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Open Educational Resources

OER Research Articles

Given the recent interest in open educational resources, the research landscape in this field is constantly changing. We've compiled a selective list of articles covering a variety of OER-related topics.  Articles have been divided into three categories: impact, cost savings, and creation and publication.


Armellini, A., & Nie, M. (2013). Open educational practices for curriculum enhancementOpen Learning, 28(1), 7-20. doi: 10.1080/02680513.2013.796286

Reports on open educational practices (OEP) and the adoption and adaptation of OER in UK universities. Suggests ways institutions can support the use and creation of OER, with the goal of making OER adoption more sustainable and widespread.

Bliss, T.J., Hilton, J., III, Wiley, D., & Thanos, K. (2013). The cost and quality of online open textbooks: Perceptions of community college faculty and studentsFirst Monday, 18(1). doi: doi:10.5210/fm.v18i1.3972

Studied satisfaction rates and perceptions of OER in a community college population. Generally, the open textbooks used in this study were well received, but issues with technology or flawed OER texts result in negative perceptions by students.

Feldstein, A., Martin, M., Hudson, A., Warren, K., Hilton, J., III, & Wiley, D. (2012). Open textbooks and increased student access and outcomesEuropean Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2. Retrieved from

Core business courses at Virginia State University replaced traditional textbooks with OER content, resulting in more students accessing the textbook (compared to sales of hard copies) and higher grades. Students surveyed reported very high satisfaction with OER materials.

Fischer, L., Hilton, J., III, Robinson, T. J., & Wiley, D. (2015). A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary studentsJournal of Computing in Higher Education, 27(3), 159-172. doi: 10.1007/s12528-015-9101-x

Research study across multiple institutions on the efficacy of OER materials in undergraduate classes. Students assigned to OER materials had more favorable outcomes in several areas including course completion rates, course grades, and enrollment in future courses.

Hilton, J., III. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590. doi: 10.1007/s11423-016-9434-9 

A synthesis of 16 studies. Results indicate that students meet learning outcomes with OERs as well as with traditional textbooks and both faculty and students perceive OER favorably.

Pawlyshyn, N., Braddlee, Dr., Casper, L., & Miller, H. (2013, November 4). Adopting OER: A case study of cross-institutional collaboration and innovationEducause Review. Retrieved from

Implementing OER in an underperforming first-year seminar at Mercy College (NY)  boosts student retention and learning. Faculty collaboration, excitement, and innovation are credited with a successful and quick implementation. Instructional design, assessment, implementation issues, and recommendations are discussed.

Scanlon, E. (2012). Open educational resources in support of science learning: Tools for inquiry and observationDistance Education, 33(2), 221-236. doi: 10.1080/01587919.2012.692053

Discusses how OER contributes to scientific literacy and the general public good, while also raising questions about how uneven access to technology limits OER’s impact. Provides case studies of two OER platforms (nQuire and iSpot).

Wiley, D., Williams, L., DeMarte, D., & Hilton, J., III. (2016). The Tidewater Z-Degree and the INTRO model for sustaining OER adoption. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(41). doi: 10.14507/epaa.v23.1828

Examines the impact of the Z-degree at Tidewater Community College on retention and revenue generation for supporting OER sustainability. 

Cost savings

Hilton, J., III, Gaudet, D., Clark, P., Robinson, J., & Wiley, D. (2013, September). The adoption of open educational resources by one community college math departmentThe International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(4). Retrieved from

Community college students and faculty react favorably to the use of OER texts in five different math classes. OER adoption is credited with significant cost savings for students. Student success and completion rates were relatively unchanged; authors suggest further research is needed to determine impact of OER on student learning.

Hilton, J., III, & Laman, C. (2012). One college’s use of an open psychology textbookOpen Learning, 27(3), 265-272. doi: 10.1080/02680513.2012.716657

Students using OER outperformed peers using traditional course materials in an introductory psychology class at Houston Community College. Thorough discussion of cost savings for community college students when OER materials are adopted.

Hilton, J., III, Robinson, T. J., Wiley, D., & Ackerman, J.D. (2014). Cost-savings achieved in two semesters through the adoption of open educational resourcesThe International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(2), 67-84. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v15i2.1700

Students enjoyed significant savings in eight colleges where OER materials were used. Study data and comparisons to traditional textbook prices are examined.

Creation and Publication

Sutton, S. C., & Chadwell, F.A. (2014). Open textbooks at Oregon State University: A case study of new opportunities for academic libraries and university pressesJournal of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication, 4(4), 34-48. doi: 10.7710/2162-3309.1174

A joint undertaking in open textbook authorship and publishing between Oregon State University Libraries and OSU’s Extended Campus (eCampus). Article highlights issues of libraries as content creators/managers, the role of the OSU Press, adoption of OER materials, and next steps for the project moving forward. Authors recommend inter-institutional collaboration in creating OER texts to avoid duplication of effort and to reach the most users.