Gai-Atsu: ARL, SPARC and the Transformation of
Japan Association of Private University Libraries
David Close, in his book The Meaning of Revolution, states that “the
essential feel of revolution derives from its cataclysmic quality, for it
destroys people’s security and unsettles their convictions.” We define
scholarly activity as the: creation of knowledge and evaluation of its
validity, preservation of information, and transmission of information to
others. The technologies, economics and institutions that underpin
scholarly publishing are being radically transformed by revolutionary
developments in the technologies and the economics of the scholarly
・ there is an imbalance in information price relative to value and
source costs…we pay
The academic library community has maintained the following core interests as the publishing environment has been reshaped: the need for a competitive market, guarantee of easy distribution and reuse for teaching and research, innovative applications of technology, quality assurance, and permanent archiving.
The Association of Research Libraries through its Office of Scholarly Communication undertakes activities to understand and influence the forces affecting the production, dissemination, and use of scholarly and scientific information. The Office seeks to promote innovative, creative, and affordable ways of sharing scholarly findings, particularly through championing evolving electronic techniques for recording and disseminating academic and research scholarship. The Office collaborates with others in the scholarly community to build common understandings of the challenges presented by electronic scholarly communication and to generate strategies for transforming the system.
The ARL Office of Scholarly Communication has established the following operating priorities for 2002:
Explore and promote strategies that have the potential to transform scholarly communication into a system whose primary goal is to disseminate research findings in support of the public good.
・ Explore nonsubscription-based economic models that would support
scholarly publishing and
・ Promote the Open Archives Initiative and creation of institution
archives to provide broader
・ Encourage individual faculty to retain the rights to use their
articles in their own research and
・ Advance institutional policies that would allow universities to
manage the scholarly output of
・ Encourage the development of new methods of peer review in the
electronic environment that
・ Develop with the Association of American Universities (AAU)
strategies for requesting
Continue to build broader engagement within the academic community in efforts to transform the scholarly communication system.
・ Develop background materials for and encourage discussion on campuses
・ Update the resources on the Create Change Web site and reorganize the
・ Work with colleagues in the newly formed International Scholarly
・ Work with Indiana University on a conference to explore
information-seeking behavior of
Build a better community understanding of intellectual property and copyright.
・ Reevaluate the format of the present licensing workshops and consider
the development of an
・ Develop products designed to educate faculty and librarians about
copyright (both ownership
・ Continue to work with the Association of American Publishers (AAP),
・ Work with representatives of the Scholarly Communication Committee
Advocate for the interests of libraries and scholars.
・ Continue efforts to raise antitrust authorities’ awareness of library
concerns about the
SPARC’s agenda focuses on enhancing broad and cost-effective access to peer-reviewed scholarship. This objective is pursued via three strategic thrusts:
・ Incubation of competitive alternatives to current high-priced
commercial journals and
・ Public advocacy of fundamental changes in the system and the culture of scholarly communication. This encompasses outreach targeted at various stakeholder groups (e.g., librarians, faculty, editorial boards, higher education administrators, and research funding agencies), as well as ongoing communications and public relations activities that publicize key issues and initiatives. The advocacy thrust leverages the impact of SPARC’s publishing partnerships, providing broad awareness of the possibilities for change and emboldening scholars to act.
・ Education campaigns aimed at enhancing awareness of scholarly communication issues and supporting expanded institutional and scholarly community roles in and control over the scholarly communication process.
Since its formal launch in June 1998, SPARC has advanced this agenda by:
・ Demonstrating that new journals can successfully compete for authors
Today, membership in SPARC numbers approximately 200 institutions in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It is working with the Ligue des Bibliotheques Europeennes de Recherche (LIBER) and other European organizations to establish SPARC Europe, and is investigating the potential for a similar initiative in Japan. SPARC also is affiliated with major library organizations in Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland, and North America.
SPARC operates under the administrative umbrella and not-for-profit tax-exempt status of ARL. SPARC funds are administered separately from ARL funds and SPARC does not depend on ARL financial support.
The SPARC Steering Committee is broadly representative of all SPARC member institutions, including those beyond the ranks of ARL member libraries (which represent approximately half of SPARC’s membership). The 2002 Steering Committee includes appointed seats for a Canadian member and a European member. The other five members have been elected by SPARC’s voting membership. The SPARC Enterprise Director reports to the ARL Executive Director and operates under the oversight of the SPARC Steering Committee.
・ SPARC’s formation and active engagement in the market has sent a loud
signal to publishers that annual price increases must play a far
diminished role in their future growth plans. Spread across thousands of
libraries worldwide, this will save institutions millions of dollars
cumulatively in a relatively short timeframe.
Outlined below is a range of 2001 activities that have contributed to or built upon these successes.
