Symplectic is 20!

?2️⃣0️⃣? This year marks a big milestone for Symplectic – our 20th anniversary! 

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From our humble beginnings as a start-up out of Imperial College, where four friends who met studying theoretical physics started doing a hodge-podge of tech development work, to the genesis of Symplectic Elements as a commercially-available research information management system in 2009, we now serve a global client base of 150+ organisations – many of whom have been with us for a decade or more. 

In a world as complex, changing and interconnected as the research ecosystem, no man or company is an island. Our success and longevity have only been made possible through the collaboration and enthusiasm of the many numbers of the institutional research community, who have partnered with us with enthusiasm when seeking to tackle new challenges as they arise – whether that be shifting to open access workflows, getting to grips with the REF, or building connections between academia and industry to surface new areas of potential innovation. 

As Symplectic co-founder and now CEO of Digital Science Daniel Hook will say in an upcoming blog, “Every relationship has gone toward ‘paying it forward’ so that the broader Symplectic community benefits from the innovations and ideas of each participant. When once, in the early phase of Symplectic’s development around 2008, a perceptive UK-based client observed, ‘You’re really just centralising development funding from many universities so that you can give us a great product and keep it moving forward in a way that we can afford’, they were not wrong.”

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To illustrate the Symplectic story and how we have evolved alongside the research world over the past two decades, we’ve created a ‘potted time-capsule’ brochure that we hope will provide an interesting read to both long-term clients and those who are not yet familiar with what we do. 

View Digital Timeline Download PDF


Looking Backward 

 

Symplectic is 20! 1Any anniversary, birthday or large life event is a chance to look back at how far you’ve come, while also looking to the future. 

While some of the earliest iterations of Elements are lost to the annals of history – perhaps for the better – you can see from this screenshot of Elements v3.8 with its distinctly blocky Windows 95 vibes how much things have changed. 

Of course, the user interface and functionality isn’t the only thing that’s grown and evolved over time….all our co-founders are still with Digital Science, though some have changed job titles or even moved into different parts of the DS family.

And the team has got a lot larger too! 

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Looking Forward

We’ll be celebrating our anniversary through the year with a series of client spotlights, as well as hearing from some of the Symplectic team on what makes this such a rewarding place to work. You can read the first of these, from Clarke Iakovakis at Oklahoma State University, here. We’d also love to celebrate with our client community in person, and will be kicking that off by meeting with clients in the APAC region at the Digital Science Showcase for the first time in three years this week. Look out for invitations and details of upcoming in-person user meetings in the UK and US, as well as some other surprises which are still currently firmly under wraps ?.

 

We also have some exciting development planned for our products this year including: 

  • Symplectic Elements: 
    • Growing the Discovery Module by incorporating even more data types to help you showcase the true breadth of your research expertise and assets. 
    • Redesigning our groups functionality to help organisations effectively manage their internal structures. 
    • Launching a new technologies module to help track, analyse and showcase your IP and innovations. 
    • Expanding our Open Access monitoring and reporting to give organisations an even more comprehensive overview of their scholarly publishing activities. 
    • And more… 
  • Symplectic Grant Tracker: 
    • Launching a new ORCID integration to help easily write grant data to researchers’ ORCID profiles.
    • Growing the Grant Tracker API to further support interoperability.
    • Streamlining key administrative processes to simplify the process of supporting your grant rounds. 

 

As of 2023, our evolving mission now can be broken down into 6 core areas of focus:

 

We seek to:

  • Relieve Administrative Burden & Empower Researchers

We free up researchers and administrators in the research office and grants teams to concentrate on value-add activities rather than manual admin, giving them more time to spend on what’s important.

  • Drive & Support Collaboration & Innovation 

We help researchers find mentors, collaborators, scientific equipment and other institutional research services – helping them do their research better and driving better cross-pollination of knowledge across disciplines.  

  • Enable Funding of Research

We help research funders manage their grants award processes and grants applicants build the best applications possible. Powerful reporting tools made it possible to demonstrate ROI and end-impact of grants, helping funders spend money most effectively on impactful research, and researchers achieve success in gaining funding. 

  • Enable Open Access for the Benefit of All

We make it easier for researchers and institutions to make their publications & data open access, making knowledge more widely accessible for all (including developing countries).

  • Gain Insight & Track the Impact of Research Done

Powerful reporting tools help organisations track KPIs, monitor progress on things like how much of research is actively contributing to initiatives such as SDGs or Open Access workflows, or analyse and understand the impact of grants and funds allocated and research carried out. 

  • Promote Research Excellence

The Elements assessment module makes it easier for institutions to assess and demonstrate research excellence, through activities such as the Research Excellence Framework in the UK, PBRF in New Zealand, ERA in Australia, and Faculty Annual Reporting (FAR). This helps to ensure that research and teaching carried out is of the highest quality.

Most of all, we want to take this opportunity to thank all members past and present of the Symplectic community for your time, input, and insight. 

If you’re interested in taking part in one of our client spotlights through the year, or presenting at one of our upcoming user meetings or webinars, please get in touch

We look forward to raising a glass with you in celebration soon.

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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