Personal Development Planning for researchers

RDF Planner  Do you PDP…?

There was a time – not all that long ago – when an academic research career was often something that kind of happened: you did okay at your Bachelors degree, a bit better at your Masters, then by this time you were ‘into’ a particular topic so the PhD (or DPhil or Professional Doctorate) seemed like a good way of exploring that some more, then your supervisor suggested you should apply for this Postdoc that happened to be going… and so it went.
However those days are pretty much gone now so, whether you’re a doctoral candidate wishing to pursue a career in academic research, or an early career researcher looking to further establish yourself, it’s up to you to take charge of your research career, and this is where Personal Development Planning (PDP) comes in.
Here at UWE we encourage our doctoral and early career researchers to use the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) as a PDP tool, because we think this is a particularly helpful way of visualising what makes a good all-round researcher, and identifying your personal strengths and development needs.
Recently Jen Reynolds from Vitae came in to run a workshop for us on getting the best out of the RDF, especially the new online, interactive version to which UWE subscribes. The RDF has no less than 64 descriptors of what makes the ideal researcher, which can make it feel a bit overwhelming, so Jen first showed us ways to identify and prioritise your own personal development needs at any given time.
Having each identified a personal development need, we then did some detailed benchmarking against the levels within each descriptor and made action plans for moving up to the next level. This is also a really good way of creating some ready-made examples for job applications!
Of course you can do all this with a pencil and paper; but the advantage of using the RDF Planner is that you build up an online, confidential bank of material, you can create reports and – perhaps most importantly of all – review progress and remind yourself just how far you’ve come in your development as a professional researcher.
Our thanks to Jen for a really interesting and valuable session: here are her slides

If you’re a UWE researcher at any level (including postgraduate researchers) and would like further information about the RDF, please do contact

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