OA and the Academy: Evaluating an OA Fund with Authors’ Input

The University Libraries at Virginia Tech established an Open Access Subvention Fund (OASF) in August 2012. Although it began as a two-year pilot project, the Fund has continued to the present. Anyone at Virginia Tech is eligible to apply for funding to offset the cost of an article processing charge to publish in an open access journal. To learn more about user perceptions of the OASF and open access in general, we surveyed everyone who had requested support. The survey, conducted during the fall of 2019, provided a means to gauge the needs of our users, seek feedback on the request and award process, and gather input on the fund guidelines. In this article, we review our findings in the hope that the lessons learned will be useful to other libraries in assessing similar open access subvention funds.


There are many advantages to libraries supporting article processing charges (APCs). It expands the role of the library within the institution, and it directly supports the institution’s authors by removing a barrier to publishing in open access (OA) journals. Caps on per-article funding provide price controls and the visibility of OA articles and journals’ APCs provide transparency, both of which are missing from subscription journals.

The growth in institutional support of APCs has not matched the increase in the number of OA journals. But libraries like Virginia Tech took on the challenge to encourage, in a tangible way, OA publishing on campus. Subvention funds that support APCs raise awareness of the general benefits of OA publishing, encourage new ways of thinking about publishing digital scholarship and information access, and can promote reduced APCs through library memberships. Libraries also see subvention funds as part of an overall commitment to sharing ideas, research, and scholarship, which at Virginia Tech aligns with its Library’s strategic direction to support the research endeavors of Virginia Tech faculty, students, and staff.

Virginia Tech is a Carnegie-classified R1 land-grant institution, with about 37,000 students, including 6,000 graduate students, and 2,000 faculty.1 In 2020, Virginia Tech ranked in the top 5 percent in the US for research expenditures and in the top fifty research institutions with $556 million in research expenditures.2 In March 2021, the Board of Visitors approved a university-wide open access policy that stemmed from an initiative by the Commission on Research, initially proposed in 2016. Prior to the campus-wide policy and following shortly on the first year of the OASF pilot project, University Libraries adopted its own open access policy in 2013.3

VT’s University Libraries established an Open Access Subvention Fund (OASF) in August 2012 as a two-year pilot project. Everyone at Virginia Tech, i.e., all students, staff, and faculty, was eligible to apply for support to cover all or part of an APC to publish in an OA journal. When the pilot ended in June 2014, the Library was sufficiently satisfied with the results to continue the OASF indefinitely. Building on this initiative, the authors, McMillan and O’Brien, along with the VT institutional repository manager, Philip Young, surveyed members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to document the strategies ARL members were using to address APCs and related policies and procedures. ARL published the findings from seventy-seven libraries in Canada and the United States that responded to the 2016 survey as SPEC Kit 353 in 2019.4

In contrast to many of the libraries surveyed for the SPEC Kit, Virginia Tech’s APC awards have continued to increase year over year. Since the conclusion of the pilot project, the overall expenditure has risen by 500 percent. (This does not include any amounts spent by Virginia Tech authors on APCs not supported by the OASF.) By the end of fiscal year 2019, having received 662 requests and funded over 481 APCs, we realized that we had accumulated a wealth of data about OA publishing habits among members of the university community. To expand on this data, we conducted a survey of everyone in the VT community who had requested support since the Fund’s inception. In devising the survey, our larger goal was to make better informed decisions regarding the future of the OASF. More specifically, we had three primary aims: 1) to gauge perceptions regarding the success of the OASF, 2) to improve the request and award process, and 3) to get input on the clarity of the OASF Guidelines.5

In fall 2020, we published a Scholarly Kitchen blog post6 with some of our survey findings and intentions for further study. This C&RL article expands on that blog post in part by drawing comparisons between our survey and previously published surveys. While each institution’s policies for funding APCs differ, as we found in our survey of ARL member institutions, we found similarities with other surveys that reinforce some commonly held views among researchers about OA journals. We highlight differences among Virginia Tech authors and those of previous studies of authors at other academic institutions that may be useful for libraries in assessing support for APCs.

Our survey respondents were overwhelmingly positive in their overall support of the program: 98 percent wanted the Library to continue to fund APCs. There was a greater divergence of opinion regarding certain elements of how the program operates and the criteria for awarding funds. Author feedback and surveys may help guide future decision-making processes as libraries monitor the changing landscape of OA publishing.

Literature Review

A number of articles have been published that survey attitudes of authors and information professionals about OA publishing and APCs. We focused our literature review on those articles that specifically address changing attitudes over time and whether those changes reflect any disciplinary or demographic differences. We were also interested in any findings that might contrast with or validate our own survey results.

