what is objective of research study

  • Aims and Objectives – A Guide for Academic Writing
  • Doing a PhD

One of the most important aspects of a thesis, dissertation or research paper is the correct formulation of the aims and objectives. This is because your aims and objectives will establish the scope, depth and direction that your research will ultimately take. An effective set of aims and objectives will give your research focus and your reader clarity, with your aims indicating what is to be achieved, and your objectives indicating how it will be achieved.

Introduction

There is no getting away from the importance of the aims and objectives in determining the success of your research project. Unfortunately, however, it is an aspect that many students struggle with, and ultimately end up doing poorly. Given their importance, if you suspect that there is even the smallest possibility that you belong to this group of students, we strongly recommend you read this page in full.

This page describes what research aims and objectives are, how they differ from each other, how to write them correctly, and the common mistakes students make and how to avoid them. An example of a good aim and objectives from a past thesis has also been deconstructed to help your understanding.

What Are Aims and Objectives?

Research aims.

A research aim describes the main goal or the overarching purpose of your research project.

In doing so, it acts as a focal point for your research and provides your readers with clarity as to what your study is all about. Because of this, research aims are almost always located within its own subsection under the introduction section of a research document, regardless of whether it’s a thesis , a dissertation, or a research paper .

A research aim is usually formulated as a broad statement of the main goal of the research and can range in length from a single sentence to a short paragraph. Although the exact format may vary according to preference, they should all describe why your research is needed (i.e. the context), what it sets out to accomplish (the actual aim) and, briefly, how it intends to accomplish it (overview of your objectives).

To give an example, we have extracted the following research aim from a real PhD thesis:

Example of a Research Aim

The role of diametrical cup deformation as a factor to unsatisfactory implant performance has not been widely reported. The aim of this thesis was to gain an understanding of the diametrical deformation behaviour of acetabular cups and shells following impaction into the reamed acetabulum. The influence of a range of factors on deformation was investigated to ascertain if cup and shell deformation may be high enough to potentially contribute to early failure and high wear rates in metal-on-metal implants.

Note: Extracted with permission from thesis titled “T he Impact And Deformation Of Press-Fit Metal Acetabular Components ” produced by Dr H Hothi of previously Queen Mary University of London.

Research Objectives

Where a research aim specifies what your study will answer, research objectives specify how your study will answer it.

They divide your research aim into several smaller parts, each of which represents a key section of your research project. As a result, almost all research objectives take the form of a numbered list, with each item usually receiving its own chapter in a dissertation or thesis.

Following the example of the research aim shared above, here are it’s real research objectives as an example:

Example of a Research Objective

  • Develop finite element models using explicit dynamics to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion, initially using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum.
  • Investigate the number, velocity and position of impacts needed to insert a cup.
  • Determine the relationship between the size of interference between the cup and cavity and deformation for different cup types.
  • Investigate the influence of non-uniform cup support and varying the orientation of the component in the cavity on deformation.
  • Examine the influence of errors during reaming of the acetabulum which introduce ovality to the cavity.
  • Determine the relationship between changes in the geometry of the component and deformation for different cup designs.
  • Develop three dimensional pelvis models with non-uniform bone material properties from a range of patients with varying bone quality.
  • Use the key parameters that influence deformation, as identified in the foam models to determine the range of deformations that may occur clinically using the anatomic models and if these deformations are clinically significant.

It’s worth noting that researchers sometimes use research questions instead of research objectives, or in other cases both. From a high-level perspective, research questions and research objectives make the same statements, but just in different formats.

Taking the first three research objectives as an example, they can be restructured into research questions as follows:

Restructuring Research Objectives as Research Questions

  • Can finite element models using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum together with explicit dynamics be used to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion?
  • What is the number, velocity and position of impacts needed to insert a cup?
  • What is the relationship between the size of interference between the cup and cavity and deformation for different cup types?

Difference Between Aims and Objectives

Hopefully the above explanations make clear the differences between aims and objectives, but to clarify:

  • The research aim focus on what the research project is intended to achieve; research objectives focus on how the aim will be achieved.
  • Research aims are relatively broad; research objectives are specific.
  • Research aims focus on a project’s long-term outcomes; research objectives focus on its immediate, short-term outcomes.
  • A research aim can be written in a single sentence or short paragraph; research objectives should be written as a numbered list.

How to Write Aims and Objectives

Before we discuss how to write a clear set of research aims and objectives, we should make it clear that there is no single way they must be written. Each researcher will approach their aims and objectives slightly differently, and often your supervisor will influence the formulation of yours on the basis of their own preferences.

Regardless, there are some basic principles that you should observe for good practice; these principles are described below.

Your aim should be made up of three parts that answer the below questions:

  • Why is this research required?
  • What is this research about?
  • How are you going to do it?

The easiest way to achieve this would be to address each question in its own sentence, although it does not matter whether you combine them or write multiple sentences for each, the key is to address each one.

The first question, why , provides context to your research project, the second question, what , describes the aim of your research, and the last question, how , acts as an introduction to your objectives which will immediately follow.

Scroll through the image set below to see the ‘why, what and how’ associated with our research aim example.

Explaining aims vs objectives

Note: Your research aims need not be limited to one. Some individuals per to define one broad ‘overarching aim’ of a project and then adopt two or three specific research aims for their thesis or dissertation. Remember, however, that in order for your assessors to consider your research project complete, you will need to prove you have fulfilled all of the aims you set out to achieve. Therefore, while having more than one research aim is not necessarily disadvantageous, consider whether a single overarching one will do.

