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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this blog post (comments are open for 30 days).