Chapter Five: Summary and Implications

The exploration in hermeneutics of a dedicated OER policy corpus was examined through the lens of the research question—how to understand OER in a dedicated OER policy? Consequently, OER in the corpus was understood from the contexts of institutional organisation and as an object, within an OER paradigm. Overall, the dedicated OER policies were about institutional organization of OER for people, policies, and divisions; with marginal concern for creation and use of OER with digital technologies for teaching and learning material. The contexts of dedicated OER policy texts were revealed through emergent large patterns, emergent control patterns, and keywords of the corpus.

The emergent large patterns of the dedicated OER policy corpus illuminated patterns of control for OER such as student engagement. The corpus had few texts devoted to OER objects, regarding open technologies to create and deliver the object(s) in an OER paradigm. The patterns of OER control revealed a divide between institutional entities and learners, for teaching and learning in conjunction with production and consumption of OER. Furthermore, the corpus focuses on the institutional organisation included, but not limited to, emergent large patterns such as roles and preamble rationalising OER for the institution. The corpus had a marginal digital technologies context toward creation, delivery, and use of OER for teaching and learning.

Cycles of close and distant readings brought new understandings between contexts and dedicated OER policy texts that revealed patterns and keywords. New understandings of OER in the dedicated OER policy corpus have implications for post-secondary institutions considering or currently involved with OER. Investigation of OER in the corpus indicated consideration for consistency, commitment, and comprehensiveness of dedicated OER policy for the benefit of post-secondary institutions and academic community.

Open Research

An aim of exploring a word-wide collection of published post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy texts was to develop a greater understanding toward OER. This study was not intended to present a criticism of OER policy; rather, this examination of dedicated OER policy texts was from a hermeneutic approach. My research aimed to operate in an open ethos with an open research website using Creative Commons licensed data and documents. Furthermore, relevant FOSS tools were leveraged in generating research data in an open, non-proprietary format. My study included, but not limited to, sharing of: a benchmark collection of dedicated OER policy documents, a dynamic web-based dedicated OER policy corpus on the Voyant Tools website, and a supporting research website. Thus, an aim of this open research was to provide understandings and suggestions for post-secondary institutions either with, or without but engaged in OER, or considering, a dedicated OER policy.

OER Policy Landscape

OER policy literature used dedicated OER policy for institutional adoption and promotion of the Paris OER Declaration (ASEF Outlook Report 2016/2017 – Connectivity, 2016; Pawlowski & Hoel, 2012a). Recent literature on institutional OER policies used the phrase dedicated OER policy to identify a kind of OER policy (Ebner et al., 2022; Jordan et al., 2021). The OER World Map policy repository used dedicated OER policy as a search parameter (Pohl, 2022). The OER policy literature did not indicate if the term dedicated prefixed to OER policy was an adjective or a noun. My hermeneutic research elaborated on the concept of dedicated OER policy as a noun, and the term dedicated as a noun adjective. The dedicated OER policy corpus provided a baseline of published post-secondary institutional documents having common OER policy titles and OER policy text for the adoption and implementation of OER.

OER policy literature such as Hoosen’s (2012) government survey and state OER policy by Butcher and Baijnath (2023) provided a background to the global OER policy situation. However, recent surveys of dedicated OER policies in the literature have not been found. Consequently, this research furthers past OER policy literature in the development of a world-wide dedicated OER policy corpus and supporting data, such as the provenance of a post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy document.

The dedicated OER policy corpus spanned multiple OER policy categories proposed by N. Allen and Shockey (2014), such as licensing, resources, and inducement. Furthermore, the dedicated OER policy corpus used terms such as guidance and capacity building in the development and dissemination of OER. Thus, emergent large patterns in the corpus provided an alternative perspective to frame dedicated OER policy.

The policy section of the OER model and the social authoring model proposed by Stacey and Rominger (2006), provided an initial background understanding and opportunities for developing dedicated OER policies within a social context. In example, OOETP provides the functionality for shared authoring, commenting, and annotation (Zimmerman, 2013/2018). Consideration for students as OER authors could promote greater engagement with OER in the learning process (Maria Smith, 2017; Wall, 2022; Winn, 2009). Thus, emergent patterns in the dedicated OER policy corpus and OER control provided further understanding of the student as producer and consumer in the OER landscape, and further avenues for dedicated OER policy development of roles for learners.

