The SPARC Alternative publisher partner program encourages and supports publishing projects that represent a direct and strong competitive alternative to existing high-priced titles in important established STM fields. Such projects can either be entirely new (i.e., proposed and/or under pre-publication development) or already launched. The current SPARC Alternative publisher partners are listed with the partners representing the other two partnership programs: SPARC Leading Edge and SPARC Scientific Communities.

The partnerships must offer SPARC's members the opportunity for a return on their membership investment in the form of lower acquisition costs. In the aggregate, SPARC partnered projects must give libraries the opportunity to reduce the number of high-priced journals to which they subscribe and to implement a more balanced collection development program. Each library exercises its independent judgement on which journals to keep or cancel based upon their expert evaluation of the needs of their users.

The Alternative program is also intended to provide editors and authors with responsive, credible options for lessening their publishing dependence upon the established journals in a particular field where control is often exercised by a relatively few dominant for-profit publishers. SPARC-partnered projects must reflect incremental improvement in addressing the rights and privileges of both authors and users. Generally, SPARC will prefer its agreement with the partner to cover more than one project co-developed over a three-year period.

Evaluation Criteria

Potential partners will be evaluated and selected based upon their standing relative to specific criteria and, if appropriate, the results of negotiations for an agreement. Potential projects will be considered based upon market need and the likelihood of contributing to the success of SPARC's goals. Since SPARC must allocate its resources only to those opportunities with a solid financial basis, it is keenly interested in the potential partner's ability to attract leading authors, meet its commitments, and achieve financial viability.

Evaluation criteria for potential partners in SPARC's Alternatives program includes:

  1. Market impact: We look for projects that will help create a more competitive environment and expand the dissemination of scientific, technical, or medical research.
  2. International perspective
  3. Use of electronic media: We look for applied technology that reduces cost or otherwise obtains competitive advantage and/or adds value for the user.
  4. Well-defined purpose
  5. Reputation: The publisher's demonstrated business practices and values should be compatible with SPARC's interests.
  6. Goals: The publication should advance library, author, and user interests in matters of intellectual property, usage rights, and archiving.
  7. Editorial standards: The venture should have a high likelihood of attracting prestigious editors and authors, thus ensuring content quality and volume.
  8. Financial viability
  9. Project management: The partner should be capable of managing the project and meet the requirements of a written agreement with SPARC.

In the course of any negotiations between SPARC and the potential partner, shared data of a proprietary nature will remain the property of the disclosing party and will be kept confidential by the other when marked "confidential" by the originator.

Next Steps

If you believe your organization may qualify for partnership, contact the SPARC Director with a preliminary proposal that describes your venture and how it addresses the criteria above.

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.

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