2 Key Considerations Before you Start

Have an idea for an open text? 

If you have an idea or a manuscript for an open text, please use the Contact Us form to arrange an initial consultation.

The JCU Library Open Education team (OE team) will prioritise works that are high impact, have Australian content, rebalance representation, and cover emerging disciplines. Specifically, we favour works that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • The open text will replace an existing, expensive commercial text. (The OE team will prioritise the project.)
  • The resource fills gaps in content specific to the Australian context, such as law or where content is influenced by local regulations or protocols.
  • The resource will be used in a core subject in one or more courses.
  • The text is being developed for a first-year subject.
  • The subject matter supports areas of strategic importance for JCU, such as JCU Graduate Attributes.
  • The resource is interdisciplinary and/or is created by a cross-disciplinary team.

Manuscript Readiness

No manuscript: If you only have an idea or concept, this is a great time to get advice from the OE team about your project. Use Part I to understand what is involved in preparing an open educational resource.

Manuscript in progress: If your work is a draft in progress, Part II explains how to prepare your work to submit to the OE team for publication.

Completed manuscript: If your work is a fully developed manuscript, Part II and Part III explain what the OE team needs from you before the publication process begins and what you can expect from us during and after the publication process.

What Resource do You Want to Publish?

Open texts are only one kind of Open Educational Resource (OER). Similar to commercial textbooks, open texts can also include supplementary resources such as instructor notes, lecture slides, quizzes, case studies, and other learning materials. Consider whether your text would benefit from the inclusion of these supplementary resources. Creating supplementary resources in your open text increases its usability, and makes it more attractive for adoption by other educators.

If the resource has been previously published by a commercial publisher, check the copyright carefully, as the publisher will hold the copyright.

If your work is original, ensure that you have not infringed other owners’ copyright. See the copyright section for more information regarding who owns the copyright.

Will You be Using Works Created by Others?

Sharing your work as an open resource will impact whether you can include content created by others. If you are looking for content such as images or videos to add to your open educational resource, it’s best to use content that has either a Creative Commons licence (or other open licence) or is considered public domain.

If you want to use content that does not have a Creative Commons (or other open licence) and is not in the public domain, it may be possible in some cases to obtain written permission. Speak to the OE team early to determine whether this is likely. See the sections on copyright and licensing for more information.


Open resources can be created in a range of formats. These include text and multimedia such as videos, sound files, images, datasets, file sets, slides and other content that supports teaching. Consider what format would best engage your audience in your work. If it’s a book, it can be made available in a range of accessible digital formats such as pdf, HTML, and epub files as well as being printable.

JCU uses Pressbooks for the creation of open textbooks. In Pressbooks you can create, adapt, and share OERs, and have access to a wide audience.

Who is the Author/Creator?

Can you identify all the people who have contributed to the work? You might be the only person to work on a resource, or it might be the collaborative effort of a team of teachers.

Students can also play a valuable role in creating content. For example, students in a University of Southern Queensland course created a culturally specific open text, Gems and Nuggets: Multicultural Education for Young Children (2020) as part of their assessment. To read more student-authored projects, explore the Student-led OER collection at Pressbooks.

Who is the Audience?

Open texts are available to a worldwide audience. It is therefore important to consider the audience of your work. For example, do you want to share your teaching resources with other teachers? Or would a specific group of your audience benefit from the resource? Knowing your audience will help you structure your resource.

If the resource is intended to support a JCU course, the course learning outcomes will be a key consideration in the structure and content of chapters. As an example, JCU academic Dr Carmen Reaiche created a suite of four open eBooks to support students studying the JCU Graduate Certificate in Project Management. Understanding your audience will also assist you in using an appropriate style and language to engage those who will be interested in your resource.

How Will the Resource be Used?

There are many ways an open text can be used, and it’s important to consider this right at the beginning.

The open text could be used as the key textbook for your course, replacing a commercial textbook, or as extra content to support students’ deeper understanding of a subject. Promoting a deeper understanding in Australian history led JCU history lecturer, Dr Claire Brennan to create Beyond Cook: Explorers of Australia and the Pacific.

What Creative Commons Licence will you use?

Sharing and reusing is the heart of open texts, a Creative Commons licence exists to enable these activities. A Creative Commons licence allows others to reuse your work, provided they attribute you as the creator. Essentially, assigning a Creative Commons licence to a work signals to others that you (as the author) are granting permission to (re)use the content. Different Creative Commons licences provide a range of permissions and obligations for users, and as the author, you need to select a licence that best meets your needs.

JCU Library supports the use of Creative Commons licensing. We recommend the most open Creative Commons licences such as Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY), Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC BY SA) and Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Licence (CC BY-NC). For more information, visit the chapter on Creative Commons licences.

You should also be aware of the JCU Intellectual Property Policy and Procedure and how it governs rights to ideas and information that you have developed as a JCU employee. See the chapter on copyright for more information.

Do You Require Any Support to Create Your Resource?

Think about any support you might need before you start creating your resource. Some ideas could include:

The OE team will provide support and guidance with Pressbooks, Creative Commons licences, and copyright. Your liaison librarian can also assist in finding OER relevant to your discipline.

Chapter Attribution

This chapter has been adapted in parts from:

Open Publishing Guide for Authors by University of Southern Queensland. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


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JCU OER Author Guide Copyright © 2023 by James Cook University Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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