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Open Access Resources and Publishing

Open Access, Open Access Publishing , and Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER Basics

Open Educational Resources (OER), a type of Open Access publishing, are

  • materials for learning and teaching, including: textbooks, books, journals, primary sources, reference materials, assessments, assignments, case studies, courses, simulations, tutorials, tests, and audio/video files
  • in the public domain or have been published under an open license
  • provide everyone free use and perpetual permission for others to engage in the 5R activities
  • available at zero cost for students  

The 5 Rs

  1. Retain – permission to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – permission to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – permission to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – permission to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – permission to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of to a friend)

          "Defining the 'Open' in Open Content and Open Educational Resources." by David Wiley is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Common Misconceptions 

Advocates for OER often encounter the same arguments or misunderstandings when introducing OER to other librarians and educators. 

Zero Cost to Students - Resources Compared


Free to Students

Open License


OER (Open Educational Resources)

Yes Yes Yes

Open Access (OA)

Yes Maybe Maybe

Library Licensed

Yes (Library pays for access) No No

Why Choose Open Educational Resources?

Advantages of OER

The reduction in costs for students is a major benefit of OER and they are more flexible than commercial textbooks.

  • Immediate and continued access: Students can access OER anywhere in the world, at any time. This includes both before courses start and after courses end.
  • Enhancement of regular course content: You can use different types of materials, including multimedia, to help engage students. OER can be useful supplementary material when students need background information or are interested in extending their knowledge.  
  • Adaptability: You can add, remove and edit content to suit your needs. If you're using an OER textbook you don't need to worry about using the whole book to justify the cost to students.   
  • Increased diversity: You can use a selection of resources to include a wide range of perspectives, such as Indigenous voices, and/or edit resources to ensure language is inclusive and relevant to your students.    
  • Continual improvement: OER can be quickly improved through direct editing or via feedback and any mistakes can be corrected  without needing to wait for a new edition or going through a lengthy review process.