Hermeneutic Approach

This study was grounded in an interpretivist paradigm of a relativist reality bounded epistemologically by a subjectivist position and a hermeneutic methodology (Lincoln et al., 2011). The methodology aligned with Angen’s (2000, as cited in Lincoln et al., 2011) notion that “meanings are emergent from the research process” (p. 105). Additionally, the exploratory design provided flexibility, focus, and a point of retrospection on the dedicated OER policy corpus. According to Guba (1990), “individual constructions are elicited and refined hermeneutically, and compared and contrasted dialectically, with the aim of generating one (or a few) constructions on which there is substantial consensus” (p. 27). The researcher (i.e., interpreter) employed hermeneutic cycles of close and distant readings of the dedicated OER policy corpus. Hermeneutic cycles of the researcher’s initial understanding of the policy context were established by reference to the corpus texts and understanding of the corpus texts by reference to the policy context; thereby creating new contexts and new text understandings (Gijsbers, 2017; Malpas, 2018; Wikipedia contributors, 2022c). Gadamer (1975) stated that “discovery of the true meaning of a text or a work of art is never finished; it is in fact an infinite process” (p. 265). Thus, this study captured part of the continuous hermeneutic cycles of the corpus to reveal interpretations of policy texts that were discernible toward the research evaluation criteria of persuasiveness, insightfulness, and practical utility (Patterson et al., 1998). Iterative recontextualization between the researcher and texts revealed emergent patterns and keywords in the dedicated OER policy corpus that provided a greater understanding of how OER was expressed in policy.


Close and distant readings of the dedicated OER policy corpus were interwined with text analysis by the researcher and Voyant Tools. Voyant Tools concordancing revealed “patterns of usage and the paradigms” (Wynne, 2007, sec. Introduction). In addition, close readings of the dedicated OER policy texts furthered the emergence of large patterns in the corpus (see Table 2). Eight emergent large patterns from the corpus were: institutional branding, Creative Commons review, liability, licenses, metadata, OER definition, preamble, and roles. These large emergent patterns varied in quantity and form across the corpus, such as text in bulleted lists and paragraphs. Furthermore, the patterns occasionally overlapped, such as licences embedded in a liability pattern found in the Scope Liability and Disclaimer section of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Policy document (University of the South Pacific, 2017, pp. 2–3). Anomalies in the corpus documents were the split dedicated OER policy documents between policy statement and procedure (Northern Virginia Community College, 2018, 2021; Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, 2018a, 2018b), and a document with marginal content (Central Virginia Community College, 2019). For the purposes of this research, a primary relevant document from each institution was selected for the corpus (i.e., the OER policy document with the most content). In example, the SAIT OER policy document with procedures contained an elaborated policy statement and guidance (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, 2018b), whereas the preceding OER policy (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, 2018a) contained a single sentence followed by reference to the policy and guidance document. The OER policy from Northern Virginia Community College (2018) had a detailed statement that was considered the primary document for the corpus. However, future research could incorporate the split institutional OER policies into a dedicated OER policy corpus for text analysis. Separation of a dedicated OER policy document into several documents, such as policy and procedures, could potentially fragment the OER message compared to the organisation of a single cohesive standardised post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy document or template. However, the creation of an institutional OER policy is outside the scope of this preliminary investigation of a dedicated OER policy corpus as “academic research” (Weimer & Vining, 2004, pp. 25–26).

The same close and distant reading methods for the dedicated OER policy corpus were applied to two published institutional OER policy templates referenced from corpus texts. Emergent large patterns in the templates matched the corpus patterns. Thus, dedicated OER policy corpus and institutional OER policy templates expressed common emergent large patterns documented in Tables 2 and 3. Future studies could examine policy-making relationships between an institutional OER policy template and dedicated OER policies.