Research Objectives

Each of your research objectives should be SMART :

  • Specific – is there any ambiguity in the action you are going to undertake, or is it focused and well-defined?
  • Measurable – how will you measure progress and determine when you have achieved the action?
  • Achievable – do you have the support, resources and facilities required to carry out the action?
  • Relevant – is the action essential to the achievement of your research aim?
  • Timebound – can you realistically complete the action in the available time alongside your other research tasks?

In addition to being SMART, your research objectives should start with a verb that helps communicate your intent. Common research verbs include:

Table of Research Verbs to Use in Aims and Objectives

Last, format your objectives into a numbered list. This is because when you write your thesis or dissertation, you will at times need to make reference to a specific research objective; structuring your research objectives in a numbered list will provide a clear way of doing this.

To bring all this together, let’s compare the first research objective in the previous example with the above guidance:

Checking Research Objective Example Against Recommended Approach

Research Objective:

1. Develop finite element models using explicit dynamics to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion, initially using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum.

Checking Against Recommended Approach:

Q: Is it specific? A: Yes, it is clear what the student intends to do (produce a finite element model), why they intend to do it (mimic cup/shell blows) and their parameters have been well-defined ( using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum ).

Q: Is it measurable? A: Yes, it is clear that the research objective will be achieved once the finite element model is complete.

Q: Is it achievable? A: Yes, provided the student has access to a computer lab, modelling software and laboratory data.

Q: Is it relevant? A: Yes, mimicking impacts to a cup/shell is fundamental to the overall aim of understanding how they deform when impacted upon.

Q: Is it timebound? A: Yes, it is possible to create a limited-scope finite element model in a relatively short time, especially if you already have experience in modelling.

Q: Does it start with a verb? A: Yes, it starts with ‘develop’, which makes the intent of the objective immediately clear.

Q: Is it a numbered list? A: Yes, it is the first research objective in a list of eight.

Mistakes in Writing Research Aims and Objectives

1. making your research aim too broad.

Having a research aim too broad becomes very difficult to achieve. Normally, this occurs when a student develops their research aim before they have a good understanding of what they want to research. Remember that at the end of your project and during your viva defence , you will have to prove that you have achieved your research aims; if they are too broad, this will be an almost impossible task. In the early stages of your research project, your priority should be to narrow your study to a specific area. A good way to do this is to take the time to study existing literature, question their current approaches, findings and limitations, and consider whether there are any recurring gaps that could be investigated .

Note: Achieving a set of aims does not necessarily mean proving or disproving a theory or hypothesis, even if your research aim was to, but having done enough work to provide a useful and original insight into the principles that underlie your research aim.

2. Making Your Research Objectives Too Ambitious

Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available. It is natural to want to set ambitious research objectives that require sophisticated data collection and analysis, but only completing this with six months before the end of your PhD registration period is not a worthwhile trade-off.

3. Formulating Repetitive Research Objectives

Each research objective should have its own purpose and distinct measurable outcome. To this effect, a common mistake is to form research objectives which have large amounts of overlap. This makes it difficult to determine when an objective is truly complete, and also presents challenges in estimating the duration of objectives when creating your project timeline. It also makes it difficult to structure your thesis into unique chapters, making it more challenging for you to write and for your audience to read.

Fortunately, this oversight can be easily avoided by using SMART objectives.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of how to create an effective set of aims and objectives for your research project, whether it be a thesis, dissertation or research paper. While it may be tempting to dive directly into your research, spending time on getting your aims and objectives right will give your research clear direction. This won’t only reduce the likelihood of problems arising later down the line, but will also lead to a more thorough and coherent research project.

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper ). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

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Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

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what is objective of research study

Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

what is objective of research study

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39 Comments

Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.

Tosin

Thanks so much. This was really helpful.

Ishmael

I know you pepole have tried to break things into more understandable and easy format. And God bless you. Keep it up

sylas

i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!

Scarlett

Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!

Chulyork

The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.

JB

Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?

UN

Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks

Yetunde

I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?

Webby

Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.

Joe

As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).

Abdella

Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.

Sheikh

Well explained

New Growth Care Group

The blog article on research aims, objectives, and questions by Grad Coach is a clear and insightful guide that aligns with my experiences in academic research. The article effectively breaks down the often complex concepts of research aims and objectives, providing a straightforward and accessible explanation. Drawing from my own research endeavors, I appreciate the practical tips offered, such as the need for specificity and clarity when formulating research questions. The article serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers, offering a concise roadmap for crafting well-defined research goals and objectives. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced researcher, this article provides practical insights that contribute to the foundational aspects of a successful research endeavor.

yaikobe

A great thanks for you. it is really amazing explanation. I grasp a lot and one step up to research knowledge.

UMAR SALEH

I really found these tips helpful. Thank you very much Grad Coach.

Rahma D.

I found this article helpful. Thanks for sharing this.

Juhaida

thank you so much, the explanation and examples are really helpful

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Writing the Research Objectives: 5 Straightforward Examples

The research objective of a research proposal or scientific article defines the direction or content of a research investigation. Without the research objectives, the proposal or research paper is in disarray. It is like a fisherman riding on a boat without any purpose and with no destination in sight. Therefore, at the beginning of any research venture, the researcher must be clear about what he or she intends to do or achieve in conducting a study.

How do you define the objectives of a study? What are the uses of the research objective? How would a researcher write this essential part of the research? This article aims to provide answers to these questions.

Table of Contents

Definition of a research objective.

A research objective describes, in a few words, the result of the research project after its implementation. It answers the question,

“ What does the researcher want or hope to achieve at the end of the research project.”  

The research objective provides direction to the performance of the study.

What are the Uses of the Research Objective?

The uses of the research objective are enumerated below:

  • serves as the researcher’s guide in identifying the appropriate research design,
  • identifies the variables of the study, and
  • specifies the data collection procedure and the corresponding analysis for the data generated.

