The National Context for Researcher Development

Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training

The collective Research Councils in the UK, known as UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), have outlined common principles and expectations of research organisations, students and their training environment.  The ambitions of the research councils are to continue to develop highly skilled researchers to achieve impact across the whole economy, as well as developing the next generation of researchers to maintain national capability.  The Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training highlights that researchers should gain:

  • Transferable skills
  • Advance training in relevant subject areas
  • Career advice
  • Mechanisms to assess and monitor researchers’ skills needs
  • Training to consider the wider context of research, including societal and ethical impact
  • Public engagement skills

Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework

Vitae is a non-profit organisation that supports the professional development of researchers and institutions. The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) was created from empirical data gathered from a series of interviews with researchers across the spectrum of the research environment, from first year PhDs to senior-level professors.  It highlights the key knowledge, behaviours and attitudes that are characteristic of excellent researchers.

The RDF is a professional development framework for planning, promoting and supporting the personal, professional and career development of researchers in higher education and is endorsed within the Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training.

The framework breaks down the breadth of development areas into four domains, twelve subdomains, with a further sixty-three descriptors that help describe the types of areas you might focus on developing.  As you engage with the framework to plan and monitor your development during your PhD you will become more aware of both your development strengths and any potential gaps that you may wish to address.

Researcher Development at the University of Liverpool

The Liverpool Doctoral College Development programme is shaped by the RDF and is designed to help researchers plan and reflect on their own professional development. We believe that professional development is a continuous process that includes both formal training and also informal experiences.  Our events and opportunities emphasise the importance of experiential learning, learning by doing, and have a focus on reflection as part of professional development.

The Liverpool Doctoral College recognises that development is important to the success of researchers and encourages PGRs and their supervisors to take the lead in identifying development needs.

Development Needs Analysis

The Development Needs Analysis (DNA) and development plan offers  an opportunity to review the skills you already possess and to plan the development of further skills and professional competences.  The DNA is based on the RDF. The DNA is a simple process that offers the opportunity to have a discussion with your supervisor on your development as a researcher and should offer you signposts for you to explore as you begin planning your professional development. The process should take place annually and with consultation with your supervisor(s) and reference to your School/Institute PGR Handbook.

The  PGR Portfolio of Activity

After you begin exploring development opportunities, you record all of your learning and development experiences in the PGR Portfolio of Activity.  It was created to be flexible and reflective of the way researchers make meaning from the diverse activities they pursue during their research degree.  Located in the PGR Toolbox in Liverpool Life, the portfolio permits PGRs to record and reflect on both formal and informal development opportunities.  The portfolio has been structurally aligned with the RDF to assist PGRs in reflecting and monitoring their professional development.