What is Researcher Development?
In 2001 the Research Councils issued a Joint Skills Statement (JSS) which described the skills that research students are expected to have or to develop. These include a range of research, professional and transferable skills. Development of such skills is considered as an integral part of the experience of being a postgraduate research student.
Researcher Development Framework
The Researcher Development Statement and its associated Framework of 2010 is an evolution of the JSS and highlights the range of knowledge, skills, behaviours and personal qualities which the Research Councils expect researchers to develop over the course of their training.
The development of such research, professional and transferable skills is a significant part of a research degree. Researchers require a wide range of skills to successfully complete a degree, from strong research skills to effective communication, IT and career management skills. Developing these skills will not only help students to become more successful researchers, but will also help to develop the qualities and attributes required to be successful in achieving career aims.
All UK Universities and funding bodies now require postgraduate research students to develop a generic skill-set during their studies by attending structured training courses and other appropriate training and developmental activities. The Aberystwyth University Researcher Development Programme aims to give students generic methods and skills which address the needs of researchers in the modern academic environment and prepare them for their future careers. It plays an essential part in creating and sustaining an advanced research community.
Aberystwyth is committed to the provision of an appropriate level of training for all its postgraduate students. As part of this commitment the University has established a programme designed to help students develop the skills required to successfully complete their research degrees and also to improve their future employability. It begins with an induction event, followed by a set of centrally-provided research modules, complemented by annual graduate workshops, and supported by a wide range of workshops, short training courses and other activities offered through the Professional and Transferable Skills Training Workshops.
Which Modules, Courses, or Workshops Should Students Take?
All students are required to follow specific elements of the programme, but all postgraduates are also welcome to opt-in to any additional aspects of the programme, if they feel this will enhance their research skill set. The Abersytwyth University Researcher Development Programme, runs under the auspices of the Graduate School, is supplemented by subject-specific Researcher Development provision offered by individual departments, intended to equip students with specific research skills unique to their particular research discipline and to the individual needs of the student.
Who Teaches the Researcher Development?
The Abersystywth University Researcher Development Programme is taught by staff who are specialists in their discipline, who come together through a commitment to creating an advanced and multidisciplinary research environment. As a result of this programme students are better equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to devise, conduct and write up their research within the specified time limits. Following the introduction of the programme, submission rates at AU have increased dramatically.
What Should Students Take Out of This?
There is also a vocational reason to follow this programme. It will give you marketable skills and competencies, to enable you to move from a research degree into a variety of employment opportunities. It helps develop information processing and communication skills that are sought after in the labour market. It will provide you with a strong set of marketable skills which will mean you have a much wider range of job opportunities than otherwise would be the case.