Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Author Archives: Philip Young

Virginia Tech and Open Access, 2023 update

As Open Access Week approaches, it’s time to check in on the percentage of open access scholarship at Virginia Tech, and compare it to last year’s data. Our OA percentage improved from about 50% to 55%, and although our peers are improving too, the increase was enough to move up slightly in comparison to our SCHEV peers as well as Virginia universities. However, in the global rankings, Virginia Tech fell further behind.

The four data sources used for OA percentage are CWTS Leiden Ranking, COKI (both openly available), SciVal/Scopus, and Dimensions (both proprietary).  All cover the years 2018-2021, except for COKI, which is 2021 only.  Virginia Tech’s percentage of open access articles was highest in COKI (59%) and lowest in SciVal (50%).  Results from the four data sources were entered into a spreadsheet to show how Virginia Tech compares to its 25 SCHEV peers, as well as to other Virginia universities.

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How much Virginia Tech research is open access?

What percentage of Virginia Tech’s published research articles are open access in some form, and how do we compare with other universities?  The answers, using four sources, are “around 50%” and “not well,” respectively.

The sources used are CWTS Leiden Ranking, COKI (both openly available), SciVal/Scopus, and Dimensions (both proprietary).  All cover the years 2017-2020, except for COKI, which is 2020 only.  Virginia Tech’s percentage of open access articles was highest in CWTS (54.7%) and lowest in SciVal (44.1%).  Results from the four data sources were entered into a spreadsheet to show how Virginia Tech compares to its 25 SCHEV peers, as well as to other Virginia universities.  For SCHEV peers, the presence of an open access policy and an open access fund are also noted where information was available.

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The Open Access Policy at Virginia Tech: Year 1+

It’s been well over a year since Virginia Tech’s open access policy was approved by the Board of Visitors on March 22, 2021.  So how many article deposits has VTechWorks received under the policy?  For the purposes of recording statistics, we’ll define the year as July 1 through June 30.  Because the policy went into effect in late March, we’ll define the first “year” as March 22, 2021 through June 30, 2022 (15 months).  For this time period, 196 accepted versions were deposited into VTechWorks (almost all through Elements). Continue reading

A New Author Rights Benefit (a.k.a. Open Access Policy) at Virginia Tech

On March 22, 2021, an open access policy was passed by Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors, an achievement that was years in the making. The new policy might be better named an author rights benefit, since the policy retains rights for authors, rather than requiring deposit (as “policy” implies).  In this respect, the policy is consistent with “rights retention” policies at numerous other U.S. universities.

The new open access language is now part of the university’s Policy 13000 (PDF), at the bottom of page 4:

8. For Scholarly Articles: Authors grant to the university a nonexclusive license to copyright in their scholarly articles in order to provide open access (free, public, online access) to them via the university repository. However, anything deposited in the university repository is subject to the provisions of all the numbered paragraphs above. An author may waive the license for a particular article or delay access for a specified period of time. The university may not sell the articles. Authors deposit in the university repository an electronic copy of their unformatted, post peer-review, accepted manuscript for each scholarly article within one month after the date of its publication. Upon deposit of accepted manuscripts into the university repository, the university grants authors a nonexclusive license to share accepted manuscripts elsewhere.

The open access policy guide has everything Virginia Tech researchers need to know, but here are a few key points:

  • Authors at Virginia Tech can deposit their accepted manuscript (the version after peer review, not the journal’s published version) as early as the day it’s accepted, with no embargo, regardless of the journal’s copyright transfer agreement (a very few journals may require a waiver).
  • The deposit window extends one month after publication.  To get the greatest benefit from an open access version, it’s important to have it available when others are looking for it, often as the result of a table of contents alert or Google Scholar alert.  Additionally, after publication the article metadata will be available in Elements, so deposit only involves identifying the article in your publications list and uploading the file.
  • In addition to Elements, there’s also a web deposit form and an email deposit option (a waiver is also available through all three options).
  • Everyone at Virginia Tech is covered by the policy.  Although more than 50 universities have open access policies, ours is among a very few that includes students and staff (the others are the University of California system, Penn State, and the University of North Texas).
  • The policy applies only to scholarly articles, not books or other forms of scholarship.
  • The policy is not retrospective, and applies only to manuscripts accepted after the policy was passed.  Deposit of article versions accepted prior to policy passage is still dependent on journal permissions.  If you still have your accepted manuscript, you can look up permissions on the Sherpa Romeo website, or get help by emailing
Image of the Open Access Policy Guide homepage
Explore the Policy Guide

