IGI Global's Executive Editor is featured in an Against the Grain Podcast

Executive Editor Goes Against the Grain

By IGI Global on Sep 15, 2017
Against the Grain Podcast As part of IGI Global’s close partnership with Against the Grain (ATG), IGI Global’s Executive Editor, Dr. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, recently took part in an ATG podcast. The podcast focused on the changes within the publishing industry, publisher and librarian innovations and IGI Global’s cornerstone publication, the Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition.

To listen to the podcast and learn more about how IGI Global is collaborating with libraries, please click here and see the transcription below:

ATGthePodcast 035 - Dr. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour Interview Transcription

LEAH HINDS: [0:01] music playing in background] Hi, this is Leah Hinds. Welcome to episode 35 of ATG: The Podcast. Against the Grain is your key to the latest news about libraries, publishers, book jobbers, and subscription agents. Our goal is to link publishers, vendors, and librarians by reporting on the issues, literature, and people that impact the world of books and journals.

This week, featuring an interview with Dr. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, who is Executive Editor and Publisher at IGI Global, and our own Katina Strauch, Founder and Convener of the Charleston Conference and Editor of Against the Grain. I’m really excited to talk with you both – thanks for taking the time to chat with us today!

DR. MEHDI KHOSROW-POUR: [0:50] Thank you very much.

LEAH: [0:52] Dr. Khosrow-Pour it has been a few years since we last spoke with you in the pages of ATG. So can you tell our newer listeners a little about yourself and your company, IGI Global?

MEHDI: [1:04] As Leah mentioned, I’m Dr. Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, executive editor and publisher at IGI Global. We are a scientific/scholarly reference publisher. I’ve been in this particular position since the inception of the company back in 1988.

IGI Global is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania with an international reach, where, at any given time, we work with more than 200 distributors worldwide. In the past, close to 30 years, we have published work of close to 100,000 researchers from all over the world. About 55 percent of our contributors come from North America but then the other 45 percent come from all over the world. We are truly an international publishing house.

We normally publish each year about 500 titles and about 170—and we publish 170 active journal[s] [that we] publish on a quarterly, and a few on semi-annual basis. IGI Global publishes under five different imprints: Information Science Reference, Business Science Reference, Medical Information Science Reference, Engineering Science Reference and then IGI Publishing. We normally publish our books and journals, our databases, we also publish video content. Our books coming in at a standard sized author and editor reference books or major reference books such as encyclopedias or Handbooks of Research. The Smaller author and editor reference books that we publish [we] refer to as Research Insight or Research Essential. And we also publish casebooks and, as I mentioned earlier, 170 journals on a continuous basis, and we do produce somewhere around 25-50 instructional/educational videos each year. So, we keep ourselves very busy.

KATINA STRAUCH: [3:10] That’s amazing! Since founding the company in 1988, what would you say are the biggest challenges you have faced?

MEHDI: [3:18] I think some of the challenges the company has been facing, among some of the challenges will include the ever-changing nature of the market. As we all know, there are more competitors or players now, and also industry in general is consolidating and as a result of that, there are less independent voices in the publishing industry these days.

Second challenge for us is the shrinking library budget and libraries inability to obtain necessary scholarly content, which is a continuous challenge for everybody. And quality control challenges is always one issue that we have to deal with as a scholarly academic publisher to make sure that we maintain the highest level of quality.

And also, dealing with reality of Open Access publishing and its benefits and challenges for commercial publishing such as IGI Global. And also false competition now that is created by many predatory open access publishers. That is one area that is really affecting all academic publishers— matter of fact, I will be speaking as one of the main speakers at the upcoming Beijing International Book Fair on this very issue and how predatory publishers [are] allowing unquestionable, unvetted content to be published and how libraries are really making these, you know, open access journals available to their patrons, and patrons are using the content and reciting it again and again, contaminating the pool of reliable scientific knowledge that will be relied on for many years.

