Current Program Plan

2014 Program Plan

[Download the PDF of SPARC 2014 Program Plan


What is SPARC? 

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a library membership organization that promotes open sharing of scholarship. SPARC believes that faster and wider sharing of outputs of the research process increases the impact of research, fuels the advancement of knowledge, and increases the return on research investments. SPARC is supported by a global membership of over 800 academic and research libraries worldwide. 


SPARC is a catalyst for action. Its pragmatic agenda focuses on collaborating with other stakeholders to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication norms, practices and policies that leverage the networked digital environment, expand the dissemination of research findings, and reduce financial pressures on libraries. 


SPARC’s strategy focuses on reducing barriers to the access, sharing, and use of scholarship.  Our highest priority is advancing the understanding and implementation of policies and practices that ensure Open Access (OA) to scholarly research outputs.  SPARC’s primary focus is on journal literature, but our evolving strategy reflects an increasing focus on Open Access to research outputs of all kinds – including digital data and open educational resources (OER).  

SPARC’s work centers on three key program areas:

  1. Educating stakeholders about the problems facing scholarly communication and the opportunities for them to play a role in achieving positive change;
  2. Advocating policy changes that advance scholarly communication and that explicitly recognize that dissemination of scholarship is an essential, inseparable component of the research process;
  3. Incubating demonstrations of new publishing and sustainability models that benefit scholarship and academe.  


SPARC activities will advance acceptance and long-term sustainability of an open system for scholarly communication, with a primary focus on advancing open-access models for publishing and archiving the results of scholarly research.  SPARC will promote changes in both the infrastructure and culture needed to make Open Access the norm in scholarly communication.


Advocacy/Policy Strategy. The top priority for SPARC will be to raise the public policy profile of Open Access to the results of research - including journal articles, data and educational resources. SPARC will advance this priority by:
  • Leading efforts to advocate for policies that provide for Open Access to journal articles, data and educational resources on the institutional, state, national and international levels
  • Supporting research on social/economic benefits of Open Access to research outputs
  • Leading and expanding U.S. National Working Group on Open Access
  • Working with media outlets to promote public awareness of Open Access
  • Working with public and private research funders to create and implement Open Access policies
  • Expanding wholesale communications and outreach efforts to maximize reach of campaigns
  • Actively participating in coalitions working on our target "Open" issue areas
  • Participate in and promote productive collective efforts to build scalable capacity to support effective implementations of Open Access policies (i.e., SHARE, OpenAire, etc.)
  • Hosting Biennial North American Meeting on Open Access to journal articles, data and educational resources.

Member Outreach/Campus Education. SPARC is tasked with being a catalyst for action. A second key priority for SPARC is to revitalize and expand SPARC's programs to support our members' campus education and advocacy activities. SPARC will support members by:

  • Creating new members-only services (i.e., monthly digest of key developments along with suggested campus-based responses; a new web area containing “talking point” documents, slide decks and other communications tools for campus use, etc.)
  • Establishing new Library Liaison Network in partnership with the Right to Research Coalition
  • Supporting OA/OER education “roadshow” for member campuses
  • Building out our resources for promoting/supporting the adoption of campus-based, faculty-driven open-access policies and funds through new arrangement with COAPI
  • Sponsoring Open Access Week and its growing related activities
  • Updating “Author Rights” educational campaign
  • Continuing production and promotion of targeted educational materials (ALM Primer, HowOpenIsIt?, etc.)


Globalization. SPARC will continue to expand our presence and programs to reflect and support the global nature of scholarly communications, by:

  • Actively promoting the updated SPARC brand as a reflection of broad, global presence and activity.
  • Identifying opportunities and deploying SPARC-branded activities in target areas: Brazil, China, India and South Africa
  • Establishing partnerships with key library and advocacy groups in target areas
  • Evaluating effectiveness of reorganization of SPARC’s European program activities; refining structure and operations in response to evaluation as needed

Student Campaign/Involvement. SPARC is the primary organization supporting student involvement in the Open Access and OER movements. SPARC will promote the inclusion of students and student organizations in all areas of Open Access and OER advocacy and education, by:

  • Providing significant resources (both financial and managerial) to support operations of this rapidly-growing program
  • Co-funding additional staff person for the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) Partner with R2RC to implement Student/Library Liaison Network
  • Strengthening joint advocacy efforts with R2RC and member organizations to leverage community presence on Open Access, OER and related issues.
  • Developing and presenting regular joint SPARC/Student educational programs – webcasts, videos, workshops, etc.
  • Working with the R2RC to organize an expanded international student conference on Open Access, OER, and Open Data following on the successful Berlin 11 Satellite Conference for Students and Early Stage Researchers
  • Seeking additional grant support/partnerships to help support ongoing R2RC activities

Open Access Infrastructure Support - SPARC will continue its leadership role in promoting digital repositories and open-access journal outlets by:

  • Actively partnering with OA publishers to promote awareness and adoption of open-access journal publishing options
  • Partnering with key digital repository organizations to promote educational programs of interest to the community
  • Publishing guide on potential business models supporting community-wide Open Access infrastructure.
  • Participating in workshops and symposia on access issues, particularly those sponsored by the NSF, National Academies and other federal agencies

Publisher Partnership & Incubation Program - SPARC will continue to support and promote useful examples of open-access or other innovative publishing initiatives by:

  • Exploring and supporting transition strategies for subscription-based publishers to move to open-access models
  • Collaborating with university presses and scholarly societies
  • Working with societies, university presses, and other non-profit publishing initiatives to develop educational materials highlighting successful alternative publishing models for journals, monographs, and other scholarly communication genres
  • Supporting Academy-based publishing initiatives

Organizational Capacity and Enabling Strategies. Given the significant expansion of SPARC's program areas and involvement in advocacy, SPARC will implement mechanisms for ensuring organizational stability and strength by:

  • Evaluating current operational structure and modifying it as needed to meet increasing advocacy activity demands.
  • Expand representation on SPARC Steering Committee to include experts in key issues areas and constituencies (i.e. data, OER, Students)
  • Deploying flexible employment arrangements (contracts, partnerships etc.) to ensure high-level talent can be strategically deployed to meet changing resource needs.
  • Identifying and capitalizing on opportunities to build internal capacity, via ongoing monitoring of dues structure, grant funding for program support, expanded partnership arrangements, etc.
  • Promoting and expanding member retention and recruitment efforts

[Download the PDF of SPARC 2014 Program Plan

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