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How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: 2i. Open Access Materials

How to do research

OER & Open Access Resources

See our OER & Open Access subject page for a wide range of OER and OA resources.


Open access (OA, for short) refers to a wide range of creative works that are available either in the public domain or under a Creative Commons (CC) license.

Open Educational Resources (OER) refers to a group of materials specifically created to support teaching and learning.  OER is usually licensed under Creative Commons.  OER course textbooks often come with add-ons such as question banks.

You can tell Library Search to search only for open access materials, or limit your search results to only OA materials.

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons (CC) licenses occupy the space between public domain and copyright.  They allow creators to specify the conditions under which their creations may be used without requesting permission from the license holder.

The licenses in order, from least restrictive to most restrictive:

  • CC-BY: Attribution.  Allows materials to be used for any purpose, adapted, and/or remixed.  You must give attribution to the material's creator.
  • CC-BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike.  Same as CC-BY, but you must license any adaptation or remixed version with a CC-BY-SA license.
  • CC-BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial. Same as CC-BY, but you can't use the original material or any adaptation of it for commercial purposes.
  • CC-BY-ND: Attribution-NoDerivatives.  Same as CC-BY, but you can't adapt or remix materials -- you must use them "as is."
  • CC-BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. 
  • CC-BY-NC-ND: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives.

For more information about Creative Commons licensing, see the link below, or contact Marge Kappanadze, Director of the Library, at or at (607) 735-1867.

OA & OER Repositories

OA and OER repositories are a good way to explore the range of available materials.  The following are especially helpful: