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Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Write with Inclusion and Diversity in Mind

Writing Diverse and Inclusive Open Textbooks

You should aim to make your open textbook as diverse as possible by including a wide range of perspectives in your writing and choice of content. This will ensure more readers identify with and relate to the content, which in turn makes your textbook more inclusive.

Some of the benefits of producing diverse and inclusive open textbooks are that they can

  • engage more students because they recognise themselves or their life experiences in the content
  • appeal to instructors in a variety of educational settings
  • create a more interesting reading and learning experience.

Accessibility is also important when producing inclusive open textbooks.

Be Aware of Ethnocentrism

It’s easy for ethnocentrism – voluntarily or involuntarily viewing the world through the lens of your own ethnicity or culture without taking other ethnicities or cultures into account – to creep into the content and presentation of a textbook, so this is something you’ll need to be aware of. This doesn’t mean you should try to write a textbook that fits every culture and perspective – just be respectful.

One of the benefits of open textbooks is that instructors from different countries and cultures can customise them to suit their needs, including:

  • translating a textbook into a different language
  • adjusting the content to meet local cultural, regional and geographical needs
  • revising the material for a different learning environment.

For example, you may decide to adapt an American open textbook to fit the Australian context or expand the content to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. Plan an Open Textbook Project outlines some important considerations for adapting open textbooks.

If you're thinking of writing or publishing textbooks about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, it's a good idea to consult The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)'s best practice Guidelines for the Ethical Publishing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Authors and Research from those Communities (2015).

Inclusive and Bias-Free Language Guidelines

To help authors write in ways that are inclusive and respectful of diversity, most style guides now include guidelines for inclusive and bias-free language. For example:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style's chapter on grammar and usage contains bias-free language guidelines for writing about:
    • gender bias (including gender-neutral pronouns, gender-specific language and sex-specific labels)
    • other biases.

You can also refer to your chosen style guide for advice.

Your institution may have its own guidelines, developed by your publishing, marketing or human resources department. You can usually find these in or with your in-house style guide on your website or staff intranet. For example, Monash University’s Monash Editorial Style Guide contains a section on using inclusive language.

References

American Psychological Association. (2020). Bias-free language guidelines. Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed., pp. 131–149). American Psychological Association.

Australian Government. (2020). Inclusive language. Style manual. https://www.stylemanual.gov.au/accessible-and-inclusive-content/inclusive-language

New Zealand Government. (2020). Inclusive language. digital.govt.nz. https://www.digital.govt.nz/standards-and-guidance/design-and-ux/content-design-guidance/inclusive-language/

The Modern Language Association of America. (2021). Principles of inclusive language. MLA handbook. https://mlahandbookplus.org/books/book/5/MLA-Handbook

The University of Chicago. (2017). Grammar and usage. The Chicago manual of style (17th ed.). https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/book/ed17/part2/ch05/toc.html

Attributions

‘Writing Diverse and Inclusive Open Textbooks’ and ‘Be Aware of Ethnocentrism’ are based on ‘Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion’ in Self-Publishing Guide by by Lauri M. Aesoph, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.