Emergent OER control patterns developed from the interpretation of large emergent patterns in the corpus, such as copyright and roles regarding institutional entities and the academic community. A common emergent pattern of OER control in the corpus was that institutions were the OER copyright holders. In example, a corpus document stated that “the copyright owner will normally be the University of Kelaniya for OERs created at the University” (University of Kelaniya, 2020, p. 3). Institutional OER control in the corpus was consistent with Hoosen and Butcher’s (2012), finding from a review of available policies that institutions focused “primarily on managing intellectual property rights and releasing materials using a Creative Commons license” (p. 217).

The academic community had marginal control of OER when not conflicting with the institution, such as consulting on content to be published as OER (Tamil Nadu Open University, 2020, p. 10). Recognition of student opportunities for control of OER varied across the corpus. Ten of the corpus policy documents identified students as producers of OER, such as texts declaring support for staff and students in the creation and publishing of OER (University of Edinburgh, 2016, p. 2) (see Table 4). However, recognition of students as OER producers was not shared by all post-secondary institutions. For example, the corpus included such statements as “this policy presumes that students will not be independent creators of OER material” (Africa Nazarene University, 2015, p. 6). Hence, student engagement as producers and consumers has yet to become a universal expectation of OER practices in dedicated OER policy.

The institutional OER policy template documents were examined for OER control patterns in the same way as previously discussed for emergent large patterns (see Table 5). The template files indicated an institutional focus, whereas students were not indicated as producers or having support. For example, in the Copyrights and Licenses section of the template file version 2 stated that “the institution is the absolute owner of the copyright of any content created by it” (Commonwealth of Learning, 2021a, p. 5). The Scope and Applicability section of template version 2 did not indicate students but did identify “all academic and support departments of the institution” (Commonwealth of Learning, 2021a, pp. 4–5). Thus, students could be creators of OER if not employed by the institution and would not have the restrictions imposed by the institutional OER policy for staff and departments (Commonwealth of Learning, 2021a). Since students were absent in institutional OER policy templates, there is an opportunity for students to operate independently in OER creation and publishing that could empower personal learning and be advantageous for student associations to develop their own dedicated OER policy.

Legal and authoritative terms, such as shall, may, must and must indicated obligation but not mandatory use of OER (see Table 6). The meanings from the legal and authoritative keywords in the policy texts were interpreted as purposeful and important actions for engagement with OER. However, the institutional and academic provisos in the corpus provided the opportunity to negate OER with such statements as “open licensing may not be appropriate where education materials are to be commercialised” (Queensland University of Technology, 2021, sec. 7.2.4 Obligations). As such, the corpus policies were voluntary for the institution and institutional entities. A single policy in the corpus used the term mandatory in the heading Scope: Mandatory Policy stating, “this policy applies to all students and staff in the university” (University of Edinburgh, 2016). The mandatory policy indicated who will be impacted by the policy, but this did not necessarily mean that OER was mandatory for teaching and learning materials. Thus, unequivocal commitment towards OER for all teaching and learning materials in post-secondary institutions has yet to be realised in dedicated OER policy.

Corpus documents indicated that institutions included disclaimers absolving the institution of liability whereas OER authors were accountable for such aspects as licencing, content, and quality. Corpus terms merit future investigation as term meanings could have deeper implications for OER from legal and material contexts, such as the source of liability. As such, liability and OER engagement for the academic community could be considerations juxtaposed to institutional disclaimers of liability for OER.

In sum, key findings in developing new understandings of OER in OER policy, from close and distant readings, included but not limited to:

  • large emergent patterns in the dedicated OER policy corpus;
  • emergent patterns of OER control;
  • liability in corpus as pattern and keyword;
  • terms expressing authority and obligation;
  • emergent patterns in the corpus, reflected in the institutional OER policy templates, illuminated differences of consistency, commitment, and comprehensiveness.


The transferability of findings is limited to institutions at the post-secondary level with a dedicated OER policy. The corpus in this study was focused on a world-wide collection of post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policies prior to 2022. A different corpus would be required to examine OER policies for institutions at different levels and contexts to this study.

The transportability of the data and results is limited by FOSS tools accessible on the Internet. Thus, an Internet-connected computer is required to access Voyant Tools, conduct literature searches, and download relevant applications for this study.

