Open@VT

Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Author Archives: Philip Young

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 vtechworks@vt.edu.
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 homepageVTechWorks 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, VT.edu 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 vtechworks@vt.edu. To learn more about open access, see our Open Access Guide. Students and staff should register and then email vtechworks@vt.edu 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 vtechworks@vt.edu.

VTechWorks Update, Fall 2020

VTechWorks homepageVTechWorks provides global access to Virginia Tech scholarship, and offers 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, eliminating the need to switch platforms.

Here are the latest VTechWorks statistics:

  • 82,000+ items, 34,000 (41%) of which are theses and dissertations
  • 2,100+ items deposited by faculty from Elements (EFARs)
  • 3,000+ file downloads per day over the last year (on average, bots excluded)
  • 530 items collectively have more than 3,000 Altmetric mentions
  • 96% open access full text repository (4% are embargoed, withheld, or legacy citation/abstract-only items)
  • 51,500 items indexed in Google Scholar (7th highest among U.S. repositories); also indexed by Unpaywall, Microsoft Academic, all major search engines, SHARE, BASE, and the VT Libraries catalog
  • 400+ items linked to from English Wikipedia
  • Top traffic sources are Google, Google Scholar, VT.edu search, and Bing
  • BASE can be used to sync items in VTechWorks to ORCiD profiles
  • Accessed globally, with the highest usage (after the U.S.) from India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Canada
  • Provides a permanent URL (handle) for citing
  • Estimated 99.9% uptime

Recent items of interest (all videos):

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 vtechworks@vt.edu. To learn more about open access, see our Open Access Guide. Students and staff should register and then email vtechworks@vt.edu and tell us which collection you would like to submit to. Faculty can also use this method if they prefer.

Recent and upcoming VTechWorks projects include:

  • Adding rights statements to the metadata for more items.
  • Improving captions for videos, which are now full text indexed.
  • Updating links to VTechWorks items in English Wikipedia.
  • Adding items to WorldCat (95% complete), which is also the discovery service for the University Libraries.
  • With the help of IT Services, we plan to test a pilot TDM studio. If implemented, it would expand usability for text and data mining.

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 vtechworks@vt.edu.

An Update on the Proposed Open Access Policy at Virginia Tech

The proposed open access policy at Virginia Tech has recently changed in two important ways. First, as a result of meetings with University Counsel, the working group will propose adding language to the university’s existing Policy on Intellectual Property, No. 13000, rather than proposing a separate policy. Second, the proposed language now includes all Virginia Tech authors of scholarly articles, not just faculty. This change came at the suggestion of the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, and the working group is now reaching out to undergraduate and staff representatives for input. See the working group’s policy page for details, including the resolution and marked-up Policy 13000, FAQ, and more.  The resolution will be presented at the Commission on Research this fall.  If it successfully passes through university governance, it would go into effect on July 1, 2021.

Policy homepage

Questions? Check the policy homepage

While no longer a free-standing proposal, the new language retains the core elements of a Harvard-style open access policy, namely the grant of a non-exclusive license to the university to allow hosting accepted manuscripts, an embargo option, and a per-article waiver. These elements allow authors to share their accepted manuscript from the day of its acceptance, without concern about violating the terms of their publishing contract. Similar policies have been in place at more than 50 U.S. universities for more than ten years.  The policy will help level the playing field with some of our SCHEV peers who already have policies, and who therefore have a greater ability to share research than Virginia Tech authors.

The importance of open access has been underlined by the coronavirus epidemic, not just for directly related research, but for all types of research. Copyright has never been a good fit for scholarly articles, which we freely give to journals, only to have access restricted.  It has never made sense that our research is out of reach for colleagues at some universities, scholars in low- and middle-income countries, taxpayers, policymakers, and our own alumni.

Open Access symbol "unlock"

The proposed policy is an important opportunity for Virginia Tech authors, but it will only matter if authors take advantage of it.  In the working group’s outreach over the past three years, the proposal consistently received a positive response.  We hope you will convey your support to your representatives in university governance.

If your question isn’t answered in our FAQ, feel free to email the working group at openaccess@vt.edu, or comment on this blog post (comments are open for 30 days).

VTechWorks Update, Spring 2020

VTechWorks homepageVTechWorks is Virginia Tech’s institutional repository, providing global access to the scholarship of faculty, staff, and students, as well as hosting many university publications, images, and more.  Managed by the University Libraries, VTechWorks receives theses and dissertations from the Graduate School, and has a two-way connection to Elements, the faculty reporting system, allowing the deposit of files to the repository without the need to switch platforms.

Here are the latest VTechWorks statistics:

  • 79,000+ items, 33,800 (43%) of which are theses and dissertations
  • 2,000+ items deposited by faculty from Elements
  • 2,000+ file downloads per day over the last year (on average, bots excluded)
  • 313 items collectively have more than 2,000 Altmetric mentions
  • 96% open access full text repository (4% are embargoed, withheld, or legacy citation/abstract-only items)
  • 49,900 items indexed in Google Scholar (7th highest among U.S. repositories); also indexed by Unpaywall, Microsoft Academic, all major search engines, SHARE, BASE, and the VT Libraries catalog
  • Top traffic sources are Google, Google Scholar, VT web search, and Bing
  • BASE can be used to sync items in VTechWorks to ORCiD profiles
  • Accessed globally, with the highest usage (after the U.S.) from India, China, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and Canada
  • Provides a permanent URL (handle) for citing
  • Estimated 99.9% uptime
Map of global usage for VTechWorks

VTechWorks usage by location, 2019

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 — please don’t add a duplicate).

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 vtechworks@vt.edu.  To learn more about open access, see our Open Access Guide.  VTechWorks staff add some open access and public domain articles to the repository, but we cannot find them all.  Please do add open access articles after ensuring they are not already in VTechWorks.  Why? Publisher websites go down occasionally, and presence in the repository presents a better picture of research done at Virginia Tech (and is searchable from the the university’s homepage, vt.edu).

Students and staff should register and then email vtechworks@vt.edu and ask to be added to a collection as a submitter.  We would like to add more items to Student Works, where there are several collections to accommodate a variety of works from graduate or undergraduate students.  We’re especially interested in providing access to undergraduate theses and master’s projects, for those students who would like to make them available.

Recent and upcoming VTechWorks projects include:

  • Identifying  and removing duplicate items
  • Improving accessibility by using third-party captioning for our videos, and identifying any items lacking optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Providing better documentation for using VTechWorks as a research corpus, including accommodations for text and data mining (TDM) using the REST API (some documentation is on the DSpace wiki, and there are Python scripts for using the DSpace API)
  • Evaluating repository platforms for an expected migration in the next year (or two), which will also provide improvements in the user interface

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 vtechworks@vt.edu.