SPARC Program Priorities

Our Mission

Sharing knowledge is a human right. 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, contribute to, and benefit from the knowledge that shapes our world. 

SPARC supports equitable systems that successfully center agency, accessibility, safety, stability, and community for all users, and we consider openness a critical enabling strategy for achieving such systems.

Our Objectives

SPARC is 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 our knowledge systems exclude people due to racism, colonialism, and other legacies of injustice.

Our Strategies

To promote progress towards our vision, SPARC: 

  • Advocates for policies that enable open, equitable systems of research and education. 
  • Educates community members on opportunities to take action to enable such systems.
  • Incubates projects that promote new models that directly support such systems. 

Priority Areas

2023 marks the 25th Anniversary of SPARC’s founding. This year, we’ll work to accelerate the significant momentum we have collectively built, concentrating our activities in the following strategic areas:

Policy & Advocacy

Advocate for policies that support open and equitable systems of research and education. Specifically, SPARC will: 

  • Play a leadership role in advancing policies that:
      • Enable everyone to access, contribute to, and benefit from knowledge
      • Encourage use of open research infrastructure throughout the research lifecycle.
      • Incentivize adoption of OER, including continued funding and codification for the federal Open Textbook Pilot Program.
      • Ensure transparency, student consent, and privacy for textbook billing models such as “Inclusive Access.”
  • Support effective implementation of the 2022 OSTP Memorandum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research. 
  • Educate key policymakers at the local, national, and international levels on benefits of policies that advance openness and equity in research and education.
  • Co-lead a global campaign to increase the open sharing of research on climate science and biodiversity in partnership with Creative Commons and Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL).
  • Monitor the policy environment and support our allies in important areas of concern, including surveillance, algorithmic bias, library digital ownership/lending, and internet freedom issues.
  • Provide members with talking points and resources to support advocacy on key issues such as “Inclusive Access,” privacy and surveillance concerns, etc.
  • Communicate to members up-to-the-moment updates and analyses of key policy and scholarly communications-related trends and developments. 


Realigning Incentives

Promote incentives that support open sharing of research outputs and educational materials.

  • Engage in activities to support incentives realignment in Open Education.
  • Support the work of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Science.
  • Support the work of the Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship (HELIOS).
  • Support the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) to promote incentive realignment among private funders.
  • Partner with historically marginalized researchers and philanthropies on model programs to make both the process of grantmaking and the resulting research outputs more transparent, equitable, and inclusive.
  • Explore opportunities for reform in the higher education rankings and accreditation processes.


Enabling Equitable Open Systems

Advance equitable open systems through targeted work on open models, content, infrastructure, and more. 

  • Clearly articulate what “open and equitable” means in education systems.
  • Lead research/development efforts on models for the collective support of community-controlled infrastructure.
  • Convene an Open Models Community of Practice to increase library understanding and acceptance of Subscribe to Open (S2O) and other non-APC open models.
  • Partner with nonprofit publishers to accelerate adoption of open business models for sustainable scholarship.
  • Develop an S2O@Scale initiative to network linked S2O offers.
  • Advance institutional repositories as critical national infrastructure through support of the U.S. Repository Network.
  • Convene a Negotiations Community of Practice to support libraries in improving their negotiating power with vendors and aligning fiscal commitments with values.
  • Analyze the academic publishing market landscape and its transition toward data analytics and propose strategies for library responses.
  • Deliver regular financial updates on key companies. 
  • Educate SPARC members about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings and how they can help advance values alignment with vendors.
  • Provide resources to better understand and address the ways knowledge systems exclude people due to racism, colonialism, and other legacies of injustice. 


Privacy and Surveillance

Address the negative effects of publishers’ evolution toward surveillance and data analytics. 

  • Educate members and policymakers on anti-competitive practices and antitrust issues related to the transition of publishers into data analytics-focused platform businesses.
  • Craft proactive strategies to encourage regulatory intervention where warranted.
  • Convene a Privacy & Surveillance Community of Practice to support libraries in addressing the growing privacy and surveillance risks posed by vendor practices.
  • Develop resources to raise awareness and position libraries for action, including talking points, model contract language and toolkit.
  • Create a resource to help institutions address the student data privacy issues in digital courseware contracts, including “Inclusive Access” programs.


Cultivating Communities

Actively support the people doing the work of opening up research and education.

  • Convene topic-specific communities of practice.
  • Support Open Education community and professional development networks, including the Libraries and OER Forum and the Open Education Leadership Program.
  • Provide continued operational support for the Open Education Conference.
  • Lead the work of the International Open Access Week Advisory Committee to develop the annual theme and supporting events.
  • Support the OpenCon community and monthly OpenCon Librarian Community Call.


Ensuring Equitable and Sustainable Organizational Operations

Ensure that all our operations and activities reflect our community’s values.

  • Establish equitable relationships with and support Indigenous communities where SPARC operates.
  • Support groups working to research, acknowledge, and atone for the legacy of slavery and global colonialism within a social justice lens. 
  • Examine and adjust organizational structures and operations to ensure they reflect community values.
  • Calibrate membership and membership structure to reflect our commitment to anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion. 
  • Refine equity-centered compensation philosophy and structure guidelines.
  • Ensure transparency in our financial and governance practices.
  • Deploy flexible employment arrangements (such as Visiting Program Officers) that extend capacity and provide professional development opportunities. 
  • Develop a staff succession plan.
  • Evaluate operational arrangement with New Venture Fund annually and modify as needed to ensure maximum operational efficiency. 

Learn more about our work