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Open Textbooks: Evaluating open textbooks

For those interested in using or creating open textbooks

Assessing for quality

Faculty Guide for Evaluating Open Education ResourcesWith so many freely available resources online, choosing OER can be overwhelming. The Faculty Guide for Evaluating Open Education Resources Checklist contains some suggestions for faculty when choosing resources for use in the classroom. The checklist asks questions in the following areas when making a decision on selecting an OER:

  • Accuracy
  • Relevance
  • Production Quality
  • Accessibility
  • Interactivity
  • Licensing

The Faculty Guide for Evaluating Open Education Resources is a creation of the BCOER, a group of BC postsecondary librarians working together to support the use of quality Open Educational Resources (OER). For more information about BCOER and its activities, go to


Criteria for reviewing open textbooks

  • Comprehensiveness – The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary.
  • Content Accuracy – Content, including diagrams and other supplementary material, is accurate, error-free and unbiased.
  • Relevance/Longevity – Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.
  • Clarity – The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used.
  • Consistency – The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
  • Modularity – The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
  • Organization/Structure/Flow – The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion.
    Interface – The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.
  • Grammatical Errors – The text contains no grammatical errors.
  • Cultural Relevance – The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Getting help

The Madigan Librarians can help you get started by:

  • Helping you find open textbooks in specific subjects
  • Putting you in touch with other faculty using open textbooks
  • Identifying resources on how to use and teach with open textbooks
  • Assisting you with copyright and creative commons licensing questions


Open License Acknowledgement

Content on this page is adapted from Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Open Textbooks LibGuide by the CAUL Scholarly Communications Committee. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.