A few early studies focused on perceptions of prospective authors with respect to the validity or quality of OA journals. Wilhelm Peekhaus and Nicholas Proferes7 found that “perceptions and realities of the tenure and promotion system exercise a strong braking effect on the uptake of open-access publishing among faculty.” Longitudinal surveys by Peekhaus and Proferes8 and Wilhelm Peekhaus9 provide comparisons of US library and information science faculty’s perceptions. The studies found that familiarity with OA was a key factor in faculty’s trust in its validity. Faculty become familiar with OA journals with time and experience; authors with more knowledge about OA journals are more likely to publish in them than their less-knowledgeable peers.10 As OA journals become more mainstream, Carol Tenopir et al.11 and Jie Xu12 found that faculty are less likely to confuse them with predatory journals. Faculty can more easily compare OA journals whose impact factors have increased in recent years with high-profile non-OA journals.13

According to Tina Neville and Camielle Crampsie,14 the top three criteria that lead authors at academic libraries in North America to submit manuscripts to journals are “(1) scope and fit to the topic, (2) whether the journal is peer-reviewed, and (3) the intended audience [of the journal].” In the case of OA journals, other factors come into play. David J. Solomon and Bo-Christer Bjork15 note that authors must weigh the cost of APCs against the expected value of broad access to their work, while still considering the journal’s appropriateness to the topic, its prestige (in some cases measured by the impact factor), and the speed of review and publication. This last criterion, perception of faster publication cycles, was noted in other studies too. From Jingfeng Xia’s 2010 survey:

The second advantage of publishing in OA journals, as recognized by the respondents, is the pace of online publishing. Scholars are tired of long publishing cycles in traditional print and hope the OA model can speed up the process.16

Authors are becoming increasingly confident in the validity of OA journals and better informed about the economics of traditional publishing models. One increasingly important factor in authors’ decisions to publish in OA journals is availability of funding. Pablo De-Castro and Gwen Franck17 note that funding from the European FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot was of critical importance, especially for early career scholars, in publishing their research.

Another important factor is exposure. Surveys show that authors greatly value the wider accessibility that OA publishing makes possible. According to Gregory M. Nelson and Dennis L. Eggett,18 authors they surveyed chose OA in part for the potential of increased citations to their work and to promote greater access for altruistic reasons. Xia19 reports that “[scholars] wish for their research to reach out to a broad readership and to be shared by others without restrictions.” Peekhaus and Proferes20 note that “among those with open-access publishing experience, the predominant motivation was a commitment to the principle of free access to research, followed by perceived rapid speed of publication.”

Hybrid-OA journals continue to be a point of contention when it comes to funding APCs. A widely held but sometimes disputed belief is that hybrid journals facilitate “double-dipping” on the part of publishers (for example, Peekhaus21). In general, researchers are less concerned about this issue than are librarians and scholarly communication experts. The FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot restricted article funding to fully-OA journals. This resulted in a “significant number of complaints” from researchers.22 Peekhaus23 states that respondents in a 2018 survey were “significantly more likely” to accept fees for hybrid journals than were those in his 2013 survey.


As demonstrated in previous surveys of authors and information professionals, there is much information to be gleaned from authors’ experiences with OA publishing. Authors’ perceptions are vital to informing local policy and practice, as well as shaping broader discussions. On October 1, 2019, our survey was sent by email to the 812 VT faculty, students, and staff who had requested OASF support or had attended library-sponsored information sessions about the Fund. Two weeks later one reminder email was sent to those who hadn’t yet responded. The survey closed on November 8, 2019. We received 269 responses, a 33 percent response rate.

Of the survey respondents, 77 percent received financial support at least once from the OASF. Responses from authors in the sciences (86 percent) greatly outnumbered those from arts, humanities, and social sciences (13 percent). Respondents self-identified as full professor (35 percent), associate professor (22 percent), assistant professor (20 percent), graduate student (13 percent) and as alumni, postdoc, scientist, and so on (10 percent). Of the respondents, 63 percent identified themselves as tenured or with continued appointment, 24 percent were on the tenure or continued appointment track, and 13 percent chose “not applicable.” Respondents self-identified as male (55 percent), female (35 percent), or chose not to answer (10 percent).

The survey consisted of thirty-nine brief yes/no and multiple-choice questions with opportunities to add free text comments. We used Qualtrics to administer the survey and analyze the results. The study questions were intended to help gauge whether the OASF was serving the purpose for which it is designed, that is, enabling authors to engage in new transformational open publishing environments and encouraging new ways of thinking about digital scholarship and information access. The authors developed the questions and tested them internally before release to try to ensure clear wording and suitable response choices, to minimize library jargon, and to provide a logical flow for those taking the survey. We submitted the full survey instrument and accompanying documentation for Institutional Review Board approval prior to release. The questions fell into four categories:

  1. Fund Awareness and Use. How did authors learn about the OASF? Did they tell others? Did the OASF support cover the full APC?
  2. Fund Policy and Guidelines. How do VT authors perceive the Library’s policies regarding funding eligibility? What about the guidelines? Is the OASF having an impact on certain disciplines more than others?
  3. Attitudes toward Open Access Journal Publishing. What factors do authors consider when deciding where to submit a journal article? What about when submitting specifically to an OA journal?
  4. Demographic Information. Questions about departmental and disciplinary affiliations, faculty/student status, and the like.