And at the same time, in addition to all these challenges, we also constantly as a publisher of content in information science and technology, dealing with societal challenges that in many cases are considered to be barriers to full utilization of technological advancement and knowledge creation and dissemination. So, there are many challenges that, some of them are the old challenges that have been going on for years, and some of them are the challenges I will say are the past several years or a decade, that we are dealing with. But the ones that I mentioned are the main ones facing us.

LEAH: [6:00] Thank you. What are the keys to your success in meeting and overcoming all of those challenges you just talked about?

MEHDI: [6:08] As we are approaching our 30th anniversary, we are committed to run a very agile and responsible publishing house, where we do not take anything for granted, especially when it comes to quality of content. And we also recognize that our competitors, many of them are larger conglomerate publishing houses, so, and as a part of that philosophy, we also understand that we always have to stay one step ahead of the games when it comes to technological innovations, new methods of knowledge dissemination, as well as enhancing the overall quality of our content and vetting process. We do not cut any corners because at the end of the day, our customers—which are mostly researchers and academic libraries— expect nothing more than quality. If you do not have quality content, if you do not have the highest level of quality applied to content that you are producing, then obviously there is not much really you can brag about or you can basically claim.

And we became known as a high-quality publishing house. Obviously, you know, after spending 20 years in academia, I had no interest in getting involved in a publishing house that we were basically publishing for [the] sake of making some money, but instead quality is our number one concern and we will try you know to apply the highest level of quality to our content. And as I said, staying agile because again the technology is changing so rapidly and there is so much new content, new innovations, new discoveries that we try you know to keep up with it. Although, there are times that we get into areas that are not as profitable as other publishers might view, but at the same time we are part of that knowledge creation and dissemination and we take the risk and publish because again you know we feel it is part of our responsibility to continue the process of knowledge expansion and dissemination.

KATINA: [8:31] What advice would you offer to someone who’s thinking of getting in the publishing business today, Mehdi?

MEHDI: [8:38] I think the first advice is to go see the shrink first!

EVERYONE: [8:43] Laughter]

MEHDI: [8:45] I mean this is an industry that is very established industry, so breaking into this industry that is mainly controlled by some of the largest publishing houses is not easy. My advice would be for someone who is interested to get into this industry is to be ready and can— for somebody to be ready to commit himself or herself to hard work and commitment to the business for at least minimum of 10 years before the name recognition gets established.

Some time ago, one of my former colleagues told me that if the market that you’re producing your goods is local, it will take a year or two to get established. If it’s state-wide, it will take about five years. If it’s country-wide, it takes about 10 years and if the market is international, it takes about 15 years to get the name recognized. And at the same time I think, as I said earlier, because you know all the major players in this industry, one has to really, really find a niche market in this industry that he or she can concentrate. But in my opinion, you know in our experience speaks very loudly if there is a “will there is a way”. As long as anyone interested to getting into this industry understands that it takes quite some time before return on investment can be accomplished. This is not an industry that after a year or two someone can really rely on positive returns on investments. But as I said you know it depends how committed the individual is in terms of getting into this industry.

LEAH: [10:41] Thank you that’s fantastic advice! You mentioned earlier you know the changing nature of the market, and industry consolidation, everything’s changing rapidly. We assume that libraries are still a major market for you, but library budgets are shrinking. Where else do you see the growth coming from?

MEHDI: [11:01] We are in, as we discussed earlier, we are in constant contact with our customer, mostly libraries, and IGI Global is a partner of many of these libraries. Now over the years, what we have tried hard to come up with is the innovative solutions, different ways that we can offer our content that is many ways is affordable by libraries and at the same time you know is affordable to us. For example you know, more than a year ago IGI Global began offering journal and book collections or bundles in 20 scholarly areas and each one of these collections include about 20 books or 20 journals, and normally they are priced around less than $2,500. And if you take 20 journals and divide you know— and these are areas that are unique—and if you take those 20 journals divide by what we are selling it comes to about $100+ per journal versus a typical journal of us can be priced somewhere between $500-600 a year, annual subscription. So we try you know to— And many of our customers have taken advantage of these kind of offers.

