SPARC Program Priorities

Our Mission

Sharing knowledge is a human right. SPARC is a nonprofit 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 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.

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. 

Our Strategic Priority Areas

This year, we’ll work to accelerate the significant momentum we have built with our members, concentrating our activities in the following strategic areas:

Policy & Advocacy

SPARC will play a leadership role in securing policies that advance openness and equity in research and education systems. Specific actions will include:

  • Ensuring equitable, effective implementation of the 2022 OSTP Memorandum on Ensuring Free, Immediate and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.
  • Co-leading global campaign to increase the open sharing of climate change research. 
  • Advancing U.S. national coordination on open education strategies through coalition and collaborative work.
  • Advocating for U.S. federal policies that support open education, including continued funding for the Open Textbook Pilot and limits to automatic textbook billing through agency negotiated rulemaking. 
  • Focusing on the intersection of AI and openness in emerging AI policies and advocating for approaches that support knowledge equity.
  • Monitoring proposed data privacy legislation and regulation, and advocating for approaches that support openness and equity in research and education. 

SPARC will also continue to play an active role in supporting allies in shared areas of concern including algorithmic bias, library digital ownership, and internet freedom issues.

Realigning Incentives

SPARC will equip high-level decision makers to incentivize the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials at critical decision points. Specific actions will include:

  • Working with funders and higher education leaders in the NASEM Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Science to identify priority actions.
  • Empowering the Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship (HELIOS Open) to focus its leader community and action network to execute on these priorities. 
  • Integrating the work of the HELIOS Open leader community and network with other key communities to accelerate and scale progress on incentive reform.
  • Convening the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) to promote incentive realignment among private funders.
  • Exploring opportunities for reform in higher education rankings and accreditation processes.

Enabling Equitable Open Systems

SPARC will advance equitable open systems through targeted work on open business models, content, infrastructure, and processes. Specific actions will include:

  • Increasing support for equitable open access business models including Subscribe to Open (S2O) and Diamond OA and other community-based models.  
  • Leading an S2O@Scale initiative to create networks of linked S2O offers. 
  • Advancing institutional repositories as critical infrastructure via the USRN Network.
  • Collaborating with HELIOS Open to support cross-campus decision making to promote more equitable and open infrastructure and programs.
  • Exploring ways to make the grantmaking process and resulting research outputs more transparent, equitable, and inclusive through the Seed Award Program.
  • Convening a Negotiations Community of Practice to support libraries in improving their negotiating power with vendors and aligning fiscal commitments with values.
  • Exploring mechanism for values alignment in institutional procurement processes.
  • understand and address the ways knowledge systems exclude people due to racism, colonialism, and other legacies of injustice.

Privacy and Surveillance

SPARC will engage our community around the risks posed by publishers’ transitioning into data analytics-driven platform businesses and identify areas for action by: 

  • Educating members and policymakers on risks and proposing avenues for action.
  • Convening a Privacy & Surveillance Community of Practice to support libraries in addressing the risks posed by specific vendor practices.
  • Producing vendor-specific reports on privacy practices and other resources to equip libraries to take action, including talking points and model contract language.
  • Providing resources to help institutions address student data privacy issues in digital courseware contracts, including “Inclusive Access” programs.

Cultivating Communities

SPARC is committed to supporting healthy communities, and places a premium on actively supporting the people doing the day-to-day work of opening up research and education. We will continue to center this commitment in our work with groups ranging from our communities of practice to the open education community to the global OpenCon Community.

Ensuring Equitable and Sustainable Organizational Operations

SPARC works diligently to ensure that our own internal operations and activities reflect our community’s values. We regularly review our practices and structures and make adjustments to better reflect our commitment to anti-racism, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and work to ensure transparency in our financial and governance practices. 

A key priority for SPARC in the coming year is to evaluate our current operational arrangement with the New Venture Fund and to recommend alternatives best aligned with our evolving organizational needs.

Learn more about our work