The interpretations generated in this study were limited by the researcher’s examination of the corpus text using selected hermeneutical methods of close and distant readings. The methods were bound by the ontological and epistemological interpretivist paradigm. Future research of dedicated OER policy may employ computing technologies such as artificial intelligence that is currently available online as grammar and spelling services and chatbots (Gnewuch, 2023; Kuhail et al., 2023).

The FOSS tools used in this study may require learning to function with proficiency and understanding of the limitations in the software. Voyant Tools generates results from digital texts uploaded to its visual application environment, but not interpretations of the text. Furthermore, poor quality or corrupted text with hidden characters or texts in multiple languages could be an issue in the consistency of the data inputs for Voyant Tools. Hence, preparation time, depending on volume of data, was lengthy for developing clean plain text files for ingestion into Voyant Tools.

Implications for Post-secondary Institutions

Hermeneutics of a world-wide post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy corpus has illuminated understandings of the corpus texts that have the potential to improve institutional dedicated OER policy to support and sustain students, faculty, and staff engaged with OER. The close and distant readings gained understandings between context and text for the OER policy corpus that revealed patterns and keywords. The following insights provide utility and opportunity for dedicated OER policy in post-secondary education.


Assuming there is a commitment to OER in post-secondary institutions, then implementation of a dedicated OER policy would be purposeful to education, multidirectional, and contextualised in an institution engaged in OER and open education practices (Viennet & Pont, 2017). According to Bell and Stevenson (2006), “policy must be seen as a dialectic process in which all those affected by the policy will be involved in shaping its development” (p. 2). Thus, a dedicated OER policy could be considered a product and continuous process toward OER in open educational practices, furthered by the following attributes from Viennet and Pont’s (2017, p. 7) education policy implementation framework: smart design, stakeholder inclusivity, conducive context, and coherent actions. Hence, post-secondary institutions engaged in OER could consider adoption of a dedicated OER policy to support and sustain OER and open educational practices. Post-secondary institutions with a dedicated OER policy may consider improvements to the text, as an evolutionary process in strengthening the OER condition. In example, corpus policy text included dates, versioning, and statements such as, “the OER Policy will be reviewed annually as part of the University’s review of policy compliance or in response to changes in legislative or regulatory requirements” (Glasgow Caledonian University, 2020, p. 3).


Although the dedicated OER policy documents varied in organization and content, emergent large patterns were found across the corpus. The corpus patterns indicated an opportunity for consideration of an international institutional OER policy standard to streamline post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy texts. An institutional dedicated OER policy standard could be advantageous for rapid development of dedicated OER policy text and promote commitment, consistency, and comprehensiveness in a dedicated OER policy template for world-wide use (Benefits of Applying Standards, 2019; ISO – Benefits of Standards, n.d.). Furthermore, an institutional dedicated OER policy standard would ensure that the OER content and licensing would be streamlined world-wide, rather than the current variation in open copyrights for dedicated OER policy documents (see Table 11). An international institutional dedicated OER policy standard could improve the integration of the academic community in OER policy and OER engagement.

The absence of an international standard dedicated OER policy (or template) for institutions risk ambiguities, fragmentation, and dilution of the OER policy message toward OER adoption and implementation. In example (see Appendix D), a recent OER policy document emphasized institutional open educational approaches and open educational practices for students and staff (University of the Highlands and Islands, 2023, p. 9). It was noteworthy that the University of the Highlands and Islands Open Educational Resources (OER) policy (Appendix D) was found to have the same large emergent patterns as in the research corpus (Appendix A). However, the phrase open educational practice occurred once in the Appendix A corpus body of text (Odisha State Open University, 2016, p. 5), and twice in footnotes (University of Edinburgh, 2016, p. 3). Thus, the emergence of the phrases open education and open educational practices in the Appendix D addendum dedicated OER policy could be an avenue of future investigation.


Emergent patterns of OER control for the institution and the academic community indicated a tendency towards an institutional top-down approach in dedicated OER policy (Marín et al., 2022). Greater consideration toward facilitating rather than top-down control, could potentially improve the implementation of OER for educational institutions, such as faculty and student collaboration in creation and implementation of a dedicated OER policy.

