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Open Access(OA) & OER: Pros and Cons of OA and OER

No matter how easy it is to access and/or use a work, you still need to give credit to the author, through attribution or citation.

OA For Students

Pros

  • Open Access improves access, so "under-resourced people" have access to the same knowledge as the "highly-resourced people".
  • As more journals, books, etc move to the Open Access model, Google Scholar comes closer to replacing expensive subscription databases like EBSCO and Gale. 
  • As Open Access proves that it can monitor and review articles with integrity, people will trust the OA journals more and use/publish more OA resources.

Cons

  • Some Open Access articles may not show up in Library Database searches; Students will need to look in more databases to do a comprehensive search.
  • Teachers may not feel confident that the Open Access journals are seriously peer-reviewed and may discourage students from using those titles.

Bottom line: Open Access is pressuring publishers to lower prices while the general public is happy to find more relevant articles and books available for free.

OER For Students

Pros

  • Free Textbooks
  • If the teacher engages in Open Pedagogy, the student may have a more productive active-learning experience.
  • Fewer books to haul around. Most OER is available electronically/on the internet.  

Cons

  • Not all subjects have great OER available.
  • Not all OER is available in multiple formats. Sometimes the OER chosen is hard to access if it does not have a format the student is familiar using. 
  • Version control is poor. Some titles of OER have multiple iterations (editions/adaptations) easily available, and it is hard to know what has changed and whether the version you are looking at is the same as what the teacher thinks you are looking at.
  • For students that like to read and mark a paper copy, there is the extra hassle of getting a printed copy.  

Bottom line: Free textbooks are the biggest plus

OA For Faculty

Pros

  • As more Open Access journals gain a reputation for stringent peer-review, the status of publishing in an OA journal will start to equal traditional publishing.
  • Articles published in Open Access Journals get more eyes 
  • More people can get easy free access, so Open Access articles get read and cited more often and sooner than traditionally published articles.

Cons

  • May not count for tenure eligibility.
  • Not all Open Access publishing is reliable.  (Same can be said for traditionally published articles.)
  • Faculty take a risk when publishing in Open Access if it is not respected or promoted in their field.

Bottom line: Faculty will not risk publishing in Open Access journals unless it is promoted by their peers or their bosses.

OER For Faculty

Pros

  • Increased flexibility to edit and control the OER textbook material.
  • Opportunity to share knowledge more easily. 
  • Because OER materials are free - More materials can be used in the course as supplemental examples of the concepts being taught.

Cons

  • Not all subjects have great OER available.
  • Not all OER is available in multiple formats. Sometimes the OER chosen is hard to access if it does not have a format the student is familiar using. 
  • Version control is poor. Some titles of OER have multiple iterations (editions/adaptations) easily available, and it is hard to know what has changed and whether the version you are looking at is the same as what the teacher thinks you are looking at.
  • Forces faculty to re-structure and re-create their course.
  • Learning a new way to do things can be uncomfortable.

Bottom line: Many faculty are excited about OER; others are not able to find the time or energy or passion to use OER.

Note

 Make a difference in your students' lives with free, openly-licensed textbooks.

Did you know? About 20% of Wisconsin households do not have access to the internet

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