28 Open Text Maintenance

Releasing your open text is an exciting milestone, but it’s not the end of the publishing process. To ensure your text remains a valuable resource, you will need to maintain, improve and update it regularly. Otherwise, just as with commercial textbooks, it may become outdated, and stop being used and adopted.

The most successful texts – those with the highest adoption rates – are the ones that receive ongoing editorial attention from their authors, including:

  • paying attention to errors
  • noting potential improvements
  • promoting their book among colleagues.

Making Improvements and Additions to your Open Text

Improvements and additions are significant, scheduled changes to content. These may include:

  • elements (e.g. ancillary material) that were planned but didn’t make it into the first release
  • suggestions from reviewers
  • proposals from adopters
  • ideas you or your authoring or publishing team came up with after the release
  • disciplinary or thematic updates.

Adding Ancillary Materials to your Open Text

One of the most common post-release additions to open texts is ancillary materials. Ancillaries can supplement your text’s content and make it more appealing to adopters. Lack of ancillary materials is one of the most frequently cited reasons instructors decide not to adopt an open text. Ancillaries can be:

  • question banks
  • problem sets and solutions
  • slide decks
  • student workbooks
  • PowerPoint slides
  • and other instructor materials.

You can develop ancillaries alongside your open text or following your open text’s release. Some instructors assign ancillary creation to their students as part of their assessment, which is an example of open pedagogy.

H5P is a useful tool for creating ancillaries for open texts. Pressbooks includes a plugin for creating quizzes and interactive activities with H5P.

Adapting your Text for Different Educational Contexts

In addition to revising or expanding your open text, you may want to expand your readership by adapting it to different educational contexts. Common adaptations include:

  • translations into other languages
  • spelling conversions (e.g. from Australian to US English)
  • incorporating regionally or culturally specific content (e.g. adapting for use in another country or cultural context)
  • converting to new formats and media (e.g. creating an audiobook version of the text, a series of short videos summarising each unit or a poster series that creates visualisations of the content).
  • versions for a different audience (e.g. tertiary, high school).

For example, our open text Academic Success has been adapted into modules for high school students.

Deciding whether to Update your Text or to Create a New Edition

If you want your open text to stay relevant, you will need to keep reviewing it for potential updates and revisions. Regularly revising or updating your open text ensures that your content reflects current developments in the field, including:

  • changes in the discipline or subject area
  • real-world changes that provide new or improved examples of theoretical concepts.

Minor Updates

For minor updates such as fixing typos and small additions to existing content, we recommend you edit your text directly in Pressbooks and re-export your book files.

Significant Changes

We recommend creating a new edition for significant changes (usually to reflect developments in the discipline or a new approach to the content) such as additions and updates to the original release, indicated by whole number increases (e.g., 1st edition, 2nd edition, 3rd edition, etc.). If you wish to create a new edition, please get in touch with the OEP team and we will clone your text so you can work on the next edition.

You can inform readers of changes to your open text by adding a version history to the back matter. This will serve as a record of changes made over the book’s life.

You don’t need to include every change in the version history (e.g. fixing typos and broken links), but larger changes should be recorded. This includes:

  • edits
  • additions
  • updates
  • expansions
  • error reports and corrections.

Chapter Attribution

This chapter has been adapted in part from:


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Open Publishing Guide for Authors Copyright © 2023 by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book