In recent years, contentiously for some, universities have developed generalist skills lists and associated curricula in response to government demand for more ‘employment-ready’ graduates. Such training usually includes writing and communication. In Australia and the UK, guidelines designed to support the development of skills programmes describe research training as ‘generic skills’ and/or ‘discipline-based’. This framing effectively precludes a discussion of academic literacies perspectives on curriculum development and pedagogy for research training. In a review of some key insights from academic literacies and consideration of their implications for research training, the article discusses why academic literacies are not skills-based, strictly generic or informed by the students' discipline. The article suggests a reframing of the terms of research skills discussion to accommodate academic literacies perspectives. This would involve recognition of curriculum and pedagogy that aims to introduce the complex and diverse written genres, research purposes, rhetorical conventions, language functions and cultural norms that students are working with, an approach supportive of both effective student writing and subject learning.