Illinois

US Senators seek to make college textbooks affordable and open

Jane Park, November 15th, 2013

A Human Timeline of Open Education
Opensourceway / CC BY-SA

United States Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota have introduced legislation called the Affordable College Textbook Act that seeks to make college textbooks affordable and openly available under the Creative Commons Attribution license. According to Durbin’s press release, Bill S.1704 does 5 things:

  • Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
  • Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public [via CC BY];
  • Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
  • Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.

You can read the full text of Bill S.1704 here. In addition to highlighting the rising cost of textbooks, Bill S.1704 defines the following terms:

(3) OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE.—The term ‘‘open educational resource’’ means an educational resource that is licensed under an open license and made freely available online to the public.

(4) OPEN LICENSE.—The term ‘‘open license’’ means a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable copyright license granting the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use the work and adaptations of the work for any purpose, conditioned only on the requirement that attribution be given to authors as designated.

(5) OPEN TEXTBOOK.—The term ‘‘open textbook’’ means an open educational resource or set of open educational resources that either is a textbook or can be used in place of a textbook for a postsecondary course at an institution of higher education.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) note several existing open textbook programs that have proved successful in lowering costs for students, including the University of Minnesota’s online catalog of open textbooks which has so far saved students $100,000; Tidewater Community College’s degree program where each course uses open textbooks lowering costs to zero for students; and Washington State’s Open Course Library project for its 81 largest enrollment courses that has saved students $5.4 million to date.

In addition to cost savings, SPARC highlights Bill S.1704’s potential impacts of high quality and innovation:

  • High quality materials. Open educational resources developed through the grants will also be available for all other colleges, faculty and students across the country to freely use.
  • Supporting innovation. At a time where new models to support open educational resources are rapidly emerging, this bill would help foster innovation and development of best practices that can be shared with other institutions.

For more info, see:

You can take action to support Bill S.1704 here and use Twitter hashtag #oerusa to share the news!

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U.S. States considering public access policies

Timothy Vollmer, April 17th, 2013

oa state seals

With the introduction at the federal level of both the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) and the White House public access directive, several states have begun to think about supporting public access to publicly funded research. Like the proposed federal legislation and White House policy, the state-level bills aim to support the notion that the taxpaying public should have access to the research it funds. The Illinois legislation is particularly interesting in that it has included a reuse rights provision whereby the articles developed as a result of state funds would be shared under an open license such as CC BY.

California

Notwithstanding any other law, each state agency that provides funding in the form of a research grant to a grantee for direct research shall develop a public access policy that shall do the following:

(1) Include a requirement that electronic versions of the author’s final manuscripts, or a link to an electronic version of the author’s final manuscript in an open access digital repository of original research papers that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and result from research supported from state agency funding, be submitted to the funding state agency and the California State Library.

(2) Provide free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals. […]

New York

Each agency that provides funding for direct research shall develop a public access policy that shall:

(i) Include a requirement that electronic versions of the author’s final manuscripts of original research papers that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and result from research supported from funding by the state of New York, be submitted to such funding agency;

(ii) Provide free online public access to such final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals; […]

Illinios

(a) No later than 12 months after the effective date of this Act, each public institution of higher education shall develop an open access to research articles policy.

(b) All public institutions of higher education shall develop policies that provide for the following:

(1) the submission, by all faculty employed by the public institution of higher education, to the employing institution (or to an institution designated by the employing institution) of an electronic version of the author’s final manuscript of original research papers upon acceptance by a scholarly research journal, including peer-reviewed journals and related publications used by researchers to disseminate the results of their institution-affiliated research; […]

(4) free online public access to the final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions immediately upon publication in a peer-reviewed journal;

(5) an irrevocable, worldwide copyright license granted by the author to the public that permits any use of an article on condition that the author and original publisher are attributed as such and that any such attribution is not made in a way that implies endorsement of the use by the author or original publisher. […]

New York state seal is in the public domain.

California state seal licensed under CC BY-SA.

Illinois state seal is in the public domain.

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