2019 SPARC Program Plan


SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC promotes barrier-free sharing of research and educational materials to enable a global, open ecosystem for scholarship – democratizing knowledge sharing, accelerating discovery, and increasing societal and economic returns on research and education investments.

SPARC is a catalyst for action. Our pragmatic agenda focuses on encouraging new norms, practices, and policies that promote open and equitable access to, use of, and participation in research and education. We are committed to designing equity and inclusion into the foundation of the initiatives we lead and the communities we cultivate, and to advocate for these core values in all of the spaces where SPARC is active.



To promote changes in both scholarly infrastructure and culture, SPARC focuses on:

  1. Advocating for policies that enable Open practices throughout research and education.
  2. Educating stakeholders on opportunities to retain and regain control of scholarship in order to serve the public interest.
  3. Incubating projects that promote new models for research and education that directly support the needs of scholars and society.

Supported by 200+ members in the U.S. and Canada and a strong network of international affiliates, SPARC promotes collective action based on shared values with key stakeholders, from faculty and administrators to research funders and the public.  To effectively create an open ecosystem for this and future generations, SPARC places a particular premium on empowering students and early career professionals.



To advance progress toward achieving our mission, SPARC will concentrate our activities in the following areas:

Driving Policy Change

SPARC will continue its leadership role in advancing policies that seek to reset the rules of the game and enable a global open ecosystem for scholarship. SPARC’s work will include:

  • Educating key policymakers (including the 116th U.S. Congress, U.S. Executive Branch/Administration, Canadian Administration/Parliament, state and provincial governments, as well as global public and private funders) on SPARC’s policy priorities.
  • Deploying proactive campaigns to expand policy progress in the U.S. and Canada, as well as defending against threats to existing policy progress.
  • Advocating for update of 2013 OSTP Memorandum on Public Access to Publicly Funded Research to reflect emerging global norms.
  • Advocating for state and federal policy changes to incentivize and remove barriers to the adoption of Open Educational Resources.
  • Promoting full implementation of the OPEN Government Data Act through the National Federal Data Strategy.
  • Leveraging leadership of and participation in coalitions (Data Coalition, Alliance for Taxpayer Access, etc.) to accelerate policy progress.
  • Working with the media to promote public awareness of the benefits of Open policies. 

Enabling Community Controlled Infrastructure

SPARC will promote initiatives that enable the academic community to retain and regain control of crucial infrastructure—and attendant data—underpinning the open scholarly ecosystem. SPARC’s work will include: 

  • Deploying a comprehensive campaign to educate stakeholders, including full market analysis of implications for libraries/academic institutions, along with proposed strategic responses.
  • Strengthening the community’s negotiating position to secure long-term control of infrastructure.
  • Retaining expert financial and legal counsel to ensure that strategic responses are viable, sustainable, and designed to scale properly.
  • Leading research/development efforts on economic and organizational models for the collective provisioning of community-controlled infrastructure, including support for targeted new investment instruments.
  • Actively collaborating with existing community efforts to accelerate progress towards an open/community-owned ecosystem.
  • Advocating for policies that empower institutions to retain control over their research and education infrastructure, including content and data.

Catalyzing the Realignment of Research Incentives

SPARC will promote the realignment of existing reward and incentive structures to advance an open scholarly ecosystem. SPARC’s work will include:

  • Collaborating with the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) and the U.S. National Academies of Science to bring together funders and higher education leaders in peer-to-peer discussions to promote practices and policies to reward the open sharing of research outputs and educational resources.
  • Encouraging department-level development of proposed rewards/recognition for Open practices to be included in evaluation and promotion guidelines.
  • Supporting research into current evaluation, reward, and incentive structures, and promoting exemplars that have made demonstrable progress towards realigning research incentives and rewards.
  • Leveraging the OpenCon community to promote culture change within the next generation at scale and in context.

Supporting Direct Library Actions

SPARC will support and enhance our members’ ability to take timely and informed actions. SPARC’s work will include:

  • Providing comprehensive data, resources, and support for libraries considering ‘Big Deal’
  • Identifying and promoting opportunities for libraries to move out of ‘Big Deal’ subscription packages and reinvest in support of a global open ecosystem for scholarship.
  • Providing professional development opportunities to empower people as catalysts for advancing Open, including the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program.
  • Partnering with funders and scholarly societies to explore shifts in business models towards supporting communications platforms and services.
  • Developing and implementing a new, comprehensive code of conduct for use throughout the SPARC community.
  • Providing up-to-the-moment updates and analyses of key policy and scholarly communications-related trends and developments.
  • Issuing action alerts and other opportunities for timely member library participation in advocacy, education, and partnership initiatives.
  • Delivering tools and resources to support campus advocacy and education activities.

Learn more about our work