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Open and Affordable Learning and Research: Home

Helping faculty, scholars, researchers, and authors join the open resource movement.



What's "Open and Affordable"?




What are Open Educational Resources (OERs)?

OERs are free resources that teachers may use or modify in any way, for their own pedagogical purposes. OERs can be used "as is" or may be freely changed or adapted without having to get permission from a copyright holder, and typically without restrictions. Educators may use OERs in their courses as free materials for students to access, often as a replacement for costly textbooks. Educators may also use OERs simply for ideas on how to improve their own course materials.

Types of OERs:


 course syllabi

source code


 research publications

images and media


workbooks and lab manuals

online homework platforms

  • Audience = teachers, enrolled students, online learners
  • Cost-free
  • Open access.  Available full textWeb access, no commercial blocks (digital rights management/DRM or license restrictions)
  • Unrestricted use.       OERs are either:
  • in public domain (no copyright protection)
  • under open licenses (e.g., Creative Commons). Open licenses permit users to exceed "fair use," to a degree specified by the license. Read the license to know the extent of permission to exceed "fair use."

What are Affordable Educational Resources (AERs)?

LOUIS Libraries has coined the term "Affordable Educational Resources", or AERs, to identify free or low-cost instructional resources that ensure "students have equitable access to course materials on the first day of class." AERs are often used in academic courses in Louisiana as textbook replacements. AERs include both library resources, open access resources, and other low-cost materials.


Types of AERs:

e-books and e-journals from library databases  

open access resources on the Web

other low-cost materials   

  • Audience = enrolled students only
  • Cost-free or low-cost
    • The total pre-sales-tax cost of AER course materials cannot exceed 4 times the federal minimum wage  (i.e., no more than $29, given a $7.25 federal minimum wage).
    • Library e-resources can be used as AERs because they're free for students. But as licensed subscription products, library e-resources are not free or available to the public.
  • Full access for enrolled students   Available full textWeb or library access, no commercial blocks (digital rights management/DRM or license restrictions) that prevent equitable access for the duration of the course.
  • Restricted use. 
    • retain "all-rights-reserved" copyright.
    • cannot be modified or adapted, or exceed "fair use," without permission.
    • still have license restrictions if they are library resources, although often more "relaxed" to permit simultaneous uses by students.


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What is open access research ?

Open-access resources are scholarly Web-based research sources (journals, books, & data) that anyone -- including unaffiliated online researchers, not just enrolled students and library users -- can access and read for free. Open access resources can be used as AERs in courses. Open access resources may be free to read, but they cannot be used outside of "fair use" circumstances or modified without permission.

  • Audience = anyone, including unaffiliated online researchers
  • Cost-free
  • Open access. Available full textWeb access, no commercial blocks (e.g., digital rights management/DRM or license restrictions)
  • Restricted use.      "Open access" resources retain copyright. They cannot be modified, adapted, or exceed "fair use" without permission.    
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The Open Society Foundation "Explainer" of Open Access



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Terms to know

OER definition from 

Wikipedia "Open Access" definition

OEN = Open Education Network.

OEP = Open educational practices leverage open license permissions to engage students as creators, not just consumers, and to shift from disposable assignments to authentic, renewable assignments.

CRT Culturally Responsive Teaching, which can be enhanced by using OERs in the classroom.

OTL Open Textbook Library

AER = Affordable educational resource

ZTC = Zero Textbook Cost

Why OA

Needs and Benefits of OA

Impact Stories on Researchers 

The Need for Open Access research

  • research access for developing countries, professionals without commercial subscriptions, and lay persons
  • rapid review and dissemination of primary data and research results
  • real-time access to research during a crisis
  • test and replicate scientific experiments
  • let readers analyze primary works such as data, media, and images
  • share the results from and analysis of research

SPARC makes the case for Open Access research.

The Need for Completely Open Resources*

Researchers need both open access research (cost-free to read and use within "fair use" limits), and permissions-free research they may use however they like. Both freedoms are needed for resources to be considered "completely open."

Peter Subera leading scholar and proponent of open access, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, and Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, argues that researchers (and in turn, society) would greatly benefit from a wider scope of permissions-free uses:

  • distribute full-text copies to students or colleagues
  • burn copies on CDs for bandwidth-poor parts of the world
  • distribute semantically-tagged or otherwise enhanced (modified, adapted) versions
  • migrate texts to new formats or media to keep them readable as technologies changes
  • create and archive copies for long-term preservation
  • include works in a database or mashup
  • make an audio recording of a text
  • translate a text into another language
  • copy a text for indexing, text-mining, or other kinds of processing
  • quote long excerpts

With completely open-licensed research (permission to use research in any way), scholars, scientists, and researchers would not have to worry about whether their use is legally "fair use" : rather, an open license permits them to modify, adapt, remix, translate, re-distribute, etc. in order to advance research and knowledge in their discipline.

Source: Suber, Peter. Open Access. M.I.T. Press, 2012.

