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Generic Skills Descriptors

Generic skills assessment levels

Innovation & Creativity

How do I self assess?

Apply existing skills and knowledge to new situations

  • Level 1 - Recognises new situations, and can make connections with existing skills and knowledge. Absorbs and appropriates new ideas and practices
  • Level 2 - Develops own conceptual approach/ of intellectual position
  • Level 3 - Identifies where discipline/research area is going and to some extent influences the intellectual agenda. Independently and confidently shares own lateral thinking.
  • Level 4 & 5 Makes connections between previously unrelated issues.Influences and stimulates the intellectual agenda for the discipline/research area. Creates new models and hypotheses, research designs, data collection and analysis techniques.

Recognise a problem and identify the core issue/s

  • Level 1 - Understands existing knowledge in the area and identifies core issues, thereby isolating basic themes for own research.
  • Level 2 - Has an in depth understanding of an area allowing the development of an original conceptual approach/understanding.
  • Level 3 - Identifies new trends, complex questions and broader problems. Challenges particular hypotheses and theories. Updates research methods
  • Level 4 - Makes connections between previously unrelated issues.
  • Level 5 - Provides break-through thinking.

Develop inventive solutions, demonstrating flexibility, resourcefulness and enthusiasm

  • Level 1 - Is highly motivated and understands the role of innovation and creativity in research.
  • Level 2 - Is highly motivated and exercises critical judgement and thinking to create new and/or imaginative ways of understanding and researching.
  • Level 3 - Is passionate about research and applies new ways of working and new ideas. Drives and delivers innovative research projects.
  • Level 4 & 5 A visionary who challenges traditional viewpoints.

Take intellectual risks

  • Level 1 - Tests the boundaries, is willing to expose ideas to a critical audience and to critically appraise other research.
  • Level 2 - Challenges the status quo in thinking within discipline/research area. Develops novel methodologies and/or methods
  • Level 3 & 4 Takes intellectual risks appropriately.

Identify and engage with research opportunities

  • Level 1 - Is aware and takes advantage of opportunities of activities that can strengthen research potential. Is familiar with UC resources for identifying funding opportunities.
  • Level 2 - Understands and takes advantage of professional development opportunities applying them to develop own research and acts as author of conference or journal paper/s.
  • Level 3 - Understands the processes for funding and evaluation of research, including doctoral degrees. Leads the development and completion of papers or other research artefacts. Engages in peer review and plays an active role in the critique of output in production (e.g. papers, published materials, other artefacts)
    Helps to identify new research ideas and develop into new funding proposals.
  • Level 4 & 5 Recognises, creates and confidently acts on opportunities to develop own potential within or outside academia. Identifies potential sources and develops strategies for funding

How do I develop these skills?

  • Develop a research plan with the supervisory panel
  • Preparation for delivery of research seminars
  • Self-directed learning Participate in relevant workshops
  • Participation at methodology or methods development courses/seminars
  • Participation to seminars and conferences
  • Reflection during seminar preparations
  • Planning for data collection Updating research methods as a result of pilot testing
  • Publishing workshops
  • Writing cycles with or without the supervisor.

Professional and Social Responsibility

How do I self assess?

The capacity and intention to apply professional knowledge and skills with full responsibility and accountabiltiy for self

  • Level 1 - Understands and demonstrates standards of good research practice. Recognises boundaries of own knowledge, skills and expertise. Seeks guidance and support when needed. Recognises work-life balance issues. Considers the needs of others
  • Level 2 - Is aware of range of own skills and can demonstrate them. Acts with professional integrity and honesty, takes especial care in information/data handling and dissemination and engagement with others. Maintains an acceptable work-life balance and manages pressure.
  • Level 3 - Acts as role model and advises less experienced researchers, respecting their views. Promotes an effective work-life balance for self and others.
  • Level 4 - Comfortable with own ideas. Develops confidence in others.
  • Level 5 - Contributes to policy and procedures of good practice in research at UC.

A commitment to the conduct of research in a manner which is ethical, and conforms to appropriate health and safety principles

  • Level 1 - Has been introduced to Human Research Ethics approval application processes, Animal Care and Ethics approval processes; Biosafety approval processes (as relevant), the University Policy on Responsible Conduct of Research and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Seeks advice from supervisor and attends opportunities to develop knowledge. Discusses roles and responsibilities with Supervisory panel.
  • Level 2 - Demonstrates standards of good research practice without need for guidance and encourages professional integrity in others. Makes own ethical judgements about work. Reports on work in a transparent way, in accordance with best practice in the field/discipline.
  • Level 3 - Sets expectations and ensures ethical principles are adhered to within own research environment.
    Educates and advises peers and less experienced members of staff. Challenges potential or actual unethical behaviour of others.
  • Level 4 - Contributes to institutional and disciplinary policy/practice.
  • Level 5 - Inspires confident behaviour in others. Shapes policy and procedures of professional associations/bodies. Promotes public understanding of the ethical issues raised by research.