The research design serves as the “blueprint” for the research investigation. The University of Southern California describes the different types of research design extensively. It details the data to be gathered, data collection procedure, data measurement, and statistical tests to use in the analysis.

The variables of the study include those factors that the researcher wants to evaluate in the study. These variables narrow down the research to several manageable components to see differences or correlations between them.

Specifying the data collection procedure ensures data accuracy and integrity . Thus, the probability of error is minimized. Generalizations or conclusions based on valid arguments founded on reliable data strengthens research findings on particular issues and problems.

In data mining activities where large data sets are involved, the research objective plays a crucial role. Without a clear objective to guide the machine learning process, the desired outcomes will not be met.

How is the Research Objective Written?

A research objective must be achievable, i.e., it must be framed keeping in mind the available time, infrastructure required for research, and other resources.

Before forming a research objective, you should read about all the developments in your area of research and find gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed. Readings will help you come up with suitable objectives for your research project.

5 Examples of Research Objectives

The following examples of research objectives based on several published studies on various topics demonstrate how the research objectives are written:

  • This study aims to find out if there is a difference in quiz scores between students exposed to direct instruction and flipped classrooms (Webb and Doman, 2016).
  • This study seeks to examine the extent, range, and method of coral reef rehabilitation projects in five shallow reef areas adjacent to popular tourist destinations in the Philippines (Yeemin et al ., 2006).
  • This study aims to investigate species richness of mammal communities in five protected areas over the past 20 years (Evans et al ., 2006).
  • This study aims to clarify the demographic, epidemiological, clinical, and radiological features of 2019-nCoV patients with other causes of pneumonia (Zhao et al ., 2020).
  • This research aims to assess species extinction risks for sample regions that cover some 20% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface.

Finally, writing the research objectives requires constant practice, experience, and knowledge about the topic investigated. Clearly written objectives save time, money, and effort.

Once you have a clear idea of your research objectives, you can now develop your conceptual framework which is a crucial element of your research paper as it guides the flow of your research. The conceptual framework will help you develop your methodology and statistical tests.

I wrote a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to develop a conceptual framework with illustration in my post titled “ Conceptual Framework: A Step by Step Guide on How to Make One. “

Evans, K. L., Rodrigues, A. S., Chown, S. L., & Gaston, K. J. (2006). Protected areas and regional avian species richness in South Africa.  Biology letters ,  2 (2), 184-188.

Thomas, C. D., Cameron, A., Green, R. E., Bakkenes, M., Beaumont, L. J., Collingham, Y. C., … & Hughes, L. (2004). Extinction risk from climate change. Nature, 427(6970), 145-148.

Webb, M., & Doman, E. (2016). Does the Flipped Classroom Lead to Increased Gains on Learning Outcomes in ESL/EFL Contexts?. CATESOL Journal, 28(1), 39-67.

Yeemin, T., Sutthacheep, M., & Pettongma, R. (2006). Coral reef restoration projects in Thailand.  Ocean & Coastal Management ,  49 (9-10), 562-575.

Zhao, D., Yao, F., Wang, L., Zheng, L., Gao, Y., Ye, J., Guo, F., Zhao, H. & Gao, R. (2020). A comparative study on the clinical features of COVID-19 pneumonia to other pneumonias, Clinical Infectious Diseases , ciaa247, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa247

© 2020 March 23 P. A. Regoniel Updated 17 November 2020 | Updated 18 January 2024

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5 thesis writing tips for greater impact, about the author, patrick regoniel.

Dr. Regoniel, a faculty member of the graduate school, served as consultant to various environmental research and development projects covering issues and concerns on climate change, coral reef resources and management, economic valuation of environmental and natural resources, mining, and waste management and pollution. He has extensive experience on applied statistics, systems modelling and analysis, an avid practitioner of LaTeX, and a multidisciplinary web developer. He leverages pioneering AI-powered content creation tools to produce unique and comprehensive articles in this website.

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  • Defining Research Objectives: How To  Write Them

Moradeke Owa

Almost all industries use research for growth and development. Research objectives are how researchers ensure that their study has direction and makes a significant contribution to growing an industry or niche.

Research objectives provide a clear and concise statement of what the researcher wants to find out. As a researcher, you need to clearly outline and define research objectives to guide the research process and ensure that the study is relevant and generates the impact you want.

In this article, we will explore research objectives and how to leverage them to achieve successful research studies.

What Are Research Objectives?

Research objectives are what you want to achieve through your research study. They guide your research process and help you focus on the most important aspects of your topic.

You can also define the scope of your study and set realistic and attainable study goals with research objectives. For example, with clear research objectives, your study focuses on the specific goals you want to achieve and prevents you from spending time and resources collecting unnecessary data.

However, sticking to research objectives isn’t always easy, especially in broad or unconventional research. This is why most researchers follow the SMART criteria when defining their research objectives.

Understanding SMART Criteria in Research

Think of research objectives as a roadmap to achieving your research goals, with the SMART criteria as your navigator on the map.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These criteria help you ensure that your research objectives are clear, specific, realistic, meaningful, and time-bound.

Here’s a breakdown of the SMART Criteria:

Specific : Your research objectives should be clear: what do you want to achieve, why do you want to achieve it, and how do you plan to achieve it? Avoid vague or broad statements that don’t provide enough direction for your research.

Measurable : Your research objectives should have metrics that help you track your progress and measure your results. Also, ensure the metrics are measurable with data to verify them.

Achievable : Your research objectives should be within your research scope, timeframe, and budget. Also, set goals that are challenging but not impossible.

