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What We Do

SPARC’s strategy focuses on reducing barriers to the access, sharing, and use of knowledge. Our highest priority is advancing the understanding and implementation of policies and practices that make openness the default for research outputs and educational materials—including journal articles, digital data and educational resources.

For over a decade, SPARC has worked internationally to make the Open Agenda the default mode for research and education through the adoption of Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education policies and practices.

SPARC is a catalyst for action, focused on four strategic pillars critical to ensuring the open sharing and broad use of knowledge. Our work to advance the following strategies includes but is not limited to: the development of resources for stakeholders, convening events with practitioners and decision-makers, development of policies for the sector, administration of targeted projects, and generating media awareness:

1. Advocacy: The top priority for SPARC is raising the public policy profile of the Open Agenda. To achieve this, SPARC advocates for policy changes that advance scholarly communication and explicitly recognize dissemination of knowledge as an essential, inseparable component of the research process. Our advocacy work focuses on:

  • Promoting policies that provide for Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education on the institutional, state, national and international levels.
  • Supporting research on social and economic benefits of the Open Agenda.
  • Leading the Open Access Working Group.
  • Working with public and private research funders to create and implement Open policies.
  • Actively participating in coalitions working on our target Open issue areas.

2. Education: Advancing new policy and practices requires broad understanding of the benefits of the Open Agenda as well as the most effective vehicles for implementation. SPARC educates stakeholders and the general public about the opportunities and benefits of making open the default mode for research and education. Our education work includes:

  • Identifying and defining new concepts that advance the Open Agenda among practitioners, funders, and policymakers. This includes the development white papers, suggested language for policy, and contextually relevant opportunities for Open.
  • Producing a wide range of resources critical to the successful application of Open including tools for authors (such as the SPARC Author Addendum), funders (such as SPARC’s primer of implementing an Open Data policy), students (such as SPARC’s open publishing guide for students), and university administrators? (such as SPARC’s review of campus open access funds).
  • Direct support to our members and partners through convening and leading directors’ calls, webcasts, campus visits, expert forums, workshops, and conferences.
  • A strong emphasis on strategic communications that reach diverse audiences through major media outlets.

3. Collaboration: SPARC focuses on collaborating with stakeholders to encourage the emergence of new norms that support the Open Agenda, including policies and practices that leverage the networked digital environment, expanding the communication of research outputs and educational materials, and reducing financial pressures on libraries and users of these resources. Our work to effectively engage key stakeholders includes:

  • Convening and leading new and existing coalitions and conferences to consistently optimize and advance the Open Agenda.
  • Empowering our members to be leaders on their campuses and amplifying their voices to decision-makers, executives, funders, and the international Open movement.
  • Actively participating in a range of Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education coalitions and executive committees.

4. Incubation: SPARC advances new demonstrations of scalable business models that sustainably support open sharing of these materials through the selectively incubating new programs and strategies. Projects that SPARC has helped incubate include:

  • Developing new business plans for Open Access journals that present effective alternatives to outdated publishing models.
  • Mentoring the creators of the Open Button which tracks how often researchers hit paywalls (data important to illustrating the range of the Open crisis for non-practitioner decision-makers) and attempts to connect users with freely accessible copies of articles.
  • Bringing together principles to launch new projects like BioOne, a non-profit publisher that aims to make scientific research more accessible.

Disciplined focus on our four pillars has successfully positioned SPARC as a widely recognized and leading international force providing advocacy and education on effective open policies and practices.

Learn more about our work