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The Researcher Development Framework

A guide for academic staff

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) has been designed by Vitae (for the Research Councils) to guide all researchers in their professional development.  It replaces the Joint Skills Statement which was designed for PhD students only.
The RDF is based on 4 areas, called Domains and labelled A-D.  Each Domain is made up of smaller Sub-domains, numbered 1-3.  

The RDF Domains and Sub-domains

A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities

•    A1: Knowledge base
•    A2: Cognitive abilities
•    A3: Creativity   
C: Research Governance and organisation

•    C1: Professional conduct
•    C2: Research management
•    C3: Finance, funding and resources
B: Personal effectivness

•    B1: Professional and career development
•    B2: Self-management
•    B3: Personal qualities   
 D: Engagement, influence and impact

•    D1: Working with others
•    D2: Communciation and dissemination
•    D3: Engagement and impact

The RDF for PhD students

PhD students are required to show that they have been involved with developmental activities in all 4 Domains.   Instead of collecting 180 points, PhD students will submit a short Portfolio consisting of:

1.    Four Domain Summaries.  One-page reflections on their development in each of the Domains which refer to 2 and 3 below.
2.    A transcript of training courses, activities, research group responsibilities they have undertaken.   
3.    Reflection forms for activities undertaken outside of University or that are not courses (outreach, conferences etc).

The Portfolio should be submitted 3-6 months before thesis submission.
How do the new system and old system compare?

Supervisors will want to know how much training is enough. 

As a yardstick, each of the 4 domains would equate to 45 Green Card Points under the old system, which would look like:

•    15 half-day training courses or
•    A GradSeed + 5 half-day training courses or
•    15 reflection forms or
•    45 hours of outreach or
•    7 conference presentations/posters or
•    The Preparing Future Academics programme

Of course, students’ records will be a mixture of all of the above (plus activities not listed).

Many areas, which were specifically excluded from the old Joint Skills Statement can now be included in Domain A, for example maths and stats courses, TF courses and subject-specific training.

Skills Forge will be pretty much the same as it is and students will be able to print out a record of all the training they have undertaken.  

Reflection Forms will be the same as they are currently, although students will be asked to say which of the sub-domains they are writing about (rather than the Joint Skills Statement areas that they previously identified).  Reflection Forms should not be confused with the Domain Summaries.

The RDF for contract researchers

As before, the responsibility for training and development remains with the individual.  Performance Review is a good time for researchers to take stock of their development, and supervisors should encourage this.  On top of this, the Training and Careers Officer (Hilary) is available to talk to researchers at any time.

An RDF ‘tool’ has been created by Vitae for researchers to assess their professional development.  And contract researchers may choose to use it independently, or as preparation for their performance review.