Relevant: Your research objectives should be in line with the goal and significance of your study. Also, ensure that the objectives address a specific issue or knowledge gap that is interesting and relevant to your industry or niche.

Time-bound : Your research objectives should have a specific deadline or timeframe for completion. This will help you carefully set a schedule for your research activities and milestones and monitor your study progress.

Characteristics of Effective Research Objectives

Clarity : Your objectives should be clear and unambiguous so that anyone who reads them can understand what you intend to do. Avoid vague or general terms that could be taken out of context.

Specificity : Your objectives should be specific and address the research questions that you have formulated. Do not use broad or narrow objectives as they may restrict your field of research or make your research irrelevant.

Measurability : Define your metrics with indicators or metrics that help you determine if you’ve accomplished your goals or not. This will ensure you are tracking the research progress and making interventions when needed.

Also, do use objectives that are subjective or based on personal opinions, as they may be difficult to accurately verify and measure.

Achievability : Your objectives should be realistic and attainable, given the resources and time available for your research project. You should set objectives that match your skills and capabilities, they can be difficult but not so hard that they are realistically unachievable.

For example, setting very difficult make you lose confidence, and abandon your research. Also, setting very simple objectives could demotivate you and prevent you from closing the knowledge gap or making significant contributions to your field with your research.

Relevance : Your objectives should be relevant to your research topic and contribute to the existing knowledge in your field. Avoid objectives that are unrelated or insignificant, as they may waste your time or resources.

Time-bound : Your objectives should be time-bound and specify when you will complete them. Have a realistic and flexible timeframe for achieving your objectives, and track your progress with it. 

Steps to Writing Research Objectives

Identify the research questions.

The first step in writing effective research objectives is to identify the research questions that you are trying to answer. Research questions help you narrow down your topic and identify the gaps or problems that you want to address with your research.

For example, if you are interested in the impact of technology on children’s development, your research questions could be:

  • What is the relationship between technology use and academic performance among children?
  • Are children who use technology more likely to do better in school than those who do not?
  • What is the social and psychological impact of technology use on children?

Brainstorm Objectives

Once you have your research questions, you can brainstorm possible objectives that relate to them. Objectives are more specific than research questions, and they tell you what you want to achieve or learn in your research.

You can use verbs such as analyze, compare, evaluate, explore, investigate, etc. to express your objectives. Also, try to generate as many objectives as possible, without worrying about their quality or feasibility at this stage.

Prioritize Objectives

Once you’ve brainstormed your objectives, you’ll need to prioritize them based on their relevance and feasibility. Relevance is how relevant the objective is to your research topic and how well it fits into your overall research objective.

Feasibility is how realistic and feasible the objective is compared to the time, money, and expertise you have. You can create a matrix or ranking system to organize your objectives and pick the ones that matter the most.

Refine Objectives

The next step is to refine and revise your objectives to ensure clarity and specificity. Start by ensuring that your objectives are consistent and coherent with each other and with your research questions. 

Make Objectives SMART

A useful way to refine your objectives is to make them SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

  • Specific : Objectives should clearly state what you hope to achieve.
  • Measurable : They should be able to be quantified or evaluated.
  • Achievable : realistic and within the scope of the research study.
  • Relevant : They should be directly related to the research questions.
  • Time-bound : specific timeframe for research completion.

Review and Finalize Objectives

The final step is to review your objectives for coherence and alignment with your research questions and aim. Ensure your objectives are logically connected and consistent with each other and with the purpose of your study.

You also need to check that your objectives are not too broad or too narrow, too easy or too hard, too many or too few. You can use a checklist or a rubric to evaluate your objectives and make modifications.

Examples of Well-Written Research Objectives

Example 1- Psychology

Research question: What are the effects of social media use on teenagers’ mental health?

Objective : To determine the relationship between the amount of time teenagers in the US spend on social media and their levels of anxiety and depression before and after using social media.

What Makes the Research Objective SMART?

The research objective is specific because it clearly states what the researcher hopes to achieve. It is measurable because it can be quantified by measuring the levels of anxiety and depression in teenagers. 

Also, the objective is achievable because the researcher can collect enough data to answer the research question. It is relevant because it is directly related to the research question. It is time-bound because it has a specific deadline for completion.

Example 2- Marketing

Research question : How can a company increase its brand awareness by 10%?

Objective : To develop a marketing strategy that will increase the company’s sales by 10% within the next quarter.

How Is this Research Objective SMART?

The research states what the researcher hopes to achieve ( Specific ). You can also measure the company’s reach before and after the marketing plan is implemented ( Measurable ).

The research objective is also achievable because you can develop a marketing plan that will increase awareness by 10% within the timeframe. The objective is directly related to the research question ( Relevant ). It is also time-bound because it has a specific deadline for completion.

Research objectives are a well-designed roadmap to completing and achieving your overall research goal. 

However, research goals are only effective if they are well-defined and backed up with the best practices such as the SMART criteria. Properly defining research objectives will help you plan and conduct your research project effectively and efficiently.

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Research Aims and Objectives: The dynamic duo for successful research

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Picture yourself on a road trip without a destination in mind — driving aimlessly, not knowing where you’re headed or how to get there. Similarly, your research is navigated by well-defined research aims and objectives. Research aims and objectives are the foundation of any research project. They provide a clear direction and purpose for the study, ensuring that you stay focused and on track throughout the process. They are your trusted navigational tools, leading you to success.

Understanding the relationship between research objectives and aims is crucial to any research project’s success, and we’re here to break it down for you in this article. Here, we’ll explore the importance of research aims and objectives, understand their differences, and delve into the impact they have on the quality of research.

Understanding the Difference between Research Aims and Objectives

In research, aims and objectives are two important components but are often used interchangeably. Though they may sound similar, they are distinct and serve different purposes.

