SPARC Program Priorities

SPARC is a non-profit advocacy organization that supports systems for research and education that are open by default and equitable by design. We believe everyone should be able to access and contribute to the knowledge that shapes our world.

As a catalyst for action, our pragmatic agenda focuses on driving policy change, supporting member action, and cultivating communities that advance our vision of knowledge as a public good. From the local to the global level, SPARC works to address the ways in which our knowledge systems exclude people due to racism, colonialism, and other legacies of injustice.

SPARC’s membership includes more than 200 libraries and academic organizations across North America. This membership is complemented by affiliated SPARC coalitions in Africa, Europe, and Japan as well as individual member organizations in Australia, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia. Founded in 1998, SPARC operates as an independent project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. SPARC is known by its acronym, which stands for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

Driving Policy Change

SPARC advances policies that enable open and equitable systems for research and education. SPARC works closely with decision makers at the local, national, and international levels to align policy and incentive structures to support our vision.

Policy Advocacy

  • Advocating for policies that enable and reward the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials, including the enactment of a zero-embargo, national open access policy.
  • Educating key policymakers (including U.S. Congress, U.S. Executive Branch, Canadian Administration, state and provincial governments, as well as global public and private funders) on policies that advance openness and equity in research and education. 
  • Advocating for improvements to existing public access policies to reflect emerging global norms, including immediate access, full reuse rights, FAIR data principles, harmonization of article and data sharing requirements, inclusion of code, software, algorithms, etc.
  • Clearly communicating the potential social equity impacts of proposed policies. 
  • Advocating for state and federal policies that incentivize the adoption of Open Educational Resources, including continued funds for the federal Open Textbook Pilot Program.
  • Advocating for state and federal policies that ensure transparency, student consent, and privacy for textbook billing models such as “Inclusive Access.”
  • Leveraging leadership of and participation in coalitions to speed policy progress.

Realigning Incentives

  • Promoting incentives to support open sharing of research outputs and educational materials.
  • Supporting the work of the ORFG/NASEM Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Science.
  • Supporting ORFG members to serve as peer-influencers to promote incentive realignment.
  • Partnering with historically marginalized researchers and philanthropies to develop a model program to make both the process of grantmaking and the resulting research outputs more transparent, equitable, and inclusive.

Supporting Member Action

SPARC’s members are the core of our organization and a powerful force in advancing systems for research and education that are open by default and equitable by design. We provide timely resources, targeted briefings, and in-depth analyses to enhance our community’s ability to take informed action.

  • Providing a comprehensive landscape analysis of the academic publishing market, implications for libraries/academic institutions, and proposed strategic responses.
  • Delivering regular financial updates on key companies. 
  • Educating members and policy makers on anti-competitive practices and antitrust concerns, and crafting proactive strategies.
  • Educating SPARC members about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Ratings and how they can help advance values alignment with vendors. 
  • Leading research/development efforts on models for the collective provisioning of community-controlled infrastructure, including support for targeted new investment strategies that coordinate development and operating funding instruments. 
  • Partnering with funders, scholarly societies, and other nonprofit publishers to expand and accelerate adoption of inclusive open practices and explore shifts in business models for sustainable scholarship.
  • Increasing understanding and acceptance of Subscribe to Open and other non-APC open models.
  • Continuing to offer the highly successful SPARC Open Education Leadership Program.
  • Providing new professional development opportunities for advancing knowledge equity.
  • 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. 

Cultivating Communities

SPARC seeks to cultivate communities that actively support the people doing the work of opening up research and education. SPARC organizes topic-specific communities of practice as well as broader efforts to build networks across SPARC’s program areas.

  • Convening an active Negotiations Community of Practice to provide data, resources, and support for libraries to improve their negotiating position with vendors.
  • Building an initiative to equip campus decision makers to reexamine and renegotiate automatic textbook billing programs around
  • Providing continued operational support for the Open Education Conference to the extent agreed upon with its newly founded community leadership.
  • Advancing a network of repositories in the U.S., leveraging relevant international developments.
  • Developing a Privacy Community of Practice to educate SPARC members about growing privacy and surveillance threats facing libraries.
  • Leading the work of the International Open Access Week Advisory Committee to develop the annual theme and supporting events.
  • Continuing to support the OpenCon community and integrate leadership from the next generation throughout SPARC’s work.

Ensuring Equitable and Sustainable Organizational Operations

Recognizing that centering equity is an iterative and continual process, SPARC will regularly examine our organizational structures to ensure that they reflect our community’s values.

  • Reviewing and adjusting membership structure through a lens of anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion. 
  • Creating deliberate, equitable relationships with and avenues to directly support Indigenous communities where SPARC operates as well as groups working to research, acknowledge, and atone for the legacy of slavery and global colonialism within a broader social justice lens. 
  • Finalizing and adopting executive succession plan.
  • Finalizing and adopting new compensation philosophy and structure guidelines.
  • Reviewing financial reporting practices to ensure appropriate levels of transparency and accountability.
  • Deploying flexible employment arrangements (VPO’s , etc.) that extend our organizational capacity while providing equitable compensation and professional development opportunities. 
  • Annually evaluating new operational arrangements with New Venture Fund, and modifying it as needed to ensure maximum operational efficiency. 
  • Updating our website and communications materials to better reflect our commitment to centering equity throughout SPARC’s work.

Learn more about our work