Researcher Development

The Researcher Development Framework

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) describes the knowledge, skills, behaviours and personal qualities required of researchers aspiring to excellence, organised in to 4 domains

Researcher Development Framework Diagram


Domain A:  Knowledge and intellectual abilities.  This domain relates to the knowledge and intellectual abilities needed to be able to carry out excellent research.

Domain B:  Personal effectiveness.  This domain contains the personal qualities, career and self management skills required to take ownership for and engage in professional development.

Domain C:  Research governance and organisation.  This domain relates to the knowledge of the standards, requirements and professional conduct that are needed for the effective management of research.

Domain D:  Engagement, influence and impact.  This domain relates to the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage with, influence and impact on the academic, social, cultural, economic and broader context.

Researchers should use the RDF when planning their professional development. To help you, we run courses that are mapped against the RDF for both doctoral students and research staff.


The RDF is a tool for planning, promoting and supporting the personal, professional and career development of all researchers in higher education in the UK. The RDF was designed by policy makers in HE, staff working with researchers, academics, employers and researchers themselves. It is endorsed by many key national organisations, which were consulted on its content. The RDF incorporates and replaces the Joint Statement of Skills (JSS), and Vitae have put together a comparison of the RDF and JSS [pdf, 67KB].