Research Aims:

Research aims are broad statements that describe the overall purpose of your study. They provide a general direction for your study and indicate the intended achievements of your research. Aims are usually written in a general and abstract manner describing the ultimate goal of the research.

Research Objectives:

Research objectives are specific, measurable, and achievable goals that you aim to accomplish within a specified timeframe. They break down the research aims into smaller, more manageable components and provide a clear picture of what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.

what is objective of research study

In the example, the objectives provide specific targets that must be achieved to reach the aim. Essentially, aims provide the overall direction for the research while objectives provide specific targets that must be achieved to accomplish the aims. Aims provide a broad context for the research, while the objectives provide smaller steps that the researcher must take to accomplish the overall research goals. To illustrate, when planning a road trip, your research aim is the destination you want to reach, and your research objectives are the specific routes you need to take to get there.

Aims and objectives are interconnected. Objectives play a key role in defining the research methodology, providing a roadmap for how you’ll collect and analyze data, while aim is the final destination, which represents the ultimate goal of your research. By setting specific goals, you’ll be able to design a research plan that helps you achieve your objectives and, ultimately, your research aim.

Importance of Well-defined Aims and Objectives

The impact of clear research aims and objectives on the quality of research cannot be understated. But it’s not enough to simply have aims and objectives. Well-defined research aims and objectives are important for several reasons:

  • Provides direction: Clear aims and well-defined objectives provide a specific direction for your research study, ensuring that the research stays focused on a specific topic or problem. This helps to prevent the research from becoming too broad or unfocused, and ensures that the study remains relevant and meaningful.
  • Guides research design: The research aim and objectives help guide the research design and methodology, ensuring that your study is designed in a way that will answer the research questions and achieve the research objectives.
  • Helps with resource allocation: Clear research aims and objectives helps you to allocate resources effectively , including time, financial resources, human resources, and other required materials. With a well-defined aim and objectives, you can identify the resources required to conduct the research, and allocate them in a way that maximizes efficiency and productivity.
  • Assists in evaluation: Clearly specified research aims and objectives allow for effective evaluation of your research project’s success. You can assess whether the research has achieved its objectives, and whether the aim has been met. This evaluation process can help to identify areas of the research project that may require further attention or modification.
  • Enhances communication: Well-defined research aims and objectives help to enhance communication among the research team, stakeholders, funding agencies, and other interested parties. Clear aims and objectives ensure that everyone involved in your research project understands the purpose and goals of the study. This can help to foster collaboration and ensure that everyone is working towards the same end goal.

How to Formulate Research Aims and Objectives

Formulating effective research aims and objectives involves a systematic process to ensure that they are clear, specific, achievable, and relevant. Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve through your research. What impact do you want your research to have? Once you have a clear understanding of your aims, you can then break them down into specific, achievable objectives. Here are some steps you can follow when developing research aims and objectives:

  • Identify the research question : Clearly identify the questions you want to answer through your research. This will help you define the scope of your research. Understanding the characteristics of a good research question will help you generate clearer aims and objectives.
  • Conduct literature review : When defining your research aim and objectives, it’s important to conduct a literature review to identify key concepts, theories, and methods related to your research problem or question. Conducting a thorough literature review can help you understand what research has been done in the area and what gaps exist in the literature.
  • Identify the research aim: Develop a research aim that summarizes the overarching goal of your research. The research aim should be broad and concise.
  • Develop research objectives: Based on your research questions and research aim, develop specific research objectives that outline what you intend to achieve through your research. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Use action verbs: Use action verbs such as “investigate,” “examine,” “analyze,” and “compare” to describe your research aims and objectives. This makes them more specific and measurable.
  • Ensure alignment with research question: Ensure that the research aim and objectives are aligned with the research question. This helps to ensure that the research remains focused and that the objectives are specific enough to answer your research question.
  • Refine and revise: Once the research aim and objectives have been developed, refine and revise them as needed. Seek feedback from your colleagues, mentors, or supervisors to ensure that they are clear, concise, and achievable within the given resources and timeframe.
  • Communicate: After finalizing the research aim and objectives, they should be communicated to the research team, stakeholders, and other interested parties. This helps to ensure that everyone is working towards the same end goal and understands the purpose of the study.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid While Formulating Aims and Objectives

There are several common mistakes that researchers can make when writing research aims and objectives. These include:

  • Being too broad or vague: Aims and objectives that are too general or unclear can lead to confusion and lack of focus. It is important to ensure that the aims and objectives are concise and clear.
  • Being too narrow or specific: On the other hand, aims and objectives that are too narrow or specific may limit the scope of the research and make it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions or implications.
  • Being too ambitious: While it is important to aim high, being too ambitious with the aims and objectives can lead to unrealistic expectations and can be difficult to achieve within the constraints of the research project.
  • Lack of alignment: The aims and objectives should be directly linked to the research questions being investigated. Otherwise, this will lead to a lack of coherence in the research project.
  • Lack of feasibility: The aims and objectives should be achievable within the constraints of the research project, including time, budget, and resources. Failing to consider feasibility may cause compromise of the research quality.
  • Failing to consider ethical considerations: The aims and objectives should take into account any ethical considerations, such as ensuring the safety and well-being of study participants.
  • Failing to involve all stakeholders: It’s important to involve all relevant stakeholders, such as participants, supervisors, and funding agencies, in the development of the aims and objectives to ensure they are appropriate and relevant.

