- Postgraduate researchers
- Vitae Researcher Development Framework
- Using the Researcher Development Framework as a researcher
- Why is it important to focus on my professional development?
Why is it important to focus on my professional development?
Being successful as a researcher requires you to think carefully and strategically about your skills, objectives and the areas in which you need to develop. Your university is likely to encourage, or even require, you to engage in processes like Training Needs Analysis and Personal Development Planning. These are designed to give you tools to examine where your development needs are and to help you to address these.
This section aims to help you to identify the training and development that is a key part of your role as a professional researcher. It contains sections on:
Engagement with personal and professional development should also relate to your longer-term career aspirations. Pursuing development opportunities can be useful both as a way of thinking through what you want to do long term and as a way of developing and evidencing the skills that you will need to move on.
Why plan your professional development?
Many successful people follow a plan for their career. This can vary from a detailed plan to a broad direction which allows chance to play a role too.
The most useful plans are based on thorough self-awareness and knowledge of career options open to you. These include career structures, types of work, recruitment methods, and what support, training and development is available.
You are the only person who can take responsibility for your own professional development. You may be planning to pursue a career in academia or want to use your skills in other fields or want to have one as a back-up plan for the other. It will always stand you in good stead to think about your own values, strengths and areas requiring development and be informed about the requirements in different careers.
Self-evaluation is only one side of personal review. If possible, make the opportunity to get feedback from others about your skills and abilities
When should I review?
You can review your career, where you are and where you want to be, at many different points, for example to:
- develop in your current role
- prepare for promotion
- find a new direction/ job
The key to managing your development is to set regular timescales to review your development and then stick to them! For example, monthly or quarterly reviews are most helpful to ensure you are on track.
You may find the RDF useful to:
- prepare for one-on-one reviews with your supervisor, research manager or principal investigator where you will be discussing your professional or career development
- identify strengths and areas to focus on
- prioritise the most appropriate formal and informal development opportunities provided by the institution
- make plans. Decide how to achieve the desired career outcome. Set manageable objectives and be prepared to revise these plans if things change
- consider skills and experiences that will enhance your prospects of success in particular career areas
- articulate your skills and attributes in a language employers outside as well as inside academia will recognise and respect.
Who can I discuss my professional development with?
- Your supervisor, research manager or principal investigator
- Careers advisors
- Mentor, whether formal or informal, within or outside academia
- Friends and family
What can I do to get from one phase in the Researcher Development Framework to another?
- Activities you can do for yourself e.g. practical experience gained through work or volunteering as well as self-study
- Activities where training courses can assist development
This can be both within your Faculty/School, Institution or beyond (national and international courses)
- Activities where you may need others to facilitate opportunities e.g. Your PI creating opportunities to gain teaching experience or work experience in another research environment
- Using your networks effectively is key to optimising development opportunities