Findings and Discussion

Fund Awareness and Use

The good survey response rate and the continued increase in funding requests indicate that there is strong awareness of the Fund among faculty and graduate students. They reported learning about the OASF through colleagues, advisors, and departments. Outreach through several classes proved effective, whether professional development or research methods. The library, not surprisingly, was a good source of information also, from subject liaisons, the web, and the online VT News.

Fund Policy and Guidelines

From the beginning, VT’s OASF policy has extended support to everyone in the university community—that is to all faculty, students, and staff. While we are not unique in this regard, most other institutions have opted to limit eligibility for funding in some way. According to the SPARC 2014 “OA Funds in Action,”24 only 33 percent of the universities reporting included students among their funded authors; 54 percent supported only graduate and professional students as authors. In SPARC’s 2018 updated report,25 36 percent funded all students while 47 percent supported graduate and professional student authors.

Institutions sometimes included those designated “staff” in their OA fund support, according to the SPARC reports. In 2018 half of the universities reported supporting staff authors,2 an increase over the 43 percent who reported supporting staff authors in the 2014 report.27

Two-thirds of our survey respondents agreed that the “OASF should be available to the entire VT community (i.e., faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students).” But 15 percent disagreed, and 18 percent weren’t sure. Graduate students overwhelmingly agreed (90 percent), but only 25 percent of professors agreed that all members of the VT community should receive APC support. Associate professors were the most undecided (35 percent) of all the categories responding.

About one-third of the survey respondents reported that the OASF did not cover the full APC. They reported that they paid the balance from department or program funds (37 percent), federal grants (24 percent), college/institute funds (11 percent), and private foundation funds (8 percent). A few even used their personal funds (7 percent). Other sources mentioned in the comments included funds supplied by coauthors from other institutions, using start-up funds to pay the balance, and getting APC discounts.

When asked if OASF support should go only to authors who have no other sources of funding available, 25 percent agreed, 56 percent disagreed, and 19 percent weren’t sure. This question elicited over 125 comments, the most of any question. Over half of the comments mentioned that while they had funds, OA costs were high, and their funds were insufficient or earmarked for other purposes. Several made the case for treating all authors the same, like a university service, and others thought it was penalizing (their word) those who were successful in getting grants. Others saw the OASF as an incentive or as a reward for publishing their articles in OA journals.

Hybrid Journals

University Libraries’ OASF originally supported APCs in hybrid journals, but this practice was discontinued as of January 2019. Similarly, 84 percent of the ARL SPEC Kit survey respondents did not fund hybrid journals. The reason for the change at VT Libraries was in part because it was difficult to verify that subscriptions for hybrid journals were being reduced as a result of APCs, which was a requirement for OASF support. The VT survey documented that this decision was not popular: 39 percent of respondents disagreed with the policy change, while 44 percent were not sure or had no opinion. Only 18 percent of respondents agreed that hybrid journals’ APCs should not be funded.

The survey question about OASF support of hybrid journals triggered about 85 comments. Over half pointed out that an article in a hybrid journal is still open access, thereby reaching a wider audience than a paywalled article and increasing the visibility of VT research. Several commented that they see hybrid OA as a way for journals to move toward fully OA. Others felt that many OA journals are of a lower quality and these or hybrid journals could be where younger faculty and students could publish until they get established reputations. Several people expressed that the OASF policy on hybrid journals was restricting their freedom to choose where they publish.


Why Should APCs in Hybrid Journals Be Funded?

Figure 1. Why Should APCs in Hybrid Journals Be Funded?

Factors Influencing the Decision to Publish OA Articles

We asked respondents to select up to five factors that influenced their choice of which journal to submit their article manuscript to. Impact factor and reaching appropriate audiences and readers were about equal (18.41 nearly and 18.14 nearly, respectively) as the most influential factors. This correlates with their top choice of reaching more readers and having more impact when asked what factors influenced their decision to publish OA and was reiterated in some of the concluding general comments. Of those who commented, 70 percent pointed out that they chose the most appropriate journal for their article (that is to say, reaching their target audience). A requirement by a grant or sponsoring agency to publish the research results in an OA publication was not a significant influencing factor, with only 5.6 percent of respondents choosing it.