At the same time, technology allows us to deliver these kinds of packages to our customers electronically without going to the process of printing, and stocking and then shipping and all the other expenses related to the print. So, both sides can benefit from it. We achieve certain amounts of savings at the same time libraries achieve certain amount of savings. At the same time, over the past many years, we’ve been working very closely with academic library related consortia where we can basically offer them some of our databases on a much more attractive pricing structure where many libraries, as a part of a single consortia, can obtain access to our databases and benefit from the economy of the scale more than if each one of them would come to us individually.

I think there is a misperception among a lot of publishers as well as librarians that libraries don't have money and that publishers are always asking for too much for their content. But I think both sides have to realize that there are opportunities, there are different ways that we can basically reach to the point or identify solutions where publishers can provide content with much less pricing structure as well as library can benefit from it. In my opinion, technology has opened up doors or— providing these days— providing so many opportunities in regard to content dissemination and the cost of it that I think we have to take advantage of it.

Unfortunately, there are still societal issues that prevent that full utilization, some of it related to what is still taking place in academia where we cannot, as an academic publisher [only publish in the electronic format]. We have tried several times before and each time you realize that consequential damages are too high and we decided to back off. And that is basically going full digital.

Academia, to some of the tenure and the promotion processes, is still required that scholars, teachers or those who are on tenure track to provide print version of their publication as proof. And as a result of that, most of our authors and editors demand right at the beginning that we promise them that we will publish the content also in print. And libraries also sometimes demand you know that the publication to be provided to them in print. But if we go 100 percent digital then there would be much, much more opportunity for cost saving and the speed of knowledge dissemination. When you think about it, how quickly content can be generated and distributed in the full digital format versus print format, it is day and night.

But at the same time as I said you know we try to find ways that we can make our content much, much more affordable to our client base and where we know the reality that they have less budget and their abilities also in obtaining— the ability to obtain content is not as it used to be.

So we have to be responsible— or I can say, we are sensitive toward that particular issue and we do whatever we can to make sure that we play our part in making our content more affordable to libraries. Because at the end of the day, libraries are still you know need to obtain necessary content, especially in research area for academic libraries, to keep up— to support their academic program and their research.

KATINA: [16:31] That’s a very positive attitude, I think. What role does expanding our subject coverage and product lines play in IGI Global's future as far as you can see?

MEHDI: [16:44] Well, our philosophy is to stay open— as open-minded as possible when acquiring new research topics. Initially, IGI Global began publishing only in the information science and technology areas. As we became recognized as a quality publishing house, we began to see opportunities in expanding our coverage areas into other related subjects. And also, many of our existing customers or their colleagues started approaching us and you know asking us if we would be interested in publishing outside the information science area.

Today, IGI Global publishes books and journals in 11 subject areas: Business, which is our largest collection of books and journals that we publish, Computer Science and IT, Education, Engineering, Environmental Science, Government, Library Information Science, Media and Communications, Medical, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Security and Forensics and then Social Sciences and Humanities. Those are the areas that we now publish books and journals on a regular basis.

We offer credible outlets for international researchers to share their findings and sometimes in very unprecedented areas, as I mentioned earlier. I mean especially when it comes to technology-related topics. We publish content that sometimes other publishers will not touch those contents until another 5-10 years because those areas are not 100 percent established.

But again, our attitude is, it is part of our responsibility to expand the body of knowledge and somebody— these researchers must be able to have an outlet to have their work published and contribute to the expansion of the knowledge in their particular areas. So and also, that allows us to stay on the forefront of innovation rather than following other players. We can afford to basically have that kind of philosophy, and over the years, our customers have looked at us as an outlet where we are basically publishing content that is at the forefront of innovation. Indirectly, it has helped us to capture part of the market that other publishers perhaps do not have much interest in it or they find it a little bit risky.

