As we head into the final months of 2022, we are pleased to say that the work that we do on behalf of our members promoting equitable, open systems of research and education has played a central role in helping our libraries, academic institutions, and research funders to more effectively address their core missions. This has enabled us to reach new heights in our work, and to grow in both size and scope as an organization – and we are deeply thankful to our members continued support.
SPARC has thrived as a virtual organization, implementing a structure that reflects the distributed and inclusive nature of our community. We’ve streamlined our programs to focus on member priorities and created more opportunities for community participation. We’ve worked hard to extend our capacity, continuing to attract significant levels of grant support to expand our work into areas of immediate concern for our members – including providing extensive support for negotiations with publishers, developing community-friendly open business models, challenging practices that threaten the privacy of data users, and establishing a new U.S. repository network.
We’ve worked hard to build and maintain strong relationship with communities of central importance to our libraries, from federal agencies to private philanthropies to higher education leaders, establishing structures like the Open Research Funders Group, HELIOS and the NASEM Roundtable on Realigning Incentives to provide channels for regular and deep collaboration. And we’ve expanded our online resources, adding resources like our InclusiveAccess.org website, our dynamic Landscape Analysis reference website, and our Big Deal Knowledge Base, as well as professional development programs like our first-of-its-kind Open Education Leadership Program and regular member-only programing like our just-in-time national policy briefings.
Mission Critical Focus
Everything we do is centered on our objective of creating a more open and equitable research and education system. SPARC’s decades-long work in leading the fight for this reached a new pinnacle this year, as the Biden Administration issued landmark new policy guidance designed to make open and equitable access to research outputs resulting from *all* U.S. federal agencies the norm by 2025. This policy guidance was widely welcomed by policymakers, funders, and university leaders who recognized that eliminating unnecessary barriers to scientific research is critical not only for public health, but also to address other critical societal challenges, including climate change. Our challenge now is to ensure this policy is implemented in a fair and equitable manner.
Similarly, providing access to high-quality free, open educational resources has become essential to ensuring that students have the best possible environment in which to continue their studies. There is high demand for SPARC to accelerate our successful efforts in increasing the awareness, creation, and adoption of OER as a cost-effective strategy for student retention.
As a membership organization, we work hard to support our members ability to effectively deal with pressing challenges in the areas where we have the most expertise. This year, the SPARC team redoubled our outreach to our members and applied what we heard to shore up our efforts in the places where SPARC is uniquely positioned to help, including:
Driving Policy Change
- Successfully securing a landmark national policy making all research resulting from the annual $80 billion dollar U.S. taxpayer investment openly and equitably available to all.
- Securing $11 million in federal funding for the U.S. Open Textbook Pilot grant program in FY2022, with an additional $15 million proposed in the Senate FY2023 Appropriations bill.
- Securing the re-introduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act to authorize a grant program, similar to the Open Textbook Pilot, which would expand funding for the creation and use of open textbooks at colleges and universities.
- Securing a four-year, $4 million grant from the Arcadia Fund to work in partnership with Creative Commons and EIFL to develop a global campaign to embed open access policies and practices into the global climate change community.
- Supporting the “open” agenda for private funders via the Open Research Funders Group, which now includes 26 foundations who invest over $12 billion in research funding annually.
- Coordinating community input on the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, the first-ever global framework for international open science policies and practices.
Equipping Members for Successful Publisher Negotiations
- Conducting an “inflation watch” survey to identify current resource pricing trends.
- Providing resources (member briefings, contract libraries, pricing information, guidance on data analysis for negotiation, and more) to support libraries in preparing for negotiations.
- Convening vendor-specific negotiation discussions for our members to share strategies and learn from one another’s experiences.
- Hosting regular professional development opportunities related to negotiations, including staffing/expertise requirements, strategy development, re-investment strategies, and more.
- Supporting the launch of the IMLS-funded Open Negotiation Education for Academic Libraries (ONEAL) project, which builds on last year’s Negotiations 101 and 201 series to expand the professional development opportunities for negotiations available to librarians.
