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What is the Researcher Development Framework (RDF)?

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) by Vitae is a professional development tool. The RDF is based on extensive interviews with researchers and highlights key areas of development for academic and postgraduate researchers.

The RDF breaks down the core knowledge, behaviours, and attributes of successful researchers into four broad domains: Knowledge and intellectual abilities; Personal effectiveness; Research governance and organisation; and Engagement, influence, and impact. These areas are broken down further into subdomains and their constituent attributes to help you identify the specific skills you want to develop.

More detailed information about the RDF can be found on the Vitae RDF webpage.

The Researcher Development Framework domains. Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities - The knowledge, intellectual abilities and techniques to do research. Domain B: Personal effectiveness - The personal qualities and approach to be an effective researcher. Domain C: Research governance and organisation - The knowledge of the standards, requirements and professionalism to do research. Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact - The knowledge and skills to work with others and ensure the wider impact of research.

Why should I use the RDF?

The RDF enables postgraduate researchers to identify key areas by which they can enhance, refine, and develop skills necessary for their research and future career prospects.

Using the RDF’s core domains can help lead discussions with your supervisor about how best to develop in your academic and transferable skills. The framework can also make it easier to identify which GRADskills workshops will help you succeed in achieving your goals and refining your skills.

How do I use the RDF?

The RDF can be used in a number of whys to help you identify training and development needs no matter what stage you are at in your research career. Using the framework can help you to:

  • identify your strengths and gaps in your development
  • prioritise development needs and break down goals into more manageable steps
  • monitor your progress and engage in reflective practice
  • translate academic skills to non-academic settings
  • pinpoint appropriate workshops and opportunities based on your development needs

All of the GRADskills workshops are mapped to RDF subdomains, making it easy for you to identify which workshops are most relevant to your development goals.

We also have a limited number of licenses for Vitae's online RDF Planner which you can use to identify strengths, action plan, review achievements, and create a portfolio of evidence. If you would like access to the Planner do not sign up via the Vitae website. Instead, please email to request a license.

RDF domains

The RDF splits a variety of skills into four different sections known as domains. Each of these domains highlights particular skills to focus on and develop. The four domains are A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities; B: Personal effectiveness; C: Research governance and organisation; and D: Engagement, influence, and impact.

For more information on the RDF domains, click on one of the tiles or headings below to learn more: