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An Introduction to Open Access and Open Education

What is Open Access? What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Access logo
The Open Access movement is committed to making knowledge and information available and accessible. According to the Budapest Open Access Initiative, open access scholarly materials maintain “availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts," making information easier to find and lawfully use by all. 

Open access publishing is a growing trend in academia, an alternative meant to overcome the challenges created by today's traditional publishing practices. Open access scholar Peter Suber describes works that are open access as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Open access publishing allows for copyright permissions to remain with the author while the work, along with any associated data, is freely shared at the time of publication with a Creative Commons license. 

Open access publishing is positive for the researcher and the scholar. For the researcher, information published openly is more quickly and easily available, creating a better research environment. For the scholar, Archembault et al. has shown that open access published papers are more likely to be cited than papers behind a paywall. Publishing open access it's also better for society as a whole, because open access publishing invites the free and open sharing of knowledge to a more diverse group.  Open access publishing is currently actualized two ways, Green and Gold OA.

Green OA: author self-archives their own work in addition to taking part in a traditional publishing process. In this process, it is the responsibility of the author to make a version of their work freely available within a repository.

Gold OA: author chooses to publish their work within an open access publication in order to make the final, published, version of their work immediately freely available under an open license. Open access publishers charge the author a fee for this type of publication.

Property of Everyone Open Education ResourcesOpen Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials including textbooks, assignments, learning modules, full courseware, videos, tutorials, and more. All OER are available at no cost and with the legal permissions for anyone to use, remix, download, and share. OER have a Creative Commons license that does not include the ND (Non-derivative) attribute which prohibits remixing.

At its core, education is the sharing of knowledge. The open education approach makes sharing and gaining knowledge more accessible than ever before. Because of the remixability of OER, instructors have the opportunity to ditch expensive textbooks, instead creating bespoke course materials using OER works. OER is better for students, too because OER makes higher education more affordable. A 2016 student textbook and course material survey of 22,000 higher education students showed that textbooks cost more now than ever and these high costs negatively impact college students' ability to access course materials and successfully complete a course. By using free OER instead, students get financial relief and a greater chance of success.

Is there a difference between OER and Open Access?

OER and Open Access have similar goals of open sharing and open use, but each starts at a different premise. OER are a variety of educational materials used to teach students, while open access published works are scholarly materials usually written by researchers. Another difference is OER allows for remixing and adaptations while open access does not. Compare these to most of the materials available through the BSU library. Just like OER and OA, library purchased materials are available for you to use, but library-purchased materials aren't available to the wider public, only to the BSU community, and these works have much stricter copyright permissions. Contact your librarian if you have questions on how to use these different resources. 

diagram of scope of open access and open education resources. OER are Open Access.

Clarification of Free Cultural Works, Open Educational Resources and Open Access, by Paul G. West, Version 4 May 2021CC-BY 4.0


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Content created by Colleen Deel, MLIS