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The RDS sets out the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of effective and highly skilled researchers appropriate for a wide range of careers.

The RDS is structured in four domains, which encompass what researchers need to know to do research, how to be effective in their approach to research, when working with others, and in contributing to the wider environment. With each of the domains are three sub-domains and associated descriptors, which describe different aspects of being a researcher.

A. Knowledge and intellectual abilities

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

Knowledge base summary

Knowledge of

  • The area of research, the advances within it and its relationships with other research areas.
  • The methods and experimental techniques appropriate for research design.
  • Sources of information, bibliographic software and other information technologies.
  • Literacy and numeracy skills and language abilities appropriate for research.

Behaviour

  • Makes original contributions to knowledge.
  • Identifies, applies and develops methods and experimental techniques appropriate for research projects.
  • Conducts effective and comprehensive information searches.
  • Records, manages and handles information/ data using appropriate bibliographic software and other information technologies.

Cognitive abilities summary

Behaviour

  • Analyses and evaluates findings using appropriate methods.
  • Thinks originally, independently and critically; develops theoretical concepts.
  • Critically synthesizes information from diverse sources.
  • Recognizes and validates problems; formulates and applies solutions to a range of research problems.

Attitude

  • Willing to give and receive constructive criticism.

Creativity summary

Behaviour

  • Develops new ways of working; has novel ideas and realizes their potential.
  • Identifies new trends; creates new opportunities.
  • Develops convincing and persuasive arguments to defend research.
  • Takes intellectual risks; challenges the status quo.

Attitude

  • Takes a creative, imaginative and inquiring approach to research.
  • Is open to new sources of ideas.

B. Personal Effectiveness

This domain contains the personal qualities, career and self-management skills required to take ownership for and engage in professional development.

Personal qualities summary

Attitude

  • Approaches research with enthusiasm, passion and confidence.
  • Is resilient and perseveres in the face of obstacles.
  • Is self-reflective; seeks ways to improve performance and strives for research excellence.
  • Is pro-active, independent, self-reliant and takes responsibility for self and others.
  • Shows integrity.

Self-management summary

Behaviour

  • Anticipates and responds to directions and trends in research.
  • Plans, prioritises and conducts research in proactive way.
  • Delivers research projects and results on time and effectively.
  • Develops awareness of, and helps to achieve, work-life balance for self and colleagues.

Attitude

  • Has a strategic approach to research.
  • Has focus, commitment and ambition.
  • Is flexible and responsive to change.

Professional and career development summary

Knowledge of

  • Career and employment opportunities inside and outside academia.

Behaviour

  • Takes ownership of and manages professional development.
  • Shows commitment to continuing professional development and enhancing employability.
  • Maintains and develops relevant skills set and experience in preparation for a wide range of opportunities within and outside academia.
  • Actively networks for professional and career purposes and seeks to enhance research reputation and esteem.

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.

Professional conduct summary

Knowledge of

  • Health and safety issues, confidentiality and ethical requirements of his/her research field.
  • The legal requirements and regulations relating to the area of research and the research environment.
  • The principles of intellectual property rights (IPR) and copyright issues, as they relate to research, its commercialisation and dissemination.
  • Organisational and professional requirements and environmental impact of research.
  • The concept of corporate social responsibility.

Behaviour

  • Respects, acknowledges and attributes the contribution of others.
  • Seeks to protect, where appropriate, the intellectual assets arising from research and to maximise the wider value of research findings.
  • Acts with professional integrity in all aspects of research governance.
  • Uses institutional/organisational resources responsibly and appropriately.
  • Seeks ways of working in a sustainable manner.

Attitude

  • Respects, upholds and meets professional standards and requirements.

Research management summary

Knowledge of

  • The contribution of research to the health of disciplines and institutional missions.
  • Project management tools and techniques.

Behaviour

  • Applies appropriate project management tools and techniques.
  • Sets goals and plans and manages resources to deliver results.
  • Effectively assesses and manages risks.
  • Evaluates the effectiveness of research projects.

Finance, funding and resources summary

Knowledge of

  • The requirement for research income generation and financial management.
  • Mechanisms for funding, the range of funding sources and the processes for making applications.
  • Local administrative systems, reporting procedures and infrastructure processes.

Behaviour

  • Responsibly manages finances, resources and infrastructures related to research.

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.

Working with others summary

Behaviour

  • Actively works in an inclusive, respectful and constructive way with colleagues, stakeholders and research users.
  • Recognises and acknowledges the contribution of others and own part in team success.
  • Builds relationships in academic and commercial contexts; approachable and interacts constructively with others; manages expectations and resolves conflict.
  • Supervises, mentors and develops the potential of less experienced researchers and colleagues through support and advice.
  • Leads, motivates and influences where appropriate; persuades through listening and convincing discussion.
  • Builds and sustains collaborative relationships and works pro-actively to create and develop knowledge with a range of stakeholders, including researchers funders and users of research.

Attitude

  • Respects the inclusive and collegial manner in which researchers conduct relationships within and beyond academia.
  • Recognises the potential for working in sustained partnerships with a range of stakeholders to generate new ideas, insights and maximise the potential for wider societal and economic impact.
  • Respects individual difference and diversity.

Communication and dissemination summary

Knowledge of

  • Appropriate communication and dissemination mechanisms for different audiences.
  • The importance of engaging in the processes of publication and dissemination of research results and impacts.

Behaviour

  • Communicates effectively in both written and oral modes with a range of audiences formally and informally through a variety of different techniques and media.
  • Actively engages in publication and dissemination of research results and impacts.

Engagement and impact summary

Knowledge of

  • Global, organisational, cultural, economic, and environmental contexts, and the wider impact of research.
  • The social and ethical implications of research, and public attitudes to these issues.
  • The range of mechanisms to support knowledge transfer and maximise the impact of research in academic, economic and societal contexts.

Behaviour

  • Engages with and shares research through research-informed and student-focused teaching.
  • Contributes to increasing public awareness, engagement and understanding of research and associated impacts.
  • Identifies innovative trends, ideas and applications; is enterprising and entrepreneurial within and beyond academia.
  • Works collaboratively with all stakeholders to create, develop and exchange research knowledge to influence and benefit policy development, society and the economy; seeks new outlets and promotes the application of research in innovative ways.
  • Appreciates and works with diversity and difference in research and education.

Attitude

  • Values the contribution of research to teaching and teaching to research.
  • Recognises the importance of accountability of research with regard to social and economic impacts, internationalisation and global citizenship.