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Reference and guide to SFIA version 7. Framework status: Current standard.

#38 Research Skill needs strengthening: change request accepted

It would be good to more clearly distinguish to concept of research in common use of the term (information gathering) and research more directed to creating new knowledge (the definition used in Government funded KTP technology transfer projects and by universities for PhD degrees). Good to distinguish commercial research (R&D) from blue sky theoretical research (such as that conducted by CERN, that indirectly led to Berners-Lee’s development of the WWW. There are numerous resources available to support researchers, that are not currently listed. Including ResearchGate, and ORCID.

The SFIA Research skill shoud be elboarated to clarify the difference in common usage (meaning information gathering) and more formal sense used commercial R&D and PhD programmes (Robson, 2011; Phillips & Pugh, 2015). The Research skill should identify areas of specialism such as research sites, data collection, and data analysis (e.g. Miles, Huberman & Saldana, 2013). Mixed methods, that combine quantitave and qualitative techniques should be relfected (Creswell, 2013).


Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research Design (International Student Edition): Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (Fourth Edition). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldana, J. (2013). Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook (3rd Revised edition edition). Thousand Oaks, Califorinia: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Phillips, E., & Pugh, D. S. (2015). How To Get A Phd: A Handbook For Students And Their Supervisors (6 edition). Open University Press.

Robson, C. (2011). Real World Research (3rd ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Attached to Research


What we decided


What we changed

All skill levels and overall skill description have been updated.

Note also additional SFIA7 skill called User research (URCH).

  • after some consideration we concluded that URCH and RSCH were distinct enough (despite the name) to be included as a separate skill.
  • RSCH is focussed on created new knowledge.
Sfia Updates Manager says:
Sep 18, 2017 11:21 AM

In support of this; the Research skill is often overused in Job Descriptions and SFIA skills assessments etc. The ability to "gather information" in order to perform your role or investigate new ideas is NOT "Research" as intended by SFIA.

In SFIA - general information gathering is usually more than adequately covered as a component of other role specific SFIA skills e.g. Enterprise Architecture and also in the generic levels of responsibility (see complexity or business skills)

Emerging technology monitoring already provides a more specialised skill for those roles who have a requirement to specifically "research" the market and ongoing trends.

It will be good to explore the similarities and differences in skills needed to perform commercial research (R&D) from blue sky theoretical research.

John Godsell says:
Oct 16, 2017 09:59 AM

Given the growth in the area of data science perhaps we need to combine Research with Analytics in one skill?