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Copy of Eastern Cape Regional Library: OER

Eastern Cape Region Library Services

What are OER's ?

This guide provides insights to UNISA students and staff about the concepts of Open Access and Open Educational Resources, what they are, and why each is important to our research and Teaching & Learning activities.

What is Open Access?

According to SPARC, "Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment."¹

This means, according to the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), that users can "read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers."²

In contrast to the traditional journal publishing model, this means that research is accessible to all either through author-archived versions of articles that are placed in institutional repositories or other openly accessible websites, or directly through open access publications.


open access logo

"Open Access logo PLoS white" by
art designer at PLoS, modified by
Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, and
JakobVoss is dedicated to the public
domain, CC0 1.0.

The self-archiving option, wherein the author makes research available through an institutional repository, is known as Green OA. Making research available immediately through publication in an open access journal is known as Gold OA.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Creative Commons defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as "teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission"³ to use the resources in certain ways that might not otherwise be permitted under copyright law.

Creative Commons licenses allow a range of options for using OER, including (at a minimum) making, distributing, and retaining copies, but also potentially modifying the original work, and/or combining the content with other openly licensed materials.

Most definitions of OER include the ability to participate in all of the activities that open licensing allows. Under such definitions, only those resources that permit editing and remixing in addition to using, retaining, and sharing, would qualify as OER.

open educational resources sketch art

"OER is Sharing" by
Giulia Forsythe is dedicated to the public
domain, CC0 1.0.

Any resource used for research, teaching, or learning may be licensed by the creator of the content as an open educational resource; a syllabus, an assignment, a video, a test, can all be licensed openly. OER can be combined to create open textbooks and even open courses


1. "Open Access to Scholarly and Scientific Research Articles" by SPARC is licensed CC BY 3.0.

2 "BOAI15" by Budapest Open Access Initiative is licensed CC BY 3.0.

3 "Open Education" by Creative Commons is licensed CC BY 4.0.

"A Guide to Open Access and Open Educational Resources" is a derivative of the September 2019 Creative Commons Certificate Course by Creative Commons, licensed CC BY 4.0.
Jill Hallam-Miller adapted content from the Creative Commons Certificate Course Unit 5: Creative Commons for Librarians, adding it to her LibGuide.

4. A Guide to Open Access and Open Educational Resources by Jill Hallam-Miller is licensed under CC BY 4.0