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Open Access Policy at Virginia Tech: History

Information to help Virginia Tech authors deposit scholarly articles to VTechWorks

History of the Open Access policy at Virginia Tech

In the 2015-2016 academic year, Julie Griffin (Senior Associate Dean, University Libraries) was invited to give a presentation on open access to the Commission on Research by its chair, Randy Wynne (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation).  Among other topics, the presentation covered open access policies, which had been adopted by faculty at several other universities.  In the fall of 2016, the new chair of CoR, Ben Corl (Dairy Science) asked Julie to convene a working group to develop draft language for an open access policy.

Initially composed of library faculty, the working group expanded to include faculty across the university.  The Open Access Policy Working Group members are:

  • Cayelan Carey (Biological Sciences)
  • Kevin McGuire (Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation)
  • Ginny Pannabecker (University Libraries)
  • Tom Sanchez (Urban Affairs and Planning)
  • Philip Young (University Libraries)

In late 2016 and early 2017, the Working Group began looking at open access policies at other institutions.  The first university to pass a policy was Harvard in 2008 for its College of Arts and Sciences, and Harvard subsequently developed resources to assist other universities, such as a Model Policy and Good Practices for OA Policies.  The Working Group decided to use Harvard's Model Policy as a starting point.  Members of the Working Group also utilized the email list and other resources of the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI) to gather additional information.

In 2017, outreach to faculty began.  The Working Group kept the Commission on Research updated and reached out to other governance groups, departments, and interested parties.  The following list, though incomplete, shows the Working Group's efforts to communicate about the draft policy and receive feedback on it:

  • Governance
  • Commission on Faculty Affairs, April 21, 2017
  • Faculty Senate, April 25, 2017
  • Commission on Faculty Affairs, February 2, 2018
  • Faculty Senate, April 24, 2018
  • Faculty Senate, March 8, 2019
  • Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, March 20, 2019
  • Commission on Research, April 10, 2019
  • Commission on Faculty Affairs, April 19, 2019
  • Degree Requirements, Standards, Criteria, and Academic Progress (DRSCAP) Committee of Commission on Graduate and Professional Studies and Policies, November 11, 2019
  • Faculty Senate, October 2, 2020
  • Professional Development Network (PDN) workshop sessions ("Sharing Our Research: Exploring a Faculty Open Access Policy"; approx. 45 minutes)
    • 2017: 10 sessions, May-November
    • 2018: 7 sessions, February-November
    • 2019: 10 sessions, January-July

Initially, the draft language proposed a separate, free-standing policy for faculty only.  A resolution was presented for a first reading at the Commission on Research (chaired by Virginia Pannabecker) in the fall of 2019.  Although the Working Group had previously consulted twice with the Office of Legal Counsel, the office sidelined the resolution, asking that the policy be incorporated into the Policy on Intellectual Property (Policy 13000), and that all Virginia Tech authors be covered, not just faculty.  The Working Group then rewrote the policy in more succinct form as a proposed addition to Policy 13000, and were happy to include all authors, as some graduate students had suggested.  However, these changes delayed the resolution a full year, as there was not enough time to re-introduce it in the 2019-2020 academic year.  The new resolution was brought to the Commission on Research (chaired by Rajaram Bhagavathula, VTTI) in the fall of 2020, where it was approved on November 12, 2020.  University Council then approved it on February 1, 2021.  Finally, President Sands approved it and presented it to the Board of Visitors, where it was approved on March 22, 2021.

The Working Group then began implementation tasks, such as turning on the open access module in Elements (which enables reminders, reports, etc.), developing alternative methods of deposit such as the web form and email options, and composing this guide.  Although articles will be hosted on VTechWorks, the Working Group decided to funnel all deposits through Elements in order to collect data in one place.  VTechWorks staff and student workers will take articles submitted through the web form or email and deposit them in Elements.

Information sessions on the policy through PDN (faculty credit) began on July 7, 2021 and will be offered regularly (check the PDN site for "How to take advantage of the university's new open access policy").

VT News has written two articles about the policy which were distributed in the university's daily email. 

Working Group members can be contacted with questions about the policy at, and questions about the deposit process can be sent to