Provost Directs Additional Funding To Curb Textbook Costs – Texas A&M Today

“The affordability of attending college, especially when it comes to paying for high-priced textbooks, is squarely in the sights of Texas A&M University Provost Dr. Alan Sams. In one of his first acts as provost, Sams directed $500,000 in grant funding to support Open Educational Resources (OER) and underwrite the costs of developing free books, notes and other educational resources or revising courses to fit existing, openly available materials. The program is expected to reduce or eliminate textbook costs in 19 courses—saving Aggie students more than $1 million in just the first year.

“Open” textbooks are openly-licensed, digital textbooks that can be read, downloaded and printed online at no or low cost, for anyone to use and share freely.

Past university OER development grants for faculty and library staff have saved Aggies more than $1.5 million in textbook costs, and the latest grants aim to save students another $1 million each year.

Course professors in biology, business, computer science and computer engineering, ecology and conservation biology, history, mathematics, nursing and statistics have been working since the summer to develop free resources for students. Organic chemistry faculty are also working on OER books and notes as part of course redesign efforts….”

The impact of open access mandates on scientific research and technological development in the U.S.: iScience


We examine the impact of the U.S. Department of Energy’s open-access mandate
Scientific articles subject to the mandate were utilized on average 42% more in patents
Articles subject to the mandate were not cited more frequently by other academic papers
Small firms were the primary beneficiaries of the increased knowledge diffusion…”

No-pay publishing: use institutional repositories

“The European Council’s recommended open, equitable and sustainable scholarly publishing system, free to readers and authors, has been dismissed as unsustainable and too costly (see Nature; 2023). However, institutional repositories run by research institutions offer an inexpensive and sustainable route to realizing this aspiration.

Such non-profit repositories are ubiquitous and capable of hosting ‘diamond’ open-access academic journals, which are free to publish and to read. In Spain, for example, the journal Psicológica is owned by the Spanish Society for Experimental Psychology and published on DIGITAL.CSIC, the institutional repository of the Spanish National Research Council (see

Transferred in 2022 from a commercial publisher, Psicológica publishes about 50 articles, preprints and peer reviews annually. Publication costs are shared between the journal — which is financially supported by the society — and the publicly funded repository, which provides services such as archiving, DOI assignation and metadata curation. At an estimated cost of €30 (US$34) per publication, Psicológica can increase its output without incurring substantial extra costs. This underscores the sustainability of such models.”

The Cost of Success: Exploring the Impact of Textbook Costs at a Hispanic-Serving R1 Institution – Open Praxis

Abstract:  The cost of textbooks is a significant concern for undergraduate students, particularly at institutions serving marginalized populations. This study explores this issue at the University of New Mexico, a Hispanic-Serving R1 institution. A comprehensive survey was conducted among undergraduate students to understand their perceptions of textbook costs and its impact on their academic success. The survey covered aspects such as the perceived reasonableness of costs, budgeting practices, and strategies to manage expenses. The results revealed that high textbook costs significantly affect students’ financial well-being and academic success. Many students perceive these costs as unreasonable, leading to financial strain. Students employ various strategies to manage these expenses, including purchasing from vendors other than the campus bookstore, renting, or sharing books with classmates. This study underscores the need for enhanced support and resources to alleviate the financial burden of textbook costs on students, contributing valuable insights to the literature on this subject.


PathOS – D1.2 Scoping Review of Open Science Impact — Graz University of Technology

Abstract:  This report details work to systematically scope evidence of the academic, societal and economic impacts of Open Science. It is guided by the PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) methodological framework, and was limited to works in English since 2000 found in academic databases (Web of Science, Scopus) of peer-reviewed literature. This deliverable reports findings from the first stage of this work. Future work will extend this via snowball citation searching and web search for grey literature and will be published as three pre-prints. Through systematic screening and assessment of over 30,000 initial records, we identified 479 relevant studies (311, 155 and 13 related to academic, societal and economic impact, respectively). Our findings show that evidence of impact is concentrated around Open Access (primarily academic impact) and Citizen Science (primarily societal impact), with little evidence of impact for other Open Science aspects, and hardly any evidence of economic impact. Across types of impact, we found:

Academic impact: Open Access, especially impact as measured via citations, is most heavily studied. Evidence suggests an Open Access citation advantage; exclusion of authors from less resourced regions and institutions due to APCs; and that “predatory publishing” threatens the quality of the research literature. Open/FAIR Data are associated with data reuse and a citation advantage for associated papers, but their role in fostering (computational) reproducibility seems less significant than expected. Open Code and Software produce efficiency gains in software development, and may also increase citations of associated papers. Citizen Science increases efficiency and scope of data collection, but data quality is sometimes of issue. Open peer review shows neutral to positive effects on review quality.

Societal impact: The majority of studies relevant to societal impact concern Citizen Science, across a variety of types including educational, engagement and empowerment benefits for participants and their communities, and the creation of data for use in governmental monitoring and administering of environments and natural resources. Beyond CS, evidence is more limited. Some literature demonstrates societal impacts of OA, including public engagement with scientific literature, use in policy-making, and health-related outcomes. Beyond this, our search revealed little evidence. Especially relevant is the limited evidence (at this stage in our study) regarding the policy impact of OS (a recurrent claim in OS advocacy) and the societal impact of Open/FAIR Data.

Economic impact: Evidence here was scarce, with only 13 papers identified as relevant. Evidence was most prevalent from the biomedical and health domains. Some evidence gives positive indications of the potential of OA and Open/FAIR data to power economic activity but this is still largely without rigorous quantification. The report closes by reflecting on evidence gaps, including potential causes and solutions.

Congress Introduces Bill to Tackle College Textbook Costs – SPARC

“SPARC, a non-profit advocacy organization working to make education and research open and equitable, today applauded the reintroduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act in the U.S. Congress. The bill would address a key but often overlooked factor in the cost of higher education—the cost of textbooks—by establishing a grant program for the creation and use of free, openly licensed textbooks, while also strengthening federal price disclosure requirements for textbook publishers and institutions. If passed, the program would build on the success of the Open Textbook Pilot which is already projected to save students an estimated $250 million since its creation in 2018….”

Canadian Copyright, Fair Dealing and Education, Part Five: Open Textbooks Saving Students Millions of Dollars – Michael Geist

“Adjacent to open access publication of research is the growth of open educational resources and open textbooks, which has been actively encouraged and supported by governments who recognize the benefits of investing in textbooks that can be freely copied, adapted, and distributed with no further licensing costs. The model typically involves an upfront payment for the creation of the materials (often through grants) with the stipulation that the licence that accompanies the resulting works will fully permit free and open use. Copyright lobby groups rarely acknowledge the emergence of these materials, which involve significant public expenditures to create and result in a long-term cost savings for educational institutions and their students. 

For example, the Ontario Government has provided funding for post-secondary institutions to create virtual open access resources. eCampusOntario’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) funding engaged Ontario’s post-secondary sector and resulted in the creation of hundreds new virtual educational resources. Other initiatives include Open Education Alberta (run by the University of Alberta), which offers 39 high-quality open educational resources through a partnership with five universities, three colleges, and four other educational institutions as well as BC Campus, which features hundreds of open textbooks. By August 2022, a total of 267,924 British Columbia students were using open textbooks. In 2020/21, 43 educational institutions across the province had replaced course materials with an open textbook – a practice known as adopting. Since 2019, there has been a 70% increase in the number of open textbook adoptions across B.C.

One of the clearest benefits are the cost savings for students. During 2020/21, around 9,000 students at the University of Saskatchewan used open textbooks instead of commercial texts, saving them about $800,000 collectively. Since the University launched its open textbook initiative in 2014, students have saved more than $2.5 million at that one university alone. Investments in the area continue as the University of British Columbia’s 2021/22 budget committed $2.5 million in future years to expand existing learning enhancements, technology tools, and open educational resources….”

