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Open Access and OER

This guide covers the multifaceted ecosystem of open education and scholarship in higher education, which includes Open Access (OA), Open Educational Resources (OER), and Open Publishing.

Defining Open Terms

Open Science is the umbrella term for the many principles that are important in the Open community. This includes the many ways researchers share their research with a wider community. Recently, open science has been replaced with open knowledge, making the principles of open science more inclusive to all academic areas of research. 

“Open science is the movement to make scientific research and data accessible to all levels of an inquiring society. Open Science is the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes, and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution, and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods.” —OEGlobal

Open Access (OA) relates primarily to scholarship sought by researchers. These are articles researchers locate and use to support their own research.

“Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives.” —SPARC

Open Pedagogy is a set of practices that invites all participants—teachers and students—to engage meaningfully in educational processes. Students create materials for their own education, improving future iterations of the course.

“Open pedagogy … is the use of open educational resources (OER) to support learning, or the open sharing of teaching practices with a goal of improving education and training at the institutional, professional, and individual level.”—BCcampus

Open Education works to increase the effectiveness and affordability of education, through the many resources available online. Though it relies on students’ ability to access the internet, open education has an overall positive impact on the accessibility of education.

“Open Education encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment.” —SPARC

Open Educational Resources (OER) are often found online, but many OER are available in print at a low cost. These resources are licensed in a way that allows the user to modify the resources as best fits their— and their students’— needs. Key to open educational resources is this ability to adapt or modify a resource, with the creator’s permission expressly granted through a Creative Commons license.

“OER are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.” —OEGlobal

Open Publishing demystifies the publishing process for many creators. It aims to lower the costs of publishing while valuing all the labor that goes into a publication.

“Open publishing means that the process of creating news is transparent to the readers. They can contribute a story and see it instantly appear in the pool of stories publicly available. … They can see how to get involved and help make editorial decisions.” —Matthew Arnison, 2001

Open Peer Review is a broad category, with many competing definitions. These definitions often include characteristics such as making visible the identities of the reviewers and their reports, as well as opening participation to any reader interested in contributing to this process.

“Any scholarly review mechanism providing disclosure of author and referee identities to one another at any point during the peer review or publication process.” —Ford, 2015

Open Data is available to all, and, like open access, is crucial for research done without adequate financial support. 

“Open Data is research data that is freely available on the internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyse, re-process, pass to software or use for any other purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.” —SPARC