Researcher developers, HR specialists, careers advisors and trainers: how the Vitae RDF can work for you

Practical ways to use the Researcher Development Framework (RDF) for research staff development:

Planning and providing professional development

  • Mapping the RDF to your institutional provision at domain, sub-domain and/or descriptor level will enable you to:
  • Show researchers what capabilities will be developed by any particular activity
  • Identify gaps in provision or opportunities to build on existing development activities
  • Embed the RDF in your existing development provision
  • Create a library of provision organised around the RDF.

You may find our methodology for mapping learning materials and programmes to the Researcher Development Framework useful.

  • Use Vitae packaged programmes which are already mapped to the RDF. These resources have been designed specially for researchers and piloted in HE institutions, including:
  • Explore the lenses on the RDF that have been developed to enable researchers to focus on different aspects of their professional development. Each lens takes a particular perspective, for example Getting Started in Research, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Employability outside academia and Teaching. Lenses can be used to:
  • encourage researchers to engage in activities such as enterprise, public engagement or teaching by illustrating how these contribute towards their professional development as a researcher
  • enable researchers to recognise the learning they have acquired in other contexts and highlight the transferability of their knowledge, behaviours and attributes
  • focus researchers on their personal goals to create action plans
  • align training and development to particular needs or contexts.

Empowering researchers

Engage researchers with their professional development by using the RDF to:

  • Encourage researchers to provide evidence of capabilities and experiences. Familiarity with the RDF enables researchers and their managers to work together with a shared understanding to identify expertise, achievements and goals
  • Enhance career development conversations using the range of capabilities within the RDF to explore the possible career options available to researchers
  • Work with researchers to identify their development needs and create action plans. Training needs analysis and action plans can be designed to reflect the domains and sub-domains of the RDF, which will help researchers to identify appropriate training and development. Researchers might also find it helpful to review and record their progress against the developmental phases. The Vitae RDF Planner is a valuable tool for this
  • Use the lenses on the RDF to encourage researchers to think about specific aspects of being a researcher and to highlight to them how their knowledge, behaviours and attributes can be used in other contexts
  • Use the Vitae RDF Development Cards to help researchers engage with thinking about their careers. These attractive and versatile cards can be used for a variety of different activities to suit researchers at all levels

RDF Planner logo

The RDF Planner is an easy-to-use online application, based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, to enable researchers to plan and review their professional development.

RDF descriptor card 1

Vitae RDF Development Cards An engaging way to plan professional development.



Promoting the benefits of the RDF

There are many resources on the Vitae website to help you promote and use the Researcher Development Framework; in addition to those identified already, there is a wide range of publications to browse and search.

Some suggestions to raise awareness of the value of the RDF:

  • Provide the RDS and targeted briefings to key stakeholders and institutional committees to facilitate strategic planning for researcher development
  • Use the RDF to communicate and raise awareness about researcher capabilities to researchers themselves and to employers, by making presentations or providing information at induction sessions, conferences and seminars
  • Encourage colleagues with management or supervisory responsibility for researchers to use the RDF in advisory sessions.
  • Lay the foundations for success by organising a specific event to introduce the RDF to established PIs and supervisors, or by embedding the RDF into new supervisor training.

Professional networking and support

Vitae supports communities to enable you to share ideas and experiences with other professionals who are working with researchers.