Multiple Authors, Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University
Pub Date: 2016
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This is an open textbook produced as a result of two iterations of an online course concerning Open Research produced with the support of the Hewlett read more
This is an open textbook produced as a result of two iterations of an online course concerning Open Research produced with the support of the Hewlett Foundation by the Open Education Research (OER) Hub, part of the Open University, UK. The book is a highly practical comprehensive guide to the practice of open research and will be invaluable to anyone who wishes to develop an understanding of open research and it is suitable for either individual study or as part of a group activity. The chapters are clearly identified and each chapter is introduced with a set of learning objectives (typical of an online course delivery) so any reader is aware of what each part will cover. I would have liked to have seen a glossary of terms at the end of the textbook although the nature of the book infers that much of the text is self-reflective and exploratory in nature, thereby assuming that terms will be revealed and understood as the reader moves through the text. There is no bibliography which is a pity.
As an advocate of open educational practice I can confirm that the content is accurate and error-free and provides a balanced viewpoint regarding open research.
The online course was completed (second iteration) in 2015; writing this review in 2017 means that the material is only a couple of years old which makes it reliable. Open research is still in its relative infancy and therefore the book is likely to be highly relevant for some time. The external links that are provided to encourage self-reflection and further exploration are of high quality and from reputable sources. However, despite this one drawback of the text could be this heavy reliance on external resources such as videos, blog posts, etc. which may generate missing links in the future. It is hoped that the ‘virtual shelf tidying’ will be undertaken at regular intervals to avoid frustration and disappointment by users.
The textbook is written in a very clear style which is not overly academic in its complex language or tone but still retains the academic rigour expected. The textbook has many examples of good practice from experienced practitioners and these are written ‘in their own words’ which allows for authentic stories to be used. The book is firmly embedded in current practice and is therefore highly accessible to the reader.
When a textbook has multiple authors there may be a possibility of different author ‘voices’ affecting the tone of the book. This is not the case with this book as it is evident that the authors have collaborated well and worked to the same standards of consistency throughout.
The book is formed of 5 chapters that build from an initial introduction to a ‘final thoughts’ which would lead you to believe that the book is designed to be read in a linear fashion; this is not necessarily the case. For example, there is an excellent chapter on the ethics of open which could be read as a standalone chapter and this is largely true of the other sections of the book. The online course on which this book is based was a four-week course and it is therefore easy to divide the book up into four or more portions. The self-reflective and exploratory nature of the book allows for a self-paced experience.
The book has stayed faithful to the online course and as such it is presented in a very clear, logical structure. It is very easy to follow and to dip in and out of (although the interface has issues as is pointed out). The reader should have no problem in following the book's arguments and activities.
A small point but the front cover doesn’t do the book justice! It would be nice to see a colourful front cover using a creative commons image to help this useful book stand out. Overall the text is presented reasonably well, although the PDF formatting causes some issues with gaps within the text. I am a little disappointed that there isn’t an online version of the book as the PDF version renders the external links useless and it is very time consuming going back and forth to highlight, copy and paste the link into a general Google search to find what you are looking for. I would recommend that an online version is provided as soon as possible. The PDF version is also a bit clunky in that if you wish to search for a particular page the search finder doesn’t take you to the right place in the text (although it is good at pinpointing instances of phrases etc.) Images are good and appropriate in support of the text. However the lack of a glossary, as previously mentioned and a bibliography (which would make currency and updating of links much easier) are important omissions.
The text has no grammatical errors that I could see during my review.
The text is not cultural or context dependent and makes use of a wide range of examples from a variety of contributors and countries. Although written in English the book would be easy to translate and use in other countries where English is not the first language.
Overall this is an extremely useful book providing a thorough yet accessible introduction to open research and is to be recommended. From the first-time researcher to the experienced academic there is something to learn and reflect upon within these pages. As academics, institutions and funders require evidence of research impact and dissemination the role of Open Research cannot be underestimated. I shall be recommending this to my students on the MSc. Information Management course during their studies of scholarly communication and information & digital literacy.
Table of Contents
- 1. Open Research
- 2. Ethics in the Open
- 3. Open Dissemination
- 4. Reflecting in the Open
- 5. Final Thoughts
About the Book
If you have an interest in openness, open education, research skills or want to find out more about the impact of Open Educational Resources (OER), then this resource is for you. You could be:
- Using an OER with students and interested in assessing its impact
- Facilitating sessions on open practice with students or colleagues and looking for inspiration
- Working on a research project and wanting to find out more about incorporating open research techniques into your own practice
- Curious about the benefits and challenges of open research
- Looking to use open tools in your research
- Wanting increased impact for your research
- Interested in open research on OER
This resource will help you explore what open research is, how you can ethically and openly share your findings so others can reuse or develop your work, and the role of reflection and open dissemination. Whilst many challenges and issues apply to all aspects of research (for example choosing an appropriate methodology), open research brings a range of different opportunities and challenges; it’s these that we are specifically interested in exploring. What can openness add to the research process?
About the Contributors
The 2014 and 2015 iterations of Open Research and this Pressbook were written by OER Hub team members Bea de los Arcos, Rob Farrow, Beck Pitt and Martin Weller. The OER (Open Education Research) Hub are leaders in researching the impact of open educational resources (OER) on learning and teaching. We are based in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University (OU) in the United Kingdom. The Open University has an open admissions policy and is Europe’s largest provider of online distance education.