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Open Textbooks/Open Educational Resources: Open FAQs

Exploring Open

Open FAQs

  • What is Open Access?
    • Open Access materials are generally distributed online under copyright and licensing agreements which permit free access to and dissemination of the materials at no additional cost to the end user. 

  • What makes this special?
    • The traditional method for journal-based communication of scientific research is generally to provide access to the work only for those who have purchased access rights to the work or are affiliated with an institution through which they can enter a log-in and access the work.

  • My course has journal articles linked and accessible through the online classroom. Is this Open Access? It feels Open Access.
    • It's difficult to determine as a user inside a learning management  system (LMS) if access has been gained through institutional affiliation or if the resource is truly Open. A good way to tell is to copy and paste the link into a browser open outside of the LMS. If you have access, the resource is likely open. If not, your institutional affiliation is why you are able to access it from within the LMS. The institution has purchased access to the resource, so you, as an affiliate of the institution, have access as well. Once your affiliation with the institution is concluded, your access to the resource will, as well.

  • Why are we talking about Open Access?
    • Some question the idea of offering access to knowledge and learning experiences based on socio-economic status, such as those who can afford to enroll in a higher ed institution or those who can afford to earn credentials and maintain affiliation with a higher ed institution. 
    • Some question the idea of institutions and scholars having to pay for access to work accomplished by their own researchers. For instance, a higher ed institution supports faculty in the design, implementation, and evaluation of their research. That same institution has to purchase a subscription to the journal in which the faculty published the work in order to provide access to students and faculty to the version of record in which the faculty member has published the findings of the research project. The institution paid for the work to be done, but then has to pay again to get the article. 

  • Are there different kinds of Open Access?
    • Yes. Our scholarly communications librarian, Clarke Iakovakis, gives a pretty thorough explanation of the differences on the Edmon Low Library Open Access LibGuide linked here. On that libguide you will also find a short video from PHDComics.com which is frequently used to explain the reasons informing most Open Access advocacy. I will try to explain it in a nutshell as it is described by Clarke.
      • Green Open Access (self-archiving: The Author's article undergoes journal peer review. The author posts the same content as will be published in the journal on a personal website/institutional repository/funding institution.
      • Gold Open Access (open access journal): The Author or research sponsor pays processing charges to the publishing journal. The Author's article undergoes journal peer review. The author posts the same content as will be published in the journal on a personal website/institutional repository/funding institution.
      • Gold, Platinum, Diamond Open Access (open access journal): The institution, society, or government pays processing charges to the publishing journal. The article goes through a cycle similar to that described above.
      • Delayed Open Access: The article is released as fully open following a six to twelve month embargo period imposed by the journal publisher during which only subscription-based access is granted.
      • Hybrid Open Access : These resources are partially subscription funded. In some instances, open access is available for work whose authors or funding institutions pay a fee. In others, access to some resources is available without subscription or affiliation, but access to others is available only through paid subscription. Additionally, some open access platforms allow contributors at associated membership or subscription levels to elect to have their work available only by subscription.

  • What are the benefits of Open Access?
    • Advocates suggest Open Access publications increase opportunities for diversity and equity in scholarly work, and that publication of findings through Open Access provides quicker and broader dissemination of research results.
    • Advocates suggest Open Access publications experience higher citation rates, more article downloads, and that the quicker and broader dissemination can increase the research's impact. Check out Clarke's libguide linked here for more information and links to where Open Access resources can be found.
  • What are Open Educational Resources?
    • Open Educational Resources (OER) are resources intentionally created and licensed to facilitate distribution, modification, and retention at no cost to the end users. A definition created and popularized by David Wiley includes 5Rs, chosen to represent users' ability to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the resources. OER are typically originally published online in digital form, but can be printed for similar use. For a quick overview, click here to visit the Edmon Low Library OER Libguide

  • What makes this special?
    • The default full copyright awarded in the United States to any resource having taken tangible form prevents distribution and modification without the creator's specific permission. The intentional open (generally Creative Commons) licensing under which OER are published expresses the creator's intent that the resource be distributed and permission that the resource be modified or adapted as needed.
    • Users may lose educational resources shared through a learning management system (LMS) such as used in higher ed once the institution or LMS revokes the user's credentialed access. Publishers may offer similar, timed access to course resources rented or purchased for online use. OER are intended to facilitate user's retention of the resource regardless of credentials or affiliation.

  • My course has journal articles linked and accessible through the online classroom. Is this OER? It feels like OER.
    • It has some similarities. As discussed with OA, non-credentialed access to resources found within an LMS is best tested by attempting to access the resource outside of the LMS, through a browser unlinked to institutional credentials. But Open Access does not guarantee the resource qualifies as and OER. A key element of OER is the ability to modify or adapt the resource. Many Open Access materials carry licenses which prohibit modification and adaption. Those resources are Open, but they are not OER. The question of retention comes into play, as well, for OER. The end user must have permission to retain possession of and access to the resource for it to qualify as OER.

  • Why are we talking about Open Educational Resources??
    • As with Open Access, some question the idea of offering access to knowledge and learning experiences based on socio-economic status, such as those who can afford to enroll in a higher ed institution or those who can afford to earn credentials and maintain affiliation with a higher ed institution. 
    • As with Open Access, some find it problematic that traditional publishing frameworks might require students to purchase access to resources created by scholars, educators, and researchers at the institution in which the students are enrolled. Instructors opting to create their resources as OER offer students the option to access learning opportunities they have developed without the involvement of a third party publisher or vendor. But remember, free doesn't mean OER. They must also be licensed to permit modification.
    • Which is the next point. The permission found within OER to modify or adapt materials enables instructors to make changes localizing the resource to the culture and needs of the population in which the resource is being experienced. Additionally, students can participate in the modification and creation of the resources, actively participating in the creativity and knowledge cycle. These strategies have been practiced by effective teachers in many ways over time, but currently those hoping to use OER in this way can find support and ideas by exploring publications discussing Open Pedagogy, such as the site linked here. Watch for another libguide discussing Open Pedagogy, we are running out of nutshell.

  • Are there different kinds of Open Educational Resources?
    • There are different kinds, but unlike Open Access resources, there are not different categories. Generally, a resource is either OER or it is not. If it is behind any kind of pay-wall, it is not an OER. Some go so far as to say even free and adaptable resources requiring a log-in do not qualify as OER (you are paying the fee by providing data, or agreeing to placement of a cookie). Additionally, the user must have permission to modify or adapt the OER, and the user must have permission to retain ownership and ongoing use of the OER.

  • What are the benefits of Open Educational Resources?
    • As with Open Access, advocates suggest OER increase opportunities for diversity and equity in scholarly work and educational experiences.
    • The permission to adapt OER to facilitate localization to the culture and needs of the student population supports educator creation and use of materials in a way indicated by research to enhance the relevancy of the learning experience.
    • The permission to adapt OER can spark innovative teaching strategies such as are described in the Open Pedagogy community.
    • Advocates of OER suggest its facilitation of course resources at no additional student cost can improve the quality of the student experience and may motivate timelier access to and use of course resources.