Elements and Discovery: Faculty Information System (FIS)

About the Tufts Faculty Information System

The goal of the Tufts Faculty Information System (FIS) is to give faculty a single, powerful tool for organizing and showcasing their accomplishments.

The FIS is actually composed of two sites – Elements and Discovery. The Tufts Elements site is only accessible to Tufts faculty members and certain support staff. Faculty go to Elements to edit the information in their profiles, including biographical info, publications, professional/teaching activities, and grants. 

Elements profile page

This information then gets pushed to the Tufts Discovery site, which hosts faculty members’ public profiles.

Discovery public profile page


Elements is a software service offered by a UK-based company called Symplectic. This service, which has been chosen by Tufts University to host its Faculty Information System, has the ability to collect data from various sources and organize it into profiles. These sources include databases that are internal at Tufts, such as the Tufts Student Information System (SIS), as well as searchable databases outside of the University, like PubMed. Elements users can also add/edit information manually. The result is a comprehensive, detailed, customizable profile that can be shared with the world.

Data In

Faculty member profiles are initiated in Elements based on job records in PeopleSoft, which is the Human Resources system of record at Tufts University. The Elements system then aggregates information about the faculty member from a number of internal and external databases to populate the four main areas of the profile: Publications, Grants, Teaching Activities, and Professional Activities. This data collection is done regularly, making it easier for faculty members to keep their profiles up to date. Faculty members also have the ability to edit and add/remove items in their profile.

Labeled diagram of Elements home page describing where data comes from

To support the initial rollout of the new Tufts FIS, data is imported into faculty member’s Elements profiles.

Profile Section Notes about data sources
Publications Data is regularly imported from the available databases using the criteria defined in your name-based search settings. See the page on Automatic Publication Claiming for more information.

Up to 5 years of available data is imported from Tufts' Research Administration System (RAS).

Note: For faculty members from AS&E, grants that are imported from RAS will be automatically set to "private" to suppress them from being visible on the Discovery public profile site. If a faculty member wishes to make a grant visible, they can change its privacy level to "public." For more information on how to do this, see the page on "Profile Privacy and Visibility."

Professional Activities There is no central database at Tufts that records faculty's professional activities.
Teaching Activities Up to 10 years of available data is imported from Tufts' Student Information System (SIS).

Data Out

The information in a faculty member’s Elements profile is automatically pushed to their Discovery public profile. Some information is also pushed to department faculty profile pages (work in progress). No extra work is required. Faculty also have the ability to export their profile as Academic CVs and NIH Biographical Sketches, in either PDF or Word format. For more information, see the pages on Discovery Public Profiles and Exporting Profile Data.

Diagram explaining how data flows out from Elements to other sites