Topic outline


    The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) was launched in 2010 by Vitae, a non-profit programme that is part of the Career Development Organisation.

    QMUL is a member of Vitae, and students and staff can access Vitae’s online support materials and are entitled to discounts on events and resources. Simply register on the Vitae website using your QMUL email address. 

    Source: Vitae

    The RDF describes in detail the practical skills and attributes of successful researchers. It provides the basis for the support offered to researchers by many of the Schools and Departments at QMUL, including the Library. You can access more information on the RDF itself here

    This module is worth three Skills Points for PhD students, who are expected to amass a total of 210 Skills Points over the course of their studies. The QMUL PhD Skills Points Database allows you to capture the generic and discipline-specific developmental activities that you are involved in. On successful completion of the quiz at the end of this module you can log the three points on the PhD Skills Points Database.

    Contact the Teaching & Learning Support Team, the Doctoral College, the Graduate School or your Department if you would like more information and/or support with the RDF.

    The module is divided into seven sections, which you can complete at your own pace. Reading Lists of material have been provided, and the quiz at the end of the module is accessible to QM members after they enrol themselves on the course. 

    There are no prerequisites for taking this module, but you may wish to use earphones/headphones for the audiovisual files. You can provide us with your feedback on completion. Most of the module is openly accessible, but guests cannot access the quiz.

    The Teaching & Learning Support Team are always contactable. Look out for this button:  Contact the T&LS Team  

  • Literature Searching

    The aim of a literature search is to identify existing work about the subject you are researching. It is likely that you will carry out several literature searches during the course of your research, modifying, developing and refining your original search as you progress.

        Photo by Felix Mittermeier - Pixabay

    literature search and a literature review are sometimes confused: essentially, a literature search is only one part of the process of producing an effective literature review. You can find more information on literature reviews under the 'Planning and Carrying out a Literature Review' section of this module.


    Source: Wikimedia Commons

    The most effective literature searches are planned in advance, carefully structured and controlled, and yet they should still be flexible if unexpected results dictate that a change of approach is necessary. 

    There are a number of well-established search techniques that will enable you to structure your searches so that you maximise your results. You may be familiar with some or all of these techniques, but we explore them in more detail in this section by using text, illustrations and Prezis. 


    Woman looking at view from top of a mountain

      Image by PubliCo , Pixabay

    This section covers the main aspects of evaluating and analysing information resources. 

    On completion of this section, you will have a better understanding of how to identify valuable information to support your research.


    Using both text and illustrations, this section deals with the main aspects of carrying out an effective literature review. On completion of this section, you should have a better understanding of the reasons for planning and carrying out a literature review.


    Photo by Patrick Tomasso, Unsplash

  • Practical Tips

    railway track

    Photo by Michael Gaida, Pixabay

    This section provides guidance on managing information, keeping up to date with the latest research and sharing and disseminating the results of your work .
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing


    Source: Alpha Stock Images

    The viva (from the Latin viva voce - 'living voice') represents the culmination of the research journey for the PhD student: having completed research, written and submitted their thesis, the student will appear before two examiners in a formal setting to justify the claim that their work makes an original contribution to the corpus of knowledge that constitutes the field.

    The examiners will have read the thesis closely beforehand, and they will therefore be in a position to challenge and debate with the student, looking to explore the intellectual underpinnings, content and ramifications of the work in its entirety. The student must show that they are in full command of their topic and aware of how it might be further developed. The conduct of the viva is left to the professional discretion of the examiners, who will make their decision on the thesis after the viva is complete.

    No two vivas are the same, and it therefore follows that the experience of students can differ dramatically both within and across disciplines.  

  • Summary Quiz

    Test your knowledge of this module in this short quiz.

    Successful completion of the quiz will give you 3 points for your RDF profile.