LEAH: [19:23] Thank you very much. Earlier you mentioned a continued demand for print materials. How do your income streams break out vis-a-vis print and digital and how has that changed over the last couple of years?

MEHDI: [19:38] Fortunately, we are not— we prepared for digital transformation way, way before any other publisher, even larger publishing houses. As a matter of fact, when we introduced our first electronic platform at Frankfurt International Book Fair back in 2002, I had folks from several major publishing houses coming to our site and asking for a demo of that platform, because we could see that the shift is going to take place. Technology was getting better and better on a daily basis, so in early days we start preparing ourselves for digital transformation. Today, more than 60 percent of our revenue comes from our e-content, which is e-books, e-journals and databases, and only 40 percent of our revenue comes from our print formats.

However, as I said earlier, we still cannot basically stop publishing content in print. We publish every book, every journal, in both print and electronic formats. But obviously, the electronic format is expanding or is growing much faster than print, which is you know— which makes sense because as the electronic format expands, the print is going to shrink. I don’t know, would I ever see the day that there will be no print, but in my opinion, eventually it will end. I don’t have a crystal ball to say it will take 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, but the way that the market is shrinking— print market is shrinking— eventually, there will be a day that our children and grandchildren will talk about that someday people use to read content in a printed fashion.

But we are very well positioned, or have been positioned, to deal with this transformation and as I said earlier, more than 60 percent of our revenue these days come from the electronic format.

KATINA: [21:58] So, how do you see the growing availability of open access resources impacting IGI Global? Have you noticed any effects so far?

MEHDI: [22:09] I mean IGI Global always views Open Access as an excellent opportunity for researchers to make their research findings available freely to their colleagues. However, regardless of open access or non-open access, there are always costs associated in publishing scientific content.

Now under Open Access while the consumers are not seeing the costs associated with the publication of the research findings, however publishers, funding agencies, research institutions, and in many cases authors themselves are footing the bill. So, there is cost always associated to generate content and the cost is basically related to the review process, revision, copy editing, translation, development of the contents, production, dissemination and promotion— so all these you know activities cost money. Doesn't matter you know who pays for it, either publishers, authors, or funding agencies or institutions, but there are always costs associated with producing scientific, vetted content.

Now the effect of OA or Open Access on a scholarly publishing is a fact of life, ok. And in my opinion, it has— over the years, it has very strong positive impact on publishing houses. It allows us to also understand that there are different methods of knowledge creation and dissemination. But regrettably, in my opinion, during the past I would say several years or a decade, Open Access has been hijacked by predatory publishing houses from all over the world, ok, and as result— but when you read day after day content published in journals where the review process was completed in 24 hours. There is no way on the face of this earth—I’ve been the editor of several journals for the past 30 years—there is no way, it doesn't matter using electronic review process whatever, there is no way on the face of this earth the content can be reviewed—peer-reviewed— in 24 hours and at the same time published.

So as a result of that, some of the questionable researchers in collaboration with predatory journal publishers are using the old game of "pay and play." They pay and at the same time the content that has not been vetted is published. That content and then becomes available to libraries or other sources to other researchers. Other researchers, not being aware of that the content has not been vetted, they use the content in support of their research and then, other people use their findings and in my opinion that is contaminating the pool of scientific knowledge on a daily basis.

And It should be [the] concern of everybody, myself as a researcher, myself as a publisher, libraries, everybody, because we are simply assuming that every journal that is published under Open Access is a credible journal. No! There are lists that are showing the number of these journals are increasing on a significant basis and obviously it is effecting the integrity of scientific knowledge or databases that are available out there. And we all have to be alarmed in terms of what is happening to Open Access phenomena and how Open Access has allowed some of these questionable researchers and their questionable research to find ways into mainstream scientific knowledge dissemination.

LEAH: [26:20] Shifting gears just a bit, I thought we could take a break from the more serious questions for something fun. We remember your deep love of music from our last conversation. What is your favorite song at the moment or what’s in your playlist now?

