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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Excelsior University Library Open Educational Resources: Evaluating OER

OER: What to Look For

Many of the criteria used to evaluate OER are the same as those used to evaluate any other educational materials. However, whereas you may already be familiar with several academic publishers' reputations for authority, accuracy, and quality of resources, you may wish to further investigate these aspects if the source is unknown to you. In addition, when evaluating OER, there may be special considerations, such as the type of license, and adaptability of the resource.

Start with an OER Evaluation Rubric

Further Reading

OER and Peer Review

Are OER Peer Reviewed?

Some OER are peer reviewed. Traditional publishers that openly license their content may employ a traditional, pre-publication peer review process. Some OER platforms, such as OpenStax, also employ a similar, pre-publication process. Other OER platforms, such as MERLOT, have a post-publication peer review.  

Crowdsourced (User) Reviews

Some OER platforms, such as the Open Textbook Library, that do not peer review materials, do include user reviews to help educators evaluate materials. Like other sites with product reviews, not all materials may have reviews, and little may be known about the reviewers' expertise. However, rubrics may be used to guide reviewers' feedback and make the reviews more useful.

Adapted from Quality Reviews by Dr. Meredith Heath Boulden on behalf of the University of Memphis Libraries under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Open Access vs. Predatory Publishing

Do authors "pay to publish" open access articles?

Many traditional publishers of Open Access journals do require an Article Processing Charge (APC). Essentially, instead of charging subscription fees to users, these publishers pass the cost of publishing to the authors. APCs can be in the thousands, or even over $10,000. Generally, more prestigious journals charge higher APCs. (APCs for publishing in the journal Nature are described here.) While authors sometimes pay out of pocket, these charges are also often covered through research grants or institutional funds.

What's the difference between "pay to publish" and "predatory" journals?

Many well-respected journals charge APCs, and, as noted above, more prestigious journals may charge higher APCs for open access publishing. This is different from, and should not be conflated with, predatory publishing. Predatory journals engage in unethical practices such as sham peer reviews or charging without ever publishing articles.

Consulting Beall's List of Potential Predatory Journals and Publishers is a good first step if you are concerned that a journal may be predatory.