Virginia Tech Commission on Research proposes new faculty policy to make Virginia Tech scholarship publicly available

From: University Libraries

An open access policy working group from the Commission on Research is proposing a new faculty policy for disseminating Virginia Tech scholarship as widely as possible. According to the draft policy, faculty members would grant Virginia Tech non-exclusive rights to make their scholarly articles openly available through VTechWorks. The non-exclusive rights are also returned to faculty, allowing the online posting of articles elsewhere in addition to VTechWorks.

Open access refers to scholarship that is freely available online for anyone to read, both in the Virginia Tech community and beyond. Items in VTechWorks are also indexed by search engines, including Google Scholar, which increases their discoverability.

“The policy will enhance the reach of Virginia Tech scholarship, helping us achieve our goal of becoming a global land grant university,” said University Libraries Institutional Repository Manager Philip Young. “If passed, this policy creates the legal permissions for faculty to share more of their research, and there is increasing evidence that open access results in more citations and broader impact for scholarship.”

The open access policy working group was charged with drafting policy language and providing updates to Virginia Tech’s Commission on Research. The working group is composed of faculty members Kevin McGuire (Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation), Ginny Pannabecker (University Libraries), Cayelan Carey (Department of Biological Sciences), Tom Sanchez (Chair, Urban Affairs and Planning), and Young.

The draft policy says that faculty will deposit their accepted manuscript of a scholarly article in the university repository, VTechWorks, through the Elements/EFARs system or directly to VTechWorks.

“Maximizing the dissemination of research benefits authors, the university, readers around the world, and scholarship generally,” said Young. “Faculty can waive the policy for a particular article, or specify a delay in access.”  The ability to embargo a deposited article for a length of time, such as six or 12 months, is available in Elements and VTechWorks.

“Faculty at more than 50 universities have already adopted open access policies like this one, including Duke, MIT, Princeton, Georgia Tech, Cal Tech, Florida State, and UNC Chapel Hill,” said Pannabecker. “And more than half of European universities have open access policies.” 

“Several of our SCHEV peers already have policies as well,” said Young. “Faculty at UC Berkeley, Colorado, and Rutgers, for example, have greater rights to make their work available than faculty at Virginia Tech.  This policy will help level the playing field with our peers who are already benefiting from wider dissemination of their scholarship.”

The policy would cover all Virginia Tech faculty, as appropriate, pending approval through university governance. The working group, which has been reaching out to faculty about a policy since early 2017, currently plans to bring a resolution on the policy to the Commission on Research in the fall 2019.

To read the draft policy and frequently asked questions, visit the Commission on Research open access policy working group website.  Faculty can share questions and feedback with the working group by sending an email to openaccess@vt.edu.

Faculty presentations on the draft policy are scheduled for February 1 , Feb. 25 , March 19 , April 4 , and April 19 through workshops for Networked Learning Initiative Professional Development credit, and working group members can provide presentations for departments and other faculty groups upon request.