Open Textbooks Pilot Program

“The Open Textbooks Pilot program supports projects at eligible institutions of higher education that create new open textbooks and expand the use of open textbooks in courses that are part of a degree-granting program, particularly those with high enrollments. This pilot program emphasizes the development of projects that demonstrate the greatest potential to achieve the highest level of savings for students through sustainable, expanded use of open textbooks in high-enrollment courses or in programs that prepare individuals for in-demand fields.”


Campus Efforts Save NU System Students $13 Million in Textbook Costs | News | University of Nebraska Omaha

“University of Nebraska (NU) System students have saved more than $13 million in textbook costs in recent years thanks to collective efforts of faculty and staff across the four campuses to expand access to more affordable digital course materials.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Medical Center all have launched programs to reduce textbook costs for students – part of a broad goal across the NU System to ensure affordable access to quality education for all students.

Known collectively as “Open Nebraska,” the campuses’ efforts are further evidence of the university’s commitment to reducing costs for students wherever possible, NU System President Ted Carter said….”

Oregon Tech faculty turn to open source materials to save students more than $1.2 million in textbook costs | News |

“Oregon Tech faculty are partnering with Oregon Tech Library’s Open Educational Resources (OER) program to reduce student costs associated with textbook materials, and throughout the past three years have saved Oregon Tech students $1,216,866 in textbook costs.

According to University Librarian John Schoppert, OER are freely accessible, high-quality coursework materials made accessible to students to alleviate the high costs of mainstream publisher textbooks. OER describes openly licensed materials and resources for any user to use, remix, reuse, repurpose and redistribute….”

US plans to open up govt-funded science research papers • The Register

“Swartz rejected a plea bargain that called for a six-month sentence and tried to get a deal with no jail time but MIT reportedly wouldn’t sign off on it. In January 2013, he killed himself at the age of 26.

A month later, the OSTP under the Obama administration issued a memo [PDF] titled, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” It called for federal agencies and departments with over $100 million in annual research spending to develop a plan to promote greater access to publicly funded research.

But as Nelson points out in her memo, the old guidance endorsed a twelve-month post-publication embargo period that allowed academic publishers to maintain an exclusive, remunerative distribution window….

In 2019, the Trump administration contemplated an Executive Order to abolish the 12-month embargo window. But there was pushback from academic publishers and the science community, keen to keep the revenue generated during the embargo period. The Executive Order was never issued.

The economic analysis [PDF] published in conjunction with Nelson’s memo cites figures from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) that show “the average cost to publish a research article from all funding sources falls between $2,000 and $3,000 dollars.” …

“Comparatively, the ‘production’ cost of depositing a federally funded research article into a free public access repository can be, conservatively, as low as $15 and even lower under a federally owned and managed repository such as PubMed,” the analysis says.

So getting rid of the year-long paywall period should save taxpayers between $390 million and $789 million, it’s estimated.”

Assessing the Impact of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework on the Relationship between University Scholarly Output and Education and Regional Economic Growth | Academy of Management Learning & Education

Abstract:  This paper assesses the relationship between stakeholder influence, university scholarly and educational output, and regional economic growth. Specifically, we theorize that stakeholder intervention with respect to university teaching and learning, scholarly research, and entrepreneurship enhances the contribution of universities to regional economic growth. We test this theory using data from the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), an evaluation of the research impact of British higher education institutions. We find that business school graduates, as well as graduates in STEM and health fields, have a positive impact on regional human capital development. On the other hand, stakeholder influence, through the REF, appears to have a negative effect on the retention of human capital, but a positive effect on commercialization in the region. Our findings provide new evidence of positive economic spillovers arising from university research and education and the role of fields, such as business administration, in enhancing human capital development and economic growth. They also lend credence to the notion that graduates are an important channel of knowledge and technology transfer.