Neville’s and Crampsie’s 2019 survey results found the top three criteria for author’s choice of journal were “scope and fit to the topic,” peer-review, and intended audience.28 However, VT authors selected this topic fifth behind impact factor, audience, likelihood of being cited, and publication quality. Having the least influence on VT authors’ journal selection was the copyright policy and department’s or college’s list of prescribed journals.

When asked who influenced their decision to publish OA, faculty reported that they were most often influenced by their colleagues and secondly by their students. It is not surprising that advisors and mentors had the most influence on graduate students but the least influence on faculty. In their comments, several authors pointed out that it was their own decision or “personal ethics” that influenced their choice to publish OA.

Previous surveys cited by Solomon and Bork29 and Peekhaus and Proferes30 point to speed of publication as an important factor (among others) in authors’ decisions to publish OA. Speed of publication was not a very important factor according to the VT 2019 survey respondents. Only 8.6 percent chose it as one of five contributing factors.

Attitudes toward Open Access Journals

Nearly 87 percent of the survey respondents reported that they did not have any trouble finding an OA journal in their disciplines. When asked how they used their OA articles once they were published, responses were fairly evenly divided among the following choices: deposited in VTechWorks (the VT repository, 20 percent), deposited in another repository (16 percent), linked from P&T/CA (promotion and tenure/continued appointment) dossier (16 percent), and linked to another article (15 percent). Nearly 23 percent assigned a Creative Commons license or retained their copyright. Twenty percent of the comments also mentioned linking their articles to personal, lab, or research websites. One surprising comment was, “I am doing an art gallery exhibition based on the publication.”

However, the VT authors surveyed had mixed feelings about the quality of OA publications. A few were resolute in their opinions: “their reputation is terrible … It will be a waste of money to support OA papers in those journals.” Others pointed out the benefits of increased citations and reaching a wider audience. The following comments illustrate broader thinking about OA publications: “VT OASF is a very creative idea to support publishing in a more diverse and accessible media.” “Many open access journals take interdisciplinary approaches; thus allowing for a broader range of topics to be published.”

VT authors expressed opposing views of the effect of OA on society publications. “OA is a business model that is directly competing with professional organizational publications.” In contrast, a respondent noted that OA society journals are nothing new: “My main society’s journal was founded as open in 1995. It’s weird that we are in 2019 worrying about it (that is, the effect of OA).”

Others used the comments to point out the benefits for authors new to scholarly communication. “I think this program is exceptionally important for undergrad research and will help improve our undergrad placement in jobs and grad school” and “…this opportunity is very important for graduate students and amateur researchers who have not established their niche.”

Of the 79 general comments we received, about a dozen mentioned promotion and/or tenure. None who commented felt that publishing in an OA journal “should be linked as a metric in P&T,” though 56.3 percent said “yes” when asked “Should OA publishing be a positive factor in P&T/CA considerations?” They also pointed out in their general comments that the scholarly publishing model should change. “Universities need to join together to fight [the] pay-to-publish model because it runs up against the publish-or-perish model, and becomes the pay-or-perish model.” This comment indicates that some think that OA requires payment of APCs and are unaware that of the 16,577 journals indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, 11,855 (72 percent) did not have APCs (as of July 5, 2021).31

Views of Funded and Unfunded Authors

The OASF is open to the entire VT community, but we deny requests if authors have an active grant (for example from the National Institutes for Health, National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies that require OA for the research being published). While we do restrict the amount of the award (in 2021, $1,500 per article and $3,000 per author in a fiscal year), we have never closed the application process due to running out of funding. Non-hybrid OA journals that are peer reviewed are all eligible. If we have questions about the reputation of an unfamiliar journal, we check a variety of sources, such as DOAJ, Sherpa/Romeo, Committee on Publishing Ethics, and Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association for validation.

We were interested in the perspective of authors whether or not they had received OASF support for their OA articles. To contextualize the responses from unfunded authors, we analyzed our OASF data from FY2015 to FY2020 (in other words, all requests with funding outcome and the reasons for rejection).

We looked at the responses according to several categories, including by their academic classification (faculty rank or student status). In every classification, the principal reason for authors not receiving support from the OASF was because their articles had been accepted in hybrid journals. Assistant professors were much more likely than full professors (74 percent vs. 41 percent, respectively) to be denied support for a hybrid journal article.

About one-third of professors and one-third of associate professors applying for OASF support were denied because they had other sources of funding.

Throughout the history of the VT OASF, hybrid journals have been the main reason for not awarding support for APCs. At the beginning they accounted for 35 percent of the rejected requests, increasing to 74 percent in FY20. From July 2015 through December 2018, the OASF supported hybrid journals if publishers reduced subscription costs based on the additional revenue they collected from OA APCs. While this change in policy may have initially reduced requests for support for articles in hybrid journals, the percentage has steadily risen since then. This might indicate that authors don’t know how to differentiate a hybrid journal from one that is fully OA. Or, as was clear from the survey responses, many strongly believe that hybrid journals should qualify for support.


