Thursday, February 5, 2015 News

February 2015 SPARC Innovator Award Announced

Open Access

For Immediate Release

February 3, 2015

For more information, contact:
Heather Joseph
(202) 296-2296
[email protected]

Washington, DC – A meeting of international student medical associations in the spring of 2013 in Baltimore, MD would be unlike any other conference Joe McArthur and David Carroll would attend. These activists and friends would bond over the frustration they felt when they regularly hit pay walls restricting access to articles, and become inspired to develop a revolutionary open-access tool that would change the trajectories of both of their careers.

Their idea, which would soon be known as the Open Access Button, is a simple one. When a user encounters an article they want to access that charges a fee, an app (The Open Access Button) allows them to simply click a button on their browser, registering the incident. This information is then displayed on the Open Access Button website, providing, for the first time, a sense of the scale of the problem of paywalls. The incidents are also displayed on a map of the world, which provides an important visual representation of the scope of the problem.

“David and Joe epitomize what it means to be a catalyst for action,”- said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC. “They spotted a problem that has vexed the community for years, and, rather than complaining about, they jumped in with both feet to take action to try and fix it.”

For creating the Open Access Button, SPARC is pleased to honor Joe McArthur and David Carroll with its first Innovator Award of 2015. The February 2015 SPARC Innovator Profile on the Open Access Button is online at

The SPARC Innovator program recognizes advances in scholarly communication propelled by an individual, institution, or group. Typically, these advances exemplify SPARC principles by challenging the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public. SPARC Innovators are featured on the SPARC Web site semi-annually and have included Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), John Willinsky, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), Michael Nielsen, Health Research Alliance, The World Bank, R. Preston McAfee, Harvard University FAS, Ted and Carl Bergstrom, Melissa Hagemann, among others.

For further information or a list of previous SPARC Innovators, please see the SPARC website.



SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the web at

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