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Guidelines for publishing Open Educational Resources in a FAIR way

This text summarises the key recommendations listed in the article "Ten simple rules for making training materials FAIR". The following guidelines describe how open educational resources (OER) can be released in a findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable way.

  1. Plan to share your OER online: DANS Easy and 4TU are both certified repositories and thus reliable archiving options. Zenodo is not certified but is also a reliable option since it is provided by the big research programme CERN. The advantage of Zenodo is that it can be linked to a GitHub repository and, in addition, allows users to update the OER, including versioning through DOIs. For more repositories, check
  2. Improve the findability of your OER by properly describing them: Metadata is an essential means to make OER findable through search engines. Table 1 provides an overview of suggested metadata. Repositories usually provide a basic set of metadata fields. For more advanced options, check 4).
  3. Give your OER a unique identity: DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is a unique identity provided by most repositories, such as DANS Easy, 4TU, and Zenodo. If a repository does not offer DOIs (or a similar persistent identifier), it is probably not reliable!
  4. Register your OER online: There are different registries for sharing OER. Open Educational Resources Commons is one of them. In short, the idea is that after you deposit your OER on a repository, you can register them in these registries by describing them in more detail with more metadata. This approach will facilitate findability since such registries often also provide search functionality.
  5. Define access rules for your training materials: An authentication mechanism (e.g., login) is needed only if the materials should not be made available to everyone. Access restrictions should be mentioned as part of the metadata.
  6. Use an interoperable format for your OER: This aspect will greatly facilitate the reusability of OER. For example, it is easier for others to reuse editable Microsoft PowerPoint files than non-editable PDF files. It might make sense to review all materials (datasets, software, source code, workflows etc.) and check whether the content is stored in an editable file format. Ideally, open data formats are prefered over proprietary formats (e.g., .csv instead of .xls). Check table 2 for some advantages and disadvantages of commonly used file formats. Also, check DANS' overview of preferred and non-preferred data formats. The overview is incomplete and not always in line with open practices, but a good start.
  7. Make your training materials (re)usable by adding a license: Others can't reuse your materials if there is no license. Hence, adding a license to the asset and the metadata is a fundamental requirement. For texts and datasets, you will likely end up using one of the Creative Commons licenses (e.g., CC-BY). For software, the licenses Apache and MIT are good options. For more information on open licenses, check our short 10-minutes tutorial.
  8. Make your OER usable for trainees: Adding learning outcomes and prerequisites (knowledge, skills, abilities, etc.) to the metadata will help trainees determine whether your OER is relevant to them.
  9. Make your OER contribution-friendly: There is always room for improvement, and the concept of OER can pave the way for joining forces. You can facilitate this task by adding a CONTRIBUTING file to your materials. This file describes how others can contribute to improving the materials. Tools like GitLab or GitHub can help coordinate these efforts using so-called Issues.
  10. Keep your training materials up-to-date: Be aware that software can change. Thus, any screenshots in your slides might become outdated after a software update. In such cases, a repository that provides versioning (e.g., Zenodo) is of great help.

Table 1:

Table 2:

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