withstand growth. This is what representatives of the international community led by the UT researcher offer answers to in the article.

Read more in the article or on the UT website.
Further information: Jaak Vilo, Professor of Bioinformatics,