Open@VT

Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources

Category Archives: Open Access

New Open Textbook: Cardiovascular Pathophysiology for Pre-Clinical Students by Andrew Binks

Cover image of Cardiovascular Pathophysiology for Pre-Clinical Students by Andrew Binks

Cover: Kindred Grey

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Virginia Tech Publishing are pleased to announce publication of a new open textbook by Andrew Binks, titled Cardiovascular Pathophysiology for Pre-Clinical Students.

Cardiovascular Pathophysiology for Pre-Clinical Students (https://doi.org/10.21061/cardiovascularpathophysiology) is an undergraduate medical-level resource for foundational knowledge of common cardiovascular diseases, disorders and pathologies. This text is designed for a course pre-clinical undergraduate medical curriculum and it is aligned to USMLE(r) (United States Medical Licensing Examination) content guidelines. The text is meant to provide the essential information from these content areas in a concise format that would allow learner preparation to engage in an active classroom. Clinical correlates and additional application of content is intended to be provided in the classroom experience. The text assumes that the students will have an understanding of basic cardiovascular physiology that will be helpful to understand the content presented here. This resource should be assistive to the learner later in medical school and for exam preparation given the material is presented in a succinct manner, with a focus on high-yield concepts.

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New Open Textbook: Aerospace Structures by Eric Raymond Johnson

Cover of Aerospace Structures by Eric Raymond Johnson

Cover art: Tom Cleary via Unsplash
Cover: Kindred Grey

Virginia Tech’s Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and Virginia Tech Publishing are pleased to announce publication of a new open textbook by Eric Raymond Johnson, Ph.D., titled, Aerospace Structures.

Aerospace Structures (https://doi.org/10.21061/AerospaceStructures) is a 600+ page text and reference book for junior, senior, and graduate-level aerospace engineering students.

The text begins with a discussion of the aerodynamic and inertia loads acting on aircraft in symmetric flight and presents a linear theory for the statics and dynamic response of thin-walled straight bars with closed and open cross-sections. Isotropic and fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials including temperature effects are modeled with Hooke’s law. Methods of analyses are by differential equations, Castigliano’s theorems, the direct stiffness method, the finite element method, and Lagrange’s equations. There are numerous examples for the response of axial bars, beams, coplanar trusses, coplanar frames, and coplanar curved bars. Failure initiation by the von Mises yield criterion, buckling, wing divergence, fracture, and by Puck’s criterion for FRP composites are presented in the examples.

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Announcing New Open Textbook: Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Virginia Tech Publishing are pleased to announce the second open textbook publication in a series, Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students, by Renée LeClair, Ph.D.

book cover

Cover by Kindred Grey. Brain CC BY by Mahmure Alp from The Noun Project.

Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students (https://doi.org/10.21061/neuroscience) is a USMLE-aligned text  designed for a first-year undergraduate medical course, and covers neuroenergetics, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and selected amino acid metabolism and degradation. It is meant to provide the essential biochemical information from these content areas in a concise format to enable students to engage in an active classroom. Hence, it does not cover neurophysiology and neuroanatomy; and clinical correlates and additional application of content are intended to be provided in the classroom experience. The text assumes that the students will have completed medical school prerequisites (including the MCAT) in which they will have been introduced to the most fundamental concepts of biology and chemistry that are essential to understand the content presented here. With its focus on high-yield concepts, this resource will assist the learner later in medical school and for exam preparation.

The 49-page text was created specifically for use by pre-clinical students at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and was based on faculty experience and peer review to guide development and hone important topics.

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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.

Announcing open textbook “Introduction to Biosystems Engineering”

– Contributed by Ann Brown

In February 2021, The University Libraries’ Virginia Tech Publishing and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) published “Introduction to Biosystems Engineering” an open textbook for university-level introductory courses in biosystems engineering.

Written by an international team of authors, this is the first open textbook published as part of the University Libraries’ membership in the Open Education Network Publishing Cooperative. It also marks the first time that Virginia Tech Publishing has partnered with an international professional association to publish an open textbook.

For many college students, the cost of textbooks can be an insurmountable challenge. Thanks to the open textbook movement, which focuses on the creation and use of books that are openly licensed, free, and editable, students are increasingly  able to obtain high-quality educational resources at no cost. The University Libraries at Virginia Tech is committed to the open education movement and is engaged in creating and promoting open textbooks and other open educational resources with Virginia Tech faculty authors. Since 2016, the library and Virginia Tech Publishing have published 10 open textbooks.

“Course materials have become quite expensive. Many students are already priced out of being able to afford to purchase and retain certain course materials and have to navigate decisions regarding whether or not they will even try to access course material. This directly affects student learning” said Anita Walz, University Libraries’ assistant director for open education and scholarly communication librarian. “Also, open educational resources are customizable, so instructors have permission to add additional worked examples or change the sequence of a text to better fit the course.”

