Amazon to explore OER

Today in Inside Higher Ed, Matt Reed writes that Amazon, of fame, announced an upcoming project that will be a hub for OER. As Reed notes:

So Amazon is working on a site that will curate Open Educational Resources. The initial market is K-12, though I have a hard time imagining higher ed will be far away. They’re calling it Amazon Inspire, and it’s supposed to launch in a few months.


This could be very good or very bad. But I’m leaning towards very good.

On one level, of course, it’s fourteen kinds of awesome. I’m a big fan of OER, but I know that one of the major barriers to widespread adoption is the difficulty in finding material. Combining Amazon’s considerable skill at user-friendly search, and user reviews, with a repository of freebies would make exploration much easier.

Although we’ve seen major steps towards great hubs for OER discovery (Open Textbook Library and Digital Commons’ Teaching Commons for example), there are still barriers between users and OER. Perhaps, as Reed notes, Amazon’s venture could be a very good thing!


OpenCon 2015 Student-led Projects

Two weeks ago, students and early career researchers gathered in Berlin for OpenCon 2015. The meeting marked the 2nd annual multi-day workshop focused on open access, open data, and open education.

One of the panels, captured below, featured student advocates from last year’s OpenCon sharing their student-led projects. Check it out below:

Included in this stream:

Open Access Nepal
OA Nepal, originally organized by medical students, creates meet-ups for advocacy, awareness, and project development around open access in Nepal.

Simon Fraser Student Society OER
The student government of Simon Fraser University encourages their university to adopt OER policies.

OOO Canada
The OOO Canada network aims to address these issues by advocating for open and transparent approaches to knowledge sharing. Made up of graduate students, early career researchers, and activists with three primary goals: open data, open access, open education.

…and more!

101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication

Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman, two librarians at Universiteit Utrecht (Netherlands), presented a poster titled: 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication at Force 2015 last January.

Kramer and Bosman’s work highlights the increasing number of tools and services available to researchers in a changing landscape of scholarly communication. The content of their poster, created by surveying researchers, is also hosted on their website. Check it out for workflows and links to free and subscription products.

If you have any questions about a product or service, or if you would like to share your experiences, please email We’d love to hear from you! ISU Library does have a subscriptions to some of products listed by Kramer and Bosman.

State of Open Videos

Next week is the second ever OpenCon! OpenCon is the student and early career academic professional conference on Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. Organized by the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC this year’s OpenCon is being held in Brussels, Belgium on November 14-16th.

In preparing for this year’s event, OpenCon has released videos examining the three focus areas: Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. See the videos below!

Auto -update has arrived! ORCID records move to the next level

Originally posted by Laure Haak on October 25, 2015. Found here:

Since ORCID’s inception, our key goal has been to unambiguously identify researchers and provide tools to automate the connection between researchers and their creative works.  We are taking a big step towards achieving this goal today, with the launch of Auto-Update functionality in collaboration with Crossref and DataCite.

There’s already been a lot of excitement about Auto-Update: Crossref’s recent announcement about the imminent launch generated a flurry of discussion and celebration on social media. Our own tweet on the topic was viewed over 10,500 times and retweeted by 60 other accounts.

So why all the fuss? We think Auto-Update will transform the way researchers manage their scholarly record.  Until now, researchers have had to manually maintain their record, connecting new activities as they are made public.  In ORCID, that meant using Search & Link tools developed by our member organizations to claim works manually.  Researchers frequently ask,  “Why, if I include my ORCID iD when I submit a manuscript or dataset, isn’t my ORCID record “automagically” updated when the work is published?”

With the launch of Auto-Update, that is just what will happen.

It might seem like magic but there are a few steps to make it work:   

  • Researchers. You need to do two things:  (1) use your ORCID iD when submitting a paper or dataset, and (2) authorize Crossref and DataCite to update your ORCID record.   In keeping with our commitment to ensuring that researchers maintain full control of their ORCID record, you may revoke this permission at any time, and may also choose privacy settings for the information posted on your record.
  • Publishers and data centers. These organizations also have two things to do: (1) collect ORCID identifiers during the submission workflow, using a process that involves authentication (not a type-in field!), and (2) embed the iD in the published paper and include the iD when submitting information to Crossref or DataCite.
  • Crossref and DataCite. Upon receipt of data from a publisher or data center with a valid identifier, Crossref or DataCite can automatically push that information to the researcher’s ORCID record.

More information about how to opt out of this service can be found here: the ORCID Inbox.

Why is this so revolutionary?

A bit of background, first. Crossref and DataCite, both non-profit organizations, are leaders in minting DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) for research publications and datasets.  A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to a digital object – in this case, an electronic journal article, book chapter, or a dataset. Each DOI is associated with a set of basic metadata and a URL pointer to the full text, so that it uniquely identifies the content item and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet.

Crossref, working with over a thousand scholarly publishers, has generated well over 75 million DOIs for journal articles and book chapters.  DataCite works with nearly 600 data centers worldwide and has generated over 6.5 million DOIs to date. Between them, Crossref and DataCite have already received almost a half a million works from publishers and data centers that include an ORCID iD validated by the author/contributor.  With Auto-Update functionality in place, information about these articles can transit (with the author’s permission) to the author’s ORCID record.

