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Open Access Health Resources: FAQs about OAR

Freely available resources for clinical medicine and public health


What are Open Access Resources (OAR)? 

Open Access Resources, or Open Educational Resources, are print or digital materials with an open copyright license that makes it free for anyone to use - there are no barriers (financial, legal, etc) to accessing the material. This is in contrast to the traditional models that provide access to users via subscription (usually paid by a library). Precise definitions of OAR can shift, but they generally include: 

  • The right to use (read/print) the book freely
  • The right to share the book with others
  • The right to modify or adapt the book to fit your needs

Are OAR reliable? 

OA has no bearing on the quality of information presented. As the Open Education Network puts it, they “leave quality judgements to faculty with expertise in the subject area.” Faculty interested in using OAR should review them the same way they would any other potential instruction material. 

Who writes OA material? 

OARs are often written by faculty authors or other educators who aren’t finding the book they would like to have (such as for a class) and take it upon themselves to create a new resource. Authors can receive financial compensation for their work, either with a grant from their university or by open access providers, such as OpenStax. However, the most common return is less financial and more about “the satisfaction and convenience of having a textbook that’s tailor-made for your course, and affordable for your students” (Schmieder, 2018).

Additionally, some scholars prefer the higher visibility provided by open access providers (particularly when it comes to journals) and the speed at which they get published (Conte). 

How can I publish my own work as OAR? 

The GW Open Access Policy requires GW faculty deposit a copy of the full text of the peer-reviewed manuscript of your journal article into a GW library open access repository or in a federal or other open access repository when required by your grant funder. Read more about the policy here

For faculty in School's of Medicine, Health Sciences, Public Health or Nursing, you may deposit your manuscript into the Health Science Research Commons


Conte, S. Making the Choice: Open Access vs. Traditional Journals. American Journal Experts Scholar website. Accessed November 17, 2020.

Open Education Network website. Accessed November 12, 2020. 

Open Textbook Store website. Accessed January 27, 2020. 

Schmieder, E. 4 Questions authors are asking about open textbooks. Textbook & Academic Authors Association website. August 21, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2020.

Additional Reading

O'Reilly, C. Why OERs are a great first step toward education affordability. Cavalier Daily website. Accessed October 28, 2021.

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). OER Mythbusting. SPARC website. October 25, 2017. Accessed March 8, 2022.