Open textbooks are a type of Open Educational Resource (OER). They remove the cost burden of traditional textbooks for students, eliminating the cost of course materials as a barrier to education and creating a more equitable and inclusive learning environment. There are many benefits beyond this for authors, instructors and students. OER:
Creating customisable, adaptable and equitable teaching resources also aligns with UniSA’s values of diversity and social justice, engagement and collaboration, and agility and innovation.
The first large-scale Australian study on the social justice impact of open textbooks. "Open textbooks are a recent innovation in free, digital texts that can be: distributed at no cost; printed at cost price; and modified for local needs, such as to respond to gender, socio-cultural and Indigenous underrepresentations in the curriculum" — Lambert & Fadel
Research report in the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Episode of the podcast Teaching in Higher Ed (~34min), where one of the authors (Watson) of the paper above is interviewed about their research
Episode of the podcast UDL in 15 Minutes (~15min), where Carolee Clyne of BCcampus in Canada discusses the intersection of open textbooks and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Publishing an open textbook with a commercial publisher would generally involve expensive Book Processing Charges (BPCs) which the author is responsible for covering. UniSA is currently taking part in an Open Textbook Pilot through the CAUL OER Collective, providing staff with a platform to create a peer reviewed open textbook free of charge.
See the table below for details on how these options compare.
|Commercial Publishing||Open Textbook Pilot|
|Cost to Author||Expensive book processing charges (BPS)||Free of charge to authors|
|Copyright||Retained by publisher||Retained by authors|
|Flexibility of Text||
Text cannot be altered or built upon:
Text can be updated, reused and remixed:
|Access||May not be available for the Library to purchase. Is likely to include access, print and download limits||Available for free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Can be shared, downloaded, and printed in entirety|
|Cost to Student||Students are required to purchase a copy||Free for students to use|
|Open Access conditions||Open Access options only available for a fee||Open Access built into the pilot, free of charge to authors|
The CAUL OER Collective publishing workflow is designed to guide authors and Library staff through the basics of open textbook publishing in Australia. There are 7 stages to the workflow: Initiate, Plan, Draft, Design, Review, Publish, and Evaluate.
More information on each of these stages is available from CAUL:
Pressbooks is the publishing platform UniSA is piloting for open textbook publishing.
A wide range of help resources are available to help you get the most out of the Pressbooks. Check out the list below and, if you need assistance or have any questions, contact Ask the Library.
An open textbook grants program is a key part of the OER Collective model. The 2023 grant round closed Friday 24 February. Grant recipients will be notified on Wednesday 5 April. Check out the link below for details.
The Library can provide technical support with using the Pressbooks platform as well as copyright and licensing advice. We can facilitate peer review through the CAUL OER Collective.
The Library cannot provide assistance with content creation or copy editing. We recommend joining the Community of Practice where you can seek advice and share tips with other authors. For details, contact Ask the Library.
As textbooks are scholarly works, copyright will rest with the author, in line with section 4.2 of the University’s IP Policy.
As the copyright holder, authors have overarching ownership and ongoing responsibility of textbooks they create through the Collective. The Library will house a copy permanently in the institutional repository (ROR).
Once your textbook has been added to the Research Outputs Repository (ROR), the Library can mint a DOI on your behalf. You can add a note requesting this when you submit the details to ROR or submit your request via Ask the Library.
Please note: The DOI will link to the record in ROR. For options to mint a DOI that links directly to your textbook, see the CAUL OER Publishing Workflow.
We would be happy to help you get ready to publish next year, or further into the future. The OER Collective pilot is running for two years at this stage, but we are investigating options for publishing open textbooks at UniSA moving forward. Please contact Ask the Library to find out how we can support you.