Open for Whom? Open Access Week 2019

Open Access Week is upon us and this year’s theme, “Open for Whom?” has us investigating how open access benefits the student population here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. According to the Open Access Week official blog, this theme is meant to start a conversation on “whose interests are being prioritized in the actions we take and the platforms we support” towards open access. They raise an important question: Are we supporting not only open access but also equitable participation in research communication?

To explore this question on our campus, on Monday morning, we set out on an initiative to see how much our students are paying for textbooks this semester and asked how free, open textbooks would help them. How might having access to open educational resources such as textbooks help our student body participate in research communication and the academic community of the University?

At the four major libraries across campus, posters were set up for students to anonymously indicate how much money they have spent on textbooks this semester. They did this by placing a sticker dot on the poster that best fit their expense range, as pictured below. Alongside each poster was a whiteboard with an open question that students could answer: “How would free, open textbooks help you?”

Grainger Engineering Library "How much did you spend on textbooks this semester?" Results

Grainger Engineering Library Results

By Tuesday afternoon these boards were filling up with answers from students. While this was an open board to post their thoughts, of course, we had some humorous answers including: “More money for coffee, “I would cry less,” and “More McChicken.” However, despite the occasional joke, the majority of the answers focused on saving money. Many students commented on the tremendous cost of higher education and not only the high prices of textbooks but the additional costs of supplemental online workbooks provided by Chegg, WebAssign, or McGraw Hill – Connect. Students agreed that textbooks as resources for their education should be free and available. A worrying result of these discussion boards was students sharing the ways in which they illegally access textbooks in lieu of purchasing them; many sharing links to illegitimate websites.

Comments on the discussion board at Grainger Engineering Library

Comments on the discussion board at Grainger Engineering Library

Comments on the question "How would free, open textbooks help you?" in the Undergraduate Library

Comments on discussion board at the Undergraduate Library

Comments on the question "How would free, open textbooks help you?" in the Main Library

Comments on discussion board at the Main Library

So, open for whom? Open Access Resources (OER) offer a more affordable option for students and educators to access a quality educational experience. The Open Textbook Library describes open access textbooks as “funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed” and open for everyone’s use. Higher education institutions are gearing towards OER instead of requiring traditional textbooks and for students who are choosing between paying rent or purchasing textbooks, this can be life-changing.

Learn more about Open Educational Resources and how to find, evaluate, use and adapt OER materials for your needs.

What are you thoughts?

 

Open Access Textbook Resources

OER Commons – Open Textbooks

Punctum Books

Open Access Week News Round-Up

Photograph of President John F. Kennedy speaking at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, 22 November 1963.

Photograph of President John F. Kennedy speaking at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, 22 November 1963. Courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.

In honor of Open Access week, graduate assistants at Scholarly Communications and Publishing compiled a round-up of some breaking news stories related to Open Access!


The​ ​remaining​ ​JFK​ ​Assassination​ ​Records​ ​will​ ​be​ ​made​ ​available​ ​this​ ​week.​​ ​On​ ​October 26,​ ​1992,​ ​the​ ​first​ ​President​ ​Bush​ ​signed​ ​the​ ​JFK​ ​Assassination​ ​Records​ ​Collection​ ​Act, stipulating​ ​that​ ​all​ ​withheld​ ​records​ ​should​ ​be​ ​released​ ​within​ ​25​ ​years.​ ​We’re​ ​coming​ ​up​ ​on​ ​that day.​ ​​See​ ​the​ ​records​ ​released​ ​so​ ​far​​ ​or​ ​​learn​ ​more​ ​about​ ​the​ ​records​​ ​from​ ​the​ ​National Archives.

Stephen​ ​Hawking’s​ ​doctoral​ ​thesis​ ​is​ ​now​ ​openly​ ​available​​ ​through​ ​the​ ​Cambridge University​ ​institutional​ ​repository,​ ​Apollo.​ ​​According​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Guardian​,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​already​ ​Apollo’s most-downloaded​ ​item.​ ​Read​ ​​Properties​ of​ Expanding​ Universes​​ ​yourself,​ ​or​ ​explore​ ​Illinois’ institutional​ ​repository,​ ​​IDEALS​,​ ​for​ ​more​ ​open-access​ ​scholarship.

