The University of Minnesota is hoping to pioneer a project that would see professors being paid in order to review open source textbooks. The university would offer $500 for each review in order to vet the books, and professors who adopt the books for teaching will also receive $500. Faculty members are welcome to submit their own reviews, but won’t be compensated for the effort.
The project is designed to squash two criticisms of open source textbooks, namely that they’re too hard to find and the authenticity can’t be vouched for. The University of Minnesota hopes to build up a collection of vetted books that would be available to teachers everywhere, and build up a level of quality control traditionally associated with normal textbooks.
Minnesota has laid out certain guidelines that vetted books will have to adhere to in order to get the project off the ground. The books will have to be complete with a print version and open license, while also being available to institutions outside of Minnesota. The university isn’t hoping to create any of its own books, simply vet existing ones.
So far there are around 90 books in Minnesota’s database, with thousands of visitors reading them since the launch two weeks ago. The popularity has attracted attention from other Big Ten universities, with some looking to get involved and others posting words of encouragement. Several Minnesota faculty members have also pledged to help review the books.