Are you ready to discover your college program?
The price of textbooks can add thousands each year to a student's education costs, and the rising price of academic journals is a strain on college and university budgets. In response, some academics, academic organizations, and publishers are working to solve this problem with open-access textbooks and journals. This makes education more accessible for all, including those not enrolled in formal education.
This guide lists recent open-access free psychology resources. Learn about how you can benefit from free psychology textbooks and journals.
Open-Access vs. Open-Source
An open-access resource is free to read or download, while an open-source resource is one anybody can adapt and edit (with limits on publishing the subsequent work) as well as read or download for free. For reading only, the distinction does not matter, but if you want to republish materials, make sure it is an open-source publication and find out if there are any restrictions.
Popular Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Free Online Psychology Textbooks
As open-access textbooks and free college-level courses become increasingly prominent in mainstream academic publishing, the number of free psychology textbooks is growing, and college instructors are increasingly likely to use these textbooks. Like other high-quality textbooks, publishers ensure that free psychology textbooks materials are peer-reviewed. They also meet existing scope and sequence requirements, the standard frameworks for classes that establish what topics should be covered and in which order.
Open-access textbooks, especially in fast-changing psychology specialties like neuroscience, can quickly become outdated. To address this, some open-access publishers provide the books in a wiki-style format that is continuously updated by the original authors or other contributors, while others regularly publish updated editions.
As with other electronic media, the safest source is typically the publisher or a reputable repository, such as a college or university library, department of education, or other organization. Your instructor may also have a course package that includes supplemental materials such as articles.
Some major publishers or repositories for free psychology textbooks include:
- OpenStax, an initiative from Rice University
- Open Textbook Library, based at the University of Minnesota
- OER Commons, an initiative for open-source education that provides individual modules and full free psychology textbooks
- Libretexts, which also offers collections of visuals and animations
- DOAB, the Directory of Open Access Books, is one of the most comprehensive directories of all open-access academic resources, not just textbooks. It also indexes free psychology textbooks and related sources in a range of languages
- NOBA is a collection of psychology modules and full free psychology textbooks
Introduction to Psychology
Psychology, 2nd edition (published 2020, updated 2023)
This free psychology textbook is available as a PDF download, or you can buy a print edition. It is designed for a one-semester introductory course for beginners in psychology. Like many OpenStax books, you can also download supplemental materials for teachers or students.
Psychology: The Science of Human Potential (published 2019)
Exploring course materials from other countries with other course standards can expand your thinking. This free psychology textbook from BC Open Canada provides an opportunity to contrast approaches. You can download in multiple formats.
In addition to downloading this free psychology textbook, by Matthew J. C. Crump, Danielle J. Navarro, and Jeffrey Suzuki, you can download the most recent versions of the datasets and other tools. The course uses the free and open-source R programming language.
Abnormal Psychology (published 2020)
This free psychology textbook by Jorden A. Cummings at the University of Saskatchewan includes segments of other pre-existing open-source textbooks.
Fundamentals of Psychological Disorders, 3rd edition (published 2023)
The third edition of this title by Dr .Alexis Bridley and Dr. Lee W. Daffin Jr. at Washington State University is based on the DSM-5. Unlike many other free psychology textbooks, you can only read this title online, rather than as a download. However, you can buy a print copy.
Human Behavior and the Social Environment II (published 2020)
You can read this free psychology textbook online or download as a PDF. Author Whitney Payne at the University of Arkansas is a licensed clinical social worker and certified drug and alcohol counselor.
The Psychology of Addiction (published 2018)
Author Jenny Svanberg published this free psychology textbook to Researchgate, a website where academic authors can choose to post their materials to make them freely available.
Lifespan Development: A Psychological Perspective - Second Edition (published 2017, updated 2019)
You can download this free psychology textbook by Martha Lally and Suzanne Valentine-French at the College of Lake County as a PDF file.
Child Growth and Development (published 2018, updated 2019)
The College of the Canyons published this free psychology textbook as a PDF or a Microsoft Word document, which makes it easy to edit.
Free Online Psychology Journals
Academic journals can cost thousands of dollars per year, straining school budgets and resulting in either fewer subscriptions or the costs being passed on to students. They can also limit independent psychologists' ability to keep up with their field. Open-source publishing offers high-quality free psychology journals that follow sound publishing and educational theory. The Directory of Open Access Journals has a fairly comprehensive listing.
Even if a journal is not open-source or free, many publishers make some articles available online for free, so explore the publisher's website if you want a specific article. For example, the American Psychological Association posts some of its materials at no charge. You can also use research tools, such as the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database or Google Scholar, and filter for full-text articles. If you want a specific article, your local public library may be able to get you a copy. Finally, some authors share their articles through Researchgate.
Unlike textbooks, psychology journals do not need to follow one particular national standard. Browsing journals published in different countries helps you explore new and diverse schools of thought and approaches.
General Psychology Journals
- Open Psychology Journal is an open-access peer-reviewed journal. You can download articles in different formats, including PDF or ePub files.
- Frontiers in Psychology is one of the most influential open access psychology journals, with a 3.8 impact factor.
- European Journal of Psychology Open is the official journal of the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations (EFPA).
Cognitive Psychology Journals
- Frontiers in Cognition describes its role as "bridging the gap between neuroscience and psychology." It is part of the Frontiers' collection of open-access journals.
- Advances in Cognitive Psychology presents new research in cognition. It is based in Poland but many articles are in English.
Clinical and Counseling Psychology Journals
- Stress and Brain is from Tsinghua University Press, based in China, though the articles are in English.
- Health Psychology Open, from Sage, explores the areas where health and psychology overlap.
- Judgment and Decision Making is from Cambridge University in England and the Society for Judgment and Decision Making.
Behavioral Psychology Journals
- Open Access Journal of Addiction and Psychology is part of Iris Publishers' family of journals.
- Journal of Addiction & Addictive Disorders covers a breadth of behavioral health topics, including the psychological factors in substance use disorders and their treatment.
- Addiction Science & Clinical Practice is published by Springer Nature as an open-access journal, particularly focused on improving the quality of care.
Expanding Your Expertise
Free and open-access or open-source textbooks and journals can greatly reduce the cost of education or continuing professional development. Even as a student or alumnus, you can advocate for using open-access resources.
Be careful when looking for free psychology textbooks. Be certain you are using the official publication site or a high-quality repository. This ensures that you are accessing the publication's most recent version and that it is the correct document.
Enjoy exploring the world of open-access and open-source free psychology textbooks and journals.