Benefits of Partnership

SPARC seeks publisher partners whose missions are compatible with the needs of the research and library communities and share the following goals:

  • To create a more competitive scholarly communication marketplace where the cost of journals acquisition, archiving, and use are reduced, and where publishers who are responsive to customer needs are rewarded.
  • To ensure fair use of electronic resources, while at the same time strengthening the proprietary rights and privileges of authorship.
  • To apply new technologies to improve the process of scholarly communication and to reduce the costs of production and distribution.

SPARC is committed to encouraging and supporting distinguished and innovative publishing projects in vital scientific, technical, and medical (STM) fields. We look to these projects to deliver significant economic and academic benefits directly to SPARC members, as well as to the academic and research community as a whole.

Publishers who meet specific criteria, can demonstrate an ability and commitment to achieve objectives shared with SPARC, and have a reasonable prospect of financial viability will find SPARC offers its partners an unprecedented opportunity to introduce new products with lower risk than currently exists. In addition, partners will be able to make inroads into key markets while enhancing their visibility and reputation with editors, authors, and customers.

SPARC is not a journals publisher or distributor, and has no financial interest in partnered projects. Rather, our role is to enable and support projects that contribute to a more competitive marketplace. We look to SPARC partners to provide high-quality information to SPARC members and others at lower prices, and to create an environment where the partner has incentive to develop additional similar projects.

Partnership Projects

SPARC has three collaborative publisher partner programs underway under which a growing list of 25 partners fall that communicate scholarly research results in various disciplines in science, the humanities, and medicine. Each is designed to bring to market and sustain high-quality journals in major fields, or facilitate the presence and awareness of open access publishing.

  SPARC Alternative: This program supports lower-cost, directly competitive journals as an alternative for academic disciplines formerly dependent on high-priced journals.

  SPARC Leading Edge: This program supports ventures that demonstrate open access or otherwise innovative business models.

  SPARC Scientific Communities: This program supports development of non-profit portals that serve the needs of a discrete scientific community by aggregating peer-reviewed research and other content. These partnerships also recognize a shift in focus from journals to articles in the new digital information environment.

Partners may include the publishing divisions of scholarly and professional societies, university initiatives, university presses, public sector organizations, other non-profit publishers, and independent commercial publishers. SPARC is eager to collaborate with universities, libraries, consortia, and others to develop discipline- or institution-based servers. Priority is given to forming arrangements with established, financially self-sufficient organizations, but consideration will also be given to qualified start-ups from within the academic or research communities.

SPARC will assess potential partnerships on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Market impact. We look for projects that will benefit SPARC members and libraries in general by creating a more competitive environment and expanding the dissemination of scientific, technical, or medical research.
  • International perspective.
  • Use of electronic media or technology to reduce cost or otherwise obtain competitive advantage and add value for user (if appropriate).
  • Well-defined purpose.
  • Reputation of partner and compatibility of publisher's demonstrated business practices and values with the interests of libraries.
  • Advancement of library, author, and user interests in matters of intellectual property, usage rights, and archiving.
  • Likelihood of attracting prestigious editors and authors, thus ensuring content quality and volume.
  • Financial viability of the partner.
  • Capability of partner to manage the project and meet the requirements of the written agreement (see below).
  • SPARC is particularly attentive to the potential partner's ability to attract eminent editors and authors and to produce high-quality, peer-reviewed content at a "critical mass" level.

Support from SPARC and Benefits to the Partner

Perhaps the most significant benefit to SPARC's partners is their access to the purchase commitments made in principle by SPARC's members. SPARC members spend a combined total of over $650 million annually on library materials. Each of these members has made a multi-thousand dollar commitment, agreeing in principle to support SPARC-partnered titles. This amounts to a large purchasing pool from which SPARC's publishing partners can obtain subscriptions for partnered titles.

SPARC makes a vigorous effort to ensure market acceptance of partnered titles through cooperation in market research, publicity, promotional mailings, and advertising. Partnered products will be featured in publicity and promotional materials, on the SPARC website, in e-mail communications with members and others, and at SPARC meetings. Partners are authorized to reproduce the SPARC graphic to advertise the product's association with and endorsement by SPARC.

Affiliation with SPARC allows partners to:

  • Attract prospective editors and authors from within the faculty departments of SPARC's and ARL's member institutions.
  • Gain a sounding board and low-cost venue for product R&D, including access to subject specialists and decision-makers within SPARC's member institutions.
  • Achieve special cost-efficient access to top customers and prospects.

Furthermore, there is a large potential market outside of SPARC. Affiliation with SPARC contributes to the faster and wider acceptance of partners' titles as well as to help titles attract authors and gain credibility.

Agreement Between Partners and SPARC

If the potential partner meets SPARC's criteria and preliminary negotiations proceed favorably, SPARC drafts a Memorandum of Understanding. Upon execution, this frames the relationship between the parties. The publisher will bear the entire financial responsibility for its sponsored project (except for expenses incurred by SPARC in fulfilling its obligations), but may terminate any project that it feels is not economically viable. SPARC works with the partner to minimize market risk, however, and helps ensure for the partner an acceptable return-on-investment over a reasonable period of time. SPARC reserves the right to determine at its sole discretion the appropriateness and eligibility of any party as a potential SPARC partner. Any partnership or other relationship that may be established must be governed by a written agreement.


More Information

Inspect the document meant for Potential Publishing Partners [PDF] and contact SPARC with appropriate opportunities to pursue.

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