An understanding of intellectual property protocols as they pertain to the conduct and dissemination of research.

  • Level 1 - Seeks advice on IP protocols as they apply to own research at UC.
    Is familiar with rules governing authorship and applies them consistently and fairly to recognise contributions and co-authorships.
  • Level 2 - Has sufficient understanding of copyright, IPR, citation practises to advise colleagues and less experienced researchers.
  • Level 3 & 4 - Engages in the commercialisation of intellectual property where appropriate. Advises all staff and contributes to institutional policy.
  • Level 5 - Shapes policy and procedures.

An insight into the global context in which they operate as research practitioners.

  • Level 1 - Aware of how own research aligns with UC’s research strategy. Develops understanding of broader context of research.
  • Level 2 - Ensures research contributes to the discipline and own research agenda.
    Reflects on context throughout candidature.
  • Level 3 - Understands UC’s research strategy and how it interacts with research priorities and aims of stakeholders, the public and the industry. Takes on student representative roles on committees at local/Faculty/ GRO/external level.
  • Level 4 & 5 - Shapes and influences the broader research agenda.

An awareness of the transferability of research skills to other work environments and the range of career opportunities within and outside academia.

  • Level 1 - Understands the transferable nature of research skills to other work environments and career opportunities within and outside academia. Takes ownership for and manages own career progression, sets realistic and achievable career goals, identifies and develops ways to improve employability by maintaining records of achievement and experience. Seek careers advice throughout candidature where appropriate. Begins to establish scholarly and/or professional networks beyond local research group.
  • Level 2 - Forms credible career plans and pursues a cycle of self-improvement. Maintains a portfolio of achievement and experience. Seeks advice from appropriate professionals Initiates and sustains networks and relationships that may encourage opportunities for employment.
  • Level 3 - Uses networks and coaching opportunities to manage own career. Creates opportunities to develop further develop and demonstrate competence in a wide range of contexts. Actively develops less experienced researchers and staff. Coaches others for specific academic activities. Uses networks to enhance the employability of others.
  • Level 4 - Contributes to the culture of continuing development. Acts as role model; creates opportunities for others and nurtures researchers’ careers. Is influential in setting standards and devising criteria to define the skills required of professional researchers. Extends and manages career networks.
  • Level 5 - Is an exceptional career role model: an role model and inspiration to others. Engages in succession planning.

The ability to work collaboratively and effectively with others, within a range of teams and contexts.

  • Level 1 - Understands own behaviours and impact on others when working in formal and informal teams. Listens, gives and receives feedback. Appreciates contributions of others and thanks them for their contribution. Regularly revisits expectations in discussion with the supervisory panel. Attends professional seminars and conferences and reports back to supervisors and colleagues on what was learned and how it relates to carried out research.
  • Level 2 - Recognises strengths of team members and works effectively to achieve mutual goals. Gives credit to people for their contribution. Presents work in scholarly and/or professional seminars and conferences and reports back to colleagues and supervisors. Is approachable, demonstrates interpersonal sensitivity
  • Level 3 - Actively seeks collaborative partners. Keeps people informed of wider institutional issues and passes on knowledge. Promotes collegiality, regardless of status. Engages in supportive peer review with colleagues. Develops social responsibility through engagement with the UC and local community.
  • Level 4 - Is role model for collegial behaviour. Solicits and attends to feedback from colleagues at all levels; Collaborates with key figures/teams internationally.

How do I develop these skills?

  • Seminars and workshops
  • Candidate is introduced to Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research by Supervisory panel/team/ lecturer in a research unit
  • Candidate reads University Policy on Responsible Conduct of Research and discusses roles and responsibilities with Supervisory panel/team/lecturer in a research unit Candidate discusses requirements of Human Research Ethics approval application processes, Animal Care and Ethics approval processes; Biosafety approval processes with Supervisory panel/team as appropriate and examines relevant application forms
  • Candidate undertakes relevant training
  • Candidate explain what the ethics implications of their research will be at the Confirmation seminar Read University Policy on Intellectual Property and discuss roles and responsibilities with supervisory panel/team/lecturer for the research context
  • Writing the introduction to the thesis which locates the research in the broader context
  • Career development workshops
  • Careers fairs
  • Placement opportunities at conferences
  • Preparing presentations as a team
  • Developing research and teaching materials with others
  • Helping to organize and maintain local research group activities as appropriate, such as meetings, writing groups, reading/review groups, social events, etc.
  • Assisting in development of grant applications and proposals

Management of Research

How do I self assess?

