Find and evaluate OERs

There are a range of search tools available to help you find open educational resources (OERs), depending on your discipline and needs.

OER Collections and Search Tools are useful to find the full range of OERs including textbooks, courses, course materials, lesson plans, simulations, visualisations, videos, games, podcasts, learning objects, primary sources and more. There may also be a discipline-specific collection in your area.

If you are only interested in academic books or textbooks, you can search the open access book collections below or use EBSCO Faculty Select.

The resources within each collection have a variety of licences and conditions. Check the details of each resource carefully against the licence considerations described below.

OER collections and search tools

These collections contain the full range of OERs and are suitable for teachers and learners alike.


Discipline /skill specific

Open textbooks and open access books

These collections particularly focus on open textbooks and open access research books that are suitable for both teachers and learners.

Open access books on EBSCO Faculty Select

University of Melbourne staff have access to EBSCO Faculty Select. This resource searches multiple ebook databases for open textbooks and other scholarly books available for purchase.

Log in to Faculty Select

To find open access books, limit your search to either “OER” or “OA eBooks” in the “Refine Results” sidebar.

A screenshot of the Faculty Select interface, highlighting the “OER” and “OA eBooks” tick boxes on the search results page.

“OER” will return open textbooks and open access books from prominent OER collections. “OA eBooks” returns openly published books

Evaluate OERs

Many of the principles for evaluating OERs are the same as for evaluating other educational resources. However, particular attention should be paid to licensing requirements, as these will impact how the resources can be used.

  • Relevance
    • Are the necessary topics covered?
    • Is it relevant to the context being studied, or could it be adapted to be made more relevant?
  • Audience
    • Is the OER suitable for the student cohort, or was it developed for a more advanced, or more general, level?
  • Quality of content
    • Is the educational content accurate, current, and of a high academic standard?
    • Was it developed by qualified experts at reputable institutions?
  • Production quality
    • Is the resource’s production quality of a high standard?
    • Is text appropriately formatted, with high quality images and video, and clear audio?
    • If not, can you improve the quality of the material, or create a high-quality version?
  • Accessibility
    • Is the OER accessible and inclusive of students from diverse backgrounds, or with disabilities or learning difficulties?
    • For example, do images have captions or alt text? Are colour-blind-friendly diagrams used? Is the language accessible?
    • If the OER is not accessible, can you adapt it to make it so? If not, you will need to find an accessible alternative.
    • Find out more about accessibility at the University of Melbourne.

Licence considerations

It is important to check that any OER you want to use is licensed to meet your requirements.

How do different Creative Commons licence elements affect OERs?

Each Creative Commons element has its own implications when it comes to OERs, as described below. Keep in mind that multiple elements are used in most licences, meaning multiple conditions will apply.

BY BY (Attribution): Credit must be given to the creator.
A creator may have suggested how they would like to be attributed, otherwise the Creative Commons has details on how to give attribution.

SA SA (Share Alike): Adaptations must be shared under the same terms.
Make a plan for sharing the adapted version before starting. See Adopt, Adapt, or Share OERs for guidance on sharing OERs.

NC NC (Non-Commercial): Only non-commercial uses of the work are permitted.
Works can be freely used for educational purposes. However, any adapted or modified resources should be freely available so that access does not depend on tuition fees. Adapted NC works available to students in Canvas, for example, should also be freely shared on open platforms.

ND ND (No Derivatives): No derivatives or adaptations of the work are permitted.
Want to change content to give an Australian context, add extra topics or change images or videos to improve quality? No change, however minor, is allowed.

What is the difference between Creative Commons licensed OERs and other free content?

Many of the collections and search tools featured on this page also include content which is free, but not open. What’s the difference?

Content that is free, but not openly licenced:

  • can’t be embedded in an LMS like Canvas, it needs to be linked
  • may change or disappear, or become paywalled
  • can’t be adapted or updated without express permission

What is the public domain?

Although the term is sometimes used to refer to any freely available information, public domain has a specific meaning when it comes to copyright.

A work is in the public domain when no one holds or asserts copyright. In such cases, there are no limitations on how the work can be shared, used, or adapted.

Works can be in the public domain if:

CC Zero

The creator has dedicated their work to the public domain using the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) tool.

Public domain mark

The copyright of a work has expired, or the work was never subject to copyright, having been created before copyright law was established. Such works in the public domain may or may not bear this mark.

Public domain and CC0 materials are uncommon in the collections and search tools featured on this page. However, CC0 licences are often used for open datasets, and many items in digitised historical collections are in the public domain.

Further support

To discuss how you can integrate OERs into your teaching or research, please make an appointment with your Faculty or School Liaison Librarian.

For enquiries relating to copyright and licensing, please contact the Copyright Office at