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What skills do you need as a researcher?

As your career progresses, new roles and responsibilities will place an increasing demand on the repertoire of skills needed for success.

Whether remaining in academia or pursuing professional opportunities in the public or private sector, skills like project management, effective communication, and networking are essential but often neglected during the masters or doctorate. An additional obstacle, particularly for PhDs, is that employers often perceive HDRs as being inadequately prepared for careers in industry and lacking in transferrable skills.

The Vitae Researcher Development FrameworkLink to external website (RDF) is a comprehensive guide to the array of skills required to do and support research in various professional capacities as well as to work with others and ensure the wider impacts of research.

The University of Adelaide uses the RDF to support HDR students in identifying the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to be an effective researcher and enhance their employability skills.

Research Development Framework (accessible version available)

RDF Domains, Subdomains, and their Descriptors (www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/)

The RDF in Detail

The RDF is structured into four broad domains, twelve subdomains, and 63 competencies that describe different aspects of being a researcher. The Researcher Development StatementLink to external website (RDS) is derived from the RDF and details the knowledge, behaviours, and attitudes expected of researchers within each sub-domain. Read more about each of the domains below.

  • Domain AKnowledge and Intellectual Abilities

    This domain contains the knowledge and intellectual abilities needed to be able to carry out excellent research.

    A1. Knowledge Base

    Includes:

    • Subject knowledge
    • Research methods: theoretical knowledge
    • Research methods: practical application
    • Information seeking
    • Information literacy and management
    • Languages
    • Academic literacy and numeracy

    Knowledge of:

    • The area of research, the advances within it and its relationships with other research areas
    • The methods and experimental techniques appropriate for research design
    • Sources of information, bibliographic software and other information technologies
    • Literacy and numeracy skills and language abilities appropriate for research

    Behaviour:

    • Makes original contributions to knowledge
    • Identifies, applies and develops methods and experimental techniques appropriate for research projects
    • Conducts effective and comprehensive information searches
    • Records, manages and handles information/data using appropriate bibliographic software and other information technologies

    A2. Cognitive abilities

    Includes:

    • Preparation and prioritisation
    • Commitment to research
    • Time management
    • Responsiveness to change
    • Work-life balance

    Behaviour:

    • Analyses and evaluates findings using appropriate methods
    • Thinks originally, independently and critically; develops theoretical concepts
    • Critically synthesises information from diverse sources
    • Evaluates progress, impact and outcomes of research
    • Recognises and validates problems; formulates and applies solutions to a range of research problems

    Attitude:

    • Willing to give and receive constructive criticism

    A3. Creativity

    Includes:

    • Inquiring mind Intellectual insight
    • Innovation
    • Argument construction
    • Intellectual risk

    Behaviour:

    • Develops new ways of working; has novel ideas and realises their potential
    • Identifies new trends; creates new opportunities
    • Develops convincing and persuasive arguments to defend research
    • Takes intellectual risks; challenges the status quo

    Attitude:

    • Takes a creative, imaginative and inquiring approach to research
    • Is open to new sources of ideas
  • Domain BPersonal Effectiveness

    This domain contains the personal qualities, career and self-management skills required to take ownership for and engage in professional development.

    B1. Personal Qualities

    Includes:

    • Enthusiasm
    • Perseverance
    • Integrity
    • Self-confidence
    • Self-reflection
    • Responsibility

    Attitude:

    • Approaches research with enthusiasm, passion and confidence
    • Is resilient and perseveres in the face of obstacles
    • Is self-reflective; seeks ways to improve performance and strives for research excellence
    • Is pro-active, independent, self-reliant and takes responsibility for self and others
    • Shows integrity

    B2. Self-Management

    Includes:

    • Preparation and prioritisation
    • Commitment to research
    • Time management
    • Responsiveness to change
    • Work life balance

    Behaviour:

    • Anticipates and responds to directions and trends in research
    • Plans, prioritises and conducts research in proactive way
    • Delivers research projects and results on time and effectively
    • Develops awareness of, and helps to achieve, work-life balance for self and colleagues

    Attitude

    • Has a strategic approach to research
    • Has focus, commitment and ambition
    • Is flexible and responsive to change

    B3. Professional and career development

    Includes:

    • Career management
    • Continuing professional development
    • Responsiveness to opportunities
    • Networking
    • Reputation and esteem

    Knowledge of

    • Career and employment opportunities inside and outside academia

    Behaviour:

    • Takes ownership of and manages professional development
    • Shows commitment to continuing professional development and enhancing employability
    • Maintains and develops relevant skills set and experience in preparation for a wide range of opportunities within and outside academia
    • Actively networks for professional and career purposes and seeks to enhance research reputation and esteem
  • Domain CResearch Governance and Organisation

    This domain relates to the knowledge of the standards, requirements and professional conduct that are needed for the effective management of research.