Prioritise tasks and work under pressure

  • Level 1 - Understands requirements for thesis submission and examination. Develops and prepares a study plan in association with supervisory panel. Manages time effectively to complete research project, adheres to a clear plan.
  • Level 2 - Is establishing own time management systems: delivers projects on schedule, responds flexibly. Evaluates and manages potential distractions.
  • Level 3 - Is prepared for the unexpected.
    Has established own time management skills, advises others and acts as role model.
  • Level 4 & 5 - Plans, balances and responds effectively and appropriately to the unexpected. Manages multiple or complex projects to time, balancing constraints and switching focus between multiple tasks.

Design, use and evaluate research methods as appropriate to the field/s of investigation

  • Level 1 - Has been introduced to and understands a range of key theories and concepts and their relevance to doctoral study. Understands relevant research methodologies and techniques and their relevance for the proposed research project. Justifies methodologies applied.
  • Level 2 - Appreciates the value of a range of standards and methods/techniques for information/data collection and analysis; assesses and demonstrates usefulness and validity of information/data in the context of a specific problem/question.
  • Level 3 - Combines and justifies methods/techniques designed specifically for an investigation in a flexible and vigorous manner. Educates and guides others in the appropriate selection and use of research design, information/data collection, management, and analysis.
  • Level 4 & 5 - Recognises the value of alternative research paradigms and is able to work in, and support others working in, an inter-disciplinary way. Creates new models and hypotheses, research designs, data collection and analysis techniques. Sets expectations for application of methods locally, nationally and internationally.

Develop and implement project plans and lead projects

  • Level 1 - Commits to and completes project and establishes research credentials. Acts on decisions agreed with supervisor and delivers results.
  • Level 2 - Purposeful and determined to develop own research and research credentials. Independently defines a manageable research project. Understands project management cycles and is able to draw on a range of project management techniques and tools.
  • Level 3 & 4 - Has a purposeful and determined focus on developing excellence in research, taking it from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Defines and manages large research projects, draws up long-term plans for research, clarifies priorities, sets expectations and keeps project on track. Uses a range of project management strategies. Plans for future research or professional career.
  • Level 5 - Effectively manages multiple research projects and both the research agenda and bureaucracy for various projects.

Select and apply appropriate digital tools to support the conduct and management of research

  • Level 1 - Develops awareness of digital tools that can support research and research management and is familiar with basic technology. Knows where to obtain expert advice the UC Management of Research Data and Primary Research Materials Policy.
  • Level 2 - Engages with appropriate digital tools and effectively uses these (e.g. EndNote, SPSS, SAS, NVivo, LaTeX, Leximancer). Knows when to seek advice and reassurance about tools to use.
  • Level 3 - Advises and educates less experienced researchers, students and staff.
  • Level 4 & 5 - Keeps abreast of and anticipates trends in the design and use of digital tools. Promotes change and contributes to institutional change initiatives. Develops new techniques to work with tools.

How do I develop these skills?

  • Attendance at GRO or Faculty workshop or through review of material on website
  • Self-directed learning package or other activity
  • Enrolment in a research methods subject.
  • Attendance at GRO workshop of preparation for assessment process and reading of online briefing material
  • Supervisory panel/team and candidate discuss requirements for licences, permits or permissions and make applications as appropriate
  • Engagement in professional activities (e.g. tutoring, research assistance, internship)
  • Read and discuss UC Management of Research Data and Primary Research Materials Policy
  • Attend appropriate  training provided by UC or externally as necessary


How do I self assess?