Creative commons attribution 4.0 license

Introduction to Biosystems Engineering” is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) and is available both in print and online. The online version is freely downloadable either as a complete work or as stand-alone chapters. In addition, a parallel resource in development, The Biosystems Engineering Digital Library (BEDL), will provide more teaching and learning resources instructors can use in the classroom.

ASABE Director of Publications Joseph C. Walker said “Introduction to Biosystems Engineering will help define the profession and support the organization’s goal of raising the global prominence of the agricultural and biological engineering profession.”

He said it was important for his organization to make this book freely available through open publishing.

“Making the text freely available will provide savings to the students and ensure wider usage, including in non-U.S. countries. With a broad user-base, open access, and ongoing development, the text will stay relevant to the profession and be widely used,” said Walker. “We look forward to the textbook possibly spurring other related projects and advancing the field of study.”

ASABE President (2019-20) Sue Nokes emphasized that this text “is not a traditional, static object, but a living digital resource to be expanded by educators, researchers, and practitioners with additional topics and developments in this vibrant subject. We look forward to new chapters from biosystems engineers around the world to increase the breadth and depth of coverage.”

ASABE past-president Mary Leigh Wolfe, Virginia Tech professor and former head of Virginia Tech’s Biological Systems Engineering department, was one of the project’s initiators. She served as one of the four editors of the text along with Nick Holden and Enda Cummins, professors of biosystems and food engineering at University College Dublin, Ireland, and Jactone Ogejo, Virginia Tech associate professor of biological systems engineering. The four editors share a vision of open access and internalization of their discipline. ASABE and Virginia Tech Publishing have brought that vision to fruition. Wolfe said this book is important because of its global perspective.

“Having authors from around the world helps reinforce the relevance and global impact of our discipline,” said Wolfe. “It is important for students to recognize both the differences and similarities of the focus areas of our discipline around the world.”

Holden said he and his fellow textbook editors worked with chapter authors to ensure a global focus throughout the book.

“Experts always like to share their knowledge so there is a temptation to write about too much, in their specific context, and at too advanced a level,” said Holden. “Our biggest challenge was to reign in this exuberance to make each chapter accessible to a beginner. It has worked really well and will continue to as the content evolves with time. We are already working on new chapters.”

The textbook is divided into six sections aligned with technical communities within biosystems engineering: energy systems; information technology, sensors, and control systems; machinery systems; natural resources and environmental systems; plant, animal, and facility systems; and processing systems. Within the sections, chapters focus on topics that can be covered in one week of class and include learning outcomes, key concepts, applications of concepts, and worked examples.

“I’m particularly proud of the planned structure of each chapter. I hope others can take from this model,” said Holden. “I also hope that the book introduces more biosystems engineers to the idea of open textbooks, as I do not think the idea is prevalent in the community.”

Cummins and Ogejo also emphasized the importance of making the textbook freely available.

“Education should have no bounds, including costs,” said Cummins. “An open textbook will ensure dissemination and equal opportunities for all interested parties to learn from this resource.”

“Access is key,” said Ogejo. “The availability and access to the internet globally to do business (commerce, trade, etc.) is on the rise. Leveraging these experiences to provide access to education materials for college students will provide a lot of benefit, especially to the economically disadvantaged communities.”

Wolfe is also passionate about providing current publications to all people.

“Cost prevents many people from having access to current publications. Instead they often receive outdated materials,” said Wolfe. “I hope that biosystems engineering programs and students around the world will download individual chapters and the book and find that it is helpful to them. I hope others in education will see that free resources are used widely and they help with providing equitable education for students in all parts of the world and within all programs.”

This is only the beginning. The editors see “Introduction to Biosystems Engineering” as a dynamic textbook that will grow and evolve over the next five years while simultaneously extending its global impact.

“In five years’ time, I would like to see two things happening. Firstly, I would like to see another two volumes, 50 additional chapters, published and freely available online. This will make the resource hugely valuable for educators around the world,” said Holden. “Secondly, I would like to see topic-specific textbooks being written using the same structured approach. I think it will work very well for both edited compilations and authored textbooks, as it helps organize thinking and makes learning much easier.”

“I hope to be able to say that the chapters are being used in programs around the world, as evidenced by download statistics and testimonials by users,” said Wolfe, “and that new chapters have been added continuously since the beginning.”

Cover design: Robert Browder

Contributed by Ann Brown. Originally published on February 8, 2021 as “Virginia Tech Publishing partners with international association to publish engineering open textbook.” Ann Brown is Director of Strategic Communications for the University Libraries at Virginia Tech.

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Note from the Managing Editor: Instructors evaluating, adopting, or customizing this book are asked to self-report their use on this form. This helps the editorial team to better understand the impact of the book.