Rejected Funding Requests by Author’s Classification

Figure 2. Rejected Funding Requests by Author’s Classification

The second most frequent reason for not supporting a request was because an author had another source of funding, usually a current NSF grant. It is often difficult to determine if a grant actually supported an article, and authors often appeal the decision. Their arguments are usually convincing, for instance, the active grant is not the one that supported the research for the article support being requested.


Reasons for Rejecting Funding Requests

Figure 3. Reasons for Rejecting Funding Requests

Looking at unfunded requests a bit more granularly allowed us to compare reasons for rejecting a request with a European Commission pilot initiative as reported by De-Castro and Franck. Both studies show that the article’s acceptance in a hybrid journal was by far the most common reason for rejecting support requests. We strongly agree with them that “no-hybrid policy applied in the implementation of this APC funding initiative is a suitable mechanism to contain the costs and prevent further publishing market concentration.”32

De-Castro and Franck33 reported that 20 percent of the EC FP7 requests were rejected due to hybrid journals between 2015 and 2018. VT’s rejection rate for the same time frame was 29 percent, and about 25 percent from 2015–2020.

Recognition for Publishing in OA Journals

We posed several questions to find out if, or how, authors were recognized for having published in OA journals. For most scholars, publishing an academic journal article does not involve any direct financial payment. Instead, rewards may manifest themselves in less tangible ways, loosely grouped under the general heading of prestige. Recognition for one’s accomplishments may arise during annual performance or P&T/CA reviews, or special academic awards. Such considerations often extend well beyond any single article and may reflect more broadly on a researcher’s scholarly record as a whole. But recognition is still a powerful motivating factor. It can play into an author’s decision each time they consider where and how to publish their work as they seek to maximize its perceived value and potential impact.

We asked respondents to indicate whether and in what way they had been recognized for publishing in an OA journal: 14.1 percent indicated their OA publication was acknowledged by their academic unit, 7.2 percent by their unit head, and 9.3 percent during the P&T/CA process. Six percent of the responses fell into an “other” category. These included recognition from other colleagues in the field, professional societies, and the University Libraries.

However, by far the most frequent answer, 63.3 percent, was that authors were not recognized in any apparent way. This suggests that there is considerable room for improvement in this area. Finding mechanisms to enhance recognition and reward for publishing OA articles can only lead to more individuals choosing to do so. Interestingly, even though most felt they were not recognized themselves, 35.9 percent indicated they had encouraged a colleague at the university to publish OA articles. Also, 32.8 percent reported encouraging graduate students to publish their work OA.

Two questions related specifically to open access in relation to the P&T/CA process. Only 9.4 percent of the survey respondents indicated that publishing OA had been discussed as a part of this process, while 38.7 percent reported it had not. Another 51.9 percent said they were either unsure or that the question was not applicable to them (such as graduate students).

Open access is regularly considered as one factor during P&T/CA deliberations within the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. These deliberations are closed-door and confidential in nature, but the expectations are communicated to candidates by other means, such as the Libraries’ Open Access Policy and its Procedures on Promotion and Continued Appointment. Having such a policy or procedures in place can be one way to show the importance attached by the unit to open access.

When asked whether respondents felt open access should be a factor in such deliberations, the question was not limited to those who had direct experience serving on a P&T/CA review committees. Here there was a much stronger affirmation of the perceived value of publishing open access when compared to the previous question asking about what had been observed in practice: 56.2 percent indicated that they believed OA should be a positive factor in these kinds of deliberations. Working to close that gap between what individuals say they think should be happening and what they have actually observed during P&T/CA decision-making will certainly not be an overnight process but is another way for institutions to reinforce the importance of publishing one’s work as open access.


The comments often proved the richest source of information. Taken together with the survey questions they helped provide a much fuller picture of author attitudes and perceptions. From both, it was evident that our authors greatly appreciate having the OASF available. The impact on OA was clear. The funds thus provided have made a real difference in their ability to publish their research in this manner. However, many authors wanted to see changes with regard to the finer details of how the funds are administered. They chafed at restrictions such as dollar caps or prohibitions on providing OASF support to authors who already had other sources of funding such as active grants available to them. Hybrid journals were another source of contention. Authors often do not understand the distinction the library makes between hybrid and Gold OA journals, or our concerns about “double-dipping” by publishers. Instead, authors want to publish their work in whatever journals they consider most prestigious in their respective areas of research. These are all valid concerns, especially when considered from an author’s perspective. The challenge is how to balance these desires for as few limitations as possible against the libraries’ need to contain costs and provide an equitable distribution of available funds.

