ⓘ Open educational resources policy


ⓘ Open educational resources policy

Open educational resource policies are principles or tenets adopted by governing bodies in support of the use of open content - specifically open educational resources -- and practices in educational institutions. Such policies are emerging increasingly at the national, state/province, and local levels. Creative Commons defines policies as "legislation, institutional policies, and/or funder mandates that lead to the creation, increased use, and/or support for improving OER." OER are learning materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.


1. OER Policy Clearinghouses

Creative Commons hosts an open educational resources policy registry which lists 112 current and proposed open education policies from around the world.

Another resource for finding OER policies is the Open Educational Quality Initiative OPAL Best Practice Clearing House. The OPAL Initiative is a partnership between seven organizations including the International Council for Open and Distance Education ICDE, UNESCO, European Foundation for Quality, the Open University UK, Aalto University and the Catholic University Portugal. Led by the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, it is partly funded by the European Commission.


2. UNESCO OER Congress

On Friday 22 June 2012, the UNESCO World Open Educational Resources OER Congress released the 2012 Paris OER Declaration which called on governments to openly license publicly funded educational materials.

UNESCO member states unanimously approved the declaration, which highlights the importance of open educational resources and gives recommendations to governments and institutions around the globe.


3. Policies adopted by national councils of education

On January 17, 2014, the Council on Higher Education in South Africa published a White Paper for Post-School Education and Training. This paper emphasized open learning principles and set the stage for supporting national efforts to design and develop high-quality open educational resources. In response the University of South Africa UNISA - one of the founding partners of the OERu network and a member of the 2012 Unesco OER conference in Paris - approved an Open Educational Resource OER Strategy in March 2014.


4. Policies adopted by research universities

An open-access policy enacted by the Faculty of a research university can empower them in choosing how to distribute their own scholarly work. If a faculty member wishes to grant exclusive rights to a publisher, they would first need to request a waiver from their faculty governance body. Some reasons to implement this kind of policy institution-wide are to:

  • individual faculty receive their institutions full support in a unified action to work with publishers to simplify procedures and broaden access to their scholarly work allowing for greater possibilities for citations of their work - important for hiring, tenure and promotion decisions,
  • take advantage of scholarly interactions with a greater diversity of readers, not just those who can afford to purchase the information from a vendor or attend an academic conference.
  • increase the overall impact of an institutions research contributions to the global knowledge economy,

This kind of blanket policy provides support to those whose research is not part of a project that requires open access to the research done. For example, since the February 2013 directive from the United States Office of Science and Technology Policy, U.S. federal agencies have been developing their own policies on making research freely available within a year of publication.

SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, led the collaborative and open effort to create an "Open Access Spectrum" that demonstrates a more sophisticated approach is needed in discussions about the concept of openness in research communications. The "HowOpenIsIt? Guide as well as an FAQ document and slide deck is available for download on the SPARC website. Another useful guide has been developed by members of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, the Harvard Open Access Project, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. This online guide, "Good practices for university open-access policies" is built on a wiki and is designed to evolve over time, according to the co-authors: Emily Kilcer, Stuart Shieber and Peter Suber.


4.1. Policies adopted by research universities California Institute of Technology

On June 10, 2013, the Faculty Board of the California Institute of Technology Caltech created an institution-wide Open Access Policy. The ruling stated that as of January 1, 2014, all Caltech faculty must agree to grant nonexclusive rights to Caltech to disseminate their scholarly papers either via the authors own sites or to Caltech AUTHORS, the online repository. The goal is to encourage wider distribution of their work and to simplify the copyright process when posting research on faculty or institutional Web sites. The initiative was put in place to prevent publishers of those journals from threatening legal action or issuing takedown notices to authors who have posted their content on their own sites or to CaltechAUTHORS, an online repository for research papers authored by Caltech faculty and other researchers at Caltech.


4.2. Policies adopted by research universities Duke University

On March 21, 2010, the Duke University Academic Council voted to support the University Librarys new data repository, DukeSpace, with a blanket policy to provide open access to their scholarly writings. The policy allows for faculty members to opt out at any time, and it is regularly reviewed to determine its effectiveness.

Duke also in 2010 joined the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity COPE and established a fund to help Duke faculty members to cover any author fees required to publish in open access journals.


4.3. Policies adopted by research universities Harvard University

On February 12, 2008, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University approved their Open Access Policy, granting to the President and Fellows of Harvard to "make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. in a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license." Since then, several other schools within the University now participate in the Open Access Policies supported by the Office for Scholarly Communication: the Graduate School of Design, the School of Education, the Business School, the Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, the Divinity School, and the School of Public Health. The Universitys open-access repository is called DASH Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard which is where the faculty upload their scholarly articles for access by all.


4.4. Policies adopted by research universities Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Adopted by a unanimous vote on March 18, 2009, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Faculty adopted an open access policy. The policy applies to "all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy." The MIT online repository is called DSpace MIT and it was designed to work seamlessly with Google Scholar. The Faculty revised and updated the policy in 2010 to take into consideration the various issues associated with the MIT librarians discussions with publishers.


4.5. Policies adopted by research universities Princeton University

In 2010 the Dean of the Faculty of Princeton University appointed an ad-hoc committee of faculty and the University Librarian to study the question of open access to faculty publications - and in March 2011, the committee recommended several changes to the Faculty rules to allow for a blanket policy for open access to Princeton faculty scholarship. The faculty approved an open access policy on September 19, 2011, which was last revised in January 2012.


