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How OpenLearn uses third-party content

Updated Monday, 13th March 2017

The steps we take to ensure that content from contributors outside The Open University is of the same high quality as other material on OpenLearn

The core content on OpenLearn is written by experts from The Open University, drawn from our academic and campus body. However, we also publish (or republish) content from experts outside the OU.

Sometimes the material has been commissioned directly by our team; in these cases:

  • The contributor will have been selected by an academic from the OU;

  • A payment will have been offered to compensate the writer for their time;

  • In most cases, the copyright in the content will be assigned to the OU;

  • In most cases, the material will be published and made available under a Creative Commons licence for others to re-use

  • Before publication, the content will be reviewed by the original academic to ensure there are no problems from an academic perspective - e.g. citing discredited research

  • Before publication, the content will be reviewed by a member of the editorial team to ensure there are no compliance problems with the piece - e.g. copyright infringement

Sometimes the material has been selected from another publication, and is being republished by OpenLearn

Why do we use this sort of content?

Using high quality third-party content allows us to:

  • Respond quickly to topical events

  • Extend the range of voices represented on OpenLearn (e.g. widening the range of ethnic backgrounds; genders; ages of people published on OpenLearn)

  • Offer the power of providing first-hand accounts and allowing subjects of academic interest to speak for themselves (e.g. health service users; migrants)

  • Extend the geographic range of the subjects of OpenLearn coverage beyond the UK (e.g. democracy in Bangladesh; healthcare in Syria)

  • Include other points of view and/or opinions on subjects covered by OpenLearn

The item will be published with links to other, related OpenLearn content on the same or similar subjects, forming part of a package of content.

Where does this content come from?

We have a collection of what we call 'trusted repositories' - these are publications of high-quality, well-produced content, normally (though not exclusively) created by members of other academic communities, or professional writers working the context of a learning brief. They are usually, although not exclusively, working within the Creative Commons community.

These trusted repositories include blogs from the LSE and Oxford, SciDevNet, Wellcome Trust's Mosaic website, Languages On The Move, GlobalVoice and The Conversation.

The OpenLearn editorial team will review any item selected for publication to ensure that it meets the same editorial standards we would expect of a piece we had directly commissioned.

Publication of such material does not imply endorsement of any ideas or opinions expressed in such pieces; nor endorsement of the source publication, the author of the piece, or any organisation or group with which they might be affiliated.

We ensure that:

  • The author of the piece is clearly identified

  • The source publication is clearly identified, and the place of original publication is linked to when it is an online service

  • The affiliation of the author is clearly identified, where they are writing in an academic or professional capacity

  • The copyright status of the original is made clear and respected

  • The date of publication on OpenLearn is clearly identified, or - if there has been a significant revision - the date of republication is clearly identified

  • If any significant revision has been made after original publication, the reasons for this revision is included

Obviously, over time authors may change roles or institutions. We will not update author details to reflect these changes unless:

  • We publish more up-to-date material from the same author;

  • Or the author specifically requests the change

Once published, we treat the content as we would any other item - and so it will be covered by our polices on older content and commenting.

Please note this policy only applies to material created or curated by the OpenLearn editorial team, and not to content which appears in the 'free courses' subsection of OpenLearn.




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