Which Open Is Which?

Happy Open Access Week! In celebration of OA Week 2022, as well as the upcoming spooky holiday, we’re excited to share a post from Jill Cirasella, Associate Librarian for Scholarly Communication at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Jill is one of the Curators for materials in the Scholarly Communication Notebook. For the past year Jill has been gathering open resources related to open access. Read on to learn more about the Curators’ work, the landscape of OA-focused OER, and to see some highlights from her collection. Here’s Jill:

Next week, on Halloween, you might have cause to ask, “Which witch is which?” In fact, there are numerous books with that title, so you might even find yourself wondering, “Which Which Witch Is Which is which?” But this week it’s Open Access Week, so this week let’s consider, “Which open is which?”

In my work as a scholarly communication librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center, I am immersed in both open access (OA) and open educational resources (OER). I regularly rattle off their definitions and discuss their commonalities and differences with our students, who are both graduate students and instructors of undergraduates. Nevertheless, while curating OERs for the Open Access collection of the Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN) hub on OER Commons, I often had to step back, pause, and ponder, “Which open is which? Which open is this?”

It wasn’t hard to recall my favorite open resources about OA, and it also wasn’t hard to find additional ones that were new to me. But which of those open resources are open educational resources? Thinking through that question was surprisingly hard! And it reminded me that those definitions I so readily recite are deceptively simple distillations of complex realms.

How complex does it get? Consider these concentric circles of openness:

  • There are many works on the topic of OA. (Of course, there’s plenty of debate about what “open access” does and does not denote, but that’s a different issue.)
  • Some (but alas not all) of the works about OA are themselves OA.
  • Some of the OA works about OA are explicitly educational in nature, or could conceivably be used in an educational setting or for independent learning about OA.
  • And then some of the educational OA works about OA are licensed with an OER-compatible Creative Commons license (i.e., a Creative Commons license that does not include the NoDerivatives (ND) clause).
  • And, finally, some of those works have that extra dollop of OER-ness: some kind of “pedagogical apparatus” (exercise, assignment, quiz, discussion questions, etc.) that makes the resource ready for other instructors to deploy in, or adapt for, their classrooms.

I was unfamiliar with the term “pedagogical apparatus” (it’s a mouthful, but a meaningful one!) until undertaking this project—hat tip to SCN co-PIs Josh, Maria, and Will for introducing me to it and for urging the SCN curators to seek resources with that additional component. I did identify and include some such resources (e.g., materials for the workshop Open Access: Strategies and Tools for Life after College and for the full course Open Science: Sharing Your Research with the World). I also included some resources where the pedagogical opportunities are implied rather than explicit (e.g., search the Directory of Open Access Journals, edit the Open Access Directory, or apply Think. Check. Submit.). But I also included some resources with OER-compatible licenses that are “merely” educational OA works about OA (i.e., resources that fall under the second-to-last bullet above). Though lacking any pedagogical apparatus, they are so informative and clear that they would make excellent additions to course syllabi or self-study lists (e.g., the book Open Access and the video Open Access Explained!).

However, I can’t claim credit for adding all of the works that appear in the Open Access collection. In order for a resource to appear in the collection, a few different things must happen. In some cases, I identified a resource that wasn’t in the collection and deliberately performed the necessary step(s) to add it. In other cases, different people interacted with a resource in different ways, and—voilà!—the resource appeared in the collection. It’s not quantum entanglement, but there’s still a hint of “spooky action at a distance.”

So, while I add to the collection, I also learn from it. In particular, I learn each time a new SCN-funded OER pertaining to OA appears in the collection as a result of the wisdom, work, and curatorial clicks of others. For example, I have been delighted to discover these SCN-funded projects in the collection: Open Access Publishing Biases by Chelsee Dickson and Christina Holm; Labor Equity in Open Science by CJ Garcia and Anali Maughan Perry; and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications Outreach by Camille Thomas.

Needless to say, then, the collection is not yet finished. It will continue to grow through both my curation and the actions of others. Or, bringing us back to Halloween, “It’s alive!!!

Want to suggest an OER about OA for inclusion? Let me know at jcirasella@gc.cuny.edu!

New to the SCN: LIS Teaching OER Toolkit

This is the latest post in a series announcing resources created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN. The SCN is a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS funded the SCN in 2019, permitting us to pay creators for their labor while building a solid initial collection. These works are the result of one of three calls for proposals (our first CFP was issued in fall 2020; the second in late spring ‘21, and the third in late fall 2021).