Faculty and staff involvement with OER policy could be further addressed as per Skidmore’s (2019, p. 24) open education diagnostic tool. Consideration toward how faculty and staff will be supported that will ensure engagement with OER could be at issue, considering the tendency in the dedicated OER policy corpus was for institutions to claim intellectual property rights (IPR) on OER from faculty and staff, such as found in Appendix D policy (University of the Highlands and Islands, 2023, p. 10).

Issues such as IPR and open educational practices are outside the scope of this study. Furthermore, faculty and staff incentives was outside the scope of this research on interpreting a post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy corpus. However, a dedicated OER policy that recognizes the same or greater incentives and opportunities afforded under pre-OER policy conditions could promote OER and the OER paradigm. Skidmore (2019) concluded that “some of the major obstacles to open educational practice, such as lack of professional recognition, can only be properly addressed by institutional policy” (p. 25). Cox (2016), cautioned that:

The presence of a policy should not be conflated with its enactment. Although the policy exists, its presence does not explain the way people feel about it or act upon it. The adherence to an OER policy depends not only on the institutional culture but also on the lecturers at the institution and their types of reflexivity. (p. 192)

Similarly, Hoosen and Butcher (2012) found “in some instances, policy has been created, but with little evidence of consistency between policy and practice, highlighting that policy fulfils a limited function and that issues such as sustainability and faculty buy-in and involvement are of equal importance” (p. 217). Thus, dedicated OER policy text is only part of the OER movement that also includes, but not limited to, faculty, staff, and students. Hence, future research could investigate human engagement with OER for institutions having a dedicated OER policy. In addition, research could examine the kinds of institutional incentives that facilitate change for OER adoption and merit inclusion in dedicated OER policy. For example, the Appendix A corpus had three documents offering certificates as an award, and one document using the term remuneration. The term tenure was found in one document of the corpus. Thus, reward and recognition (e.g., incentives equal or greater than commercial activities) in creation and use of OER in teaching and learning could promote and sustain OER in education (Miao et al., 2016; UNESCO, 2017, 2019a).

Role Model

Roles were found as an emergent pattern in the corpus, such as designated OER institutional entities for production and evaluation. However, a dedicated OER policy can be a role model for OER by creating the policy document in a FOSS native format, such as LibreOffice, rather than an export format such as PDF or commercial software format. Furthermore, a dedicated OER policy needs to consider how to leverage open digital technologies for creation, distribution, and use of OER. In addition, a Creative Commons licensed dedicated OER policy document that matches the policy expectations for OER licensing could be a coherent message for the academic community.


Liability was found as an emergent large pattern of the corpus and as a keyword. Liability provided legal clarity on OER for the institution and academic community. Institutions adopting or engaged in OER without a dedicated OER policy may consider such policy as beneficial to institutional OER and commitment to the OER paradigm. Further research on liability could benefit dedicated OER policy, such as mitigating liability with OER copyright or plagiarism issues (Conrad, Dianne et al., 2013, p. 24). Furthermore, OER can be used in unforeseen and potentially harmful ways that may involve liability, such as OER media embedded with nefarious messages by steganography (Wikipedia contributors, 2023e).

The University of the Highlands and Islands Open Educational Resources (OER) Policy (University of the Highlands and Islands, 2023) used the term risk rather than liability. Risks included, but not limited to, penalties, non-compliance, and loss of commercial content (University of the Highlands and Islands, 2023, pp. 6–7). OER risks are not the exclusive domain of institutions. The academic community also takes risks, such as financial loss and damage to reputation. Although resolving agendas in OER policy is outside the scope of the study, risk management may provide future avenues for OER research (Sandman, n.d.).

Future research in understanding liability and risks in the dedicated OER policy corpus could be advantageous toward bringing attention to issues involving OER. Furthermore, awareness of liability and risks of OER could motivate institutions to consider improving or adopting a dedicated OER policy.