Authors who had published their work OA often reported that they had received little or no recognition for having done so. That is a serious concern, as receiving appropriate recognition for their work can be a prime driver of authors’ decisions about where and how to publish their research. Libraries cannot transform the entire academic culture on their own. But they certainly can be an important force in helping to bring such change about and should actively seek to create ways to showcase the work of OA authors at their institutions.

Education and outreach efforts are another important area which libraries need to continue to focus on. Awareness and acceptance of OA publishing in general has been increasing among authors. But there is still often considerable confusion and potential for misunderstanding. Workshops, informational web pages, focus groups, and other communication and education efforts can help bridge such gaps, and the value of one-on-one interactions should not be underestimated. Our library also seeks to encourage faculty to incorporate OA publication funds directly into their grant proposals. Libraries should continue to engage researchers in discussions about the economics of scholarly publishing and share data about the impact of OA articles.

Gaining a deeper understanding of total spending on APC costs across the institution can help better inform decisions on OA funding. This is not an easy task because funds often come from a wide range of departmental, college, institute, and other sources. At the prompting of the University Libraries, our university has recently added a designated code in the payment system that should improve our ability to track such expenditures.

These survey results will help to inform our future decisions and ensure that funds are allocated in the best manner. This is especially important as other options for supporting open knowledge (“subscribe to open” collections, open educational resources, open publishing, and so on) continue to grow and compete for a piece of the library budget. Virginia Tech Libraries have made a sizable commitment to supporting APCs for VT authors, devoting a total of more than $1 million. Regardless of the investment libraries make to an APC fund, or if they decline to participate in funding APCs at all, libraries have an important role to play in furthering the discussion about scholarly publishing and open access initiatives. Listening to and understanding their researchers’ opinions about pathways and barriers to publishing is fundamental to their role.


We would like to thank our colleagues Caroline E. Cross, Scholarly Communication Administrative Assistant, for her assistance in administering the OASF survey and Dr. Nathaniel Porter, Social Science Data Consultant, for his guidance in preparing the survey questions.


Virginia Tech Open Access Subvention Fund Survey

OASF Awareness and Use

How did you learn about the VT Open Access Subvention Fund (OASF)? Select all that apply.

  • □ Colleague
  • □ Library Liaison
  • □ NLI (Networked Learning Initiative)
  • □ Other (please specify)

Did you attend an OASF Networked Learning Initiatives (NLI) or Professional Development Network (PDN) session?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

Was the NLI/PDN session you attended helpful?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

Did you pass information from the NLI/PDN session on to someone?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

Have you received support from the OASF for an APC (article processing charge)?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

Did the OASF support cover the full APC?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

What other source(s) covered the APC balance? Select all that apply.

  • □ Department/Program area/School funds
  • □ College/Institute funds
  • □ Federal grant funds
  • □ Private foundation funds
  • □ Personal funds
  • □ Other (please specify)

OASF Policy Guidelines

The maximum award of $2000 per article is adequate.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

Why do you think $2000 per article is inadequate?

The OASF should prorate support among each of the VT authors for the purposes of calculating amounts towards the annual limit per author/coauthor.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

Why do you believe that the OASF should not prorate support among each VT author?

The OASF support should go only to authors who have no other sources of funding available.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

Why do you believe that OASF support should also go to authors with additional sources of funding available?

The OASF should fund only publishers who adhere to a Code of Conduct like those promulgated by OASPA and COPE.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

The VT OASF Guide provides the information I need to make a successful request for support.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

What additional information would have been helpful to you in making a request for support?

The VT OASF should not fund APCs in hybrid open access (OA) journals.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

Why should the OASF fund additional APCs in hybrid OA journals?

The OASF should be available to the entire VT community (i.e., faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students).

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

The library should continue to fund APCs for scholarly peer-reviewed articles accepted for publication in open access journals.

  • □ Agree
  • □ Disagree
  • □ Not sure

Why shouldn’t the library fund APCs?

Have you taken advantage of the library-negotiated discounts with any OA journal publishers?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No
  • □ Not sure

Open Access Journal Publishing

Select up to five factors influencing your choice about which journal to submit your manuscript to.

  • □ APC (article processing charge)
  • □ Appropriate audience/readers
  • □ Copyright policy
  • □ Impact factor
  • □ Likelihood of being cited (visibility, exposure)
  • □ List of department/college prescribed journals
  • □ Number of subscribers
  • □ Open access (free, public access)
  • □ Page charges
  • □ Publication quality
  • □ Speed of publication/rapid dissemination
  • □ Topic
  • □ Other (please specify)

Select up to 3 people influencing your decision to publish OA.

  • □ Administrator/Unit head
  • □ Advisor/Mentor
  • □ Colleague
  • □ Librarian
  • □ Student
  • □ Other (please specify)

Select up to 3 factors influencing your decision to publish OA.

