2016 SPARC Program Plan

What is SPARC?

SPARC is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education.


SPARC is a catalyst for action. Our pragmatic agenda focuses on collaborating with stakeholders to encourage new norms, practices and policies that leverage the networked digital environment, expand the dissemination of research findings and educational, 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 (free, immediate access to and full digital reuse of) research outputs and educational materials—including journal articles, digital data and educational resources.

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” the default in research and education. 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 for policy changes that advance scholarly communication and that explicitly recognize that dissemination of scholarship is an essential, inseparable component of the research process; and
  3. Incubating demonstrations of new publishing and sustainability models that benefit scholarship and society.

Key Program Priorities for 2016

Advocacy/Policy Strategy. The top priority for SPARC will be to raise the public policy profile of Open Access to research outputs and educational materialsincluding journal articles, digital data and educational resources. SPARC will advance this priority by:

  • Leading targeted policy advocacy efforts on the institutional, national and international levels.
  • Educating emerging policy players
  • Leading national working groups on Open Access, OER, and Open Data.
  • Working with the media to promote public awareness of benefits of Open Access policies.
  • Working with public and private research funders to create and implement Open Access policies.
  • Promoting collective efforts to build capacity to support implementation of Open policies.
  • Expanding its role as convener of research funders to create new OA “communities of practice.”
  • Exploring new educational campaign promoting Text and Data Mining rights as a Fair Use.
  • Collaborate with Canadian colleagues on Open Research Data Policy template.

Tenure and Promotion Reform. A new priority for SPARC will be to promote the consideration of “Open” articles, data and educational resources in the evaluation, tenure and promotion process by:

  • Creating educational opportunities to promote the inclusion of “Open” behaviors in evaluation, tenure and promotion guidelines and checklists.
  • Promoting exemplars—campuses that have already successfully taken this step.
  • Identifying supportive Campus leaders
  • Identifying supportive student and ECR leaders.
  • Convening stakeholders for peer-to-peer discussion of strategy to promote wider adoption of practices/policies rewarding open sharing of research outputs and educational resources.
  • Creating and presenting webcasts/public programming supporting this kind of reform.

Moving Beyond APCs. SPARC will intensify our efforts to explore and promote sustainable business models beyond Article Processing Charges (APCs).

  • Promoting SPARC’s discussion paper “Publishing Cooperatives: An Alternative for Society Publishers.”
  • Participating in MacArthur Foundation-funded initiative to determine economic, organizational and technological components needed to establish successful multi-stakeholder cooperatives.
  • Updating Campus Open Access Funds project to encourage support of non-APC models.
  • Participate in ongoing discussions to shape small and large scale efforts to transition journals from subscription to OA models.
  • Consider updating OA “Declaring Independence” campaign to support editorial board-led transitions to OA models.

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 global presence and activity.
  • Building on successful launch of SPARC Africa; creating strategic plan and expanding participating network.
  • Evaluating effectiveness of collaboration with SPARC’s European and Japanese programs.
  • Co-sponsoring meeting outside of U.S. with partner organization in 2017
  • Establishing partnerships with key stakeholders in other regions.

Students/ECR’s. 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 programs.
  • 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.
  • Raise level of SPARC member engagement with R2RC programs
  • Working with R2RC to create sustainability plan.
  • Working with R2RC to create long-term funding plan for OpenCon.

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 and repository initiatives.
  • Contributing to evaluations of potential business models supporting community-wide Open Access infrastructure.
  • Providing expert consulting services to exploring and supporting transition strategies for subscription-based publishers to move to open-access models.
  • Partnering with key digital repository organizations to promote programs/services.

Member Outreach. SPARC will clearly articulate how our programs specifically support our members’ campus education and advocacy activities by:

  • Continuing to create/refine members-only services.
  • Supporting/communicating research on social/economic benefits of OA, OER and OD.
  • 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 adoption of rights-retention based campus open access policies.
  • Sponsoring Open Access Week and its growing related activities.
  • Producing and promoting targeted educational materials.
  • Exploring addition of advisory group from scholarly society community.

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:

  • Promoting and expanding member retention and recruitment efforts.
  • Evaluating current operational arrangement and modifying it as needed to meet increasing advocacy activity demands.
  • Considering SPARC Steering Committee representation for experts in key issues areas and constituencies.
  • Deploying flexible employment arrangements strategically deploy high-level talent 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.

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