To avoid these common pitfalls, it is important to be specific, clear, relevant, and realistic when writing research aims and objectives. Seek feedback from colleagues or supervisors to ensure that the aims and objectives are aligned with the research problem , questions, and methodology, and are achievable within the constraints of the research project. It’s important to continually refine your aims and objectives as you go. As you progress in your research, it’s not uncommon for research aims and objectives to evolve slightly, but it’s important that they remain consistent with the study conducted and the research topic.

In summary, research aims and objectives are the backbone of any successful research project. They give you the ability to cut through the noise and hone in on what really matters. By setting clear goals and aligning them with your research questions and methodology, you can ensure that your research is relevant, impactful, and of the highest quality. So, before you hit the road on your research journey, make sure you have a clear destination and steps to get there. Let us know in the comments section below the challenges you faced and the strategies you followed while fomulating research aims and objectives! Also, feel free to reach out to us at any stage of your research or publication by using #AskEnago  and tagging @EnagoAcademy on Twitter , Facebook , and Quora . Happy researching!

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The Importance Of Research Objectives

Imagine you’re a student planning a vacation in a foreign country. You’re on a tight budget and need to draw…

The Importance Of Research Objectives

Imagine you’re a student planning a vacation in a foreign country. You’re on a tight budget and need to draw up a pocket-friendly plan. Where do you begin? The first step is to do your research.

Before that, you make a mental list of your objectives—finding reasonably-priced hotels, traveling safely and finding ways of communicating with someone back home. These objectives help you focus sharply during your research and be aware of the finer details of your trip.

More often than not, research is a part of our daily lives. Whether it’s to pick a restaurant for your next birthday dinner or to prepare a presentation at work, good research is the foundation of effective learning. Read on to understand the meaning, importance and examples of research objectives.

Why Do We Need Research?

What are the objectives of research, what goes into a research plan.

Research is a careful and detailed study of a particular problem or concern, using scientific methods. An in-depth analysis of information creates space for generating new questions, concepts and understandings. The main objective of research is to explore the unknown and unlock new possibilities. It’s an essential component of success.

Over the years, businesses have started emphasizing the need for research. You’ve probably noticed organizations hiring research managers and analysts. The primary purpose of business research is to determine the goals and opportunities of an organization. It’s critical in making business decisions and appropriately allocating available resources.

Here are a few benefits of research that’ll explain why it is a vital aspect of our professional lives:

Expands Your Knowledge Base

One of the greatest benefits of research is to learn and gain a deeper understanding. The deeper you dig into a topic, the more well-versed you are. Furthermore, research has the power to help you build on any personal experience you have on the subject.

Keeps You Up To Date

Research encourages you to discover the most recent information available. Updated information prevents you from falling behind and helps you present accurate information. You’re better equipped to develop ideas or talk about a topic when you’re armed with the latest inputs.

Builds Your Credibility

Research provides you with a good foundation upon which you can develop your thoughts and ideas. People take you more seriously when your suggestions are backed by research. You can speak with greater confidence because you know that the information is accurate.

Sparks Connections

Take any leading nonprofit organization, you’ll see how they have a strong research arm supported by real-life stories. Research also becomes the base upon which real-life connections and impact can be made. It even helps you communicate better with others and conveys why you’re pursuing something.

Encourages Curiosity

As we’ve already established, research is mostly about using existing information to create new ideas and opinions. In the process, it sparks curiosity as you’re encouraged to explore and gain deeper insights into a subject. Curiosity leads to higher levels of positivity and lower levels of anxiety.

Well-defined objectives of research are an essential component of successful research engagement. If you want to drive all aspects of your research methodology such as data collection, design, analysis and recommendation, you need to lay down the objectives of research methodology. In other words, the objectives of research should address the underlying purpose of investigation and analysis. It should outline the steps you’d take to achieve desirable outcomes. Research objectives help you stay focused and adjust your expectations as you progress.

The objectives of research should be closely related to the problem statement, giving way to specific and achievable goals. Here are the four types of research objectives for you to explore:

General Objective

Also known as secondary objectives, general objectives provide a detailed view of the aim of a study. In other words, you get a general overview of what you want to achieve by the end of your study. For example, if you want to study an organization’s contribution to environmental sustainability, your general objective could be: a study of sustainable practices and the use of renewable energy by the organization.

Specific Objectives

Specific objectives define the primary aim of the study. Typically, general objectives provide the foundation for identifying specific objectives. In other words, when general objectives are broken down into smaller and logically connected objectives, they’re known as specific objectives. They help define the who, what, why, when and how aspects of your project. Once you identify the main objective of research, it’s easier to develop and pursue a plan of action.

Let’s take the example of ‘a study of an organization’s contribution to environmental sustainability’ again. The specific objectives will look like this:

To determine through history how the organization has changed its practices and adopted new solutions

To assess how the new practices, technology and strategies will contribute to the overall effectiveness

Once you’ve identified the objectives of research, it’s time to organize your thoughts and streamline your research goals. Here are a few effective tips to develop a powerful research plan and improve your business performance.

Set SMART Goals

Your research objectives should be SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-constrained. When you focus on utilizing available resources and setting realistic timeframes and milestones, it’s easier to prioritize objectives. Continuously track your progress and check whether you need to revise your expectations or targets. This way, you’re in greater control over the process.

Create A Plan

Create a plan that’ll help you select appropriate methods to collect accurate information. A well-structured plan allows you to use logical and creative approaches towards problem-solving. The complexity of information and your skills are bound to influence your plan, which is why you need to make room for flexibility. The availability of resources will also play a big role in influencing your decisions.

