The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Formal research RSCH


Systematically creating new knowledge by data gathering, innovation, experimentation, evaluation and dissemination.

SFIA 9 is in development

  • SFIA 9 beta due in early July 2024
  • SFIA 9 planned for publication October 2024

Guidance notes


Activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • determining research goals and the methods by which the research will be conducted
  • actively participating in a community of researchers
  • communicating formally and informally through digital media, conferences, journals, books and seminars.

The Formal research skill defined in SFIA is used for creating new knowledge including, but not limited to, commercial research and development or academic institutions.

Because of its name, this skill can be confused with general search and investigation into a topic of interest. In most cases, general investigations are covered by responsibilities described by the SFIA generic attributes. Many of the SFIA professional skills also make reference to investigation or similar activity.

Understanding the responsibility levels of this skill

Where lower levels are not defined...

  • Specific tasks and responsibilities are not defined because the skill requires a higher level of autonomy, influence, and complexity in decision-making than is typically expected at these levels. You can use the essence statements to understand the generic responsibilities associated with these levels.

Where higher levels are not defined...

  • Responsibilities and accountabilities are not defined because these higher levels involve strategic leadership and broader organisational influence that goes beyond the scope of this specific skill. See the essence statements.

Developing skills and demonstrating responsibilities related to this skill

The defined levels show the incremental progression in skills and reponsibilities.

Where lower levels are not defined...

You can develop your knowledge and support others who do have responsibility in this area by:

  • Learning key concepts and principles related to this skill and its impact on your role
  • Performing related skills (see the related SFIA skills)
  • Supporting others with tasks (generic examples are provided by the essence statements for each level)

Where higher levels are not defined...

  • You can progress by developing related skills which are better suited to higher levels of organisational leadership.


Defined at these levels: 2 3 4 5 6

Show/hide extra descriptions and levels.

Level 1

Level 1 - Follow: Essence of the level: Performs routine tasks under close supervision, follows instructions, and requires guidance to complete their work. Learns and applies basic skills and knowledge.

Formal research: Level 2

Level 2 - Assist: Essence of the level: Provides assistance to others, works under routine supervision, and uses their discretion to address routine problems. Actively learns through training and on-the-job experiences.


Within given research goals, assists in selection and review of credible and reliable resources.

Searches for relevant material using specialised websites and sources, reads relevant articles to update knowledge of the relevant field.

Reports on work carried out and may contribute sections of publication-quality material.

Curates, under guidance, a personal collection of relevant material.

Formal research: Level 3

Level 3 - Apply: Essence of the level: Performs varied tasks, sometimes complex and non-routine, using standard methods and procedures. Works under general direction, exercises discretion, and manages own work within deadlines. Proactively enhances skills and impact in the workplace.


Within given research goals, builds on and refines appropriate outline ideas for research, including evaluation, development, demonstration and implementation.

Applies standard methods to collect and analyse quantitative and qualitative data. Creates research reports to communicate research methodology, findings and conclusions.

Contributes sections of publication-quality material.

Uses available resources to update knowledge of any relevant field and curates a personal collection of relevant material. Participates in research communities.

Formal research: Level 4

Level 4 - Enable: Essence of the level: Performs diverse complex activities, supports and supervises others, works autonomously under general direction, and contributes expertise to deliver team objectives.


Builds on and refines appropriate outline ideas for the evaluation, development, demonstration and implementation of research.

Contributes to research goals and funding proposals. Collects and analyses qualitative and quantitative data as required.

Contributes to research plans and identifies appropriate opportunities for publication and dissemination of research findings. Makes an active contribution to research communities.

Presents papers at conferences, contributes significant sections of publication-quality material, and presents reports to clients.

Formal research: Level 5

Level 5 - Ensure, advise: Essence of the level: Provides authoritative guidance in their field and works under broad direction. Accountable for achieving workgroup objectives and managing work from analysis to execution and evaluation.


Agrees research goals and methods and performs research projects to generate original ideas.

Attracts and manages external research funding. Maintains a strong external network within own area of specialism.

Provides advice and guidance on performing research. Selects, adopts and adapts data collection tools and techniques. Develops, reviews and constructively criticises the research and ideas of others. Shares practical demonstrations of research findings.

Takes part in professional activities outside own employing organisation. Presents papers at significant conferences, writes articles for specialist journals, and presents reports to key stakeholders.

Formal research: Level 6

Level 6 - Initiate, influence: Essence of the level: Has significant organisational influence, makes high-level decisions, shapes policies, demonstrates leadership, fosters organizational collaboration, and accepts accountability in key areas.


Develops the organisation's research policy and supervises the work of research functions.

Promotes activities externally, attracts and manages significant portfolios of research funding.

Sets research goals and authorises research proposals. Leads strategic and/or interdisciplinary research projects. Maintains a strong external network reaching beyond own immediate area of specialism.

Takes a leading part in professional activities outside own employing organisation. Presents keynote papers at major conferences, writes articles for high impact journals, and presents reports to major clients.

Level 7

Level 7 - Set strategy, inspire, mobilise: Essence of the level: Operates at the highest organisational level, determines overall organisational vision and strategy, and assumes accountability for overall success.