Celebrating our 14th Year in Business

This past weekend, we celebrated our 14th year in business. Founded by four PhD physics students whilst studying at Imperial College London, Symplectic has since evolved from a spirited young startup to a global leader in research information management.

In light of this joyous occasion (now that we’ve polished off the pizzas and craft ales), we’re taking a quick look back into our past, present and future.


Early Elements

Originally created as a publication management system, the scope of our flagship software Elements was gradually widened to encompass all scholarly activities a researcher would be associated with, such as research data, grants, teaching and professional activities. Over time, the system went through multiple evolutions, working closely with the research community to add functionality specific to their needs.

Back in the early years, our software looked something like this:


And here’s how we thought it might look one day in the future, back in 2012:



Ending up where we are now, a few updates into our fifth major version of Elements:

In earlier versions of Elements, almost everything a researcher concerned themselves with was viewable from the homepage. Our user experience has since evolved, with better use of an intuitive menu system and a homepage that more clearly directs users to the tasks their own institution would like them to undertake (as shown in the screenshot above).

There was, of course, much more than just user interface changes along this journey. Many additions were made behind the scenes, such as the expansion of Elements’ range of integrations, and as the needs of our community matured, we were asked to add even more. Over time, Elements was enhanced with CV and Biosketch generation, VIVO and Profiles RNS integration, public profile population, the Assessment Module, research impact tracking, the Open Access Monitor, a reporting framework, analytics dashboards, and more – becoming the definitive hub of an institution’s research.

And during that time, we grew to a global team of 33, and joined the Digital Science family of companies in 2011, where we’ve happily fitted in since.

In 2017, Elements now serves over 320,000 researchers, librarians and administrators at more than 85 research-intensive organisations, including universities, funders and commercial companies. We now serve clients in 9 countries with a support team covering every time zone, and last week alone we were contacted by organisations from Peru, Indonesia and southern Africa.

A busy year

Which brings us to 2017, our fourteenth year of operation. Since our last birthday, we’ve…

  • Released the all-new Elements v5.0, containing the Assessment Module and a redesigned user interface
  • Continued to develop Elements with five updates since, bringing a host of new features
  • Partnered with more institutions (now more than 80), including the WHO TDRCarnegie Mellon University, and KU Leuven
  • Officially released Repository Tools 2, with a brand new philosophy behind Elements’ interaction with repositories
  • Published case studies from LJMUQMUL and the University of Liverpool
  • Hosted members’ meetings at our London office for CASRAI and ORCID
  • Hosted three of our own conferences in CambridgeSydney, and Durham, NC
  • Released an open-source theme for the VIVO research profile and networking platform: Bootstrapped
  • Added five new team members (Adam, Kate, Marco, Keat, and Ben!)

What’s next?

As always, we have multiple projects on our calendars. Since our founding, we’ve worked on building a product that is scaled for the size of larger research-intensive institutions. While this has traditionally been the focus of Elements, we also believe it’s important to cater for smaller, more specialised research institutions. We’re making progress in this space, and encourage you to keep an eye on our news feeds for more news on this very soon. We’ll have more news and updates throughout the year, so head to our newsletter and twitter feed to stay informed.

It’s been an exciting and busy year, and we’re grateful to our community and partners for working with us along the way. Behind the logo and the product you see every day, there is a dedicated team of individuals that together have made the last 14 years possible. As one of our most valued clients once said, “Symplectic isn’t just a company, it’s a philosophy” and we look forward to many more years of learning and discovery together.

The automatic search features are a bonus. I really like the way the new entries arrive automatically, and all I have to do is respond to the prompt to approve them. Navigation in the new release is intuitive and friendly. Linking directly to DOIs and full text is convenient and makes it easy to access and share my own research.

Professor Penny Brothers, University of Auckland

Elements elegantly connected our multi-university system providing a
single source of truth throughout OIEx.

Tim Cain, The Ohio Innovation Exchange (OIEx)

The University measures the individual research activity of academic staff. This Measure of Research Activity (MoRA) requires the collection of publication data from faculty. Symplectic Elements supports this beautifully.

Floris van der Leest, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

[Elements] will help to bring transparency to the richness of thought showcased within non-traditional publications, providing a more holistic representation of faculties’ scholarly work.

Caleb Smith, University of Michigan

Feedback to date has been extremely positive from all levels across the University, with individual academics and colleagues actively promoting the ease of use of the system.

Rachel Baird, Research Policy Analyst, University of Liverpool