Widespread use of National Academies consensus reports by the American public | PNAS


Advocates for open access argue that people need scientific information, although they lack evidence for this. Using Google’s recently developed deep learning natural language processing model, which offers unrivalled comprehension of subtle differences in meaning, 1.6 million people downloading National Academies reports were classified, not just into broad categories such as researchers and teachers but also precisely delineated small groups such as hospital chaplains, veterans, and science fiction authors. The results reveal adults motivated to seek out the most credible sources, engage with challenging material, use it to improve the services they provide, and learn more about the world they live in. The picture contrasts starkly with the dominant narrative of a misinformed and manipulated public targeted by social media.


In seeking to understand how to protect the public information sphere from corruption, researchers understandably focus on dysfunction. However, parts of the public information ecosystem function very well, and understanding this as well will help in protecting and developing existing strengths. Here, we address this gap, focusing on public engagement with high-quality science-based information, consensus reports of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Attending to public use is important to justify public investment in producing and making freely available high-quality, scientifically based reports. We deploy Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), a high-performing, supervised machine learning model, to classify 1.6 million comments left by US downloaders of National Academies reports responding to a prompt asking how they intended to use the report. The results provide detailed, nationwide evidence of how the public uses open access scientifically based information. We find half of reported use to be academic—research, teaching, or studying. The other half reveals adults across the country seeking the highest-quality information to improve how they do their job, to help family members, to satisfy their curiosity, and to learn. Our results establish the existence of demand for high-quality information by the public and that such knowledge is widely deployed to improve provision of services. Knowing the importance of such information, policy makers can be encouraged to protect it.

Who Uses Open Access Research? Evidence from the use of US National Academies Reports   | Impact of Social Sciences

“A fundamental principle of open access is that publication technology enables the widest possible audience for research findings. However, the extent to which open research is used outside of academia is often underexplored. Drawing on a dataset covering over a million user comments about their use of US National Academies consensus study reports, Ameet Doshi, Diana Hicks, Matteo Zullo and Omar I. Asensio find widespread use of open research in the public sphere….

Our classification project reveals that the impact of these reports extend far beyond the research community (see Results, Fig 1). We find that half of all report downloads are used for non-academic purposes, including to improve the provision of services by medical professionals, local and regional planners, public health workers, and veterans’ advocates, to name just a few of the 64 total categories of report use.  Heavy use is made of Academies reports on STEM education and how people learn by teachers, school administrators and teachers’ coaches.  Other notable reports with their prominent users included Dying in America (chaplains), Nutrient Requirements for Beef Cattle (farmers), and Best Care at Lower Costs (clinicians and hospital administrators)….

Open access repositories require significant resources, both technological and human, to sustain and innovate. The National Academies Press, for example, has developed an engaging user interface to incentivize browsing and ease of access to NASEM publications. The PubMed Central server, developed and managed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), requires millions of dollars per year to operate. Our research indicates there is an identifiable payoff to society for these taxpayer investments into people, technology and design to support OA publishing….

Librarians and open access advocates have long presupposed that open access to high-quality scientific knowledge could and should be viewed as a public good. Our empirical research suggests that the initial utopian aspirations regarding the public use and societal impact of OA may indeed rest on sound footing.”


Open medical textbook series offers curriculum flexibility for faculty and cost savings for students | VTx | Virginia Tech

“Renée LeClair, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine associate professor, remembered her frustration when she designed an integrated course for first-year medical students and couldn’t find a single textbook or resource to support the classroom experience she envisioned. Thanks to a VIVA Open Course Grant, University Libraries Open Education Initiative, LibreTexts, and Virginia Tech Publishing, she and her colleague Andrew Binks teamed up to author their own.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Virginia Tech Publishing, through Virginia Tech’s Open Education Initiative housed in the University Libraries, are publishing a five-volume textbook series for pre-clinical medical students that is adaptable and freely downloadable through Pressbooks and LibreTexts. This series aligns with the United States Medical Licensing Examination and is based on faculty experience and peer review….”