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Open Educational Resource Collective Administration Guide for Library Staff

Choosing Open Textbook Projects

Your institution may already have specific open textbook projects identified for publication via the CAUL OER Collective. 

If you haven’t yet identified projects, it’s recommended that you put in place a transparent local application or expression of interest process to decide on which open textbook projects to undertake as part of your OER Collective participation. 

Establish Institutional Priorities

The first step in setting up this kind of process is to identify your institutional priorities for open textbook publishing. Institutions will have different priorities aligned to their goals in pursuing open publishing. Internationally, many institutions and collaborative open textbook publishing initiatives prioritise first year, high enrolment courses because these provide good return on investment. Other priority activities might include developing textbooks

  • for subjects that do not have suitable textbooks available.
  • replacements for textbooks that are prohibitively expensive for the library to provide or that have licence and access models that are difficult for libraries to work with. 
  • that have a focus on Indigenous content and are written by Indigenous authors.
  • to fill gaps where there is no suitable Australian or New Zealand textbook in existence and where context is important to the topic (for example, law textbooks, where the content is influenced by local law). 
  • for courses that are core or common in a number of degree programs. 
  • to support areas of strategic importance for your university. For example, textbooks to support microcredential courses.
  • in subject areas in which your university has significant expertise or profile. 
  • for specific target cohorts such as students in enabling programs.
  • that are interdisciplinary in nature and created by a team of authors from a number of disciplines.
  • that are collaboratively authored across multiple institutions. 
  • that are completely new (ie not adaptations). 

Developing open textbooks takes time and resources, so it’s important that your institution considers the types of open textbook projects it wants to prioritise. Different institutions will have different priorities, but articulating what your institutional priorities are will assist you with selecting projects.

Set Up an Application or Expression of Interest Process

A transparent application or expression of interest process will help you to identify which projects to pursue.

Create an Expression of Interest Form

At a minimum, you will need to gather the following information about prospective open textbook projects.

  • Outline of the proposed open textbook project, including
    • subject area
    • course/subject/unit it will be used in
    • when the authors anticipate using it for the first time
    • abstract or description of the book
    • outline of author experience in the subject area and past open publishing experience
    • a timeline (which you might like to base on the Collective publishing workflow)
  • Author agreement, including agreement to
    • complete the project within the required timeframe
    • publish on the Collective Pressbooks platform
    • undergo a peer review process
    • adhere to accessibility and inclusion standards
    • sign a memorandum of understanding
  • Dean / Head of School agreement - authorising the authors’ involvement in the project (optional but recommended, as this indicates a commitment to the project).

Develop Criteria for Assessing Expressions of Interest

Using criteria can help you to assess expressions of interest in an open and transparent manner. Consider developing a scorecard or rubric with points allocated for particular criteria. 

The criteria you choose and the score you associate with each criteria will vary from institution to institution and should align with your institutional priorities. Criteria you might like to consider including are outlined below.

  • Subject matter:
    • Textbook included local content (Australian and/or New Zealand)
    • Textbook includes Indigenous content 
    • Textbook focuses on a key institutional teaching area.
  • Rationale for project
    • A compelling rationale is provided
  • Audience / reach / potential impact
    • Textbook is for a core course/subject/unit
    • Textbook is for a first year, high enrolment course
    • Textbook is for an undergraduate course
    • Textbook has the potential to realise significant cost savings for the library and students
  • Authors
    • Author is an early career academic
    • Author is an Indigenous person
    • Author has the expertise required to write the book.
  • Collaboration
    • Project involves multiple authors within the institution
    • Project involves multiple authors from multiple institutions.
  • Feasibility
    • A realistic timeline is provided.

Each criteria should have a number of points allocated to it. Some criteria might be more heavily weighted, depending on institutional priorities and importance of the criteria. An example breakdown is provided below.

Criteria Points
A compelling rationale is provided for the textbook 5 points
Author/s has/have the expertise required to write the textbook 5 points
The timeline for the project is realistic 5 points
  • Textbook is for a core course/subject/unit 
  • Textbook is for a first year, high enrolment course
2 points each

Follow Up With Applicants

To support the longevity of open textbook initiatives at your institution, provide feedback to applicants who are unsuccessful and maintain links with them to support possible future projects.