Researcher Development Framework

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) is a tool for planning, promoting and supporting the personal, professional and career development of researchers in higher education.

About the Researcher Development Framework

The RDF describes the knowledge, skills, behaviours and personal qualities of researchers and encourages them to aspire to excellence through achieving higher levels of development. It details, for different stages of researchers’ careers, the competencies that they might aspire to.

How the framework was created

The RDF was created from empirical data, collected through interviewing researchers, to identify the characteristics of excellent researchers expressed in the RDF as 'descriptors'. The descriptors are structured in four domains and twelve sub-domains, encompassing the knowledge, intellectual abilities, techniques and professional standards to do research, as well as the personal qualities, knowledge and skills to work with others and ensure the wider impact of research. Each of the 63 descriptors contain between three to five phases, representing distinct stages of development or level of performance within that descriptor.

What does the RDF provide?

The RDF provides a comprehensive underpinning for a professional development tool that Vitae have developed for researchers to audit their own skills, knowledge, attributes and behaviours against those set out in the RDF.

See further information and tools available on the Vitae website.

RDF Planner

The RDF Planner has been developed by Vitae in response to sector-wide requests for an interactive, straightforward way for researchers to manage their professional development using the comprehensive Vitae RDF.

The Planner enables you to: 

  • Keep a record of all your professional development activities in one place
  • Identify your expertise and capabilities to plan your career
  • Print reports for discussions with mentors, supervisors, career advisors, etc.
  • Identify your learning and development needs and monitor progress
  • Upload files such as CVs, conference details, testimonials to record achievements
  • View the attributes of successful researchers through a 'lens' on employability, enterprise, leadership and more

How to sign up for the RDF Planner

UWE Bristol has an institutional subscription to the RDF Planner. Please email skillsdevelopment@uwe.ac.uk to sign up.

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