Today we’re excited to share “OER for LIS: Toolkit for Building and OER Librarian Course” (available in the SCN OER Commons Hub). This work was created by Steven Bell, who has extensive experience working to advance OER and teaching about it. As we are interested in using open materials to support LIS instruction on topics like OER, this project was right up our alley. Steven has compiled and openly licensed his complete course materials to support LIS instruction on OER. Here’s Steven to introduce OER for LIS:

The beauty of the open education community is its inclusiveness. All are welcome to join the effort to advance openness in education at all levels. One segment within the community of library workers has yet to take hold of this invitation – students enrolled in master’s degree programs in library and information science (LIS). This is through no fault of their own. In their pursuit of the degree these aspiring librarians, especially those seeking positions in college and university libraries, are rarely exposed to the world of open education and Open Education Resources (OER).

More than a few of the approximately 52 American Library Association accredited programs offer a scholarly communications course. Students may be exposed to OER concepts and resources as part of a much broader set of ideas, resources and practices. It is hardly enough to do more than whet their appetite for a deeper dive into the world of open education. That can now change at scale, if more LIS program faculty wish to take advantage of a new opportunity.

New to the Scholarly Communications Notebook is my open resource OER for LIS: Toolkit for Building an OER Librarianship Course. It is based on the Open Education Librarianship course I have taught for four years for the San Jose State University iSchool program. Designed from scratch as an asynchronous course, now any LIS instructor can adopt or modify the entire course to create a similar course within their own program. This article published in the International Journal of Open Education Resources provides detail on the origins and development of the course, as well as student responses to what the course delivers.

The Toolkit provides all the necessary materials, including a syllabus, lecture slides, video lectures, assignments, assignment rubrics, weekly discussion board topics, weekly quizzes, required and recommended readings/videos and supplement course materials such as a resource list, course success tips, instructor’s welcome video and more. While all of this could be adopted as is, my expectation is that other LIS educators will want to customize the materials to better suit their needs. Think of the Toolkit as a starting point, not unlike a blank canvas, awaiting the next owner’s personal creative touch.

To be sure, there are other paths for learning the theory and practice of open education for librarians. Both SPARC and the Open Education Network offer excellent programs for current librarians who wish to develop or enhance their OER skills and leadership capability. There are several outstanding open texts for learning both basic and advanced concepts and practices that are the domain of Open Education Librarians. None of those is quite geared to the needs of LIS program students who must learn the skills within the structure of a credit-earning course. That is a gap I sought to remedy when I first introduced this course in 2020. Now, with the introduction of this Toolkit, I invite other LIS faculty to help continue the work of closing the gap, and instead, fully bring our LIS student community into the world of open education.

About the Author

Steven Bell, associate university librarian at Temple University Libraries is a long-time advocate for open education. In addition to numerous articles and presentations on open education projects, his contributions include serving on SPARC’s Open Education Advisory Board, mentoring participants of SPARC’s Open Education Leadership Program and serving on the Executive Board of Affordable Learning Pennsylvania. Steven currently serves as an adjunct instructor for the San Jose State University iSchool, and regularly contributes blog posts to the Charleston Hub. You can learn more about Steven at stevenbell.info

How to Add Content to the Scholarly Communication Notebook

The Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN) is a hub of open teaching and learning content scoped to topics directly relevant to scholarly communication librarianship, such as copyright, open access, open education, open data, scholarly sharing, and research impact. Presently available formats of SCN content include curricular and lesson plans, slides, games, exercises, A/V resources, and introductory texts, but almost anything topical that is digital and openly-licensed is fair game for inclusion. We’ve populated it initially by sponsoring the creation of content as well as curating existing resources. We also mean for librarians, LIS faculty, and LIS students, and related allies (instructional designers working in open education, and open publishers, for example) to be able to contribute resources if they wish, either their own creations or existing open work by others. Doing so is easy, and very welcome, so here’s how:

Step 1: Add Content to the OER Commons

The first step to getting new work into the SCN is adding it to OER Commons.  The SCN is a Hub built in OER Commons by ISKME. Adding content to OER Commons (https://www.oercommons.org/) is simple, but first you must create a free OER Commons profile (see How to create a profile in OER Commons).

After creating your profile, you can add content either by creating it in their Open Author tool or using “Submit from Web.”  If you would like to use the first method, the OER Commons provides instructions for using the Open Author tool.  For the most part, we have added content by submitting from the web, which entails adding a link and descriptive information. Either method is fine. Whichever you choose, please be thoughtful about providing the most complete and accurate descriptive metadata possible.

