SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a global coalition that works to enable the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials in order to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the societal and economic return on our collective investment in research and education. As a catalyst for action, SPARC focuses on promoting changes to both infrastructure and culture needed to make open the default for research and education.
This report was commissioned in response to the growing trend of commercial acquisition of critical infrastructure in our institutions. It is intended to provide a comprehensive look at the current players in this arena, their strategies and potential actions, and the implications of these on the operations of our libraries and home institutions. It also outlines suggestions for an initial set of strategic responses for the community to consider building out in order to ensure community control of both this infrastructure and the data generated by/resident on it.
To produce this analysis we were fortunate to secure the services of Claudio Aspesi, a respected market analyst with more than a decade of experience covering the academic publishing market for international investors. Between 2004 and 2016, Aspesi was the Senior Research Analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein covering European Media Stocks. The academic publishing market – and Reed Elsevier and Pearson in specific – was a key area focus for him during his tenure. Previously he was Global Senior Vice President of Strategy at EMI Music and was responsible for defining EMI’s business model as the music industry entered the digital age. Before joining EMI in 2002, Claudio was a member of the executive team at Airclic, an Internet infrastructure company and, prior to that, a partner at McKinsey and Co., working with many leading media and entertainment companies.
Aspesi produced this comprehensive analysis in close collaboration with the SPARC team, after conducting interviews with dozens of key stakeholders including provosts, CIO’s, library leaders, and higher education administrators in a wide variety of North American institutions, as well publishers, and other market experts.
We are at a critical juncture where there is a pressing need for the academic community – individually and collectively – to make thoughtful and deliberate decisions about what and whom to support—and under what terms and conditions. These decisions will determine who ultimately controls the research and education process; and whether we meaningfully address inequities created by legacy players or simply recreate them in new ways. These decisions will shape libraries’ role in the scholarly enterprise, now and for the future.