MEHDI: [26:36] I went down and looked at my list on my iPhone you know and wrote down some of the music that I’ve been—I looked at my Top 25 music that I have played over the past couple of months. I would say "One Dance" by Drake, "Formation" by Beyoncé, "24 Magic" by Bruno Mars. I’m a fan of heavy metals like Metallica, and I don’t think of their music as old. At the same time you know when it comes to classical rock and roll such as U2 and Rolling Stones. I’m also a big fan of Johnny Cash, I’ve seen him play some of his music although, he is not around anymore, but his music also doesn’t get old.

I think music in many ways is my salvation you know to sometime escape from the work and other areas that get my mind too bogged down. When I drive from here to New York, which takes me about three hours, half of the time I am on the phone talking and the rest of the time I’m listening to music. The portion that I listen to music is more fun.

LEAH: [27:51] laughter] For sure!

KATINA: [27:56] Now we wanted to move into more questions about your Encyclopedia. As our listeners know, IGI Global recently released the Fourth Edition of the Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology. Each new edition is a massive undertaking. As Editor-in-Chief, what motivates you, what is it about this project that has held your interest over all— over these years?

MEHDI: [28:26] Well first as a researcher, not as a publisher, I have vested interest in expanding the body of knowledge in this field. And I would spend more than half of my life teaching and conducting research in this area. At the same time, the rapid rate of technological innovation and the speed of how continuously new knowledge, new discoveries, new challenges, new ways of managing technological innovation taking place, obviously. And also, applications of these newer technologies, mandate for us to basically publish content related to these areas.

Now over the years, this particular publication has become— has been recognized by researchers and academic libraries around the world as the most comprehensive reference source for the latest research findings in innovations in the field of IST [Information Science and Technology] and related fields. As a result, many researchers and libraries actually expect us to produce new edition of this publication every few years.

We have received many accolades from research community, as well as libraries regarding the value and importance of this publication in their respective library and how they rely on this reference source as one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date publications for learning about knowledge in this particular discipline. Also, over the years, we have expanded the overall coverage of the Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology and in the new edition that we just released a month ago, we have more than 705 entries or articles contributed by over 1,100 researchers from 74 countries and we published this ten-volume set which is about 8,104 pages all combined.

There are over 2,000 charts, graphics, tables, formula for illustrative examples. User guide and two different table of contents for easy navigation. We have a lengthy list of references, additional reading sections and further reading, sheet terms and definitions. And also the current edition is divided in 80 categories, some of these categories are categories that were included in previous editions, but some of the categories are new to this particular edition.

And one thing that we can claim with this edition, as well as what it was to with the previous third edition that all content included in this particular edition is 100 percent new materials. We have no single reprinting of content from previous editions and we are fortunate that there’s so much new contents out there within the 3-4 years that we have been publishing each edition that there is no need to reprint. There is plenty of content submitted to us from researchers from all over the world, that we did not have to rely on any of the content that we published in previous editions. So It is a very complete set of new content that we are offering it both in print and electronic format.

LEAH: [32:18] Wow that is truly impressive. How do you determine which new subjects need to be covered in each edition and how do you know what the key topics are? Do you have any trade secrets you’d like to share with our audience as to how you stay updated and in the loop?

MEHDI: [32:34] As a researcher, I maintain very close eye in terms of what are the content or the areas that are evolving as a new topic, as new areas of research so that— because you know besides being Editor Executive and Publisher of this company, I also maintain my academic life, fully intact, and I read and I still you know publish some of my own content. So, I do have a good understanding of what are the topics and what we normally do is we map the topics that we consider to be upcoming topics, compare them to topics of the previous edition and then, we sort of decide in terms of how the editorial team assist me here to decide you know what should be the final list.

