Current Program Plan

2015 SPARC Program Plan

[Download a PDF of the 2015 SPARC Program Plan

What is SPARC? 

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a library membership organization that promotes the open sharing of scholarship. SPARC is committed to the faster and wider sharing of outputs of the research process to increase the impact of research, fuel the advancement of knowledge, and increase 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. Our pragmatic agenda focuses on collaborating with stakeholders to encourage 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 – including journal literature, digital data and educational resources.

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 a global open system for scholarly communication, with a primary focus on advancing open-access models for publishing and archiving the outputs of scholarly research.  SPARC will partner with key stakeholders  - with a particular emphasis on “next generation” groups – to 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.
  • Identifying and capitalizing on opportunities to open new advocacy fronts.
  • Supporting research on social/economic benefits of Open Access to research outputs.
  • Leading the U.S. National Working Group on Open Access, and establishing a new Working Group on Open Data
  • 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 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 (or co-hosting) annual meeting on issues relating to Open Access to journal articles, data and educational resources.

Communications Reset. A key priority for SPARC is to retool our communications efforts to better reflect the breadth of our expanded program portfolio. SPARC will:

  • Contract with a communications consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of current communications assets and priorities.
  • Analyze recommended changes to communications portfolio and create new strategic communications plan that emphasizes SPARC’s role in the wider “Open” movement.
  • Conduct implementation of new plan in concert with technical/IT platform changes required by SPARC’s recent move to New Venture Fund (i.e., change of domain name for web and email communications away from

Member Outreach. As an important corollary to our communications reset, SPARC will work to more clearly articulate how SPARC’s programs specifically support our members’ campus education and advocacy activities.  SPARC will do this by:

  • Creating/refine members-only services (i.e., monthly digest of key developments along with suggested campus-based responses; a new web area containing “talking points” documents, slide decks and other communications tools for campus use, etc.).
  • Expanding successful OA/OER education “roadshow” for member campuses.
  • Creating OA and OER toolkits and other resources for campus use
  • 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.


 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 global presence and activity.
  • Co-sponsoring biennial meeting outside of U.S. with partner organization (COAR in 2015).
  • Developing SPARC brand-based MOU templates for use by prospective international partners.
  • Building on relationship with LIASA to establish SPARC-branded activities in South Africa.
  • Identifying new opportunities and establishing partnerships with key stakeholders in target areas including Brazil, China, India.
  • Evaluating effectiveness of reorganization of SPARC’s European and Japanese program activities; refining structure and operations in response to evaluation as needed.

Student Campaign. SPARC is the primary organization supporting student and early career researcher involvement in the Open Access, Open Data and OER movements. SPARC will promote the inclusion of students and student organizations in all areas of Open Access by:

  • Providing financial and managerial resources to support operations of rapidly-growing program.
  • Co-funding additional staff person for the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC).
  • Partnering with R2RC to support the Student/Library Liaison Network.
  • Strengthening joint advocacy efforts with R2RC and member organizations to leverage community presence on Open Access, Open Data, OER and related issues.
  • Developing and presenting regular joint SPARC/Student educational programs.
  • Support R2RC in organizing OpenCon for Students and Early Stage Researchers.
  • Seeking additional grant support/partnerships to help strengthen ongoing R2RC activities.

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

  • Supporting Academy-based publishing initiatives.
  • Actively partnering with OA publishers to promote awareness and adoption of open-access journal publishing options.
  • Collaborating with university presses, scholarly societies and other non-profit publishing initiatives to develop educational materials highlighting successful alternative publishing models for journals, monographs, and other scholarly communication genres.
  • Providing expert consulting services to exploring and supporting transition strategies for subscription-based publishers to move to open-access models.
  • Contributing to evaluations of potential business models supporting community-wide Open Access infrastructure.
  • Partnering with key digital repository organizations to promote educational programs of interest to the community – including serving on the Steering Committee for SHARE.
  • Participating in workshops and symposia on access issues, particularly those sponsored by the NSF, National Academies and other federal agencies.

Ensuring Organizational Stability and Strength. SPARC will continue to place a premium on ensuring that its organizational structure is designed to effectively achieve its mission: SPARC will do this by:

  • Evaluating new operational arrangement with New Venture Fund, 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 capacityvia ongoing monitoring of dues structure, grant funding for program support, expanded partnership arrangements, etc.
  • Promoting and expanding member retention and recruitment efforts.

[Download a PDF of the 2015 SPARC Program Plan]