Research Assessment

Streamline internal reviews and exercises

Symplectic Elements enables you to collect, collate, and report on research inputs, outputs, outcomes, and professional activities – helping to inform compliance and assessment submission strategies and ensure you have the data you need to meet your reporting requirements.

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Reduce the burden of compliance

Government and funding bodies around the world have issued mandates for research reporting, tracking impact and open access policy compliance. We know how much time and effort it can take to ensure your organisation measures up – so we build tools to make it easier for you to meet your compliance requirements. Elements enables you to collect, collate, and report on research inputs, outputs, outcomes, and professional activities, helping to inform compliance and assessment submission strategies and ensure you have the data you need to meet your reporting requirements. 

We integrate with a wide range of external data sources to reduce the burden of data discovery, collection, and collation, and can automatically harvest a range of metrics from Dimensions, Web of Science, Scopus, Europe PMC and Altmetric to help inform internal quality judgements.

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Assessment Module

Our flexible Assessment Module enables you to create custom assessment exercises for a wide range of purposes including Faculty Annual Reviews, internal reviews and preparatory exercises as well as formal submissions for government exercises such as the REF.  

The assessment workflow is completely configurable, allowing administrators to choose how the exercise should be designed. For each exercise you can design stages where: 

  • Researchers can select specific outputs or activities, (e.g. publications, grants, impact and professional or teaching activities) and provide supporting information. 
  • Reviewers can assess the submissions providing scores and comments 
  • Exercise managers can review and optimise the data collected before submission. 

Workflows can also be used to streamline any process where you need to gather submissions from users – such as publication review & approvals, requests to attend conferences, internal peer reviews, and promotion rounds. The flexibility of this module means you can choose whether you want a simple one step submission or a more complex assessment with multiple rounds of review. 

We understand how sensitive assessment activities can be and the module includes a configurable permissions model to ensure the data remains secure at all times. 

Research Excellence Framework (the REF)

National Assessments

We offer specific functionality for national assessments, including the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK and the Performance-based Research Fund (PBRF) in New Zealand. Our REF functionality enables institutions to manage their REF submissions at the Unit of Assessment level. We offer specialist support to capture REF-related metadata about research staff and research outputs and we will support you throughout the research output submission process including selection, review, acceptance, and attribution. Elements also supports Australian institutions wishing to collect and verify publication metadata in preparation for the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA). Our highly configurable data model makes it easy to collect  both traditional and non-traditional research outputs, and our bi-directional repository integrations make it easy to deposit required full text into your institutional repository, and ensures direct links to those files are captured within Elements ready for inclusion in your submission. 


Supporting the REF

Reflections on the REF 2021: new paper explores the role of Symplectic Elements as a research information management (RIM) system to support REF preparationReflections on the REF 2021

Using Symplectic Elements to support the Research Excellence Framework

“The most frequently mentioned reason for the negative attitudes to the REF is the excessive burden it creates in terms of time, resources, and worfklow.” (RAND Europe, 2021)

In this paper we explore:

  • How University of Essex used the Impact Module to collect REF3 Impact Case Studies.
  • Anglia Ruskin University’s progress in moving from manual to systematic curation.
  • How University College London used the Open Access Monitor functionality to ensure they meet the REF’s Open Access requirements.
  • The role of Elements in bulk data validation checks at Liverpool John Moores University.

Download whitepaper



“In 2021, we submitted just over 700 FTEs in 17 Units of Assessment, 1678 outputs and 67 impact case studies. If we tried to do that using the old method I dread to think what would have happened, so Elements was really invaluable in getting our REF submission in.” 

Phineas Wenlock, Research Systems Manager, University of Essex

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Faculty Annual Reviews

Faculty Annual Reviews are a vital tool for both academic institutions and faculty members. Not only do they play a critical role in driving the professional advancement of staff and an opportunity for recognition of good work, they’re also fundamental to tracking and providing evidence of the high quality of teaching and research across your research community.

By providing you with a central hub for research information and faculty activity data, with automated ingestion from the widest range of data sources in the industry, Symplectic Elements can streamline your annual review, assessment and reporting processes and minimise the burden placed on faculty members.

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Tracking impact

More and more funding agencies are asking institutions and researchers to provide qualitative evidence of societal, economic and environmental impact generated as a result of externally funded research. For many disciplines, to demonstrate the wider impact of their work they must go beyond the confines of traditional research metrics, unearthing the stories of how their work is impacting the world beyond research. Our specially-designed Impact Module allows users to capture evidence of the wider footprint and influence of their research. Impact doesn’t happen overnight, so our Impact Module allows researchers (or their proxies) to build up their impact records over time, adding narrative fields to capture events as they happen as well as adding associated files, links and references. Elements helps institutions build their own collection of structured, reusable impact records, ready to be curated into case studies, developed into news stories or included in reports to funders.

With this partnership, we have the opportunity to position ourselves as
a world leader in the development of the scholarly ecosystem.

Keith Webster, Dean of University Libraries, Carnegie Mellon

I cannot overstate how pleased we have been.
We have to have confidence to work with a partner
for at least 5 years on a project of this size.

Caleb Smith, Senior Strategy Manager for Research Intelligence & Analytics, University of Michigan

“Faculty need only spend perhaps less than an hour a year to prepare and submit their annual reports.”

Associate Dean, Carnegie Mellon University at Qatar

"Leveraging the interoperability between Symplectic Elements and DSpace has increased policy-driven institutional repository deposits by over 350%."

Ellen Phillips, Open Access Specialist, Boston University

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