OER World Map

Authorship and use of OER as Academic Practice for Research


Aim of the project: Examining policy and practice for OER creation in the context of research led institutions.


This Fellowship project drew on the work of the Oxford University OpenSpires project in which academic colleagues explored their issues, concerns, motivation and learning needs with regard to the creation and re-use of OER. In institutions where teaching is research-led academic colleagues are regularly engaged in processes of knowledge creation. New knowledge quickly becomes the content of their teaching. The final report of the OpenSpires project highlighted as an area for further research, the support for ‘open content literacy skills’ amongst academic staff. This project explored the relationship between OER and the research-teaching nexus by looking closely at how academic staff at research universities are supported in their academic practice. Specifically it looked at the synergies between OER and Open Access Publishing and Open Source Software where OER provides another dissemination mechanism for research, impact and public engagement.


Initial work consisted of strategic meetings with policy makers at University of Leeds and University of Oxford to explore opportunities for embedding and sustaining OER practice in these two institutions. These meetings focused on a light touch mapping of open educational practices against aspects of the staff development and IT training programmes in place at each institution. This was followed by staff development workshops at Oxford and Leeds which coincided with similar workshops at Oxford University in collaboration with Oxford Brookes and Harper Adams College.

There emerged from discussion an increased focus on sustainability and a need to investigate the aspects by which something could be considered to be sustainable by developing a ‘four Es’ framework of economic, environmental, equitable and emotional factors against which to evaluate. This project focused particularly on the emotional aspects of academic ‘buy-in’ in relation to teaching ethos at University of Oxford but also explored models of re-use, sustainable storage, institutional support, open content literacy, reward and recognition, institutional support, outreach and impact and student engagement.

Knowledge gained throughout the project was used to provide advice and guidance to the University of Leeds and University of Oxford. In addition papers, case studies, blogs, posters and presentations were used to disseminate the project findings to a wider audience.


A range of staff development material was produced as part of this project. This included:

  • What are Open Educational Resources? for the Introduction to OER for University of Leeds;

Presentations such as:

  • Share and Share alike: Using Creative Commons materials in teaching

  • ‘Open content literacy’ topics- animated presentations Copyright , Marketing and Communications for OER ,Why make it open? ,Creative Commons Overview

-Case study of impact ‘Tuning into Oxford’

  • Presentation to senior managers ‘What is your OER doing for you?’

There were also regular blog postings and journal articles including ‘Making academic OER easy: Reflections on technology and openness at Oxford University’ Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, Vol 15, No 2 (2011)

Outcomes and conclusions

Oxford University has established processes to enable academic colleagues to capture their research presentations as podcasts, and license those as OER with a rapid turn-around and minimal extra effort. The project enabled a range of activity to be undertaken to gain a better understanding of academic buy-in to OER. These ranged from investigating how they viewed OER in terms of their motivation to create and share knowledge, through to institutional barriers and drivers such as reward and recognition, protecting the brand and sustainability.

In terms of its ambassadorial role, the project resulted in a number of staff development workshops at both Oxford University and the University of Leeds. It was also a vehicle for disseminating information, advice and guidance on OER at various conferences and in blog postings.

For more information on Melissa Highton’s SCORE Fellowship visit http://www8.open.ac.uk/score/fellows/melissa-highton

Case study by Melissa Highton, published online at https://web.archive.org/web/20130703104437/http://www.open.ac.uk/score/authorship-and-use-oer-academic-practice-research under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Melissa Highton, Authorship and use of OER as Academic Practice for Research, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.