Skip to Main Content

Open Educational Resources Advocacy Toolkit

Gathering Evidence for Your OER Advocacy Action Plan

Collecting different types of evidence to share with stakeholders and decision-makers can help support your arguments for how using OER can benefit your institution. Below is a list of common types of evidence used in OER advocacy.


Map the environment for textbook use at your institution with data on:

  • Use of the library textbook collection – Ask your library collections team for usage statistics such as ebook turnaways, holds on prescribed texts, searches for commercial books, downloads, searches for open access books, etc.
  • Course enrolment – Collect statistics on the number of students enrolled in courses using commercial textbooks. Consider whether compulsory courses assign commercial texts  these courses are often high-enrolment, first-year courses. Degree completion is predicated on these courses and access issues are compounded when commercial texts are set.
  • Costs of commercial textbooks assigned as required course readings – You might consider presenting these figures as an aggregate. For example, how much the average first-year student is expected to pay for textbooks (this could be broken down by degree), whether these textbooks are used across multiple courses (thus representing a better return on investment), or the total expected expenditure per annum on textbooks by undergraduate students.
  • Open textbook adoptions – Collect data on the amount of money students at your institution save by using open textbooks, such as this Australian student savings calculator created by the Open Textbook Initiative.
  • Institutional student loans data – If your university offers loans to students to help cover the cost of educational materials, you can investigate how many students access the loans scheme, the average value of loans, and if possible, the disciplines represented in these applications. Aggregate figures could show trends in the need for loans across years, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact Stories

Use impact stories to illustrate positive outcomes of OER adoptions and projects. For example:

  • other institutions’ impact stories such as these curated by SPARC and this video of James Glapa-Grossklag (College of the Canyons) discussing the benefits of OERs
  • testimonials of teachers who have adopted OERs in their classrooms, like RMIT's textbook heroes
  • testimonials of students who are using open textbooks in their courses
  • from the literature, for example –
    • Fischer, L., Hilton, J., Robinson, T. J., & Wiley, D. A. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159–172.
    • Ross, H. M., Hendricks, C., & Mowat, V. (2018). Open textbooks in an introductory sociology course in Canada: Student views and completion rates. Open Praxis, 10(4), 393–403.
    • Zhao, Y., Satyanarayana, A., & Cooney, C. (2020, November 7). Impact of open education resources (OER) on student academic performance and retention rates in undergraduate engineering departments [Paper presentation]. 2020 Fall ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, United States.

Curate Your Own Evidence

Evidence of the impact of OER use in your institution and local region acts as a powerful incentive for decision-makers and potential adopters. As the use of OER grows, curate testimonials from teachers, students and other stakeholders to create an impact story of your own.

There are a range of tools you can use to help you record, illustrate and communicate your evidence including: 

  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Google Analytics
  • Power BI
  • infographic software.

In most institutions, access to this type of data can be spread across many departments. Using the examples in this section is a good starting point to identify potential sources of data and to identify local custodians at your institution.