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SPARC Roadmap for Action

We wrote this report as a solution focused follow up to the 'Landscape Analysis': which sparked community wide debate by detailing the changing academic publishing industry and the implications of large-scale deployment of data and data analytics. In this report we offer a roadmap of potential steps that stakeholders can take to chart both individual and collective responses.

Table of Contents

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Aspesi, C., Allen, N. S., Crow, R., Daugherty, S., Joseph, H., McArthur, J. T., & Shockey, N. (2019, November 1). SPARC Roadmap for Action. ,


Aspesi, Claudio, et al. “SPARC Roadmap for Action.” , 1 Nov. 2019, .


Aspesi, Claudio, Nicole S. Allen, Raym Crow, Shawn Daugherty, Heather Joseph, Joseph T. W. McArthur, and Nick Shockey. 2019. “SPARC Roadmap for Action.” , November 1.

  • Background

    Until now, commercial publishers were – at worst – seen by institutions as an annoyance for selected communities within academia. Their move into the core research and teaching missions of colleges and universities, with tools aimed at evaluating productivity and performance, means that the academic community could lose control over vast areas of its core activities.

  • What Do We Mean By Data And Data Infrastructure

    We talk about two types of data. The first is Research Data, which refers to the data academic institutions generate through their research activities. The second is Grey Data, which refers to the vast amount of data produced by universities outside of core research activities.

  • Three Categories Of Action

    The purpose of this document is to build on the Landscape Analysis by offering a roadmap of potential actions that stakeholders can use to chart both individual and collective responses.

  • Risk Mitigation: Revise Data Policies

    It is critical for data policies to be revised to address the myriad strategic questions raised by the proliferation of data and data analytics.

  • Risk Mitigation: Engage in Open Procurement Practices

    An important area when institutions can assert control of data is through purchasing and procurement processes. These processes should be revisited and revised to ensure that they are transparent, competitive, and fully coordinated across the institution.

  • Strategic Choices: Intro

    The second category of actions is more complex, since it relates to decisions that will need to be made specifically based on each individual institution’s mission, culture and values. It also involves the establishment of an explicit process to determine the position that each institution wants to take in regards to specific issues posed by the collection of data and the deployment of data analytics tools.

  • Strategic Choices: Algorithms vs. Humans

    It is only a matter of time before artificial intelligence further pervades campus decision-making in ways that impact equity, privacy, and allocation of resources.

  • Strategic Choices: Quantitative vs. Qualitative Metrics

    While institutions may not be ready to abandon the usage of quantitative metrics to evaluate their faculty, they should consider engaging in a genuine debate on the relative weight that they place on quantitative vs. qualitative assessment.

  • Community Actions: Collectively Implement Strategic Practices

    Broad adoption of common terms and conditions will have a market effect that favors products and services that are in the best interests of the academic community. This includes advantaging Open Source software over “black-box” algorithms and leveling the playing field for community-owned tools to compete with commercial options whenever available.

  • Acknowledgements

    We would like to acknowledge that the development of this publication was generously supported by grants from the Open Society Foundations and Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.