This fall, VTechWorks, Virginia Tech’s repository of faculty, staff, and student scholarship and related publications turns nine years old. Faculty, students, researchers, and interested citizens from all over the world download more than 3,700 items a day from VTechWorks, housed by the University Libraries.

“We currently have more than 75,000 items in VTechWorks and our collection is growing about 7 percent per year,” said Philip Young, University Libraries’ institutional repository manager. “There are also 600 plus patents housed in the repository.” 

VTechWorks is an open repository, which means that anyone around the world with an internet connection can access and download journal articles, presentations, theses, dissertations, and other documents hosted by VTechWorks. Openly available research is cited 18 percent more, on average, than research that is only available behind publisher paywalls. Open access facilitates the advancement of knowledge and makes a greater impact on society, including economic benefits.

“VTechWorks is well indexed by search engines, including Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, and the browser extension Unpaywall. In addition to traditional scholarship, faculty, staff, and students can upload presentations and reports that might otherwise be unavailable, and those items will be added to other systems like Google Scholar and Elements,” said Young. 

“With institutional access to subscription journals, we sometimes forget about those without access, including researchers in the developing world, government policymakers, taxpayers, and our own alumni. Access benefits us too, since it’s entirely possible to publish in a journal that Virginia Tech does not subscribe to.” 

VTechWorks is an example of an initiative that spans across multiple priorities within the university's Strategic Plan and embodies Virginia Tech’s core values of diverse and inclusive communities, knowledge and innovation, opportunity and affordability, and excellence and integrity.

This fall, the Commission on Research’s Open Access Policy Working Group will submit to the commission a draft policy that gives faculty the legal right to deposit their accepted manuscript of a scholarly article in VTechWorks, regardless of the journal’s policy. It also states the faculty’s commitment to take advantage of that new right by making their work openly available. 

Currently, about 80 percent of publishers allow sharing a version of a journal article, though many have embargo periods ranging from six months to four years. 

Faculty can deposit scholarship through Elements or directly in VTechWorks now and set the embargo period, if there is one. Once the embargo period expires, the research will automatically become available in VTechWorks.

“Many people hit paywalls and can’t access the research they are interested in,” said Young. “To a large extent, Virginia Tech research is funded by tax dollars from federal grants and by Virginia taxpayers in support of public universities.

"Making scholarship openly available is an important way that we can meet our global land-grant mission. With faculty help, we can do that through VTechWorks.  It’s a win-win for readers and scholars.”

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