Open Access: Finding OA resources

Open Educational Resources

Background Image: Retrieved from Pixabay. CC0.

5 R's of OER

The '5 R's of OER' were created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at: http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221

The 5'R's logo: BC Campus OER Student Toolkit and is published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Finding Open Access resources

Finding Open Access resources through a web search is not always the best approach.  Using curated collections of OA materials, and academic search engines or portals can focus your searching.

The DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) is a "community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals". The DOAB provides a similar directory for Open Access books.

BASE, from Bielefeld University Library, is a huge academic search engine providing access to over 150 million scholarly resources. About 60% of the content is Open Access full text.

PLOS is a leading Open Access publisher in science and medicine.

The Digital Commons Network provides an interactive, visual portal to find OA content by subject area, from the broad to the specific.

Some major publishers like Wiley, Taylor & Francis and Springer have a mix of subscription and Open Access content, and a Google Scholar search will help you find Open Access content.

Many Open Access publications are held in institutional and other repositories, like the VU Publications Repository. The Open DOAR project provides a directory of Open Access repositories from around the world.

Introduction to the VU Research Repository

For information about how to use the VU Research Repository to find Open Access content or to promote your own Open Access content see the introductory video below. 

Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) 'are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them' (UNESCO 2017).

OERs range in size and focus from entire courses, to individual units and online learning modules, Open Textbooks, videos, simulations, images, and music & audio files.

A little more on Creative Commons (CC)

Much of the OER material is made available under Creative Commons licences, applied by the creator/s and clearly indicating how the material can be used and reused.  Familiarising yourself with the CC licence conditions will help you select open educational materials that are fit for your purpose; whether you wish to use a resource as it is, or you wish to revise or remix an OER to better suit your teaching needs.

A question of quality

The onus for deciding whether a particular Open Educational Resource is of appropriate quality and suitability lies with the academic adopting the resource, in the same way that you would evaluate a published resource for its suitability.  There are a number of checklists and toolkits to assist you with this task (see the links to the left for an example). Of critical importance is checking the authority, accuracy, currency and relevance of each resource.

Why OERs matter