Collect And Collate

After you’ve created a plan for the research process, make a list of the data you’re going to collect and the methods you’ll use. Not only will it help make sense of your insights but also keep track of your approach. The information you collect should be:

Logical, rigorous and objective

Can be reproduced by other people working on the same subject

Free of errors and highlighting necessary details

Current and updated

Includes everything required to support your argument/suggestions

Analyze And Keep Ready

Data analysis is the most crucial part of the process and there are many ways in which the information can be utilized. Four types of data analysis are often seen in a professional environment. While they may be divided into separate categories, they’re linked to each other.

Descriptive Analysis:

The most commonly used data analysis, descriptive analysis simply summarizes past data. For example, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) use descriptive analysis. It establishes certain benchmarks after studying how someone has been performing in the past.

Diagnostic Analysis:

The next step is to identify why something happened. Diagnostic analysis uses the information gathered through descriptive analysis and helps find the underlying causes of an outcome. For example, if a marketing initiative was successful, you deep-dive into the strategies that worked.

Predictive Analysis:

It attempts to answer ‘what’s likely to happen’. Predictive analysis makes use of past data to predict future outcomes. However, the accuracy of predictions depends on the quality of the data provided. Risk assessment is an ideal example of using predictive analysis.

Prescriptive Analysis: 

The most sought-after type of data analysis, prescriptive analysis combines the insights of all of the previous analyses. It’s a huge organizational commitment as it requires plenty of effort and resources. A great example of prescriptive analysis is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which consumes large amounts of data. You need to be prepared to commit to this type of analysis.

Review And Interpret

Once you’ve collected and collated your data, it’s time to review it and draw accurate conclusions. Here are a few ways to improve the review process:

Identify the fundamental issues, opportunities and problems and make note of recurring trends if any

Make a list of your insights and check which is the most or the least common. In short, keep track of the frequency of each insight

Conduct a SWOT analysis and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Write down your conclusions and recommendations of the research

When we think about research, we often associate it with academicians and students. but the truth is research is for everybody who is willing to learn and enhance their knowledge. If you want to master the art of strategically upgrading your knowledge, Harappa Education’s Learning Expertly course has all the answers. Not only will it help you look at things from a fresh perspective but also show you how to acquire new information with greater efficiency. The Growth Mindset framework will teach you how to believe in your abilities to grow and improve. The Learning Transfer framework will help you apply your learnings from one context to another. Begin the journey of tactful learning and self-improvement today!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the THINK Habit such as  Learning From Experience ,  Critical Thinking  & What is  Brainstorming  to think clearly and rationally.

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Research Objectives: Meaning, Types

research objectives

A research objective addresses the purpose of the investigation and the types of knowledge generated from one’s investigation. It provides a framework for what is to be achieved by the study

What is the Research Objective?

A research objective addresses the purpose of the investigation and the types of knowledge generated from one’s investigation. Looking at the objectives of the research , one can anticipate what is to be achieved by the study.

A research objective indicates the population of interest and independent and dependent variables.

Many researchers state their research objective in the declarative form as a broad statement of purpose, such as the objective of this study is to examine the relationship between the initial salary (dependent variable) of those who are employed in NGOs (population of interest) and their previous job experience (independent variable).

The descriptive study does not always have variables that can be designated as independent or dependent.

In such a case, the objective indicates the nature of the inquiry, the study variables, and the population under study, as we find in the example.

This study aims to assess the women’s decision-making autonomy regarding their health care, their child’s health care, large household purchases, household purchases for daily needs, and visits to the women’s family or relatives.

In causal studies, the objectives are usually stated in the form of hypotheses.

Here is an example: Participation of women in household decision-making increases with age, their level of education, and the number of surviving children.

We can enumerate three major reasons for formulating the objectives of the research;

  • Focus the study on narrowing it down to essentials;
  • Avoid collection of data that are not strictly necessary for understanding and solving the problem at hand;
  • Organize the study in clearly defined components or phases.

While formulating the research objectives, we should keep in mind that the results will be compared to the objectives when the study is evaluated.

If the objectives have not been formulated clearly, the study cannot be evaluated as desired. It is because of this reason; we should take care that the objectives fulfill certain criteria;

  • They are realistic to fit the local environment.
  • They cover the different aspects of the problem.
  • They consider the contributing factors in a coherent way and logical sequence.
  • They consider ethical issues, if any.
  • They are phrased in operational terms.

Objectives should be closely related to the research problem statement, giving the sponsor specific, concrete, and achievable goals.

It is best to state the objectives of a study in general terms first and then move down to specific terms.

4 Types of Research Objectives

From this point of view, objectives are of two types: general and specific. We elaborate on these two concepts below, along with two more objectives: immediate objective and ultimate objective.

General Objective

The general objective of a study states what is expected to be achieved by the study in general terms.

For example, if the problem identified is the low utilization of Child Welfare Clinics (CWC), the general objective of the study could be:

  • Identify the reasons for the low utilization of Child Welfare Clinics to find solutions.

Similarly, in a study on anemia in pregnancy, the general objective could be stated as:

  • To study the changes in the hemoglobin level with an increase in the duration of pregnancy.

Or in a study to examine the contribution of goat farming to poverty alleviation, the general objective may be framed as follows:

  • To assess the impact of investment in goat farming for poverty alleviation in rural Bangladesh.

Specific Objectives

Given that we have rightly stated the general objectives, it is advisable to break it down into several smaller, logically connected parts. These are normally referred to as specific objectives.

Specific objectives should systematically address the various aspects of the problems defined under the problem statement and the key factors that are assumed to influence or cause the problems.

They should specify what you will do in your study, where this study will be done, and for what purpose.

If formulated properly, specific objectives will facilitate the development of the research methodology and help the researcher orient the collection, analysis, interpretation, and utilization of data.

