Spotlight on Digital Capabilities IV: Developing Researcher Digital Capabilities

Digital Capabilities can be defined as the skills and/or competencies required for living, learning and working in a digital society (Jisc, 2015). The Jisc Digital Capability Framework provides a structure to help individuals understand what skills are needed and supports the development of staff & students. Following extensive sector-wide consultation, and an evidence-informed approach to development, Jisc have produced an initial model of the framework which describes digital capability as six overlapping elements:

Digital Capabilities: The Six Elements

Digital Capabilities: The Six Elements

For a more comprehensive definition of each of these six core elements see our blog post Spotlight on Digital Capabilities I: What are Digital Capabilities?

Even today’s postgraduate students need support with some areas of digital capability, particularly in an academic and research context, so it’s important to make sure that these needs are met.

In order to embed digital capabilities into research development, staff need to be engaged and will need continued support and development as the practices they model will become examples for postgraduate students.

Jisc have developed a Researcher ‘Lens’ on the Digital Capability Framework [PDF], which provides us with a starting point for developing ‘networked researchers’. Staff can use this profile, in conjunction with the Vitae RDF Planner, when considering and identifying their research development needs, or to stimulate discussion between research supervisor and postgraduate student.

Through engagement with this Framework and active consideration of what and how staff use technology to facilitate research, they will also be aligning their practice to elements of the Vitae Research Development Framework (RDF), and in particular the Information Literacy Lens on the Vitae RDF.

Developing staff digital capability will also support an expanding range of study and research options, and will enable our postgraduate students to further develop skills for learning and research in a digital society.

Staff and students involved don’t need to be technology experts; communications skills, flexibility and an eagerness to learn and share are much more important as we seek to widen awareness and develop communities of practice.

What do you think of the researcher ‘lens’ on the digital capability framework? How do you think it fits in with Vitae Framework? DO you think it is important to develop ‘networked’ researchers? What are the main barriers/enablers to digital capability and research development? Let us know in the comments below…

For help, information or advice about Digital Capability, or to discuss any questions, comments or concerns you might have, please contact



Jisc: Building Digital Capability

Phil Vincent

Phil’s focus is to work across Faculties to support the implementation of the Academic Strategy, and in particular contribute to the effective development and implementation of technology enhanced learning.

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