An understanding of the practices and methods in place for the transfer of knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

  • Level 1 - Constructs coherent arguments and articulates ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally, using a variety of techniques.Actively engages in knowledge exchange and debate with colleagues, sometimes between disciplines/research areas. Seeks feedback and reflects on experience to improve practice
  • Level 2 - Communicates research effectively to a diverse and non-specialist audience. Structures arguments rigorously, clearly and concisely. Listens actively and engages confidently in knowledge exchange within and beyond the discipline, asking timely and appropriate questions. Explores new multimedia tools to design and deliver presentations.
  • Level 3 - Eloquently makes the complex accessible, generating excitement about ideas. Recognises and encourages the contributions of others, supporting less experienced researchers. Provides constructive feedback to committees and research groups.
  • Level 4 & 5 - Varies approach and presents research to professional peers/expert and non-expert audience in an inspirational way. Produces finely honed argument rapidly. Educates, advises and guides others in argument construction

The capacity to engage with stakeholders and to influence practice

  • Level 1 - Learns of the value to academia of engaging in dialogue with those who use the outputs of research to achieve influence and impact. Identifies key stakeholders and their information needs and constraints. Engages with local activities and resources on research project. Identifies peer review groups at other universities, exchange programs, internships, etc
  • Level 2 - Develops networks with a range of stakeholders and engages with these stakeholders to strengthen research project and to extend influence of research. Demonstrates academic writing and argumentation skills through the preparation and successful critical review of papers, thesis, exegesis, or other published works. Develops awareness of different leadership styles.
  • Level 3 - Actively engages in knowledge exchange with the public, business, industry, the professions and other users of research. Influences and provides leadership in committees and in external relationships. Promotes the value of own institution.
  • Level 4 - Highly influential in academic and non-academic sphere. Generates substantial research outcomes such that ideas, methodologies, practices, interpretations, models are implemented and/or cited by others. Can use range of leadership styles; includes and enables others; convinces through argument; involves others in decisions.
  • Level 5 - Has exceptional influence, internationally renowned. Input sought by policy makers, funding bodies, etc.>

How do I develop these skills?

  • Participation in relevant workshops
  • Mentoring
  • Practice and feedback at 3 Minute Thesis competition
  • Honing skills in scholarly writing, e.g. through engagement in writing group or through workshop in argumentation, developing abstracts, etc.
  • Preparing a paper for presentation at a local research student, disciplinary or industry conference students)
  • Taking on mentoring role for students in earlier stages (e.g. Honours or first year doctoral)
  • Present Final Seminar to a range of stakeholders
  • Present findings to partners, data sites etc. in forms which are appropriate to their needs such as overview reports
  • Present at practitioner conferences

Critical Judgement and reflection

How do I self assess?

Operates effectively in a changing environment

  • Level 1 - Adapts approach when required to, seeks guidance and recognises risks.
  • Level 2 - Adapts to changes. Balances risk and opportunity. Knows when to seek advice and reassurance.
  • Level 3 - Engages with change. Expects change and is prepared for it, manages risk accordingly.
    Advises less experienced colleagues.
  • Level 4 - Embraces change and anticipates risk. Responds decisively, coaches and reassures others.
  • Level 5 - Promotes change and contributes to institutional change initiatives. Is willing to take reputational risk.

Reflect critically and undertake systemic investigation into a complex body of knowledge

  • Level 1 - Recognises problems and sees connections between studies and own research. Recognises patterns and connections, identifies and evaluates arguments and underlying assumptions.
  • Level 2 - Recognises multiple ways of knowing and alternative paradigms.
    Has the capacity to critically appraise (i.e. to establish a detached, balanced view of evidence and information from different points of view) relevant materials in various forums.
  • Level 3 - Stimulates critical thinking in less experienced researchers.
    Recognises patterns and connections beyond discipline, identifies and evaluates arguments and underlying assumptions.
  • Level 4 & 5 - Is capable of original, independent and critical thinking beyond the discipline. Has the ability to develop theoretical concepts. 

Analyse and synthesise information from a variety of sources

  • Level 1 - Effective in literature search and information retrieval leading to accurate map of the field of scholarship
    Critically analyses own findings and those of others.
  • Level 2 - Has well developed analytical abilities and knowledge of a range of methods.
  • Level 3/4 & 5 - Shares analytical understanding with colleagues and less experienced researchers.



How do I develop these skills?

  • Attendance and participation at conferences and seminars 
  • Sourcing and collecting appropriate and relevant self-determined material from self-selected sources
  • Use of concept mapping or other graphical representation, development of a literature review, or similar
  • Discussions with supervisory panel and/or peers, scholarly presentations, etc. 
  • Participation in relevant workshops
  • Self-directed learning
  • Mentoring by supervisory panel/team or others
  • Preparation of a literature review and research plan for Confirmation Seminar.
  • Facilitation of discussion sessions
  • Participation in workshops run by library staff
  • Self-directed learning
  • Mentoring other HDR students


Some of the information on this page was adapted from the Vitae Research Development Framework

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