It is a very lengthy process that we go through that, as a matter of fact believe it or not, we already began the work related to the fifth edition of this publication. So, it is not a secret to anybody, that we wait until year before we release a new edition that we begin working now. It takes minimum 3-4 years before we can release a new edition and it takes a lot of work behind-the-scenes for many years to prepare for, but as I said the first step of the process is— and we are right at that point now—trying to decide what should be included in the fifth edition. And we also leave room for other areas that perhaps you know it might evolve in the next year or two that we can also include those areas.

In terms of trade secret, being honest with you, there is no trade secret. Our secret is basically to maintain the highest level of quality in terms of content included in each edition that is one secret that we publicize about it. And, first of all, each submitter has to submit a proposal. The proposal is reviewed and if the proposal, proposed topic is related to overall coverage of the content, we accept the proposal and then the person or the researcher has to prepare their full submission. The full submission is submitted to blind, peer blind review process for determining the accuracy and validity of the content.

So we make sure that every submission goes through [an] adequate vetting process to make sure that the content is accurate because overall, most of the content that we publish in this particular publication are scientific content and they have to—we have to maintain scientific accuracy and consistency. So, it is the quality issue that is considered to be our number one, and at the same time, we try to capture some of the most appropriate and in-demand content dealing with so many innovations that are taking place in this particular field and the related fields.

KATINA: [35:57] How do you recruit your authors? What qualities are you looking for when you seek contributors?

MEHDI: [36:04] We put out call for chapters or proposals as I said earlier, our list, our own in-house list, is over 100,000 researchers from all over the world. We post our calls for chapters on different media, different listservs and at the same time you know some of the individuals who have published with us before normally approach us and ask us if we are working on new edition. And then you know when they submit their work, as I’ve said, their work has to go through blind review process to make sure that everything is vetted for quality and reliability.

We have certain individuals that we ask to write for us. It is an open call that we put out and sometimes these calls are reach to as many as several hundred thousand people all around the world. And we do get a good number of submissions. And I’m pleased to report that many of those early submissions or proposals don't get accepted at all because people assume you know that they can write about anything. We have already— once we define the scope of the publication we have to stick to that scope otherwise as I said earlier it would be a hosh posh of everything and we don’t want to disappoint our customers.

LEAH: [37:32] IGI Global continues to publish the Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology both in print and online. You touched on this earlier, but what market forces have encouraged you to continue offering the Encyclopedia in both formats?

MEHDI: [37:47] As I said earlier, a lot of the market sources are the societal forces where many researchers from academic settings demand the publication to be available to them in print because they need the print you know to basically prove or to show to their promotion or tenure committees that they have published. So that is one major force today in the market that we have to deal with as [an] academic publishing house.

But at the same time, and as I said earlier, we have not stopped publishing content only in print. During the past I would say 15 years we have published every single book or journal of ours in both electronic and print. Fortunately, the electronic version normally comes out 2-3 months before the print version is out. And we do not—there is no embargo applied by IGI Global to hold onto electronic version. As soon as the electronic version is available we make it available to everybody and we immediately add that content to our databases. So for those customers of ours who have access to our databases, they can benefit from the content before the print content comes out.

But we have to basically, we are indirectly forced by societal forces, to publish the content both in print and electronic. Luckily, we did print-on-demand. We don't really have to— it’s not like the old days where you have to print 5,000 copies and keep it in the warehouse, we can go for limited copies and as we need more you know, we print more.

Now in terms of the electronic format is now preferred format by our customers and, as I said earlier, almost 60 percent of our revenue comes from electronic format, and the customers have shown us that yes, they still prefer the electronic format, but as I said there are some portions of the segment, of the market, that demands print format and we have print format.

What we have decided to do this time, with this edition of the Encyclopedia IST or Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition, we now offering our customers who buy the electronic version of this edition free access to the first edition, second edition, and third edition. As a matter of fact, when a customer buys the fourth edition electronically, they would have access to a database that consists of all the content from this new edition as well as old and previous editions free of charge. There’s only one price they can have access to the contents so now if they had previous editions, fine. If they did not have previous editions, we provide them access to the previous editions free of charge when they buy it on an electronic basis.

