- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- C2/D2 Workshop summary and outcomes
C2/D2 Workshop summary and outcomes
Developing an underpinning competency framework for researchers in the UK
Dr Rob Daley, Research Development Co-ordinator, Heriot Watt University and Marie Garnett, Learning and Development Advisor, University of Warwick
The Roberts Policy Forum in January 2008 recommended that an overarching competency framework /model of professional learning for researchers be developed. The recommendation is now being initiated by the Rugby Team. This workshop was an opportunity for participants to hear more about this project and to help develop the project scope and design in order to meet sector needs.
- introduced competency frameworks and their uses
- summarised outcomes and recommendations of the Policy Forum workshop
- outlined various models and approaches being used in UK HE and other organisations
- discussed how such a framework could be used by the UK HE sector and the scope and design of this project.
The RCUK Delivery Plan 2008/09-2010/11 recognises the importance of a competency framework to support career and skills development for researchers. The Roberts Policy Forum 2008 recommended that the sector should:
‘set up, as a priority for 2008, a sector-led working group to develop an overarching competency framework/model of professional learning for researchers that builds on the Joint Skills Statement and includes the complete researcher continuum - from postgraduate researcher to research staff to principal investigator/supervisor - and the complete breadth of the academic role'.
- to improve individual performance if used in appraisal, training, etc.
- to provide a readily understood articulation of corporate values and objectives.
This joint Rugby Team/Vitae project is to ‘develop a framework that provides a thorough indication of the abilities and attributes expected of researchers at various points within a research career', with an expected delivery of September 2009 or January 2010.
A key issue is terminology. Should the framework name refer to competencies (researchers are adverse to ‘training' terminology), or perhaps be titled ‘Career Development Framework for Researchers'? The Council for Science and Technology, for example, separately recommended that an ‘all-encompassing careers framework, which is focussed on the researcher' be developed (October 2007).
Frameworks already being used in UK HE are:
- Joint Skills Statement (JSS)
- Academic Role Profiles (JNCHES)
- Research Career Builder
- various other institutional frameworks
- professional body/association frameworks and standards
- Higher Education Academy Professional Standards Framework.
The Research Career Builder (RCB)
Developed at Loughborough University as part of the HEFCE-funded Good Management Practice for CRS project (1999-2002), this was based on earlier research of professional development needs of researchers at four UK Research Centres. It was developed as a paper-based and online version with a trial group of researchers and research managers, and is structured as four progressive competency levels. The RCB is used as a developmental tool and its use in career reviews at the University of Warwick was illustrated.
Participants considered the key user groups who should be consulted about the design of the framework, identifying:
- researchers and doctoral students
- principal investigators and heads of department
- staff developers, appraisers and mentors
- professional bodies, industry
- institutional and national QA/QE units and European bodies
- HR, careers services and interview panels
- trade unions.
On scope and design of the framework participants suggested that:
- the framework could be generic but would need flexibility for users to adapt it to local use, eg within disciplines
- the new framework should demonstrate continuity with the Joint Skills Statement (JSS) as most universities are using this
- all researchers should be included in the framework. Using job titles/roles (which vary in meaning across the sector) could be misleading; level of project involvement (degree of autonomy, control and management) could be used instead
- it would be useful if there was a sector-wide expectation that each institution would use this framework (with local interpretation) and that research funding could be conditional upon this use
- the framework be used as a ‘route map' to help move between professional bodies' requirements and qualifications.
View the C2/D2 presentation slides
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