The policy provides an important path to open access when other options may not be available.  Some journals have no sharing policy at all — once the copyright transfer agreement is signed, the article is paywalled indefinitely.  Some journals have lengthy embargos (for Elsevier, up to 48 months).  Some disciplines lack open access journals.  And the article processing charges at some open access journals can be a barrier for those without funding.  The new policy at Virginia Tech — allowing immediate open access to the accepted, peer reviewed version — overcomes all of these obstacles. And it’s worth noting that not every university provides researchers this right — for example, Virginia Tech is the only university in Virginia with an open access policy.

Open Access Week will feature a forum discussion of the policy on Monday, October 25, with special guest and open access expert Peter Suber of Harvard University. A PDN session on the policy will be held the following day at 3:00pm, and sessions will be available throughout the year.

VTechWorks Update, Spring 2021

VTechWorks homepage

VTechWorks provides global access to Virginia Tech scholarship, offering an easy way for members of the university community to provide open access to their work. The university’s institutional repository is managed by the University Libraries, and receives theses and dissertations from the Graduate School, as well as deposits from Elements (EFARs), the faculty reporting system.

Here are the latest VTechWorks statistics:

  • 84,000+ items, 34,600 (41%) of which are theses and dissertations
  • 2,300+ items deposited by faculty from Elements (EFARs)
  • 3,000+ file downloads per day over the last year (on average, bots excluded)
    • 4,000+ downloads per day average in February 2021
  • 566 items collectively have more than 5,300 Altmetric mentions
  • 51,500 items indexed in Google Scholar (7th highest among U.S. repositories); also indexed by Unpaywall, Microsoft Academic, all major search engines, BASE, and the VT Libraries catalog
  • 400+ items linked to from Wikipedia
  • 96% open access full text repository (4% are embargoed, withheld, or legacy citation/abstract-only items)
  • Top traffic sources are Google, Google Scholar, search, and Bing
  • BASE can be used to sync items in VTechWorks to ORCiD profiles
  • Accessed globally, with the highest usage from the U.S., India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Canada
  • Provides a permanent URL (handle) for citing
  • RSS feeds of new items available for departments, colleges, and research centers (see an example in the right sidebar, “New in VTechWorks”)
  • Estimated 99.9% uptime
Map of global usage for VTechWorks
VTechWorks usage by location, 2020

The easiest way for faculty to get their works into VTechWorks is to upload a file in Elements, because no registration is needed, and article metadata is often already present, which eliminates manual entry. Go to Menu > Publications and look for the upload arrow, which is the first in the row of icons underneath each entry (if you see the “double pages” icon, the item is already in VTechWorks).

upload arrow
Upload your file!
in repo
In VTechWorks

Deposit advice (such as which version you can legally deposit, and any publisher embargo) is automatically added to the deposit screen from Sherpa/Romeo, which aggregates journal policies for posting articles online. We are also happy to help anyone at VT identify which items they can legally post online – just email us at To learn more about open access, see our Open Access Guide. Students and staff should register and then email and tell us which collection you would like to submit to. Faculty can also use this method if they prefer.

Recent, continuing, and upcoming VTechWorks projects include:

  • Added thumbnail icons and transcripts for audio-only items.
  • Adding abstracts and committee member names to scanned theses and dissertations, and OCRing the earliest ones (~3,000 so far).
  • Improving captions for videos, including through a new relationship with a captioning service.
  • With the Graduate School, exploring better accessibility for ETDs.
  • Updated the Virginia Tech Patents collection.
  • Updating the Powell River Project collection.
  • Migrating Computational Science Lab papers from an EPrints server.
  • A new collection for Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs.
  • Beginning to explore linked data possibilities.

We work every day to grow VTechWorks and provide effective global dissemination of scholarship by Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students. Contact us anytime with questions or comments at

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