  • □ Desire to see publishing models change
  • □ Disciplinary norms
  • □ Grant/sponsor requirement
  • □ Greater likelihood of being cited
  • □ Promotion & Tenure or Continued Appointment (P&T/CA) expectations
  • □ Public good/Social responsibility
  • □ Reaching more readers/Having more impact
  • □ Support available through OASF
  • □ Other (please specify)

Did you have trouble finding an OA journal in your discipline?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

How have you used your published OA article? Select all that apply.

  • □ Assigned a Creative Commons or other open license
  • □ Deposited your article in VTechWorks
  • □ Deposited your article in a repository other than VTechWorks
  • □ Linked from your P&T/CA dossier
  • □ Linked from your syllabus
  • □ Linked to another article you wrote
  • □ Retained the copyright to your article
  • □ Other (please specify)

Indicate if you were recognized for publishing in an OA journal. Select all that apply.

  • □ By your unit (i.e., department, school, etc.)
  • □ By your unit head
  • □ By your P&T/CA Committee
  • □ Other (please specify)
  • □ Not recognized

Have you encouraged any of the following to publish in OA journals? Select all that apply.

  • □ Colleague at VT
  • □ Colleague at another university/college
  • □ Graduate student
  • □ Undergraduate student
  • □ Others (please specify)

Has OA publishing been discussed in a P&T/CA committee that you have served on?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No
  • □ Not sure
  • □ Not applicable

Should OA publishing be a positive factor in P&T/CA considerations?

  • □ Yes
  • □ No

Please provide any comments you would like to share about the VT OASF.

Demographic Information

What is your top-level unit affiliation within Virginia Tech?

  • □ College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)
  • □ College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS)
  • □ College of Engineering (COE)
  • □ College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS)
  • □ College of Natural Resources and Environment (CNRE)
  • □ College of Science (COS)
  • □ Fralin Biomedical Research Institute
  • □ Fralin Life Science Institute
  • □ Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT)
  • □ Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS)
  • □ Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE)
  • □ Pamplin College of Business
  • □ University Libraries
  • □ Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute (VTC)
  • □ Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) (15)

What department are you primarily affiliated with? If affiliated with more than one, provide a second option as appropriate.

  • □ Affiliation 1
  • □ Affiliation 2

What is your primary affiliation with Virginia Tech?

  • □ Graduate Student
  • □ Undergraduate Student
  • □ Assistant Professor
  • □ Associate Professor
  • □ Professor
  • □ Lecturer/Instructor/Adjunct
  • □ Staff
  • □ Other (please specify)

What is your academic appointment?

  • □ Tenure/Continued appointment
  • □ Tenure-track/Continued appointment track
  • □ Not applicable

What race or ethnicity would you describe yourself as? Select all that apply.

  • □ Non-Hispanic, White, or Euro-American
  • □ Black, Afro-Caribbean, or African American
  • □ Latino or Hispanic American
  • □ East Asian or Asian American
  • □ South Asian or Indian American
  • □ Middle Eastern or Arab American
  • □ Native American or Alaskan Native
  • □ Other
  • □ Prefer not to answer

With which gender do you most identify?

  • □ Female
  • □ Male
  • □ Trans Female
  • □ Trans Male
  • □ Gender Variant/Non-conforming
  • □ Not Listed
  • □ Prefer not to answer


1. “Facts about Virginia Tech,” Virginia Tech, accessed July 5, 2021, https://vt.edu/about/facts-about-virginia-tech.html.

2. “VT Research and Innovation,” Virginia Tech, accessed July 5, 2021, https://www.research.vt.edu/.

3. “LFA Open Access Policy,” Virginia Tech, accessed March 28, 2022, https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/23893.

4. Gail McMillan, Leslie O’Brien, and Philip Young, Funding Article Processing Charges. SPEC Kit 353. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, November 2016. https://doi.org/10.29242/spec.353.

5. “VT Open Access Subvention Fund: Guidelines,” Virginia Tech, accessed March 28, 2022, https://guides.lib.vt.edu/c.php?g=716242&p=5096882.

6. Gail McMillan, Leslie O’Brien, and Edward F. Lener, “Assessing User Perceptions of an Open Access Subvention Fund,” Scholarly Kitchen, August 31, 2020, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2020/08/31/guest-post-assessing-user-perceptions-of-an-open-access-subvention-fund/.

7. Wilhelm Peekhaus and Nicholas Proferes, “How Library and Information Science Faculty Perceive and Engage with Open Access,” Journal of Information Science 41, no. 5 (2015): 640–61, https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551515587855.

8. Wilhelm Peekhaus and Nicholas Proferes, “How Library and Information Science Faculty Perceive and Engage with Open Access.”

