SPARC 2015 Accomplishments

Dear SPARC Directors,

As we start to close out this eventful year and begin to prepare for the next, I want to thank you for your continued commitment to creating meaningful change in the scholarly communications arena. SPARC has worked hard on your behalf to capitalize on opportunities for expanding access to research outputs and educational materials, and on reducing the long-term financial pressure on our member libraries.

SPARC is widely recognized as the leading organization providing education and advocacy for practices and policies that ensure open access to the results of research. Our demonstrated successes have fueled our ability to attract a growing amount of grant revenue, which has helped us to significantly leverage your dues investment, and to expand our robust programs in the areas of Open Access, Open Educational Resources (OER), and Open Data.

To support our members, SPARC continuously develops and implements targeted initiatives and services. Here are a few examples of what your member dues investment in SPARC has produced this year:

  • SPARC continued to achieve significant success with our high-profile policy advocacy program. As a direct result of our work in securing the 2013 White House Directive on Public Access, this year, 13 U.S. federal agencies released plans for policies ensuring that articles and data resulting from their funded research be made freely available.
  • SPARC and our member organizations actively contributed to the ongoing consultations that resulted in the three major Canadian Research Councils’ issuing a new, harmonized Tri-Agency Open Access Policy earlier this year.
  • The SPARC-supported “Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act,” a bill that would codify the White House Directive into law, successfully advanced through the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and should be considered by the full Senate later this year.
  • SPARC introduced a new campaign to educate declared 2016 U.S. Presidential candidates on the importance of Open Access, Open Data and OER, and to advocate for the inclusion of these issues in campaign events and platforms.
  • SPARC staff worked with the White House and U.S. federal agencies to raise the profile of OER as a policy issue, co-organizing a government-wide workshop on Open Licenses and OER, and leading coalition efforts to advocate for Executive Branch actions in support of OER.
  • SPARC also worked to generate support for “Open” practices within the Foundation community. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SPARC convened leading research foundations (including the Gates Foundation, the Arnold Foundation and the Soros Foundation) to explore the adoption of open access funder policies, and the establishment of an ongoing Open Access “community of practice” of research foundations in North America.
  • To generate direct input on our programming from our members, SPARC established three new members-only advisory groups to help us develop new programs and services, and to refine our efforts to best serve our members.
  • To keep our members ahead of the curve in understanding the latest developments in the scholarly communication environment, SPARC hosted regular webcasts (free to our members) on important topics ranging from the Elsevier article “sharing” policy, to complying with new Public Access mandates, to developing campus rights-retention based Open Access policies.
  • SPARC actively supported our members’ local, campus efforts by providing SPARC-sponsored speakers for campus events, practical guides, talking points, templates, and expert counsel on Campus Open Access and Open Educational Resources issues.
  • With continued support from the Hewlett Foundation, SPARC expanded its OER program to provide regular campus-based opportunities for education and advocacy in support of the creation of and adoption of OER. In partnership with ACRL, SPARC co-hosted the first Scholarly Communications Institute devoted to OER.
  • In keeping with our commitment to partnering with the next generation of leaders, SPARC and the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) launched “OpenCon,” an annual event that brings students and early career researchers together to catalyze projects to advance Open Access, OER, and Open Data. After the success of our inaugural event in 2014, more than 3,000 individuals from125 countries applied to attend the upcoming conference.
  • Through the R2RC, we partnered with Texas A&M University to secure a grant to develop programming for the first ever “SECU Academic Collaboration Award” Workshop. The high-energy program brought teams of library directors and leaders together with student government leaders with the aim of identifying and developing ongoing campus Open Access and OER collaborations.
  • SPARC proudly provided incubation support for the student-led “Open Access Button” project, a browser-based app that lets readers register when they’ve hit an article behind a paywall, maps those instances, and ultimately, will provide access to an Open version of the article where possible.
  • SPARC’s annual Global Open Access Week continues. This year’s kickoff event reflects the theme of “Open for Collaboration,” with SPARC and the Wikimedia Library co-sponsoring a global, virtual edit-a-thon for Open Access related content on Wikipedia
  • SPARC helped keep the profile of our members and their concerns high in the media. SPARC was regularly consulted and quoted as an expert source on topics relating to scholarly communication.
  • SPARC and SPARC-sponsored programs have been featured this year in both the national and trade press, in outlets ranging from the Washington Post to the Economist to the Times Higher Education.

With each of our programs, SPARC aims to provide our members with tools and resources that are of direct benefit in helping you and your library more effectively engage with faculty, administrators, and students on campus. All of our materials are available under an open license, so you can customize and use them in ways that you and your campus find most valuable. We remain committed to providing these resources, as well as, timely access to leading experts and ideas, and our own energy to continue to build a system of scholarly communication that better serves the needs of our members, and of the academy as a whole.

We look forward to another successful year of working with you to make this happen.

With our thanks and best wishes,
Heather Joseph
Executive Director, SPARC

Learn more about our work