This guide brings together information about Open Access Resources and Open Educational Resources. It aims to make Open Access resources easier to find and use for study, teaching and research.
Open Access (OA) refers to research publications, such as scholarly articles and journals, that have been made freely available so anyone can benefit from reading them and using their research.
OA makes research available to many more people than a subscription-only journal article does & there is evidence that this can lead to an increase in citations. OA also encourages public engagement with research, which is often paid for out of public money. It is also part of a wider ‘open’ movement to encourage free exchange of knowledge and resources in order to widen access and encourage creativity.
These resources can be reused and there is some scope for alteration.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available online materials that have been released by the copyright holder on an open licence permitting their use and re-purposing by others. Examples include, technical diagrams, lesson plans, lectures, teaching materials, and various other resources. OERs are available in many different formats compatible with online usage most obviously text, images, audio and video. OER encourages remixing and redistribution of the resource and covers a wider range of materials than OA.
Anyone with internet access can access and use OERs; access is not dependent on location or membership of a particular institution. OERs are particularly useful for researchers, teachers and learners. Educational institutions and providers enhance their websites by creating and maintaining access to OERs and service providers such as iTunes and SlideShare also have many OERs to offer.
OERs use Creative Commons (CC) licenses to ensure that materials can be used in a wide variety of ways e.g. edited, remixed, enhanced and copied.
Here at The University of Edinburgh, we believe that open educational resources play an important role in supporting our vision, purpose and values; to discover knowledge and make the world a better place, and to ensure our teaching and research is diverse, inclusive, accessible to all and relevant to society. To learn more about OERs at The University of Edinburgh you can visit https://open.ed.ac.uk the webpage for our Open Education Resources service.
Image: OER is sharing, by Giulia Forsythe, licensed CC0
Now that you're familiar with definitions of Open Access and OERs, you might find the following resources a helpful next step:
If you're looking for a particular type of content, use the navigation on the left of the screen to browse our pages dedicated to locating different types of open resources.
Source: art designer at PLoS, CC0 via Wikimedia Commons
Source: Jonathasmello, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Criticism of Open Educational Resources is diverse, motivated by varied anxieties and uncertainties, but also particular interests. Some of this criticism is justified and points to areas which need further work on the part of the OER community, or refer to specific OER projects. Visit OER Mythbusting to find out more.
This guide is designed to help researchers, students and staff at the University of Edinburgh to find Open Resources.
If you would like more information on how to publish your work as Open Access or an Open Educational Resource, you will find more information on the Research Support page.