Emergent OER control patterns in the dedicated OER policy corpus revealed little support for students that could be meaningful to adoption and engagement with OER. For example, an indication of collaboration between institutional entities and students in the corpus was found in 6 of 28 documents. The low support for students could be an area for improvement in student engagement within dedicated OER policies (Table 4). Although the dedicated OER policy corpus indicated low inclusion in the OER process and support for students, institutional OER policy templates had zero indication of students as OER creators, collaborators, or supported in OER engagement. Greater inclusion of students in dedicated OER policies could benefit learning opportunities and promote OER. Hence, consideration for flipping the institutional hierarchy of OER stakeholder organization and control for students could be drivers of change in dedicated OER policy and OER.

Students have opportunities engaging with OER as producers, as institutional dedicated OER policy does not prevent students from creating and using their own OER. Thus, students and their associations have a choice between an active or passive role in the OER paradigm, regardless of an institutions’ dedicated OER policy. However, an institution that recognizes student inclusivity in dedicated OER policy development and implementation could have potential collaborative benefits. It is noteworthy that student associations in Canada have been taxing students for years with mandatory student fees, and thus have the potential finances for OER development and distribution (Swettenham, 2018, 2019a, 2019b). In example, the January 2023 financial balance sheet of the Athabasca University Student Association stated total assets were 1.9 million dollars that could be funding OER for everyone (Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU), 2023). Hence, student engagement and commitment to supporting OER needs further consideration toward the expansion and sustainability of OER. Given the researcher’s experiences with student engagement in open e-textbooks discussed in the preface, there is much potential for student learning and faculty collaboration in creation and use of OER.

OER Paradigm

The OER paradigm was acknowledged in the corpus texts rationalizing OER adoption to benefit teaching and learning (e.g., preamble and OER definition patterns). Stacey and Rominger’s (2006, p. 1) OER Model provided a simplified construct for the proposed denotation of an OER paradigm, with OER at the core connected to policy, legal, business, technology, and academic social-cultural attributes (Stacey & Rominger, 2006, pp. 1–2). For the purposes of this research, the OER Model was considered representative of the OER paradigm toward understanding OER in dedicated OER policy of post-secondary institutions (Stacey & Rominger, 2006).

Commitment to an OER paradigm was voluntary in the corpus, rather than mandatory for all institutional teaching and learning materials to be OER. Understandings from the corpus was that OER was more symbolic toward OEP than a literal certainty, with institutional priority on monetisation and protection, such as saleable teaching and learning materials and copyrighted logos.

Furthermore, Creative Commons licences could have greater consideration in continuity between the dedicated OER policy as a policy and as an OER. The research corpus contained 18 Creative Commons copyrighted policy documents, and the remainder 10 policy documents did not indicate any open licence as per Table 11. Since OER is central to dedicated OER policy, then an open copyright designation for the policy document such as CC BY could demonstrate a meaningful commitment to the OER paradigm.

Institutions and the academic community can utilise FOSS for publishing OER and policy document source files (e.g., LibreOffice format). FOSS-based source files demonstrate commitment to the OER paradigm, and establishment of open file formats as standards in OER and dedicated OER policy (i.e., policy and document file).

Future Research and Development

The replication of this study with a larger corpus of documents could provide further insights towards OER contexts in dedicated OER policy as demonstrated in Appendix D. Furthermore, the exploration of OER policies at other educational institutional levels using hermeneutic methods could provide greater understanding toward the development of OER policies. Future studies could examine student involvement with institutional dedicated OER policy development and implementation, toward understanding the potential opportunities for learners in an OER paradigm.

The emergent patterns of the corpus in conjunction with the templates suggest that an international standardisation of dedicated OER policy could be useful for a consistent and comprehensive policy product. In example, future research and development of a dedicated OER policy template may consider modular content as a flexible strategy to accommodate an institution’s OER situation, such as a glossary baseline. According to Hoosen and Butcher (2012), a review of policies revealed “that they do not typically cover all aspects related to OER creation and adaptation” (p. 217). A standardised dedicated OER policy template could include considerations for an institution’s cultural and technological situation in production, management, and consumption of OER, such as guidance on adapting existing OER for courseware.

