SPARC 2016 Accomplishments

Dear SPARC Directors,

As we prepare to close out this eventful year and look forward to 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.

Because of your support, SPARC is widely recognized as the leading organization providing education and advocacy for practices and policies that ensure open access to research outputs and educational materials. 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 what we have come to call the “Open Agenda” – Open Access, Open Educational Resources (OER), and Open Data.

To support our members, SPARC works hard to develop and implement targeted initiatives and services. Here are just a few examples of what your member dues 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 landmark White House Directive on Public Access, this year, 16 U.S. federal agencies released or implemented policies ensuring that articles and data resulting from their funded research be made freely available.
  • SPARC reinforced its strong working relationship with the White House, regularly meeting with key officials—including the Vice President’s office and his Cancer Moonshot team—consistently contributing to invited discussions, roundtables, and consultations on all of our core issues areas.
  • To ensure that these ties remain strong well into the next Administration, SPARC established national presence in the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, working to educate all declared candidates on the importance of Open Access, Open Data and OER, and advocating for the inclusion of these issues in campaign events and platforms, and participating in both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
  • SPARC staff has been invited to participate in a number of 2017 transition committees and planning efforts, drafting recommendations and playbooks on Open Access, Open Data, and OER policies for the incoming administration.
  • SPARC continued to aggressively promote congressional action in our key issue areas. This year, we worked to support progress on the “Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act,” as well as championing the introduction of both the OPEN Government Data Act and the Affordable College Textbook Act.
  • Our staff regularly worked with U.S. federal agencies, promoting the development of new policies, such as the proposed Department of Education rule on the ‘Use of Open Licenses’, as well as supporting effective policy implementation. This year, SPARC collaborated with our member libraries at Johns Hopkins University to launch well-received online resource for supporting campus compliance with U.S. Federal Public Access policies, and hosting trainings webinar on this resource as well.
  • Along with our member organizations, SPARC actively contributed to the ongoing consultations that resulted in the three major Canadian Research Councils’ issuing a new, harmonized Tri- Agency Open Access Policy last year, and this year, in partnership with CARL, hosted two webinars on how libraries can support effective compliance.
  • We also worked to generate support for “Open” policies within the foundation community. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SPARC regularly convenes leading research foundations (including the Gates Foundation, Arnold Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations) to explore the adoption of open access policies, and the feasibility of establishing an ongoing Open Access “Community of Practice” to provide additional investments in Open Access initiatives.
  • To generate direct input on our programming from our members, SPARC established four 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 responding the Elsevier article “sharing” policy, to understanding the implications of Sci-Hub, 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, adding a new dedicated staff member to provide regular campus-based opportunities for education and advocacy in support of the creation of and adoption of OER.
  • In keeping with our commitment to partnering with the next generation of leaders, SPARC and the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) held its 2nd Annual “OpenCon” event in Brussels, Belgium. Bringing students and early career researchers together to catalyze projects to advance Open Access, OER, and Open Data. The event was attended by 150 individuals, with another 1,500 participating via satellite events hosted all over the world. This event is exploding in popularity; we have received over 10,0000 applications for the 2016 event!
  • SPARC proudly provided incubation support for the student-led “Open Access Button” project, which continued to expand its capabilities, launching a new “Open Data Button” module.
  • SPARC’s annual Global Open Access Week continues. This year’s kickoff event reflects the theme of “Open in Action,” which encourages stakeholders to take concrete steps to make their own work more openly available and encourage others to do the same.
  • 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 NPR to 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

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