Researchers: how you can use the Vitae Researcher Development Framework

Do you want to make the most of your research and your career?

Research Development Framework RDF domainsA variety of knowledge, behaviours and attributes are key to a successful career. Success means different things to different people. It’s up to you to decide what your priorities are, how you need to develop and how that can be achieved. Look around, explore this website – then act!

Use the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) to help you:

  • explore all the aspects of being a researcher
  • identify your strengths
  • prioritise areas for professional development
  • write a plan, then monitor progress and success
  • have productive discussions with others, e.g. your supervisor, PI, careers advisor or other professional development provider
  • look for formal and informal development opportunities
  • prepare for one-to-one progress reviews, appraisals or career development conversations with your research manager or mentor.

When you are looking at future career options and goals, the RDF helps you to:

  • consider the capabilities and experiences that will enhance your career prospects
  • assess opportunities provided by your institution and look for development opportunities outside your research
  • highlight, articulate and provide evidence of the transferability of your capabilities and expertise in your CV, in job applications and at interviews.

Find out more about the importance of focusing on professional development

What other researchers say about the Vitae Researcher Development Framework

Maria Sharmina Doctoral researcher

‘We don’t have much time to think about career development and when it’s already written down you can keep coming back to it and see if you are complying with your own recommendations’

Dr Patrick Hadoke Senior academic fellow

‘If the RDF had been available ‘when I was a PhD student, I’d have had a much better idea of what I needed to do, what skills I needed to accumulate, logging the evidence and how to set priorities.’

Lynn McCallum Senior postdoctoral research fellow

‘Set realistic goals as opposed to looking at the one at the far end of the spectrum and think that’s what everyone expects me to do’

The complex self: Researcher development edition Blog:

'I think it’s [the RDF] performing a valuable and difficult service: to spell out otherwise tacit knowledge'..'Learning by doing may be effective, but a little preparation never hurt either. That’s why I like the RDF – it tries to explicitly point you in the right direction.'

Part-time PhD research student

'I used the vitae tool at the start of my PhD as there was no structure and I was really lost. It was fabulous at giving me a comprehensive framework and set of criteria against which I could assess myself, and based on that filter out a set of new professional development targets in each domain. From this, I then created a plan for the first year of my PhD on what I could undertake to address these targets, which has worked wonderfully, to give me a very balanced progression.'

Read more about the experiences of these and other researchers from different disciplines and at different stages of their careers. Find out how they have used the Vitae Researcher Development Framework to their advantage.

Resources that can help with professional development planning

Vitae RDF Planner

The Vitae Researcher Development Framework has been incorporated into an online application to help you to take control of your professional development, enabling you to identify areas you want to work on, create an action plan and store evidence of your achievements.

PDP ROC (Professional Development Planning for Researchers Online Course)

PDP ROC is an online course, arranged in 6 modules, covering all stages of the professional development planning process. PDP ROC can be used together with institutional provision or on its own and can also be enhanced through use of the Vitae RDF Planner.

Lenses on the Researcher Development Framework

RDF Lenses provide a focus on the knowledge, behaviours and attributes required in a particular context, such as leadership, teaching, enterprise, employability outside of academia, information literacy or public engagement. For example the Getting Started in Research lens on the RDF focuses on what researches will need most at the start of a doctorate. Lenses can be used to help prioritise areas for development.