This study and corpus could contribute towards the examination of the academic community role in dedicated OER policies. Skidmore’s (2019, p. 24) diagnostic tool for open education policy could be useful towards understanding academic community motivation and institutional support. Notably, financial incentives in the corpus varied with each institution; thereby indicating further attention needed toward consistent support in OER engagement. Furthermore, IPR, copyright license, and liability could be issues for study, such as stakeholder relationships with OER. Skidmore’s (2019, p. 24) open education policy scan considered the intersection of institutional-wide adoption of OER and recognition of tenure and promotion to be the highest level of support. Researching how OER activity is treated in comparison to proprietary activities within post-secondary institutions may illuminate disparities between an OER paradigm and commercial agendas. Thus, more research is needed to understand the academic community situation toward OER in post-secondary institutions that have implemented a dedicated OER policy versus institutions engaged in OER without a dedicated OER policy.

Further research could explore the impact of post-secondary dedicated OER policies on faculty and students, as an extension of past institutional OER policy surveys (Hoosen, 2012; Ngengebule & Nonyongo, 2013). The integration of learners in the OER process, as an intentional part of a quality education, could benefit from investigating how learners understand and experience OER policy. The literature tends to examine OER policy from the institutional perspective rather than from the learner perspective (Miao et al., 2019; OECD, 2015; Ramirez-Montoya & Obiageli AGBU, 2020). Since an important purpose of OER is for the learners, further studies could examine the participation of the students in the development and implementation of dedicated OER policies.

Investment considerations are important to the development and sustainability of OER. As such, a text section on funding in a dedicated OER policy could reinforce commitment to OER activities. Three dedicated OER policy documents declared that “funding should be used” (University of Edinburgh, 2016, p. 3; University of Kelaniya, 2020, pp. 3–5; Washington State University, 2018, p. 44). However, more research and development on short– and long–term funding of OER could be useful to dedicated OER policy and template. Stacey and Rominger’s (2006, fig. 2) OER policy section identified markets and public funds as key decision points that could be beneficial to a dedicated OER policy.

Research Contributions

Exploratory design was appropriate for this preliminary research context of 28 corpus documents, with few earlier literature sources on dedicated OER policies, and no found OER policy research employing hermeneutic methods. This research contributed to a greater awareness and understanding of dedicated OER policy for future investigations. Additionally, this study augments the policy dimension of the OER paradigm with the dedicated OER policy construct (Stacey & Rominger, 2006). A worldwide collection of published online post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy documents prior to 2022, provided a corpus baseline and potential benchmark for institutions to review and investigate further from an open research website ( Furthermore, Creative Commons licensed open data and results, generated by close and distant readings with FOSS tools, are accessible on the research website and via Voyant Tools URLs. In addition, the citation database in Zotero RDF open format contained an organised library focused on OER that is downloadable from the research website. Therefore, this open research provides the academic community with free (i.e., no charge), accessible, and reproducible open data. The hermeneutics of the dedicated OER policy corpus demonstrated that this research approach was useful in gaining a richer understanding of OER in dedicated OER policy. The research tools and data are an opportunity for post-secondary institutions to conduct a review of their own dedicated OER policy document(s).

The hermeneutics of dedicated OER policies was a cyclic process that arrived at a point in the exploration where the results provided an answer to the research question within the scope of the investigation. The study captured a well–grounded picture of post-secondary institutional dedicated OER policy, through interpretation and understanding of OER in the corpus. The text analysis, interpretations, new contexts, understandings, and fusion of horizons are a continuous hermeneutic process (Gadamer, 1975; Rockwell & Sinclair, 2016). The dedicated OER policy corpus study merits consideration for post-secondary institutions adopting or engaged in an OER paradigm toward sustaining the development, production, distribution, and use of OER in teaching, learning, and research.

Exploration of how OER can be understood in dedicated OER policy has implications for post-secondary institutions and the academic community towards adoption, promotion, and sustainability of the OER paradigm. Institutional dedicated OER policy is a product and process that can stimulate change toward nurturing a diverse, thriving, and sustainable OER paradigm. In agreement with Skidmore’s (2019) conclusion, OER policy “should be guided by a “think globally, act locally” approach” (p. 25). In retrospection, there may be a misperception that OER is exclusively an educational institution agenda, rather than a citizenry agenda toward freedom in access to knowledge.

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