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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Introduction to basic OER concepts, how to find and incorporate them into your course, creating and modifying OER, and getting UofM training on OER

Ways OER Are Reviewed

There are two primary ways OER repositories review the quality of the materials in their collections: 

These are not mutually exclusive and a repository may use both. 

Peer Review

Many repositories created an adapted version of peer review for evaluating submitted OER. It has similar strengths as peer review for academic research, but the differences between OER and academic research can limit its effectiveness. 


  • Know that reviewed OER in a repository have met a set of standards for inclusion. 
  • Can be assured the reviewers are qualified. 
  • Reviewers are generally given a framework to ensure standardization of what is reviewed. 


  • OER repositories might post materials without peer review and then go back and provide peer reviews, meaning that not every posted OER will have a review up front. 
  • Unlike the academic publications peer review was developed for, OER continuously evolve. The peer review available might not describe the OER as it currently exists, and whether and how often an OER is reviewed again varies. 
  • Repositories may have trouble recruiting enough peer reviewers, exacerbating the previous two weaknesses. 


MERLOT uses a complex peer review system. Each discipline community has an editorial board that sets standards and runs the evaluations for OER in their discipline. Peer reviewers that meet a set of requirements are selected and trained on the reviewing process. OER are assigned two reviewers who each evaluate the OER following their discipline's standards (most use the MERLOT Peer Review Report). Editors create a composite report and post the report with the OER. 

Crowdsourced Reviews

The alternative is to allow users of OER to provide provide public reviews after they use them, similar to crowdsourced product or business reviews. The quality of these reviews can vary widely, but if a repository creates a good system for reviews, then they can be a valuable tool for identifying quality. 


  • Can provide multiple perspectives on a given OER.
  • Often easier to find reviews of more current versions of the OER. 
  • If the repository provides a framework or rubric for reviews, then you will know going in what will be covered in the reviews. 


  • Any given OER may not have any reviews. 
  • It is hard to know whether any given reviewer has used the OER or is credible. 


The Open Textbook Library will accept any OER that meets their basic 4 criteria for inclusion, none of which require a quality review. Instead, quality is done through reviews by faculty who are members of institutions in the Open Education Network who have use the OER. Reviewers follow a 10-criteria rubric for evaluating the OER covering both the quality of the content and the usability of the resource. 

This guide was created by Dr. Meredith Heath Boulden on behalf of the University of Memphis Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License    unless otherwise noted. This guide is currently maintained by Carl Hess