Who's Who and What's Up in OA

Organizations, News, History


International Open Access Week, October 25 - 31, 2021

OA at Sims Library

Sims Library "Affordable Learning" Initiative



Discover our latest "Affordable Learning" resources, programs, and presentations!

"Affordable Learning" presentation, April 2021

Find OA

Find Open Access Research to Read

Open Access Discovery Aids

Multidisciplinary Web Resources

Open Access by Discipline

Open Access by Discipline

Don't see your discipline? Check back later, this page is a work in progress.

Find discipline-specific open access resources in these lists of repositories, preprint servers, journals, and databases.

Teach OA

Teach with Open and Affordable Materials


Sims Library resources


Find e-journals and e-books in Sims Library databases to provide free course materials to students.


     CloudSource Open Access database

Request an e-book purchase through a Sims librarian

Find OTL textbooks at Sims by browsing this list. 

Or, use our library's Quick Search database and limit to eTextbooks:







Browse Open Textbook Library's website for more open textbooks!

LOUIS Libraries resources

Through LOUIS, find open course materials, and e-books that the library can purchase, to provide free course materials to students. 

Click the image below and select "Faculty Portal."

Or, explore LOUIS OER Commons.




Browse the OER Commons website for more open resources!



OER Repositories and Resources

Find OERs for your Course

Web Resources

OER Course Examples

OERs by Course

Open Pedagogy

Open Pedagogy

Publish OA

Publish Open and Affordable Resources

Publish OERs

OER Publishing Tools and Licensing


Create OERs with LOUIS's Open Author

Click "Add OER" to get started!


an open source content management system designed for creating, adapting, and sharing books. Based on WordPress, it can export content in many ebook, webbook or print formats. 

Open Licenses

Public domain works are not protected by copyright or licenses, either because they were created or published before 1923, or because they've been donated to the public domain by their owners.

"Open licenses" are based on a "some-rights-reserved" or "zero-rights-reserved" copyright, rather than "all-rights-reserved" copyright.

The 5 "R" (rights) activities permitted (at least to some extent) by open licenses*:

1. Retain  - make, own, and control your own copy (e.g., download and keep your own copy)

2. Reuse - use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly (e.g., on a website, in a presentation, in a class)

3. Revise - adapt, edit, modify the content (e.g., translate into another language)

4. Remix - incorporate the content into a new OER creation or product (e.g., make a mashup)

5. Redistribute - share your copies, revisions, and remixes with others (e.g., post a copy online or give one to a friend)

* Source: adapted from David Wiley under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license and


Creative Commons open licenses

Mouse-over each icon for a definition of that CC license.

All licenses except CC0 (Public Domain) require attribution to the original copyright holder.

Open Educational Resource (OER) licenses
Open Access-only licenses (non-OER)

Publish Open Access

Open Access Publishing Tools and Licensing
Open Access Publishing Mandates

Funding agencies as well as universities may require researchers to deposit their work in an open-access repository. These mandates do not usually block an author's right to also publish in a conventional "toll-access" peer-reviewed journal. 

University mandate types:

  • loophole - OA repository deposit is required unless the publisher refuses.
  • deposit - OA deposit required, but if publisher refuses, deposited article remains "dark" (non-OA).
  • rights-retention - faculty vote to give the university a standing non-exclusive right to author's future deposits in OA repository. Faculty allowances may include:
    • a "waiver" to opt-out of granting rights to the university (but not to opt out of OA deposit).
    • retention of only their OA repository right, while transferring all other rights to publishers.

Funder mandates: 

Some funders, such as Wellcome Trust and National Institutes of Health (NIH), have similar OA mandates as universities, but without offering "waivers."


Source: Suber, Peter. Open Access. M.I.T. Press, 2012.

Author Toolbox


Publishing Venues

Open Access journals = "Gold" OA

  • perform peer review
  • contain only postprints (peer-reviewed)
  • obtain copyright permissions from authors
  • no embargo or delay of published content
  • supported either by subsidy or by author charge

Open Access repositories = "Green" OA

  • authors "self-archive" work in subject or institutional repositories
  • authors may be "mandated" by funders or university employer to self-archive
  • authors can publish in both a conventional journal and an OA repository, because most publishers of "toll-access" journals support agreements that give blanket permission (or permission on request) for authors to self-archive articles. No agonizing choice is necessary, the two venues are seldom mutually exclusive!
  • doesn't perform peer review, but can host peer-reviewed content
  • contains both "preprints" and "postprints", peer-reviewed journals as well as other content types
  • content is sometimes embargoed or delayed

Terms to know

APC = Article Processing Charge, levied on authors to publish an article in some OA journals.

Predatory Journals/Publishers = “Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship, and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.” (See Grudniewicz et al.)

Peer Review and Open Access

OA journals may accommodate either a traditional or innovative peer review model.

"Open review" is a process in which a submission becomes OA, contingent on a pre-publication review that receives community comments and input.