Expansion of editorial board control over the business practices of
The main vehicles for carrying the Declaring Independence are an instructive SPARC-developed handbook and corresponding Web site. The handbook was mailed by SPARC to editorial board members of high priced journals and distributed by library staff to editors as part of their scholarly communications campus outreach activities. The Declaring Independence themes and availability of the handbook/Web site also are promoted widely at meetings and conferences around the world, in SPARC publicity and articles (including an article in the Journal of Electronic Publishing which reprinted portions of the handbook), and speaking engagements. The Declaring Independence handbook is currently being translated into German and, as the SPARC Europe network grows, SPARC will look toward opportunities for further adoption.
To further facilitate effective action by motivated editorial boards, SPARC is providing the consultative services of its business development staff and consultants, enabling editors to explore various publishing options and identify publishing resources that allow them to act on the conclusions of their evaluation. When these activities lead to creation of an alternative journal, SPARC supports qualified projects through its publisher partnership program.
Several new publishing partnerships established in 2001illustrate the empowerment of journal editorial boards (have been launched via the impetus of disillusioned editors of expensive commercial titles), including: Algebraic and Geometric Topology (University of Warwick, U.K.), Journal of Insect Science (University of Arizona Library), Journal of Machine Learning Research (MIT Press), Theory and Practice of Logic Programming (Cambridge University Press).
Creating viable alternatives to high-priced STM journals
・ SPARC-partner Organic Letters has exceeded Tetrahedron Letters, the
main commercial competitor, in impact factor in the subject category of
Organic Chemistry, according to the 2000 ISI Journal Citation Reports.
Organic Letters has risen to number seven in the Organic Chemistry
category, with an impact factor of 3.367; Tetrahedron Letters ranks number
13, with an impact factor of 2.558. By comparison, in the year 2000,
Organic Letters published its second volume (26 issues); Tetrahedron
Letters published its 41st volume (52 issues). When evaluating journals
that publish more than 100 articles annually, ISI data indicates that
Organic Letters rises to number two in impact factor. (Journal of Organic
Chemistry, also an ACS publication, is number one in impact factor in the
overall category of Organic Chemistry.) Organic Letters is SPARC’s first
To support this, SPARC is now developing a content-rich Web resource that will aid institutions and small society-based publishing ventures in developing effective start-up business plans. This major communication initiative will cost-effectively extend SPARC’s reach and influence, helping institutions build on the experience of others and shortening their learning curve. It also will serve as a companion to Declaring Independence. Gaining Independence, as the new initiative is tentatively titled, is a step-by-step guide that will lead its audience through creation of a business plan to help assure new services are competitive and viable. Launch is slated for April 2002.
SPARC also will continue to encourage institutional publishing through support of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). In addition to promoting OAI in its various public communications efforts, SPARC underwrote a portion of the costs of a spring 2001 Open Archives meeting in Geneva.
SPARC participated in an international conference on campus intellectual property policies in Zwolle, Netherlands, convened by SURF Foundation.
SPARC brought several institution-based publishing projects into its partnership program in 2001, including: Algebraic and Geometric Topology (University of Warwick, U.K.), Documenta Mathematica (University of Bielefeld, Germany), and Journal of Insect Science (University of Arizona).
Assuring the successful launch of BioOne
BioOne also has provided a venue for grassroots engagement around SPARC issues with dozens of small societies and has helped sharpen understanding in the biology community of the differing motives of societies and commercial publishers. As the success of BioOne becomes clear, it is expected to serve as a model for other ventures (just as it appears to have already been an inspiration for several library-based projects). Moreover, it may provide a base for growth into other fields and a living laboratory for experimentation with emerging standards and protocols of importance to libraries. Already it is engaged with several emerging archiving projects.
SPARC’s active participation in BioOne dates back to March 1999, when the original concept for BioOne was first formulated. Rick Johnson, Alison Buckholtz, Julia Blixrud, and Howard Goldstein (consultant to SPARC) are all members of BioOne’s Working Group, a de facto management team representing the Founding Organizations. Johnson and Shirley Baker, current president of ARL, are members of BioOne’s Board of Directors. Blixrud serves as deputy treasurer of BioOne.
As an in-kind contribution, SPARC continued during 2001 to contribute to a variety of BioOne services and activities; these contributions included consulting expenses, public relations, and other miscellaneous expenses. The BioOne office is housed in ARL quarters.
Increasing scholars’awareness of scholarly communication issues
Over the past several months, SPARC has worked to :
・ Assemble a SPARC Europe working group and action plan
An informal SPARC Europe association with the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundation, currently under discussion, could lead to the translation, distribution, and adoption of SPARC advocacy materials and promotion of SPARC publishing partnerships in areas of Europe and the rest of the developing world less likely to become SPARC Europe members.