Screen capture of OER Commons banner, highlighting green "Add OER" button with red arrow.
The “Add OER” Button is at the top and slightly right of center on the OER Commons home page, oercommons.org.
Screen cap detail of the "Add OER" options, the Open Author tool and "Submit from Web"
Resources may be added to OER Commons via the Open Author tool or by submitting them from the web.

To deposit via link, click the green “Add OER” button, and then click the “Add Link” button that appears under “Submit from Web.” In Step 1, enter the resource’s URL. In Step 2, you’ll describe the resource. The fields are: Title*, Overview*, Authors, Conditions of Use* (CC license), Subject Areas* (in our case, usually “Information Science”), Education Levels* (usually Graduate/Professional), Material Types*, Languages*, Educational Standards (probably NA for SCN content), Media Formats, Educational Use, Primary User, Grades (probably NA), Accessibility, and Tags (see Step 2 about Tags below). Some fields may already be populated from the link, but review every field and provide the best information you’re able. Asterisked* fields are required. In the 3rd and final step, preview the submission and, if the information is correct, submit for review.

OER Commons submission notification email. It reads: Dear Josh Bolick, Thank you for submitting content on the OER commons. Our curation team will review your submission within 24 to 40 hours from sbumittal to ensure that it meets our OER quality standards. You can access your submission in your submitted folder. While pending review, your resource is set to private and cannot be viewed by others. We will send you a confirmation message once your item has been approved for our digital library and is ready to be shared. Thanks for contributing to the Open Education community. Sincerely, the OER Commons team
On submission, you should receive this email from OER Commons.

Upon submission, you will receive an email from info@oercommons.org: “Your resource is awaiting review.” Review by OER Commons staff typically takes place within 24-48 hours, during which time the resource is set to private, though you have access to it in your submitted folder. Upon successful review, you will receive another email from the same address:, “Your resource is now searchable and shareable.”

OER Commons notification email. It reads: Dear Josh Bolick, Your resource has been published and cataloged in our digital library. The means your item, [title of item], is fully accessible to all users and available for sharing across the site. Thanks for contributing to the Open Education community. Sincerely, the OER Commons team
Upon review, you should receive this message from OER Commons.
Step 2: Tag Your Work Appropriately

Regarding tags: you may use whatever tags are most appropriate to help discover the content through keyword searches in OER Commons.  Although tags are not a required field when submitting content to the OER Commons, your submission must include tags to be included in the SCN.  We use specific tags to sort the resources into the SCN Collections to make them easier to browse. The collections are Open Access (tag: Open Access), Copyright (tag: Copyright), Scholarly Sharing (tag: Sharing), Open Education (tag: Open Education), Data (tag: Data), Impact Measurement (tag: Impact), and What/Why Scholarly Communication (tag: WWSC) for items that address the whole rather than a part or parts. Each collection has a description outlining the scope of the collection (click into the collection to view the headnote).  Please make sure to use the appropriate SCN Collection tag/s when submitting your work.

Step 3: Get Your Resource Endorsed

In addition to the correct tag/s, to be featured in the SCN, we must endorse the resource. Without the endorsement, it will be in OER Commons, but not in the SCN. You can let us know by copying the text of the “Your resource is now searchable and shareable” email and submitting it through the Contact form on our project site. We’ll have a look, and assuming we agree it is in scope and of reasonable quality, we will endorse it.

To summarize, in order to have a work included in the SCN, it must be (1) deposited to OER Commons, (2) have the correct collection tag/s, and (3) get our endorsement.

If you have any questions or concerns about depositing content or suggestions for making these instructions clearer, please contact us! If you’re using SCN content, we’d also love to hear from you to learn about your use and take any suggestions you may have.

Thanks to Dr. Lori F. Cummins for her very helpful suggestions on this post. It’s much clearer as a result of her review.

Announcement: Open Review for “Finding Balance: Collaborative Workflows for Risk Management in Sharing Cultural Heritage Collections Online” (book)

Editors note: text below by the primary authors; shared here to support the authors’ open review. -Josh, Will, Maria

Carrie Hintz, Melanie T. Kowalski, Sarah Quigley, and Jody Bailey, the authors of Finding Balance: Collaborative Workflows for Risk Management in Sharing Cultural Heritage Collections Online, are seeking critical, constructive feedback and comments on this preprint draft of their book to ensure accuracy and clarity. To that end, we are sharing the book for open review. More information about the book and our plan for the review process is below.

