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Plan your development - Researcher Development Framework (RDF)

The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) is a new approach, developed by Vitae in response to stakeholder needs, to enhance the careers of researchers. It was developed by and for researchers, in consultation with academic and non-academic employers.

The RDF is a tool for planning, promoting and supporting the personal, professional and career development of researchers in higher education. It articulates the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of researchers in four key domains, as shown below:


RDF - 4 domains and subsequent 3 subdomains  


The RDF divides the skills and attributes into four main 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.

The Vitae website contains advice on managing the process of your doctorate and also encourages you to think about how this period fits into your longer term career plan.  A good place to start is setting yourself some interim goals. Talk to your supervisor and work out where you want to be in a month, in six months and in a year.

The RDP also run courses on Planning your Professional Development as a Researcher. On this course you will learn a number of strategies for developing the skills needed for a successful doctoral research degree. You can book a place on the course via the online booking system.

If you have any questions about the RDF, or professional development planning, please email us.

Researcher Development Framework Planner

The RDF planner gives you the chance to reflect upon the skills and attributes that researchers embody, identify where your strengths already lie, and discover where your development needs are in relation to your career goals.



It explores the building blocks of what makes a truly great researcher, and breaks it down into manageable, easy to understand development goals for you to work towards.

The planner is a fantastic way to begin your professional development journey! Each day of your PhD is another step in your development, and the planner will help you to focus on your own personal development priorities.

Video case studies

A group of researchers in the Faculty of Science recently received funding from the RDP to support a project developing a series of short videos focussed on steps that can be taken to enhance your career through skills development. The 'Steps to Success Videowall' features useful advice from industry experts, employers, academics and learning & development staff.

Resource Centre

The Resource Centre is a document library that holds 1000s of development and training resources for our students and staff. You can download tutor led course materials, self-study materials, view video tutorials, access online training and find useful links related to researcher development.

 If you have any issues accessing the Resource Centre please contact the IT Training Team.

RKES Portal

The RKES portal houses a range of research and knowledge exchange-related resources for Strathclyde postgraduates, academics and research staff. There is a host of useful researcher development information and resources, including a calendar of events, our monthly e-newsletters and strategy and policy information.

For technical assistance, contact the IT Help Desk to check your computer set-up.

Researcher Innovation Fund

The Researcher Innovation Fund (RIF) is a small pot of funding set-up by the Researcher Development Programme for PhD students to bid for researcher-led transferable skills development initiatives.

 Previous successful bids include:

  • Funding for Postgrad Lounge and the Postgraduate Festival 2015
  • Strathclyde Postgraduate Law Conference 2015  
  • Bright Club Comedy Training Workshop
  • Research Classifieds for Collaborative Opportunities

Funding of up to £1000 is available per bid proposal.

Further information on funding criteria and how to apply can be found on the RIF web page.