Five​ ​German​ ​researchers​ ​have​ ​resigned​ ​from​ ​editorial​ ​positions​ ​at​ ​Elsevier​ ​journals​ ​over open​ ​access​ ​disputes.​​ ​​According​ ​to​ ​Science​,​ ​“The​ ​researchers​ ​want​ ​Elsevier​ ​to​ ​accept​ ​a​ ​new payment​ ​model​ ​that​ ​would​ ​make​ ​all​ ​papers​ ​authored​ ​by​ ​Germany-based​ ​researchers​ ​open access.”​ ​The​ ​leaders​ ​of​ ​Projekt​ ​DEAL,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​organizing​ ​the​ ​protest,​ ​expect​ ​the​ ​number​ ​to grow.​ ​See​ ​also​ ​​Elsevier’s​ ​guide​ ​to​ ​publishing​ ​open​ ​access​ ​in​ ​Elsevier​ ​journals​.​ ​IDEALS encourages​ ​authors​ ​to​ ​negotiate​ ​for​ ​the​ ​right​ ​to​ ​publish​ ​open​ ​access.

Learn more about Open Access at the University of Illinois.

Open Educational Resources: Who’s Paying?

A stack of books.

This post was guest authored by Scholarly Communication and Publishing Graduate Assistant Paige Kuester.


Who wants free textbooks? If you’re a student, you probably just jumped out of your seat, depending on how much you have spent on books during your college career. According to an article in The Capital Times, one study has shown that the majority of students have not bought a textbook for a course because of its high price.

If you’re not a student, and especially if you’re a faculty member, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the catch?” You know that everything has its price, and in this case, you’re right.

So what are we talking about?

According to the article “Breaking free: To save students money, colleges are looking to the Open Educational Resources movement,” there is a trend among higher ed to provide open access resources to students instead of requiring traditional textbooks. Though the article cites that during 2015 and 2016, only 5.3 percent of courses across the country used open education resources, this is likely to increase in the coming years.

Open educational resources are just what they sound like: books are other items whose copyright makes them available online openly for educational purposes. Since books and materials are open, they can be shared between different institutions and updated more easily than a physical textbook. They can also be reused, revised, and remixed with other material to suit a professor’s needs.

But someone has to pay, right?

Right. In the case of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the school that is the focus of the article, the burden falls on the professors and instructors. Kristopher Olds, a professor of geography featured in the article, seized the opportunity to create an open textbook when it was presented with him, but it paying for it by patching together small grants, sabbatical funds, and other resources, and volunteering some of his own time. He feels his effort is worth it; however, after realizing that his students were not buying the expensive book he was assigning or were getting outdated information from older textbooks.

Surprisingly, Olds does not say that funding is one of the main barriers to institutions and professors implementing OER, but actually, awareness about OER and how to use them are bigger problems. However, the landscape is changing as knowledge about this type of resource spreads.

Here at the University of Illinois, we are encouraging professors and instructors to look into this facet of teaching. The University has just joined the Open Textbook Network, but data has not yet been gathered about its implementation on campus. Over the next few years, the library will be putting out more initiatives for OER as a part of joining the OTN. The Office of Information Literacy has put out a guide for helping instructors understand what it OER, how to use it, and how to find resources. Learn more at the Open Educational Resources LibGuide.

Schneider, P. (2017, August 9). Breaking free: To save students colleges are looking to the Open Educational Resource movement. The Cap Times. Retrieved from http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/education/university/breaking-free-to-save-students-money-colleges-are-looking-to/article_eebc0888-2f1f-5faf-ace3-6264b52b8512.html

Open Access Week at the University of Illinois Library

It’s that time of year again! Open Access Week is October 23-27, and the University of Illinois Library is excited to participate. Open Access Week is an international event where the academic and research community come together to learn about Open Access and to share that knowledge with others. In its eighth year, the U of I Library has a great week of events planned!

  • Monday: Workshop: “A Crash Course in Open Access”, 12-1 PM, 314 Main Library
  • Tuesday: Workshop: Open Access Publishing and You, 12-1 PM, 314 Main Library
  • Wednesday: Workshop: Managing Your Copyright and Author’s Rights, 12-1 PM, 314 Main Library
  • Thursday: Scholarly Communication Interest Group Kickoff meeting, 12-1 PM, 106 Main Library
  • Friday: Workshop: Sharing Your Research with ORCiDs, DOIs, and open data repositories, 12-1 PM, 314 Main Library

Fore more information on open access, visit the Scholarly Communication and Publishing website.