Symplectic’s 12th birthday – thoughts on the past, present and future

Happy Birthday to Symplectic!

Last week, we celebrated our 12th year as a company.

Though we didn’t have quite the big bash we had for our 10th anniversary, a few drinks were joyously downed after work on Thursday. Today, we’ve been reflecting on how far we’ve come since those early days.

 

symplectic 12 cake

The beginning

We’re already well-versed in telling the story of how we were founded. Our main product, Elements, was launched in light of our founders’ experiences of using outdated, fragmented systems while working on their PhDs.

When Elements was first introduced to institutions to assist with the automated capture of publication information its full potential was unclear. However, researchers loved the idea of automating some of their work, and institutions soon realised Elements could also help them showcase their researchers work externally. Over time, the uses of Elements have grown immensely, and it is now a fully-fledged research information management system; a term only coined in the last few years.

The very first version of Elements was a script with no graphical user interface. Now it’s made up of nearly 4 million lines of code. One of our earlier versions:

 

Symplectic-v3.0

ELEMENTS VERSION 2

 

A few years on

You can see in the version 2 screenshot above (circa 2010), the homepage was very much focused on publications. Little room was given to any other research-related activities while publications are front and centre.

 

ELEMENTS VERSION 3

 

 

This was a few versions later, and you can see that ‘widgets’ have appeared on the homepage. This was the first transition the product made that really focused attention not only on publications, but other research-related activities. This is a great example of our collaborative development ethos; it was one of our most-requested features.

The present

Elements v4.12 is a very different product to the one you see above. It now captures a much wider range of scholarly activities, has customisable themes, many more data sources, custom actions, and a sleek new user interface.

 

ELEMENTS VERSION 4.12

 

As always, we’re continuing to work on new features and improvements based on the feedback we receive from our community of users. And the community keeps on growing! We now have over 300,000 users from 70 research institutions, sharing their ideas to benefit their peers and the wider community.

More than one

We don’t just develop Elements anymore, either. Building on our experiences and expertise, we introduced new services for institutions looking to join open-source researcher networks, and also partnered with our friends at ÜberResearch to bring their innovative funding analysis tool to the institutional market.

Looking to the future

We have exciting plans for the next year, including releasing some major (and minor) new versions of Elements, working with new partners, and some other projects we can’t talk about just yet. Keep up with the blog here, or follow us on TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for our latest news and updates.

We’ll also be travelling around the world to talk about the rapidly-changing world of research information management, amongst other things – have a look at our itinerary and come meet us.

Finally, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has worked with us over the years, all of our clients, our users and our amazing team (past and present). Here’s to the future.

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