9. Wilhelm Peekhaus, “A Cohort Study of How Faculty in LIS Schools Perceive and Engage with Open-Access Publishing,” Journal of Information Science 47, no. 1 (2019): 16–28, https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551519865481.

10. Peekhaus, “A Cohort Study of How Faculty in LIS Schools Perceive and Engage with Open-Access Publishing,” 19–20.

11. Carol Tenopir et al., “Imagining a Gold Open Access Future: Attitudes, Behaviors, and Funding Scenarios among Authors of Academic Scholarship,” College & Research Libraries 78, no. 6 (2017): 824–43, https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.78.6.824.

12. Jie Xu et al., “Chinese Researchers’ Perceptions and Use of Open Access Journals: Results of an Online Questionnaire Survey,” Learned Publishing 33, no.3 (2020): 246–58, https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1291.

13. Rajiv Nariani and Leila Fernandez, “Open Access Publishing: What Authors Want,” College & Research Libraries 73. no. 2 (2012):182–95, https://doi.org/10.5860/crl-203.

14. Tina Neville and Camielle Crampsie, “From Journal Selection to Open Access: Practices among Academic Librarian Scholars,” Portal-Libraries and the Academy 19, no. 4 (2019):591–613, https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2019.0037.

15. David J. Solomon and Bo-Christer Björk, “A Study of Open Access Journals Using Article Processing Charges,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63, no. 8 (2012): 1485–95, https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.22673.

16. Jingfeng Xia, “A Longitudinal Study of Scholars Attitudes and Behaviors toward Open-Access Journal Publishing,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 61, no. 3 (2010): 615–24, https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.21283.

17. Pablo De-Castro and Gwen Franck, “Funding APCs from the Research Funder’s Seat: Findings from the EC FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot,” Profesional De La Informacion 28, no. 4 (2019): e280413, https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2019.jul.13.

18. Gregory M. Nelson and Dennis L. Eggett, “Citations, Mandates, and Money: Author Motivations to Publish in Chemistry Hybrid Open Access Journals,” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 68, no. 10 (2017): 2501–10, https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23897.

19. Xia, “A Longitudinal Study of Scholars Attitudes and Behaviors toward Open-Access Journal Publishing,” 621.

20. Peekhaus and Proferes, “How Library and Information Science Faculty Perceive and Engage with Open Access,” 643–44.

21. Peekhaus, “A Cohort Study of How Faculty in LIS Schools Perceive and Engage with Open-Access Publishing,” 27.

22. De-Castro and Franck, “Funding APCs from the Research Funder’s Seat: Findings from the EC FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot,” 4.

23. Peekhaus, “A Cohort Study of How Faculty in LIS Schools Perceive and Engage with Open-Access Publishing,” 26.

24. “Open Access Funds in Action, 2014,” SPARC, accessed April 09, 2021, https://sparcopen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/SPARC-OA-Funds-in-Action.pdf.

25. “Open Access Funds in Action. 2018,” SPARC, accessed April 09, 2021, https://sparcopen.org/our-work/oa-funds/attachment/oa-funds-in-action-attachment-11-2018/.

26. “Open Access Funds in Action.” 2018.

27. “Open Access Funds in Action.” 2014.

28. Neville and Crampsie, “From Journal Selection to Open Access: Practices among Academic Librarian Scholars,” 596.

29. David J. Solomon and Björk Bo-Christer, “Publication Fees in Open Access Publishing: Sources of Funding and Factors Influencing Choice of Journal.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63, no. 1 (2012): 98-107, https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.21660.

30. Peekhaus and Proferes, “How Library and Information Science Faculty Perceive and Engage with Open Access.”

31. “The Directory of Open Access Journals,” DOAJ, accessed 07/05/2021. https://www.doaj.org/.

32. De-Castro and Franck, “Funding APCs from the Research Funder’s Seat: Findings from the EC FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot,” 1.

33. De-Castro and Franck, “Funding APCs from the Research Funder’s Seat,” Pilot 1.

* Gail McMillan is Director of Scholarly Communication at University Libraries, Virginia Tech, email: gailmac@vt.edu. Leslie O’Brien is Director of Collections and Technical Services at University Libraries, Virginia Tech, email: lobrien@vt.edu. Edward F. Lener is Associate Director for Collection Management at University Libraries, Virginia Tech, email: lener@vt.edu. ©2023 Gail McMillan, Leslie O’Brien, and Edward F. Lener, Attribution-NonCommercial (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) CC BY-NC.

Copyright Gail McMillan, Leslie O’Brien, Edward F. Lener

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Article Views (Last 12 Months)

No data available

Contact ACRL for article usage statistics from 2010-April 2017.

Article Views (By Year/Month)

January: 0
February: 0
March: 0
April: 6
May: 493
June: 125
July: 43
August: 16
September: 7