Centering Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity
- Regularly examining and revising our operations, finances, communications, and strategies to center anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusiveness (REDI).
- Resourcing initiatives that promote REDI throughout the research communication system.
- Convening SPARC’s Knowledge Equity Discussion Series, which provided an introduction to broad concepts and considerations of epistemic injustice and knowledge equity in the areas of academic libraries and archives.
- Partnering with the Knowledge Equity Lab to produce the third season of the Unsettling Knowledge Inequities podcast series.
- Sponsoring the Knowledge Equity and Justice Spring Seminar, an intensive learning opportunity for LIS Students focused on critical issues in epistemic justice relevant to Library and Information Studies.
- Developing the Open & Equitable Model Funding Program through the ORFG, and engaging 11 funders to road test specific interventions designed to make both the process of grantmaking and the resulting research outputs more transparent, equitable, and inclusive.
Realigning Research Incentives
- In conjunction with the ORFG, launching the Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Science (HELIOS), which includes university leaders from 85 institutions, aimed at making open scholarship easier for individual researchers, aligning incentive structures, stimulating scalable infrastructure, and coordinating with like-minded sectors to promote a more transparent, inclusive, and trustworthy research ecosystem.
- Partnering with the U.S. National Academies of Science to convene the “Roundtable on Realigning Research Incentives” to reform research incentives to support Open Science.
- Launching the Alliance for Open Scholarship (All4OS) in collaboration with the NASEM Roundtable and the ORFG, a group of 10 professional societies and associations committed to operationaling open scholarship principles.
- Working with 18 philanthropies to develop and implement open science language in their grantmaking policies, via an ORFG community of practice.
Empowering Librarians Through Online Resources and Development
- Releasing “Gold Open Access 2016-2021: Articles in Journals,” the seventh in a series of SPARC-funded studies of business models supporting open access journals,
- Providing the Open Education Leadership program, our popular and intensive online professional development course, now with over 100 graduates.
- Serving as organizer of the 2022 Open Education Conference.
- Collaborating with the UN Library to organize the 2nd UN Open Science Conference.
- Creating opportunities for libraries to promote openness on campus by organizing 2022 Open Access Week around the theme “Open for Climate Justice.”
- Expanding InclusiveAccess.org and offering more than two dozen presentations, workshops, and webinars to raise awareness of the downsides of automatic textbook billing.
Encouraging Competition/Guarding Against Antitrust
- Releasing an analysis of and suggested actions in response to Elsevier’s acquisition of Interfolio, outlining the increasing concentration in the nascent market for FIS products- and the risks it may create in other markets
- Working with antitrust and legal experts to challenge Clarivate’s acquisition of ProQuest.
- Proactively working with regulators and legislators to educate them on issues in the scholarly publishing market, and to initiate interventions where necessary.
Supporting Community-Controlled and Open Infrastructure
- Catalyzing the creation of the U.S. Repository Network in partnership with COAR to develop a strategic vision for repositories as a critical component of national research infrastructure.
- Creating a new Privacy & Surveillance Community of Practice to explore library approaches to address privacy and surveillance concerns with vendors.
- Creating a new Community of Practice to increase library understanding of funding models that provide equitable open access to both readers and authors without relying on article processing charges, with specific focus on collective models such as Subscribe to Open.
- Educating members on data privacy and surveillance issues in critical library infrastructure.
- Supporting the development of the global BOAI 20 recommendations on the 20th anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative
We are keenly aware of the challenges facing our community and our society, particularly at a time of inflationary stress, and are fortunate that our work directly contributes to creating a more open and equitable system for sharing knowledge. Because of our members support, SPARC is widely recognized as the leading organization for education and advocacy in this area, and our successes have fueled our ability to attract grant revenue – including funding this year from the Arcadia Fund, the Open Society Foundation, Michelson 20MM Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has helped us significantly amplify the value and impact of our members dues investment.
The entire SPARC Team thanks our members for their continued support!