At the same time our partners such as Proquest, through OASIS, and Ebook Central, EBSCO, through Gobi, as well as Gale, GVRL, they’re all offering a special discount, a special promotional program in support of in order to make this particular publication more affordable to the customer base. But as I said, you know, our records show that majority of revenue or our ability to sell would come from the electronic side not the print side.

KATINA: [41:33] Did you uncover any new or recent trends that surprised you?

MEHDI: [41:38] Quite a few. Quite a few, as we were working in this particular edition. Obviously, there are lot of new opportunities that are now materializing or coming out of our visual intelligence research area and AI is now considered to be one hot area where a lot of research and innovations product applications are taking place. So, there is a lot of research going on in this particular area. But at the same time you know I also jot[ted] down some of the areas that we were putting this particular edition together to be among all the top research areas, such as hospitality, travel, tourism management, computer simulation, computer gaming, healthcare administration, biomedical engineering, civil engineering, IT research and theory, urban and regional development, marketing management science, networking telecommunications, educational technologies, system and software engineering, teacher education and electrical engineering. Most of these areas have shown a lot of new promises and a lot of research taking place in these particular areas that I mentioned.

KATINA: [43:08] Very interesting.

LEAH: [43:10] Thank you. What would you say are the most important innovations in information science and technology since the last edition of the Encyclopedia in 2014?

MEHDI: [43:22] I would say we have placed— and that is basically by forces of contributions that we have received that were submitted— a lot of focus on human aspect of information science and technology research. We have seen lots of interest in gender and diversity side of technology. At the same time you know a lot of interest in cybercrime, digital terrorism and at the same time we have seen a lot of discussion, a lot of research in cyber bullying and we have seen a lot interest in communication theory and language studies. We saw these areas that you would assume that they were 10, 15, 20 years old, they are outdated, but now we have seen renewed interest in some of the newest research in these areas.

And on the technology side, I would say probably one most noticeable topic that we have seen lots of interest is big data. And also, optical engineering is considered to be quite a bit of odd areas that a lot of new innovations and discoveries are taking place and we have seen a lot of renewed interest in this particular area. And I think part of the reason for interest in this particular area probably goes back to some of the security interest of using optical imaging in terms of identifying objects, individuals, and so forth. So it is one of those areas that is emerging as a hot area, and I would say probably within the next 3-5 years we will continue to see a lot of research coming under optical engineering.

LEAH: [45:22] That's great! Thank you.

KATINA: [45:24] I wanted to say that Mehdi, you’ve given us the theme for your life and for the next Charleston Conference: “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

MEHDI: [45:32] laughter]

LEAH: [45:35] Ah I like that!

MEHDI: [45:37] Thank you very much, thank you very much.

LEAH: [45:40] Well that’s all the questions that we have. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you would like to tell our listeners?

MEHDI: [45:46] We try to stay busy and try to do our work to the best of our ability, as I said before the interview, I enjoy my work quite a bit. I always consider myself to be one of the luckiest people on the face of this earth. What I do, the work that I enjoy and at the same time I get paid for it. I couldn't ask for a better life.

LEAH: [46:11] That’s great! Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today. It really was a pleasure!

KATINA: [46:17] Thank you so much!

MEHDI: [46:17] Thank you for having me and I wish you both the best.

KATINA: [46:21] Thank you!

MEHDI: [46:22] Ok.

LEAH: [46:22] Hope to see you in Charleston sometime soon.

MEHDI: [46:24] Surely. Sure. Bye.

LEAH & KATINA: [46:26] Bye.

LEAH: [46:30] music playing in background] That’s it for this week! Thanks again to Mehdi and Katina, and to our listeners for joining us. If you have questions or comments, you can click the “Contact” button on the podcast website, or you can email me directly at Hope to hear from you soon!

For more information on IGI Global's collaboration with Against the Grain, please click here.

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