FAQ September 2010
Symplectic Elements v3.6
Frequently Asked Questions
N.B. Find what you’re looking for by searching the document for .KEYWORDS (to the left of each FAQ).
What is Symplectic?
Symplectic is a software tool that helps academics to maintain comprehensive lists of
research outputs of all kinds. It is best thought of as an online space where academics can
list their research outputs, with a few extra tools to speed things up including automatic
searching of online journal databases, and assisted importing of books and book chapters.
The tool already holds accounts for over 800 academic staff at Oxford, and is supported by
the central University Planning and Resource Allocation Section (PRAS).
How does Symplectic build research records?
The tool uses names and addresses to match records in online databases with individual
researchers. Researchers are then asked by email to verify that the matched publications
do relate to them. The search is refreshed periodically, and researchers are contacted only
when unverified results are found.
Additionally, researchers or their delegates can manually add other outputs to their
Symplectic record. For example, book chapters can be included simply by providing an ISBN
and a page range (if applicable). Symplectic automatically retrieves publication dates, coauthors, blurbs and other information from online resources. Researchers can also import
existing research information into Symplectic – from material held in ORA and/or other
tools such as End Note.
Does Symplectic hold full text publications?
.ARTICLE .RECORDS No. Symplectic stores only titles, abstracts and other information about full publications.
However, Symplectic will soon allow users to upload full texts to the Oxford Research
Archive (ORA) simply and quickly, and publication lists include links to full texts stored on
the web or in local Oxford archives.
Where is the data stored, and who has access to it?
All Symplectic data is stored on a BSP (Business Services and Projects) server here in Oxford.
Access is arranged in a hierarchy. Researchers can see only their own publications lists, but
can choose to give access to other named staff members if this is deemed useful. System
administrators have access to the lists of all users in their departments, but cannot see
other departments or groups. Administrative access should be limited to just those few
individuals needed to keep the system running smoothly.
How/Why is Symplectic better than local record keeping?
Symplectic automates much of the record keeping for journal articles and conference
proceedings, and for books and chapters it makes the process faster. Symplectic can also be
used manually to store information about other kinds of outputs such as music, software,
performances and works of art. Maintaining a comprehensive list of outputs from an
FAQ September 2010
academic career can have practical uses for grant applications, publicity, and updating CVs
and websites.
For administration, research record keeping is increasingly important, and Symplectic is
specifically designed to assist. Symplectic has been used by a number of Oxford
departments for over a year, and comes with central technical support and experience. The
initial setup can be time consuming, but the ongoing use of the tool has been found to be
low burden.
Why does my account contain so few of my publications?
Various possible reasons. Firstly, the automated search will only return articles for peer
reviewed journals, published conference proceedings, and some book reviews. Books,
chapters, and other publications are not gathered automatically gathered by the system.
If you’re missing a large proportion of your journal articles, then the search settings may
need adjustment. The system searches online publication databases using name and
address information. When first created, the system makes some basic assumptions about
the form in which your name appears in your journal publications. If it is incorrect, then you
may have few search results and/or get publications belonging to other people.
Contact your local Symplectic administrator to resolve this. To find out who this is, contact
[email protected]
How do I improve the search (get more and better results)?
The Search Settings area is accessed from the Home page. See the Help menu (at the top of
the Symplectic account screen) for a search settings troubleshooting guide.
Symplectic will return the same results that an equivalent search carried out directly with
one of its online datasources. So, for example, going to Web of Science at
http://apps.isiknowledge.com/ (and click the Web of Science tab) and entering the Search
Settings in your Symplectic account will generate the same results that Symplectic will
download to the Oxford system the next time it carries out a search (every 30-90 minutes).
Where are my books and chapters?
Symplectic does not automatically retrieve books and book chapters from external sources.
These have to be entered into the system manually. Symplectic does have a connection
with Google Books, however, which enables it to download much of the bibliographic
information about books if you provide it with an ISBN. From the Home page, in the upper
‘Publications’ panel, click ‘Add new book’ and follow the prompts.
What if I’m an editor or reviewer, rather than an author of a publication?
Symplectic does not make many of the bibliographic fields mandatory, but ‘Author’ is one
of them. Books and Chapters also have fields for editors, so you will need to complete both
in order to create the record in your account.
Who administers Symplectic in my department?
Contact [email protected] to find out.
How do I get a Symplectic account?
Of you are aware of other research staff in your area who have Symplectic accounts, then
contact your local administrator. Alternatively, contact [email protected]
Does Symplectic contain foreign (non-English) language publications?
FAQ September 2010
How do I add information to a record in Symplectic?
Contact [email protected]
Who has access to information about me in Symplectic, and how is it used?
Contact [email protected]
Can Symplectic provide a list of publications in a user’s account?
Contact [email protected]
I haven’t got time to populate my Symplectic account. Who will do this?
Contact [email protected]
I keep my bibliography in End Note and/or Reference Manager. Will Symplectic import from these?
Contact [email protected]
How to I delegate access to my account to someone else?
Contact [email protected]
Can I use Symplectic from home or overseas?
Contact [email protected]
I don’t know my username/password. How do I log in?
Contact [email protected]
Two or more records found by the automated search are the same. What do I do?
Contact [email protected]
How long a publication history should I keep in Symplectic?
Contact [email protected] (Not so frequently asked questions, after all!)

FAQ September 2010 Symplectic Elements v3.6 Frequently Asked