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Brief explanation of Open Access and Open Educational Resources



Funny tweet about textbook costs

Slide from “Textbook Affordability and OER” presentation by Elijah Scott, Executive Director of the Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative (FALSC)

OK - OA?


"Open Access Week 2013" by slubdresden is licensed under CC BY 2.0

(OA) Open-access

Jon Tennant describes Open Access as 

“the removal of major obstacles to accessing, sharing and re-using the outputs of scholarly research.” His article explains OA’s advantages in different arenas, for all involved parties. (Tennant JP, Waldner F, Jacques DC et al. The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review [version 3; peer review: 4 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. F1000Research 2016, 5:632 (

Here’s the definition of OA by the Budapest Open Initiative, one of many organizations working to promote and advocate for OA worldwide: 

By "open access" to this [research] literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution and the only role for copyright in this domain should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited. 

Relationship of OA & OER

OA & OER share our fundamental conviction that information should be freely shared. OA content, however, is different from OER.  

Both are FREE; they (usually) have a Creative Commons BY license for attribution, but authors/creators of open access materials consciously choose to publish openly because of their belief that knowledge should be freely shared. They not only want to share their work; they want you to use their research and then share your findings likewise. 

A big factor in the trend toward OA has been economic. The cost of access to research has become prohibitive. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) found that “the average cost of a serial subscription...increased by 315% from 1989 to 2003.” Ouch.  

“Scholarly publishing today” is from Unit 5.1 Open Access to Scholarship of the September 2020 Creative Commons Certificate for Educators and Librarians, by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0

There are two types of OA directories:  

For SCF students’ purposes, the most important distinction is that OA materials are articles and papers, predominantly scientific in nature. Authors present the results of their research with their hypotheses, conclusions, questions, ideas, etc. AND they also present their raw data in the spirit of collaboration for anyone to use for any purpose without restriction. 

For faculty and researchers, the old model of getting funding and then paying to publish their work is ludicrous. See the graphic below comparing the current outdated publishing model on top to the more efficient one used for OA below.

The pros & cons of two funding models

cost comparison graphic

Look, here’s the deal.... 

Research is funded by governments & institutions; researchers are not paid. Then researchers submit their work to publishers – again, without compensation. Oh, and the by the way, in so doing, they also hand over their right to copyright! Which can mean that they can no longer publish their own research on their own website! Publishers have researchers review each other's work...for free, again. Finally, if accepted, research is published in closed access journals, which means...wait for it...articles are inaccessible behind paywalls, so basically we all (yes, even researchers) have to pay (again) to read them. SCF is not a research university, but you can appreciate the iniquity of this system and understand the need for change.


"Quibble Over the Cloud" by beedieu is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

(OER) Open Educational Resources

Here’s a simple definition of OER from OER Comms: a coalition of North American open education advocates working on OER communication: 

OER are education materials that can be freely downloaded, edited, and shared to better serve all students.  

“OER and Open Textbooks” is from Unit 5.2 OER, Open Textbooks, and Open Courses of the September 2020 Creative Commons Certificate for Educators and Librarians, by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0


THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED - Open (FREE) Educational Resources! 

About a year ago FALSC (Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative) came to our Bradenton campus to give a presentation about the need for more open resources (presentation linked in box above). Some of the stats Elijah Scott (Executive Director of FALSC) shared with us were shocking. FALSC surveyed over 22,000 students at Florida’s public colleges and universities about the impact of textbook expenses. They found that more than 45% of students don’t register for a course they may need because of the cost of the textbook! Only 23% of respondents said financial aid covered all their textbooks. This may mean that:  

64% don’t buy required books 

43% take fewer courses 

41% don’t register for a course 

23% drop a course 

Students’ hardships affect us all directly. This is my perennial rant:


FALSC has developed training and guidelines for widespread adoption and has created a portal for discovery of resources.



This guide was created by carolyn zaput to inform and advise SCF faculty, students, professional staff, and administrators

about Open Access and Open Educational Resources.  

This guide, FREE RESOURCES – OA & OER, is licensed under a

Creative Commons BY Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).