SPARC impacts journal purchasing trends worldwide

August 30, 1999

Latest expansion of worldwide support points to SPARC's widening impact

Washington, DC - SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) today welcomed its two newest members, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Université Catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium). Both universities, facing budgetary challenges and serials cutbacks due to the increasing cost of scientific journals, joined SPARC to support its goal of transforming the scholarly communications market.

In a related development, the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (AV-CC) recently voted to endorse SPARC, lending its support to SPARC's publishing partners.

"SPARC membership will help raise our faculty's awareness of the problem of high and rising journal prices," said Min-min Chang, Library Director at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. "Faculty have an alternative to the cycle of giving their scholarship to the commercial publishers, only to buy it back again in expensive journals. I believe that SPARC will benefit the academic community internationally, and should be supported by libraries and scholars worldwide." The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which opened in 1991, serves about 7,000 students.

"The Catholic University of Louvain is convinced that it is time for the academic community to take an active stand against commercial practices which benefit neither the producers nor the consumers of academic research," said David Phillips, Assistant to the Chief Librarian at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL). "Universities are being made to pay dearly for what their own peers are publishing. The only way for universities to make their voice heard effectively is to unite their efforts in a common goal. SPARC is one of the pioneering attempts to create a means to achieve this common goal."

The Université Catholique de Louvain, established in 1425 and reorganized in 1970, serves 20,414 students. In 1998 UCL had to diminish its total journals subscriptions by 17 percent in order to afford the annual price increases of its subscriptions. One school in the university cancelled 407 subscriptions last year, a drop of five percent in the total number of current subscriptions at UCL.

The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee, the council of Australia's university presidents, is the main organization representing Australia's 37 universities, which have also been hard-hit by journal costs. "The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee believes participation in international collaborative ventures such as SPARC is one innovative means of changing the present processes associated with creating, publishing, disseminating and archiving research information and knowledge," said John Mullarvey, Deputy Executive Director of the AV-CC.

SPARC has had an international perspective on the serials crisis from its inception, allying itself with U.K.-based partner Royal Society of Chemistry, as well as with John Rylands University of Manchester, the Council of Australian University Librarians, Denmark's Conference of Directors of Research Libraries, and the Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (U.K. and Ireland), all of which are SPARC members or affiliates. SPARC has also been endorsed by the U.K.'s Joint Information Systems Committee.

"Journal publishing is a global enterprise, and libraries everywhere have been struggling with a way to maintain quality while serial prices have gone through the roof," said Rick Johnson, SPARC Enterprise Director. "SPARC is gratified to have the opportunity to influence buying patterns for the benefit of researchers around the world."

Thanks to the support of its members, SPARC has already seen the success of new high-quality journals such as Organic Letters (from the American Chemical Society), PhysChemComm (from the Royal Society of Chemistry) and Evolutionary Ecology Research. Each of these current SPARC publishing partners offers scientists and libraries a lower-priced alternative to an expensive, established title.
SPARC is an alliance of universities and research libraries that support increased competition in scientific journal publishing. Its membership currently numbers about 170 institutions and library consortia in North America, the U.K., continental Europe and Asia. SPARC is also affiliated with major library organizations in Canada, the U.K. and Ireland, Denmark, Australia and the USA. More information on SPARC is available at . SPARC is an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries.


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