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The Growing Prevalence of Open Access and Open Source Initiatives in Economics

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The G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2013 | © Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Open access textbooks, resources and journals make increasing inroads in the field of economics for both educational and research purposes.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


In recent years, a growing number of universities support open access textbook initiatives aimed at lowering the education costs of social sciences students, such as in the field of economics. Thus, the OpenStax initiative of Rice University has supported the development of open access textbooks for both the Introduction into Economics courses and for more focused Principles of Macro-Economics and Micro-Economics courses. These courses are available both in web-based versions and as PDF-files. In addition to these materials, instructors can access course materials that can be used for graded quizzes and final exams. The macro- and micro-economics text books exist in editions that are oriented at both college-level students and high school students taking advanced-placement courses.

More specialized economics courses can also take advantage of the OpenStax Library, where a growing range of open access textbooks are available in social sciences and other subject areas that can be adapted for narrowly defined or related fields, such as Statistics. At the same time, especially for online courses, the BC Open Textbook project based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, offers an easily searchable catalogue of open access textbooks across a variety of academic subjects including economics. The advantage of this project is that it gives access to a wide range of textbooks on the same subjects in their original editions or in locally adapted versions, such as the Canadian edition of the Introduction into Sociology course book initially developed by OpenStax. Furthermore, the BC Open Textbook also aggregates links to open access textbooks that are developed in the framework of other open access initiatives, such as Lyryx that makes accessible a range of open access textbooks in the fields of economics, finance and accounting, e.g., Introduction to Financial Accounting and Linear Algebra.

In this context, it is worth mentioning the growing popularity of open source statistical analysis programs and platforms, such as R Project, PSPP, Gretl, Onyx and Tetrad, that are likely to stand in good stead for economics students and scholars alike. This, therefore, indicates that open access initiatives are increasingly accepted on the level of both instruction and research in the field of economics. In this regard, academic publishers, such as Springer, increase their collaboration with MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) providers, to make accessible topical textbooks for free MOOCs as components of online education solutions, as the recently announced collaboration between Springer and Federica Weblearning indicates. Likewise, De Gruyer has recently launched Open Economics, a mega-journal in the field of economics published in the open access format.

Thus, the field of economics increasingly makes use of open access solutions for both pedagogical and scholarly purposes.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: The G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture in Washington, D.C., May 1, 2013 | © Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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