MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (02/06/2019)
Portland State University Library, a founding member of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, has published Inferring and Explaining by Jeffery L. Johnson. This is the twentieth open textbook they’ve published through the PDXOpen Publishing Initiative Grant Program and the first textbook from a member of the Co-op!
Inferring and Explaining is a book in practical epistemology. It examines the notion of evidence and assumes that good evidence is the essence of rational thinking. Evidence is the cornerstone of the natural, social, and behavioral sciences. But it is equally central to almost all academic pursuits and, perhaps most importantly, to the basic need to live an intelligent and reflective life.
About the process: A conversation with Karen Bjork
Karen Bjork, head of digital initiatives at Portland State University Library, shared her experience with other Co-op members during Tea Time, a monthly member support call.
In the video below, Karen answers the following questions:
- How did you identify and come to support this project?
- What was your role?
- How did you ensure it was a textbook, not a monograph?
- How did you select which editorial, design, and production services to provide?
- What was the book budget and actual costs?
- What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone in this process?
The author’s perspective with Jeffery L. Johnson
Jeffery L. Johnson, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Oregon University, shares his experience working on his first open textbook below
“I have just completed one of the most interesting and satisfying experiences of my professional life.”
With the help of some generous financial and editorial assistance I was able to write and publish a short textbook for use in my critical thinking and introduction to philosophy courses. I have nothing but the highest praise for the open access textbook initiative in general and the support and personnel at the Portland State University Library in particular.
The textbook that I would have assigned in my critical thinking course costs $70, and my discipline is one of the least expensive in the textbook market. But besides [savings,] students are guaranteed that their instructor is fully engaged with everything he or she is teaching and certainly is in a position to authoritatively answer any questions about the assigned reading. Finally, students, at least some, seem to enjoy participating in the creative process.
“From an instructor’s perspective, at least this instructor’s perspective, the creative experience was strictly a joy.”
Now, it is a lot of work to be sure. Good writing is hard and requires a good deal of time and energy. But the personal and professional payback is enormous. As much as I enjoy professional research and writing for my peers, it was only in this little text that I truly discovered my voice as a writer. I believe that by nature I am a pedagogue in all of my professional writing, but the chance to write for an audience with little or no background in the material I was discussing was liberating. I often found myself looking forward to spending a few more hours at the computer. I would also like to think that my teaching improved as a direct byproduct of the writing experience. It goes without saying that I was exceptionally prepared when I taught the material in the text. But, in addition, the need to always be cognizant of one’s audience spilled over nicely in other courses I was teaching. I am hoping to write additional open access textbooks in the future.