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What are Open Education Resources?

Flying books on a green background

Why Publish OERs?

Why publish your own OER resources?

An important way that faculty members can support the push for a more equitable education resource landscape is by publishing their own Open Educational Resources (OER). 

The video below explores the benefits of authors choosing to publish OERs: 

Writing your own OER - a brief introduction

How to publish an OER

The following is intended as an introduction to some of the most important aspects to consider when exploring this. It will equip you with the basic knowledge you need to begin the process of publishing an OER and guide you to further support. 

Where to publish

OERs can be published by an established press or they can be self-published. When self-publishing, OERs are often made freely available through an institutional repository or an online platform like OER Commons.  

To familiarise yourself with Open Access book publishers, you can begin by using the directories and lists here in OAPEN’s Open Access Books Toolkit for authors. 

Some things to consider:

  • Cost:

Many publishers charge considerable fees for publishing an open access book or textbook. The College does not have a fund for covering such fees on your behalf. If you have no recourse to other funds, you may wish to explore some of the excellent Diamond Open Access publishers who publish open access resources with no cost to the author.

  • Peer-review:

OERs, like any publication, should be subject to a robust peer-review process. What peer-review processes are used at the publishers you are considering?

  • Licensing:

What licenses will the publisher allow for your work? Read on to learn more about licensing for OERs. 

  • Format:

What format will your OER be published in? A key benefit of OERs is that they can be modified to suit the needs of other users and be kept easily up to date. PDFs and many e-readers make this difficult, so check what arrangements publishers will put in place to facilitate this. You may like to consider whether they will also produce a print version of your work. 

  • Discoverability:

Will the publisher promote and make your OER widely available? You should check whether other publications they have produced are easy to find online. For example, are they available in the Directory of Open Access Books or the Open Textbook Library?

This section draws on information in OAPEN (2023). 



The cornerstone of OER publishing is licensing. The license you choose for your work determines how readily it can be shared and modified.  
OERs are typically published under the terms of a Creative Commons license – a standardised copyright license that outlines the terms under which a work can be shared and re-used (Falldin and Lauritsen, 2017, ch 2).

When publishing an OER you should consider the common options summarised in the next section below. CC BY (Attribution) is the Gold Standard in open access publishing and places the least restrictions on the sharing and modification of your work. 

Creative Commons Licences

The license summaries below are taken from Creative Commons (n.d.).

Defining and writing your OER

Designing and Writing your OER

The process of writing and producing a textbook can be complex. There are excellent guides available online which offer detailed advice on the various stages of planning and writing your OER: 


  • Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen (2017), Authoring Open Textbooks, Open Educational Network – This online guide provides detailed yet digestible advice on all the stages of producing OER textbooks in a series of short chapters 



  • Cheryl Cuillier et al (2016), Modifying an Open Textbook: What you need to know, Open Education Network – If you are thinking of revising an existing OER rather than producing a new one from scratch, this online guide gives a helpful overview of important things to consider. 


You may find the checklist below helpful, which is reproduced with some modifications from chapter 3 of Fallidin and Lauritsen (2017):


Producing your own OER – a checklist

Stage 1 - defining and understanding open textbooks

1. Familiarize yourself with open licenses if you haven’t already. Select which license you’d like to use. 

2. Learn where to find openly licensed material you can use. Librarians can help! You can also search Google by license. If you will be creating material (photos, for example) consider how to openly share those assets with others (like Flickr). 

Stage 2 - institutional considerations

3. Decide where you plan to share your completed open textbook and what those repositories, libraries or publishers may require. 

4. Consider who may be able to offer help at your institution.  

5. If working with others, take the time to meet and clarify expectations and roles. Draft and sign a contract or MOU. 

6. Develop a timeline for textbook production. Include writing time as well as editing, proofreading and peer review time. 

Stage 3 - textbook organization

7. Develop a plan for your textbook’s design, including how you want to define the content and element structure. Each chapter needs to be consistent with the next so that students know what to expect. 

Stage 4 - authoring framework

8. Decide which style guide you’d like to use for your textbook and use it as a reference. 

9. Commit to making your textbook accessible for a range of students. 

10. Make a plan for how you’re going to handle updates and revisions so that your textbook stays up-to-date. 

11. Create a list of peers who are willing to review your textbook and offer constructive feedback. 

Stage 5 - community & tools

12. Find a community who can support your work. Decide which tool or tools may be helpful for writing your textbook. This may differ depending on whether you’re writing solo or with others. 

13. Survey which publishing tools look like a good fit for your textbook. Consider their capabilities related to your planned textbook content and elements. 

14. Jump in! 

How do I find Open Education Resources?

This guide provides some information on how to find Open Educational Resources. There are lots of places that you can find OERs, including textbook repositories, databases, or popular multimedia platforms. The lists provided below, while not comprehensive, can be used as a starting point for finding resources.

Tips for Searching

  1. If you are unsure where to start, use a platform that searches content across multiple repositories, such as OpenDOAR.
  2. Start with broad terms (for example, ‘psychology’ rather than specific terms such as ‘mental disorders’) and narrow your results down from there.
  3. Think about alternative terms within the discipline you are searching. You could find some potential alternatives in the module syllabus or from a current textbook’s table of contents. 
  4. If you are struggling to find relevant results, where available you could try the ‘Advanced search’ feature, or instead search via a browse feature to filter by subject area.
  5. Make a record of any search terms which produce useful results. As new OERs are being created all the time, you may want to check back regularly for recently added resources. 

The process of searching for OER

Let the searc begin

This section has been adapted from COERLL (n.d)  ‘How to Search for Openly Licensed Educational Resources’ by the University of Texas at Austin. See link to accessible pdf and reference below.

Recommended Sources for Open Education Resources

[link to Open Access resources table here aswell]

How do I critically evaluate Open Education Resources?

Once you have identified some potential Open Education Resources for use, you should evaluate these to make sure they are suitable for your needs.

There are many strengths when adopting OERs, which have been explored in the previous section, but the practice of critical evaluation is also important. With traditionally published resources, the publisher is responsible for ensuring a high standard through their proofreading and editing process. With OERs, there is more responsibility on the selector to ensure standards are met and that the resource will meet your teaching and learning objectives.

There are many further resources and checklists available regarding the evaluation of OERs, a selection of these is given below:  

Achieve has developed eight rubrics in collaboration with leaders from the OER community to assist teachers and users in evaluating the quality of instructional resources. They have partnered with OER Commons to develop an online evaluation tool which applies these rubrics to resources.  

Affordable Learning Georgia – Selection Criteria 
The criteria provided here are intended to assist faculty and departments in evaluating the instructional quality of both existing and newly-created open textbooks and open ancillary materials.  

Creative Commons Licences 
For more information on how to confirm whether something is licensed for use, please refer to the information here. In addition, if you are using an OER and need to attribute the author, the Creative Commons Wiki page details best practice for attribution.  

OER Accessibility Toolkit 
The goal of the OER Accessibility Toolkit is to provide the needed resources to each content creator, instructor, instructional designer, educational technologist, librarian, administrator, and teaching assistant to create a truly open and accessible educational resource — one that is accessible for all students. 

The OER Starter Kit 
This starter kit has been created to provide instructors with an introduction to the use and creation of open educational resources (OER). The text is broken into five sections: Getting Started, Copyright, Finding OER, Teaching with OER, and Creating OER. 

Youtube OER Bootcamp series 
This Youtube playlist provides a bootcamp on Open Educational Resources, from defining OERs through to their evaluation, including specific videos on Usability and Accessibility.  


Thank You - References and Credits