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Research Open Science Open Research Award

Winner 2023 - Interdisciplinary Explorations of Neuroscience: A new open textbook reviewed and edited using open pedagogy

Christopher May (UCG)

Open Research objectives/practices

- Capitalising on the unique open aspects of open educational resources to reinvent course design, empower learners, and apply innovative ways of teaching.
- Using open materials to decrease the cost of education and/or increase the sustainability of (public) investments in education.


I wrote an open textbook, published by the University of Groningen Press, called Interdisciplinary Explorations of Neuroscience: An Active-Learning Course Companion. I incorporated students in my Biopsychology course into the review and editing process. This is an example of Open Pedagogy, making this publicly accessible educational text a "student-reviewed" work. The textbook contains extensive links to another Open Educational Resource, an open access text written in the style of a more traditional neuroscience textbook. Thus, my open companion text is coupled to the kind of (open) text that it is meant to complement and extend through interdisciplinary approaches and active-learning exercises.


This textbook, accessible to anyone interested in the brain, was principally designed to be useful to instructors and students of biopsychology and neuroscience courses. It enables readers to extend, deepen, and reframe brain research in light of other perspectives. The electronic format also allowed me to link to a large number of additional resources to facilitate continued explorations beyond the book. If this text had to be economically viable, it would need to have been written much differently, e.g., as a stand-alone textbook with an interdisciplinary flavor or as a popular science book. The emergence of the Open Educational movement has provided a network of platforms and practices to allow a text like this to be written as intended and freely adopted as useful.

Lessons learned

I would not want to have published this textbook in any other way. However, if I had tried to bring this project to completion relatively soon after I had the idea, well over a decade ago, I would have had to create something quite different. This project represents, for me, a successful example of the “slow professor movement”, allowing work to germinate slowly until the conditions for fruition are ripe. This completion of this project could also only have happened in the right environment, with the right kind of support. I’m particularly grateful to the Open Education team at the University Library and Educational Support and Innovation, as well as the University Groningen Press. Finally, if work is intended for students, I highly recommend bringing students onboard to help review and revise your work!

URLs, references and further information

Last modified:01 November 2023 10.08 a.m.