Friday, January 31, 2014

Open Source Textbooks: A Paradigm Derived from Open Source Software


This work exposes a new paradigm for the creation and publication of textbooks: open source. The phrase open source is borrowed from the computer software industry, where the word source has a technical meaning explained in this paper; open source software is software which has been developed by many collaborators using the internet to produce a final product. The contributors receive no financial compensation, yet there have been many successful open source software

projects (Linux, Open Office, Apache, etc.). Open source textbooks use a similar financial model; the authors and contributors receive no direct financial compensation for their work. Contributors are listed in the produced work as primary author(s), co-authors, contributors, minor contributors, etc. according to the magnitude of their contribution. The produced work is available free for users on the internet. This paper will explain the open source process and will provide justification for open source as an effective paradigm; it will also present some existing open source textbook projects, as well as the author’s own open source textbook project.

Beyond Textbooks The open source paradigm could easily be applied to books other than textbooks. Histories, essays, and other works of nonfiction could be produced with the open source model as well. Consider the author who spends the better part of his/her life collecting information for an extensive account of an historic event; he/she is probably motivated by factors other than pure profit. Such books could be produced much more quickly by cooperating authors using open source.

Publishing Research Quarterly / January 2014

Source Available At:


[Open Access Version Not Known] (1-31-14)

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