SPARC continues its active promotion of the Create Change campaign and has been involved in the adoption of the campaign in Canada (French and English versions) and in the U.K. SPARC is now working with a number of interested individuals and organizations throughout Europe on regional adoption. Create Change is a print and Web resource designed to aid faculty and librarians in learning about and advocating changes in scholarly communication. The campaign is a collaboration of SPARC, ARL/OSC, and ACRL.
Renewal of SPARC governance
Ongoing communications activities
・ SPARC Web site: SPARC added new features to its Web site throughout 2001, including an expanded “Resources” page that lists alternative publishing options.
・ Public relations: SPARC has built on its ongoing public relations campaign, continuing to place or contribute to articles in mainstream, scientific, and library publications. This list includes but is not limited to the New York Times, Science, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, Professional Publishing Report, Wired.com, Times Higher Education Supplement (U.K.), Library Journal, and Library Journal Academic Newswire.
・ SPARC Forum: SPARC continues to host its semiannual SPARC Forum, which takes place at ALA’s summer and winter conferences. Each SPARC Forum presents new issues with relevant, compelling speakers and is organized thematically about a topic of interest to the library community.
・ SPARC exhibits: SPARC exhibited at ALA (summer and midwinter), IFLA, and ACRL in 2001.
・ SPARC-authored articles: SPARC continues to place a priority on authoring articles about SPARC and the scholarly publishing system. For example, articles are recently published or forthcoming in: Nature.com, Journal of Electronic Publishing, LOGOS, and INASP Newsletter (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications). In addition, SPARC works closely with SPARC steering committee members to edit and place articles related to scholarly communication issues; articles have recently appeared in Against the Grain (Carla Stoffle) and D-Lib (Ken Frazier).
・ SPARC speaking activity: SPARC staff and steering committee members continue to speak at local, regional, and international meetings and conferences. Staff speaking engagements in 2001 have included campus appearances at SUNY Albany, Old Dominion University, College of William and Mary, and University of Pittsburgh. The SPARC speakers bureau also aided numerous institutions in arranging speakers for campus scholarly communications symposia. SPARC speakers also participated in the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Aquatic Sciences Meeting, the Association of American Medical Colleges Council of Academic Societies, the Special Libraries Association Mathematics Rountable, the LIBER annual conference, and an Open Meeting for the Higher Education Community in London.
・ Membership development: Following strong and rapid buildup of SPARC membership among ARL and non-ARL libraries, North American membership is stable. At the end of 1999 there were 166 members and seven affiliates. By the end of summer 2000 there were 193 members and eight affiliates. By end of summer 2001 there were 201 members and eight affiliates. Full members of SPARC, each with an annual purchase commitment of $7,500 to SPARC partner publications, now number 149, and over $1.1 million in annual purchase commitment. Two consortia representing 23 libraries provide an additional source of purchase commitments. The International Supporting Member category, added in April 2000, has seen the largest growth of all the membership categories. This membership category allows non-North American Institutions to join SPARC for US$1,000 per year with no purchase commitment. In summer 2001, SPARC lowered its minimum membership dues in the Supporting Member category to $1,000 from $1,500.
All SPARC members and affiliates in Europe have been transferred to a separate SPARC Europe account so they may contribute to development of a self-funding initiative in Europe.
While SPARC has worked to date exclusively in scientific, technical, and medical fields, where journal prices are highest, it will now also become engaged in projects in the social sciences and humanities when it can make a positive contribution. This will allow us to better support the aspirations of scholars who have received and are prepared to act upon SPARC’s message of change. A targeted plan for playing a constructive role here will be rolled out during 2002.
Incubation of Competitive Alternatives
Activity in 2002 will emphasize providing expanded practical assistance to innovative publishing initiatives that embody SPARC values. This aid seeks to build successful publishing plans, reduce barriers to market entry, make effective use of available resources, and apply lessons learned to other projects. Activity will cluster around initiatives to:
1. Encourage development of institution-based repositories for the work of scholars. SPARC will work with universities and libraries to organize, support, and publicize new institutional roles in information dissemination (such as institutional and disciplinary servers) and the intellectual property policies necessary for their implementation.
2. Support scholar-led journal-publishing initiatives. When scholars are ready to take action and assert control over scholarly communication, they must have concrete options. Regardless of the long-term future of journals, it is through this filter that most scholars today engage with the issues. Hence, SPARC will focus on scholar-led initiatives in which editorial boards are “declaring independence,” addressing important emerging fields, developing innovative value-addition models, or experimenting with new economic models.