Overview of Book

In the fall of 2021, we submitted a proposal for this project to the Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN) initiative led by Will Cross at North Carolina State University Libraries, Josh Bolick at University of Kansas Libraries, and Maria Bonn at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Information Sciences and supported by IMLS grants LG-72-17-0132-17 and LG-36-19-0021-19. We are grateful that our project was selected for inclusion in the SCN. It was conceived as an open educational resource (OER) focused on managing and creating workflows around copyright risk and digitizing and sharing cultural heritage collections online. We hope it will prove useful to library and information science students who are interested in working as scholarly communications specialists or archivists after they finish their studies. We also hope that library and archives professional practitioners will find this book to be a rich resource for continuing education. It is important to note that although much of this book focuses on copyright, we did not create it for legal scholars or attorneys. It is intended to be a practical guide to help cultural heritage professionals who are not experts in copyright law. Licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC 4.0) license, the book will be published more formally in 2023.

How will open review work?

The book is currently in Google Docs, and anyone can follow this link and add comments for approximately 8 weeks, at which point comments will be closed and considered by us as we move toward more formal publication. Anonymous review is permitted, and we ask all reviewers to provide comments only, not edits to the text itself. Reviewers who wish to have their review acknowledged should sign their review with their preferred spelling of their name. Critical, constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated; abusive or combative comments will be deleted and/or ignored. Be the reviewer you wish you had, and help make this work the best it can be. Thank you in advance for taking the time to review the book, and please contact us if you have any questions at FindingBalanceOER@gmail.com.

New to the SCN: Open Access Publishing Biases

This is the latest post in a series announcing resources created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN. The SCN is a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS funded the SCN in 2019, permitting us to pay creators for their labor while building a solid initial collection. These works are the result of one of three calls for proposals (our first CFP was issued in fall 2020; the second in late spring ‘21, and the third in late fall 2021).

Today we’re excited to share “Open Access Publishing Biases” (available through Digital Commons ). This work was created by Chelsee Dickson and Christina Holm to present an overview of the OA landscape and provide learners with tools to develop their own inquiries into the inequities present within the OA publishing industry. Here they are to introduce Open Access Publishing Biases:

The open access publishing landscape is complex. There are many different levels of “open” (often denoted by colors), Article Processing Charges (APCs) vary in cost by journal, and impact factors are sometimes skewed. Added to this complexity is the bias found within the publishing cycle. Today’s academics, authors, and researchers must look at open access through a lens not clouded by the desire for prestige but clearly see the benefits of and biases within the Open Access Movement. My coauthor Christina Holm and I, Chelsee Dickson, endeavored to highlight these issues in our OER.

We created this resource based on past experiences with open access publishing, the peer review process, and subvention fund management. During the publishing and peer review process, we discovered certain biases that lead to inequity. And as the manager of my institution’s subvention fund, which provides financial support for faculty open access publications, I recognized a lack of diversity and wanted to ensure I avoided discrimination and exclusivity. This led Christina and I to brainstorm exactly how we could make a difference within the field of scholarly communications and open access.
Our open resource, aptly titled Open Access Publishing Biases OER, contains a curriculum for instructors and assignments for students. These objects can be easily tailored to fit the needs of any library and information studies (LIS) course but can also be used as-is within a course module on scholarly communication. We have created: learning objectives; a literature review which synthesizes biases found within open access publishing; a PowerPoint presentation to accompany the literature review; discussion questions for further thought and reflection; an open access publishing landscape map activity; a statement of significance activity; and a cumulative final project. Also included are select readings for students with an interest in furthering their knowledge of these concepts.

Each assignment builds upon the students’ previous work, resulting in a detailed final project with elements of each assignment woven throughout. This resource was designed to help students identify inequities within open access publishing and analyze those inequities knowing that, as society evolves, so too will our thoughts on biases. We crafted this resource with flexibility in mind, allowing it to evolve as new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues arise, while giving students and instructors the tools to analyze and (eventually) mitigate their own bias. We hope our audience finds this OER engaging and thought-provoking.

About the Authors

Chelsee Dickson is the KSU Library System’s Scholarly Communications Librarian. Chelsee holds an MLIS and a second MS in Information Technology, and she is passionate about open access, open educational resources, copyright, and technology in libraries. She supports faculty and students in their publishing endeavors, and she is interested in the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they relate to open access and intellectual freedom. Contact her at cdickso5@kennesaw.edu.

Christina Holm is the KSU Library System’s Instruction Coordinator and a Librarian Associate Professor. Christina holds an MLIS and is passionate about information literacy and ethics in higher education. With 9 years of professional experience in a public services department, Christina has led many professional development events and written several contributions to the profession. Christina’ areas of research include academic librarian burnout, bias in academia, and library service design. Contact her at cholm1@kennesaw.edu.