Welcome to the Open Access Resources in Education research guide!

This goal of this guide is to provide access to high quality scholarly and professional open access resources in the field of education. The following pages list prominent or influential open access resources useful for students, scholars, and professionals in the field of education with a particular focus on Canadian resources.

What is Open Access?

Open access resources can be defined as resources that do not charge fees for access or use. Open access generally refers to scholarly communications, in particular journal publications, but can also refer to other materials and movements such as open monograph publishing and open data. Open access resources also minimize permission barriers, including both licensing and use restrictions, and will often only retain the requirement that works be attributed to their author(s).

The Directory of Open Access Journals defines open access journals as “journals that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access” with the provision that they must also allow basic forms of use such as downloading, copying, and distributing (Directory of Open Access Journals, 2013).

Peter Suber provides a concise and well-accepted definition of open access or OA literature as “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Peter Suber's Open Access, p. 4). 

Why Open Access?

Open access resources are often high quality, scholarly materials with similar publishing processes as subscription or purchase based publications. Typically, most articles published in open access journals are peer reviewed, while other forms of publishing such as submitting works to repositories or posting on websites allow for a greater variety of formats and types of information and can still include peer reviewed work.

Libraries are increasingly finding that they must limit their collections as subscription costs for journals and databases continue to increase. Open access models, including models which use article processing fees for publication, offer methods of both publishing and accessing scholarly journals which are more affordable and provide authors with a wider audience for their work.

Types of Open Access

Gold Open Access: Gold open access refers to journals which use open access funding models, and licensing and use provisions. OA journal publishing is fully compatible with peer review.

Green Open Access: Green open access refers to repositories, often managed by academic institutions, where authors can deposit or self-archive their work. Authors can deposit works such as pre-prints of articles that they have submitted to journals and thus green open access can include peer reviewed articles despite the fact that repositories do not arrange for review themselves. Many universities and funding agencies have policies or guidelines either requiring or encouraging authors to deposit their work in an OA repository.

There are also other open access sources not associated with journal publication. One such source is repositories specializing in Open Educational Resources which are discussed below and on a subsequent page.

For more information about open access models please see the Professional Resources page.

Open Access in Education  

Like most humanities and social science fields, education relies heavily on journal articles and monographs for both scholarly and professional communication. Articles and books are an important source of new ideas and pedagogy as well as an established method of transmitting the results of studies. Also, education spans both scholarly and professional fields which results in a much wider variety of types of resources than in most other humanities and social sciences fields. As a result, resources such as lesson and curriculum plans, activity kits, presentation slides, collections of learning objects or student resources, and courses or course modules are also useful to both scholars studying the field of education and practitioners. Increasingly, many of these latter types of resources are being published as Open Educational Resources or OERs either through existing websites or in repositories.

Open access publishing provides a variety of benefits to those working in the field of education. OA initiatives provide increased opportunities for authors to publish materials in a variety of formats and for professionals to publish and share the resources that they create. Many scholars and professional educators may not have connections to institutions with sufficient collections and support and without access to open access resources their research and practice would be limited based on their institutions’ collections budgets. Education is also an international field and OA resources, being free and accessible online, allow for greater sharing of ideas, research, and learning tools regardless of geographical boundaries, funding, and institutional connections.