May 27, 2022

New Journal Article: “Do Open Educational Resources Improve Student Learning? Implications of the Access Hypothesis”

The following article was published by PLoS ONE earlier today.


Do Open Educational Resources Improve Student Learning? Implications of the Access Hypothesis


Phillip J. Grimaldi
OpenStax, Rice University

Debshila Basu Mallick
OpenStax, Rice University

Andrew E. Waters
OpenStax, Rice University

Richard G. Baraniuk
OpenStax, Rice University


PLoS ONE 14(3): e0212508
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212508


Open Educational Resources (OER) have been lauded for their ability to reduce student costs and improve equity in higher education. Research examining whether OER provides learning benefits have produced mixed results, with most studies showing null effects. We argue that the common methods used to examine OER efficacy are unlikely to detect positive effects based on predictions of the access hypothesis. The access hypothesis states that OER benefits learning by providing access to critical course materials, and therefore predicts that OER should only benefit students who would not otherwise have access to the materials. Through the use of simulation analysis, we demonstrate that even if there is a learning benefit of OER, standard research methods are unlikely to detect it.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.