A holistic, credit-based approach to researcher training

Dr Monica Kerr1, Marium Afzal Khan2

1University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
2Intersect Australia, Sydney, Australia

Universities have a duty of care to equip Higher Degree by Research students (HDRs) with the skills required to build careers within and outside of academia. Underscored in the 2016 ACOLA Review, transferrable skills training is now an integral part of a contemporary research education program. The Career and Research Skills Training (CaRST) program is the University of Adelaide’s approach to deliver more comprehensive research training and career development for HDRs. Embedded into the graduate research degree and complementary to the main research project, CaRST incorporates eResearch skills training along with a number of other personal and professional skills that are valuable for success in the modern workplace.


CaRST is structured around the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF), namely knowledge & intellectual abilities; personal effectiveness; research governance and organization; and engagement, influence and impact. The program implements a credit system for HDRs through which they can track their development across various domains and also incentivizes them to diversify their skills. Traditional eResearch training, such as Intersect’s software carpentry-style courses for programming languages, is complemented by other technology-related training courses that are valuable for researchers (e.g., creating research impact through social media).

In this presentation, we will discuss the CaRST framework in detail, how eResearch training can leverage this system, and some observations from the data about how HDRs choose to structure their training and development. Lastly, we will talk about a proposed framework to evaluate the impact of such a program.


Dr Monica Kerr is the inaugural Director of the University of Adelaide’s Career and Research Skills Training (CaRST) program for Higher Degree by Research students (HDRs). Monica specialises in developing researchers to enhance career and research outcomes. She is an experienced leader, having previously held a senior management position at one of the oldest scientific organisations in the US, the New York Academy of Sciences, and has led initiatives to create industry-ready graduates and student-led startups at the CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing and UniSA Ventures, respectively. Monica obtained her PhD in Cell & Developmental Biology from Harvard Medical School.

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