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UCD Research Skills & Career Development

Forbairt Ghairme & Taighde Scileanna UCD

About UCD Research Skills & Career Development



Submcommitee of Researcher Careers

This subcommittee will inform and advise the Research Innovation and Impact Group (RIIG) on matters relating to the status of career pathways of researchers within the University and matters relating to the continuous professional development of postdoctoral researchers and research fellows within the University.


Prof. Catherine Godson, Medicine (Chair)

Prof. Cormac Taylor, Medicine

Prof. Mark Keane, Computer Science

Assoc. Prof. Barbara Dooley, Dean of Graduate Studies & VP for Teaching & Learning, College of Social Sciences & Law

Dr. Catherine Cox, History

Dr. Eoin O'Cearbhaill, Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Dr David Foster, UCD Career Development Centre

Naoimh O'Connor, UCD Career Development Centre

Rory Carey, UCD Human Resources

Eamonn McHugh, UCD Human Resources

Triona McCormack, UCD Research & Innovation

Justtin Synnott, UCD Research & Innovation

Dr Mirjam Heinen, Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science



UCD Research Skills & Career Development (RS&CD) was established under the UCD Research Careers Framework (RCF).  The UCD Framework establishes a structured and supportive skills and early career development model for Post-Doctoral Research Fellows (PD Fellows) at UCD, as recommended in the sectoral Advisory Science Council (ASC) policy document ‘Towards a Framework for Researcher Careers’.

UCD is demonstrating significant leadership in the sector in being the first University to customise and apply these recommendations

UCD Research Career Framework (RCF) is illustrated below.

Research Career Framework (RCF)

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The RS&CD Framework is the framework which UCD utilises to guide the development of PD Fellows.  The framework is the result of consultation with the academic community to identify some of the key indicators that a PD Fellow will demonstrate across a number of development categories as they progress through their post doctoral positions.
Four key Development Categories were identified;

  1. Research and Research Management
  2. Personal and Professional Excellence
  3. Teaching Learning and Mentoring
  4. Innovation and Transferable Skills

Each category is made up of several Development Sub-Categories against which are associated ‘indicators’.  Indicators are samples of outcomes that a PD Fellow will display when he/she is performing well in a particular area.

Indicators are not meant to be prescriptive.  Instead they are meant to be used as a guide for both the PD Fellow and the Principal Investigator (PI)/mentor when reviewing progress and to facilitate identifying areas for further development.

The RS&CD Planning Document is the tool that both the PD Fellow and the PI/mentor will use when they meet to agree the development objectives for the duration of the PD Fellow’s contract of employment with UCD.

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What is RS&CD Planning?

RS&CD Planning is the process by which the PI/mentor and the PD Fellow will meet to discuss and agree development for the PD Fellow during their time in UCD.  The process provides a means of taking a proactive and constructive approach to ongoing development of the PD Fellow’s skills. With careful planning and with the support of their PI/mentor, the PD Fellow can take advantage of development opportunities and target areas that are most relevant in the context of their particular research area and longer term career aspirations.

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Principles underpinning RS&CD Planning

  • RS&CD Planning is mandatory for all PD Fellows at Level 1 and Level 2
  • The PD Fellow is responsible for his/her own development and is supported by the PI/mentor
  • RS&CD Planning is to support a PD Fellow in their current role as well as having a relevance for their future chosen career
  • The Four Development Categories do not carry equal weighting and the ‘Research & Research Management’ category is the key area in terms of development of knowledge and skills for PD Fellows’ at  both Level 1 and Level 2
  • ‘Development’ is used in its broadest meaning and interventions will include coaching, mentoring, shadowing, training courses and any other means agreed by the PD Fellow and PI/mentor that will facilitate learning
  • A balance between the demands of the PD Fellow’s role and the desire for development needs to be maintained – up to 3 development objectives over a 9-12 month period is recommended in order to maintain that balance.

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Benefits of RS&CD Planning

Adopting a constructive approach to RS&CD planning provides a schedule to work to, facilitates motivation and offers a framework for monitoring and evaluating achievements.  It can lay the foundation for:

  • Assisting the PD Fellow in honing their knowledge and skills and bringing these to bear on the position they currently hold within UCD
  • Contributing in the fullest way possible to the goals of the research project and becoming a valued member of the research group
  • Re-appraising where a PD Fellow wants to go with their career and how to get there
  • Exposing the PD Fellow to and building-up transferable skills (such as business planning, networking, communications skills etc.) which will support the chosen career path
  • Positioning the PD Fellow to take advantage of development opportunities which may arise as well as making them happen.


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