3. Develop new, collaborative, digital-publishing enterprises and models. The creation of BioOne has been a notable success and offers a base of experience applicable to other initiatives. Along with other SPARC engagements (e.g., Columbia Earthscape, Project Euclid, Figaro, and Rural Sociology Online), BioOne suggests the power of uniting various players in the information chain (e.g., societies, libraries, consortia, academic computing centers, university presses, etc.) in pursuit of shared objectives. In 2002 SPARC will be closely involved in cultivating projects that harness this power to offer scholars better ways of disseminating their research.
SPARC will support these kinds of initiatives through a range of activities aimed at sharing information, applying and transferring specialized expertise that is not currently resident (especially business and financial planning), and providing marketing services. Following are some of the activities SPARC has planned or is investigating for 2002 deployment:
・ Gaining Independence: This extensive, free, Web resource will provide librarians and scholars with a tutorial on creating business plans for e-publishing initiatives.
・ SPARC Consulting Group: Working though a network of specialized consultants, SPARC will provide in-depth business, financial, and strategic consulting services on a fee basis to universities and university presses, not-for-profit learned societies, and other academic and not-for-profit organizations.
・ SPARC Legal Services: SPARC is exploring its potential to promote and underwrite the cost of the services of a law firm that would advise editorial boards on their options for “declaring independence.” ・ International marketing resources: For journals or aggregations employing a subscription model and operating on a cost-recovery financial basis, expanding the market for their information resources is one means of holding prices down. But for many small publishers, international markets are a largely untapped resource. Hence, SPARC is investigating creation of a freely available Web resource that will help new/small publishers promote and sell subscriptions internationally.
・ Publishing resources lists and evaluations: SPARC will create a Web listing of resources for institutions and smaller societies that wish to develop a digital-publishing program. An initial focus will be on identifying and evaluating software options for offering open repositories, managing peer review, and producing e-journals.
・ Workshops: SPARC is planning to host a workshop that will provide practical information on technical and business/financial aspects of launching a new information repository or service.
・ Institutional repositories federation: SPARC envisions a long-term scenario in which scholarly and scientific research is openly available to users through a loosely federated array of interoperable institutional and disciplinary repositories, hosted by universities, societies, and consortia. SPARC’s goal over the next several years is to encourage and facilitate efforts that have the potential to move scholarly publishing toward this vision. In 2002, SPARC will explore means of advancing and facilitating this process through sharing of information and expertise.
・ Open-access business models: SPARC also will promote development of e-journals supported by business models that enable open access to research and alternatives to subscriptions as a means of supporting scholarly communication ? a goal advocated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative, in which SPARC played a developmental role. Six of SPARC’s current publishing-partner journals are openly accessible, and SPARC will actively seek to develop more such collaborations and to publicize their underlying cost-benefits. SPARC also will assist societies in exploring ways of reducing their dependence on journal revenue.
Advocacy and Education
SPARC has been an effective advocate for cultural changes in scholarly publishing that benefit the academic community. The Create Change initiative (launched by SPARC, ARL, and ACRL) and the Declaring Independence program (created by SPARC with support from the Triangle Research Libraries Network) gave librarians and researchers the tools needed to educate and serve as activists within their communities.
Expansion of SPARC advocacy and education efforts internationally will be a major priority in 2002. Groundwork was laid in 2001 for rollout of SPARC Europe in 2002, and developing Create Change and Declaring Independence programs in Europe will likely be an early priority. Work also has begun on organization of a SPARC Japan initiative, and this too would have a strong advocacy agenda. SPARC will work with CURL and SCONUL advocacy efforts in the U.K. and Ireland. SPARC will also participate on the Steering Committee of the International Scholarly Communications Alliance.
At the same time, SPARC will continue to develop means of enhancing the impact of its message in North America through alliances with the emerging ACRL scholarly communications program and development of closer connections to higher education organizations.
SPARC will initiate a discussion with U.S. research funding agencies about the benefits of requiring that dissemination of research be funded out of grants rather than with subscription fees. This will support development of the open-access business models advocated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative.
The SPARC speakers bureau will continue to provide grassroots support of campus-based scholarly communications engagements with faculty. In addition to providing personalized aid in designing campus programs and identifying speakers, we will establish a database of potential speakers to be available on the Web. Another emphasis will be on encouraging SPARC members to use and build upon scholarly communication educational resources that have been developed by SPARC, ARL, and others. We expect to develop more information about what SPARC members are doing on their campuses regarding campus education programs and to share this among SPARC members.
SPARC will emphasize these themes in its advocacy and education efforts:
・ the transformative potential of barrier-free access to research (as
advocated by the
In addition, SPARC will build new partnerships to help reach vital stakeholder groups, a broader range of institutions, and a larger number of individuals with education and advocacy programs.