Supporting this Year’s Open Education Week

Unknown.pngThis week is “Open Education Week” and several members of the NIDL team have already contributed, or will be over the next few days, to a range of activities and related events. On Tuesday, for example, Professor Mark Brown moderated a webinar on “The Story of the Open University” as part of EDEN’s programme of activities for the week . You can read more about this webinar and what the four distinguished panel members had to share on a blog written by Professor Grainne Conole. A recording will also be available on EDEN’s website


On Wednesday, Professor Grainne Conole gave a presentation on “Open Education into the Future” as part of another EDEN webinar on the broader theme of “Ongoing Initiatives for Open Education in Europe“. The slides from Grainne’s talk can be accessed below and a recording will also be available on EDEN’s website: 

And on Friday in another contribution to EDEN’s webinar series, Professor Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl is participating on a panel discussion on the topic of “Researching Openness – Evidenced-based Approaches“. More specifically this webinar will explore the following questions:

  • How openness is approach in research? Thematic overview (levels of openness, other dimensions that are addressed through research publications, e.g. open online learning, open distance learning, OER, OEP, etc.).
  • What impact does openness have upon education?
  • What kind of openness do we (society) need?
  • What are the characteristics of open learning, open curriculum, open education and open learner/ teacher?

Dublin City University (DCU) has a long history of Open Education and our commitment spans all three traditional pillars of university work: research, teaching and service. For example, last year DCU was the first Irish University to launch an open access press through a strategic partnership with University College London (UCL). The Open Education Unit in the NIDL continues to play a key role in the provision of online distance education through the DCU Connected platform as part of DCU’s wider mission of opening access to higher education and transforming lives and societies. Our NIDL team also makes a significant contribution to the Open Education agenda through service activities, with many of our staff serving on the executive committees of major professional bodies working in the area. There is also a strong Open Education dimension to this year’s ICDE World Conference on Online Learning that DCU is hosting in the Convention Centre Dublin in November.

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Bronze, Free, or Fourrée? An Open Access Commentary

By Dr Eamon Costello 

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Image by Rabenspiegel on Pixabay

fourrée (noun) A coin, most often a counterfeit, that is made from a base metal core that has been plated with a precious metal to look like its solid metal counterpart:

Open access journal articles have been posited as a special type of Open Educational Resource (OER) (Anderson, 2013). One that could be of particular use in graduate education. In theory, one could build an entire academic course of study around open access articles. Students would be be free to read, download, save and build upon the work contained in these articles. This freedom would be afforded to students as the articles would be open. The Creative Commons licensing architecture is one great enabler of this freedom, as it helps to make, and keep, intellectual works open. Freedom and openness are not simple synonyms however.

A recent large scale study (Piwowar et. al., 2018) has highlighted the presence of articles that are free to access from journal publisher websites, but that do not fall under traditional open access definitions. The term “bronze access” has been suggested to describe such articles. In a recent essay (Costello, 2019) I reflect on this term, and also that used by the publishers themselves, which often describe such articles as “free”. The language we use is important, for it can contain value judgments about phenomena. This essay draws on the language of the open source and open access movements to attempt to examine who these free articles best serve, and how we might critically evaluate them from a framework of openness.

Read the full article:


Anderson, T. (2013). Open access scholarly publications as OER. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(2), 81–95. DOI

Costello, E. (2019). Bronze, free, or fourrée: an open access commentary. Science Editing, 6(1), 69-72. DOI :

Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J. P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., … Haustein, S. (2018). The State of OA: A large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ, 6, e4375.  DOI