4.6. Policies adopted by research universities Stanford University

On June 26, 2008, the Stanford University Graduate School of Education GSE were the first in that school to grant permission to the University to make their scholarly articles publicly accessible and to exercise the copyright in a "nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license. provided that the articles are properly attributed to the authors not sold for a profit." The GSE Open Archive houses and makes publicly available the GSE authors working papers as well as published articles. Between May 21-24th, 2013, the Stanford GSE doctoral students voted in favor of a motion to enact an Open Access policy. At this time, however, despite the strong case made by Professors John Willinsky and Juan Pablo Alperin, no other Stanford academic units have stepped forward.


4.7. Policies adopted by research universities University of California

On July 24, 2013, the Academic Senate of the University of California UC approved the UC Open Access Policy for all 8.000 plus faculty at their ten campuses. Some confusion at the local campuses led to online postings of journal articles whose copyright was already owned by publishers. For example, in December 2013, the academic publishing company Elsevier sent several UC faculty notices to take down certain journal articles posted openly on their campus webpages, e.g., on the department websites or faculty profiles. The UC Open Access Policy protected those faculty who had correctly uploaded their articles to the UC eScholarship repository. In another case of misunderstanding by the faculty about open access, in March 2014 the University received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act DMCA takedown notice for nine articles owned by the American Society for Civil Engineers ASCE. The UC faculty authors had uploaded to eScholarship the publisher-formatted articles between 2004 and 2008, before the UC Open Access Policy had been enacted and in violation of the publishers agreement with the authors when they gave their copyrights to the ASCE.


4.8. Policies adopted by research universities University of Colorado Boulder

In 2014 the Faculty Assembly of the University of Colorado Boulder approved the CU Boulder Open Access Policy "in order to allow for broad dissemination of their research." They granted to The Regents of the University of Colorado "a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to their scholarly work, as long as the works are properly attributed to the authors and not used for commercial purposes" - and that the individual faculty would retain full ownership of the material. Authors at UC Boulder are expected to inform publishers about the Universitys policy and that they "have granted a pre-existing License." The digital repository, CU Scholar, is maintained by the University Libraries and functions under a set of policies derived from the Open Access Policy. Contributions from the CU Boulder community can include working papers and technical reports, published scholarly research articles, completed manuscripts, digital art or multimedia, conference papers and proceedings, theses and dissertations, Undergraduate Honors theses, journals published on campus, faculty course-related output primarily of scholarly interest, and data sets. The Chancellors Executive Committee recently approved the new policy, following the lead of the Council of Deans and the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.


4.9. Policies adopted by research universities University of Kansas

In 2005 the University of Kansas KU created KU ScholarWorks, a digital repository for scholarly work created by KU faculty and staff. Faculty Senate President Lisa Wolf-Wendel, professor of education leadership and policy studies, approved a new policy, "Open Access Policy for University of Kansas Scholarship" on April 30, 2009, in order to provide the broadest possible access to the journal literature authored by KU faculty." In June 2009, under a faculty-initiated policy approved by Chancellor Robert Hemenway, KU became the first U.S. public university to implement an open access policy. Unless a KU author sought a waiver, all articles must be submitted to KU ScholarWorks. "Processes to Implement the KU Open Access Policy" were endorsed by the Faculty Senate in February 2010. Theses and dissertations at the University of Kansas are also openly available, however in 2010 KU Graduate Studies established a policy that a student may request permission to embargo its publication for six months, one year or two years. Graduates earning the KU Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing or PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing track may request a permanent embargo.


4.10. Policies adopted by research universities United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Higher Education Funding Council for England HEFCE subsidized the JISC Academy Open Educational Resources Programme. JISC refers to a membership organization that provides digital solutions for United Kingdom education and research initiatives. The JISC/HE OER Programme Phase 3 from October 2011 – October 2012 was meant to build on sustainable procedure indicated in the first two phases eventually expanding in new directions that connect Open Educational Resources to other fields of work. This third phase involved important stakeholders emphasizing fresh challenges and insights about the effect of OER and Open Educational Practice.

During this stage, the concept of electronic books and Massive Open Online Courses MOOC also emerged. MOOCs offer courses at the University level without having to finish the whole programme. Many students get the chance to study premium courses online frequently at no cost. HEFCE made significant investments through the JISC and Academy from 2009 until 2012. The objective was to encourage sharing and reusing of resources which provide benefits to higher education in the United Kingdom. More than 80 projects obtained funding during the UK OER Programme. Substantial investments were channelled towards the development of Open Educational Resources even as the benefits for stakeholders have not been explained properly. Sufficient evidence is needed to prove this point. One criticism is that many such programmes are not technically and educationally accessible to a worldwide audience.


5. Additional Resources

  • Russell, Andrew L. 2014. Open standards and the digital age: history, ideology, and networks. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107612044.
  • Baker, Gavin January 2010. "Open access: Advice on working with faculty senates". College & Research Libraries News. 71 1: 21–24. doi:10.5860/crln.71.1.8305. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  • "Open Access". Center for Faculty Initiatives and Advancement, University of Kansas Libraries. The University of Kansas. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  • Jasmine McNealy 27 March 2014. "Andrew L. Russell on "Open Standards in the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks" Cambridge University Press, 2014". New Books in Technology: Discussions with Technologists about Their New Books Podcast. New Books Network. Retrieved 28 March 2014.