Auto-Update doesn’t stop at a researcher’s ORCID record.  Systems that have integrated ORCID APIs and have a researcher’s ORCID record connected to that system — their faculty profile system, library repository, webpage, funder reporting system — can receive alerts from ORCID.  Information can move easily and unambiguously across systems.

This is the beginning of the end for the endless rekeying of information that plagues researchers — and anyone involved in research reporting.  Surely something to celebrate!

Questions you may have:

Q. What do I need to do to sign up for auto-update?

You need to grant permission to Crossref and DataCite to post information to your ORCID record.  You can do this today by using the Search and Link wizard for DataCite available through the ORCID Registry or the DataCite Metadata Search page.  We also have added a new ORCID Inbox, so that you can receive a message from Crossref or DataCite if they receive a datafile with your iD, and you can grant permission directly. See more on the ORCID Inbox.

Q. Will Crossref and DataCite be able to update my ORCID record with already published works for which I did not use my ORCID iD?

No.  The auto-update process only applies to those works that these organizations receive that include your ORCID iD. For previous works that did not include your ORCID iD, you will need to use the DataCite and Crossref Search and Link wizards to connect information with your iD.

Q. What information will be posted to my record?

With your permission, basic information about the article (such as title, list of contributors, journal or publisher) or dataset (such as data center name and date of publication) will be posted, along with a DOI that allows users to navigate to the source paper or dataset landing page.

Q. What if my journal or data center doesn’t collect ORCID iDs?

Ask them to!  This simple step can be accomplished using either the Public or Member ORCID APIs. Information about integrating ORCID iDs in publishing and repository workflows is publicly available.

White House Commits to Open Access, Open Education and Open Data in New Open

Originally posted on SPARC’s blog by Nicole Allen. Found here: 

OCTOBER 27, 2015

Today the White House released its 2016-2017 Open Government National Action Plan, which includes commitments to expand access to open educational resources and the results of federally funded research. This exciting development shows continued support from the Obama administration for these issues, and sets the stage for continued progress beyond the 2016 elections.

The commitment to Open Education has been highly anticipated by the community since this summer, after more than 100 U.S. civil society organizations — including SPARC — sent a letter to the White House calling for strong executive action to make federally funded educational resources openly licensed. While the OER commitment released today stops short of the broad policy changes that civil society called for, it lays out several meaningful steps in the right direction.

The OER commitment begins with a strong statement in support of the benefits of open educational resources:

Open educational resources are an investment in sustainable human development; they have the potential to increase access to high-quality education and reduce the cost of educational opportunities around the world. Open educational resources can expand access to key educational materials, enabling the domestic and international communities to attain skills and more easily access meaningful learning opportunities.

It also specifies three activities the U.S. will take to advance open education:

  • Openly license more Federal grant-supported education materials and resources, making them widely and freely available.
  • Publish best practices and tools for agencies interested in developing grant-supported open licensing projects.
  • Convene stakeholders to encourage further open education efforts.

The OER commitment builds on momentum that has grown since the U.S. became the first Open Government Partnership (OGP) member country to introduce open education into its National Action Plan last fall. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), State Department and Education Department recently held a workshop in New York City to fulfill one of the commitments in this plan, which was recently featured in a White House blog post.

On the Open Access and Open Data fronts, the plan released today reiterates U.S.’s firm commitment to opening access to articles resulting from publicly-funded research, citing the language from the 2013 OSTP Directive on this subject. Additionally, the plan calls for robust attention ensuring that data — including code, applications and technologies — generated from publicly-funded research be made openly accessible as well. This is a strong nod to an eventual full U.S. Open Science Agenda.

The plan’s release also coincides with the Open Government Partnership Summit in Mexico City, where for the first time ever, a workshop on open education is featured in the program. SPARC’s Nicole Allen is on the ground helping to organize the session, along with the U.S. and Slovak Governments and Creative Commons United States. We are hopeful that this session can begin laying the groundwork for collaboration between the government and civil societies to implement the U.S. commitment announced today and open education overall.

SPARC stands with our coalition partners ready to continue the conversation with the White House and federal agencies to help implement the commitment announced today, and to reinforce our call for a federal government-wide policy to ensure that taxpayer funded educational and research materials are openly licensed.

Minnesota and Open Education


David Ernst (University of Minnesota), creator of Open Textbook Library, continues to make huge gains for Open Education through open textbooks.

Originally posted on the Star Tribune.

The biggest hurdle, Ernst said, is persuading classroom instructors to try the free texts. Most “don’t know where to find them, and they don’t know if they’re any good,” he said.

That’s one reason he created the Open Textbook Library. “We put them in one place, easy to find, and started collecting reviews,” he said. Ernst received a grant to pay instructors $200 to $500 apiece to write a review. He discovered that once they reviewed an open text, they were more likely to use it in class.