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Open Access and Open Educational Resources

Getting Started


This guide provides an overview of Open Educational Resources (OER) and open access content and how they can be used to benefit students.  Here you will find resources to help you create your own OER or revise and adopt existing OER. Check out the subject pages for subject specific OER content.

What's the Difference Between OA and OER?

Open Educational Resources are a sub-category of openly available content.  All Open Educational Resources are Open Access, but not all Open Access content is OER.

Open Access refers to content that is available to read/consume, free of cost, with no specifications about licensing or terms of reuse.

Open Educational Resources are OA content shared under any CC license (that does not prohibit derivatives) or is released into the public domain, typically created and shared for educational purposes.

About Open Access

What it means: Free to read.

Open Access (OA): OA is freely available online scholary research which allows anyone to read, download, copy, or distibute it.  OA content is not hidden behind a paywall.  Even though it may be free for readers, it's not entirely "free."  Authors or institutions sometimes need to pay a publisher in order for the content to be published OA.


What it doesn't mean: Free to modify or adapt.

OA content may still have copyright restrictions.  Just because you don't have to pay to access it, doesn't mean it is yours to adapt or republish.  Look for a copyright statement to determine usage permissions. 

A CC license means that you can reuse the content according to the applied license. 
All Rights Reserved means you need to view the copyright owner's terms of reuse or contact them to request permission.


Why OA?

Faculty: Increased availability of research means greater impact in the field.
Students: Stay up to date on research in your field after graduation at no cost.


A method of making content OA where earlier versions of a work can be shared outside of paywalls, often under an embargo.

Types of articles that can be made available via Green OA:

Pre-print: The accepted version of an manuscript before it has gone through peer-review or copy-editing.

Post-print: The final accepted version of a manuscript, after peer review, but before any copy-editing or formatting by a publisher.

Embargo: A period of time where the content is exclusively available through the publisher.  Embargoes can cover 12 month to 48 month periods.  Once the embargo has passed, the content can be shared in the version indicated in the publisher's reuse policies.


A method of making content OA where an Author Processing Charge, or APC is paid up front, either by the author submitting the work, the author's institution, or through grant funds. This payment is meant to offset the profit a publisher would have made through subscription fees.

Information sharing...

OA means that knowledge is made freely available to others, not hidden behind a paywall.  When readers aren't barred from accessing information by embargoes, lack of institutional access, or an inability to pay subscription fees, knowledge can be shared faster and more widely.

...leads to more knowledge...

This allows others to incorporate new information into their own work or act on the results of other researchers, allowing the scholarly conversation to progress unhindered.

...and more learning.

OA content allows faculty and students to have easy access to a wider range of materials that can support classroom learning and research.  Access to OA content may also allow institutions to redirect funds to other needs.

About Open Educational Resources



What it Means

Open Educational Resources are educational resources published or shared under a Creative Commons license (excluding those with no derivative clauses) or released into the public domain, allowing for adoption, modification, and redistribution of the content in service of learning.


Why OER?

Faculty: Content can be edited to fit course needs.

Students: OER is freely available. Textbooks would be no cost.

Education = Sharing

The internet has made it easy for information to be widely shared and increased the potential reach of educational materials, especially if they are made openly available under a CC-BY license.

Knowledge is a public good

Wider access to information benefits everyone!  The education of individuals in a society benefits the whole society. 

OER makes education accessible

We can make education more widely accessible by producing educational materials as well as whole courses that lack the financial barriers of traditional educational materials.

Customizability --> Accessibility

When creating digital content, considering the access needs of all people from the beginning of the creation process ensures that all people who may want/need to use the content are able to do so.

W3's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) include:
  • perceivable
  • operable
  • understandable
  • robust

CC BY Unless otherwise noted, content on this page is licensed under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.