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Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER)

Find freely available educational resources like textbooks, courses, journals, and more.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

What are OER?

OER are teaching and learning materials that are in the public domain or published with an open access license. They are books, textbooks, lesson plans, curricula, and anything else that is used in education, including full courses. Because OER are published for free online, they are significantly more accessible to students than expensive commercial print textbooks.

Some commercial publishers have begun to introduce collections of "OER" for purchase. True OER are free to use, although some do allow students to pay a small fee to have a free OER printed and bound if they prefer to use a print version. Please check with a librarian if vendors offer you OER for purchase.

How can I use OER in my courses?

The most common way instructors incorporate OER into more traditional in-person or online instruction is through the use of an open textbook. Open textbooks are written by experts in the field just like print textbooks, but have significant advantages over print including that the text is editable without requiring the release of an expensive new edition and that authors are not beholden to publishers when writing open textbooks. Typically, they go through just as vigorous a writing and review process as a print textbook would, but that process is disciplinarily determined rather than driven by profit.

Choosing an open textbook gives you more control as an instructor. Rather than choosing a text based on a respected author's name alone, you can review multiple texts before choosing the best one for your course. The links below will direct you to some of the largest open textbook publishers, but there are many more open textbooks freely available online. 

If you would like help choosing an open textbook to use in your courses, please contact your liaison librarian - we'd love to help you support your students' learning while saving them money!

Open Access Journals

OER also include open access (OA) journals, although OA research publishing is substantially more complicated than open textbook publishing. OA journals have several different levels of access typically based on what the author pays the publisher to have their article made freely available. The following links will direct you to some of the largest OA publishers, so if you're looking to read freely-available research that doesn't require an institutional login or if you're looking to publish your own research in an OA journal, these are a good place to start.