    C 1. Professional Conduct

    Includes:

    • Health and safety
    • Ethics, principles and sustainability
    • Legal requirements
    • IPR and copyright
    • Respect and confidentiality
    • Attribution and co-authorship
    • Appropriate practice

    Knowledge of:

    • Health and safety issues, confidentiality and ethical requirements of his/her research field
    • The legal requirements and regulations relating to the area of research and the research environment
    • The principles of intellectual property rights (IPR) and copyright issues, as they relate to research, its commercialisation and dissemination
    • Organisational and professional requirements and environmental impact of research
    • The concept of corporate social responsibility

    Behaviour:

    • Respects, acknowledges and attributes the contribution of others
    • Seeks to protect, where appropriate, the intellectual assets arising from research and to maximise the wider value of research findings
    • Acts with professional integrity in all aspects of research governance
    • Uses institutional/organisational resources responsibly and appropriately
    • Seeks ways of working in a sustainable manner

    Attitude:

    • Respects, upholds and meets professional standards and requirements

    C 2. Research Management

    Includes:

    • Research strategy
    • Project planning and delivery
    • Risk management

    Knowledge of :

    • The contribution of research to the health of disciplines and institutional missions
    • Project management tools and techniques

    Behaviour

    • Applies appropriate project management tools and techniques
    • Sets goals and plans and manages resources to deliver results
    • Effectively assesses and manages risks
    • Evaluates the effectiveness of research projects

    C 3. Finance, Funding and Resources

    Includes:

    • Income and funding generation
    • Financial management
    • Infrastructure and resources

    Knowledge of

    • The requirement for research income generation and financial management
    • Mechanisms for funding, the range of funding sources and the processes for making applications
    • Local administrative systems, reporting procedures and infrastructure processes

    Behaviour:

    • Responsibly manages finances, resources and infrastructures related to research
  • Domain DEngagement, Influence and Impact

    This domain relates to the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage with, influence and impact on the academic, social, cultural, economic and broader context.

    D 1. Working with others

    Includes:

    • Collegiality
    • Team working
    • People in management
    • Supervision
    • Mentoring
    • Influence and leadership
    • Collaboration
    • Equality and diversity

    Behaviour:

    • Actively works in an inclusive, respectful and constructive way with colleagues, stakeholders and research users
    • Recognises and acknowledges the contribution of others and own part in team success
    • Builds relationships in academic and commercial contexts; approachable and interacts constructively with others; manages expectations and resolves conflict
    • Supervises, mentors and develops the potential of less experienced researchers and colleagues through support and advice
    • Leads, motivates and influences where appropriate; persuades through listening and convincing discussion
    • Builds and sustains collaborative relationships and works pro-actively to create and develop knowledge with a range of stakeholders, including researchers, funders and users of research

    Attitude:

    • Respects the inclusive and collegial manner in which researchers conduct relationships within and beyond academia
    • Recognises the potential for working in sustained partnerships with a range of stakeholders to generate new ideas, insights and maximise the potential for wider societal and economic impact
    • Respects individual difference and diversity

    D 2. Communication and Dissemination

    Includes:

    • Communication methods
    • Communication media
    • Publication

    Knowledge of :

    • Appropriate communication and dissemination mechanisms for different audiences
    • The importance of engaging in the processes of publication and dissemination of research results and impacts<

    Behaviour

    • Communicates effectively in both written and oral modes with a range of audiences formally and informally through a variety of different techniques and media
    • Actively engages in publication and dissemination of research results and impacts

    D 3. Engagement and Impact

    Includes:

    • Teaching
    • Public engagement
    • Enterprise
    • Policy
    • Society and culture
    • Global citizenship

    Knowledge of

    • Global, organisational, cultural, economic, and environmental contexts, and the wider impact of research
    • The social and ethical implications of research, and public attitudes to these issues
    • The range of mechanisms to support knowledge transfer and maximise the impact of research in academic, economic and societal contexts

    Behaviour:

    • Engages with and shares research through research-informed and student-focused teaching
    • Contributes to increasing public awareness, engagement and understanding of research and associated impacts
    • Identifies innovative trends, ideas and applications; is enterprising and entrepreneurial within and beyond academia
    • Works collaboratively with all stakeholders to create, develop and exchange research knowledge to influence and benefit policy development, society and the economy; seeks new outlets and promotes the application of research in innovative ways
    • Appreciates and works with diversity and difference in research and education

    Attitude:

    • Values the contribution of research to teaching and teaching to research
    • Recognises the importance of accountability of research with regard to social and economic impacts, internationalisation and global citizenship

How do I use the RDF?

Self-evaluation across the RDF will assist you to identify your training needs based on what is essential for your development. To begin this process, you will need to:

  • Familiarise yourself with each RDF domain (refer to the RDF sections above, or visit the Vitae websiteLink to external website for more information).
  • Assess your current skill level in each subdomain. If you have demonstrated competency in an area, you should be able to support this with evidence of an experience.
  • Identify where you need to develop and prioritise. Individual researchers are not expected to develop expertise in every competency in the RDF, therefore it is key to prioritise the areas that are appropriate for your research level and relevant to your career goals. Your supervisor or PGC can provide guidance on this.
  • Determine training courses or activities that will address your skills development needs and use this to create a development plan. All accredited CaRST activities will be mapped to the RDF, which will assist you in finding relevant opportunities.
  • Repeat this process regularly and reflect on how the experiences you are undertaking throughout your research degree are contributing to your development.

Overall, this process will promote greater awareness of your abilities, allow you to be strategic in your career and professional development, and enable you to articulate your skills to potential employers.

Career and Research Skills Training (CaRST) Unit
Address

Adelaide Graduate Centre
Level 2, Schulz Building
THE UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE
SA 5005
AUSTRALIA

Contact

T: +61 8 8313 5882
F: +61 8 8313 5725
carst@adelaide.edu.au