Thus in the anemia survey just cited above, the specific objectives could be

  • To determine through history, the duration of pregnancy, parity, and the last birth interval of pregnant women in the study;
  • To assess the hemoglobin level of pregnant women using Sahli’s method;
  • To determine the changes in hemoglobin level with the duration of pregnancy, controlling for birth and parity.

Immediate Objectives

In addition to general objectives and specific objectives, a few studies, particularly evaluative studies, attempt to specify immediate objectives.

The immediate objective serves to indicate the focus of the proposed research in behavioral terms. The objective should specify the following points:

  • Why are we going to do the study?
  • Who will conduct the study?
  • When will the study be conducted?
  • What are we going to study?
  • Whom will the study cover?
  • How will the study be conducted?

The ‘why’  question addresses the rationale and objectives of the study.

The ‘whose’  question is designed to identify the individuals, firms, or organizations responsible for implementing the study.

The ‘when’  question seeks to know the study period.

The ‘what’  question addresses the issue of a statement of the problem, including the key variables.

The ‘ whom’ question seeks to answer the population to be studied.

The ‘ how’   question seeks to know the methodology to be followed, including the research design and sampling strategy to be employed.

Ultimate Objective

Most applied research studies have a statement of ultimate objective that focuses on how the results will be used to motivate the program managers and policymakers to implement and execute the recommendations from the survey results.

In the anemia survey, the ultimate objective may be stated as follows:

It is expected that the study’s findings will help enhance understanding of the effect of pregnancy on hemoglobin levels of mothers and thereby guide the physician’s incorrect iron therapy for pregnant women during the different gestational periods.

In the child nutrition survey cited above, the ultimate objectives were to highlight issues that policymakers and program managers need to address to improve the nutrition status of children in the country.

How are research objectives typically stated in causal studies?

What are the main reasons for formulating research objectives.

The main reasons for formulating research objectives are to focus the study, avoid unnecessary data collection, and organize the study in clearly defined components or phases.

What is the difference between general and specific research objectives?

The general objective of a study states the expected outcome in broad terms, while specific objectives break down the general objective into smaller, logically connected parts that address various aspects of the research problem.

What are the immediate objectives in research?

Immediate objectives indicate the focus of the proposed research in behavioral terms, specifying why, who, when, what, whom, and how the study will be conducted.

How does an ultimate objective differ from other research objectives?

The ultimate objective focuses on how the results of the research will be used, aiming to motivate program managers and policymakers to implement the recommendations derived from the study’s findings.

Why is it essential to state research objectives clearly?

Clear research objectives are crucial because the study’s results will be compared to these objectives when evaluating the study. If the objectives are not clearly formulated, the study cannot be evaluated as desired.

30 Accounting Research Paper Topics and Ideas for Writing

Research-Methodology

Formulating Research Aims and Objectives

Formulating research aim and objectives in an appropriate manner is one of the most important aspects of your thesis. This is because research aim and objectives determine the scope, depth and the overall direction of the research. Research question is the central question of the study that has to be answered on the basis of research findings.

Research aim emphasizes what needs to be achieved within the scope of the research, by the end of the research process. Achievement of research aim provides answer to the research question.

Research objectives divide research aim into several parts and address each part separately. Research aim specifies WHAT needs to be studied and research objectives comprise a number of steps that address HOW research aim will be achieved.

As a rule of dumb, there would be one research aim and several research objectives. Achievement of each research objective will lead to the achievement of the research aim.

Consider the following as an example:

Research title: Effects of organizational culture on business profitability: a case study of Virgin Atlantic

Research aim: To assess the effects of Virgin Atlantic organizational culture on business profitability

Following research objectives would facilitate the achievement of this aim:

  • Analyzing the nature of organizational culture at Virgin Atlantic by September 1, 2022
  • Identifying factors impacting Virgin Atlantic organizational culture by September 16, 2022
  • Analyzing impacts of Virgin Atlantic organizational culture on employee performances by September 30, 2022
  • Providing recommendations to Virgin Atlantic strategic level management in terms of increasing the level of effectiveness of organizational culture by October 5, 2022

Figure below illustrates additional examples in formulating research aims and objectives:

Formulating Research Aims and Objectives

Formulation of research question, aim and objectives

Common mistakes in the formulation of research aim relate to the following:

1. Choosing the topic too broadly . This is the most common mistake. For example, a research title of “an analysis of leadership practices” can be classified as too broad because the title fails to answer the following questions:

a) Which aspects of leadership practices? Leadership has many aspects such as employee motivation, ethical behaviour, strategic planning, change management etc. An attempt to cover all of these aspects of organizational leadership within a single research will result in an unfocused and poor work.

b) An analysis of leadership practices in which country? Leadership practices tend to be different in various countries due to cross-cultural differences, legislations and a range of other region-specific factors. Therefore, a study of leadership practices needs to be country-specific.

c) Analysis of leadership practices in which company or industry? Similar to the point above, analysis of leadership practices needs to take into account industry-specific and/or company-specific differences, and there is no way to conduct a leadership research that relates to all industries and organizations in an equal manner.

Accordingly, as an example “a study into the impacts of ethical behaviour of a leader on the level of employee motivation in US healthcare sector” would be a more appropriate title than simply “An analysis of leadership practices”.

2. Setting an unrealistic aim . Formulation of a research aim that involves in-depth interviews with Apple strategic level management by an undergraduate level student can be specified as a bit over-ambitious. This is because securing an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook or members of Apple Board of Directors might not be easy. This is an extreme example of course, but you got the idea. Instead, you may aim to interview the manager of your local Apple store and adopt a more feasible strategy to get your dissertation completed.

3. Choosing research methods incompatible with the timeframe available . Conducting interviews with 20 sample group members and collecting primary data through 2 focus groups when only three months left until submission of your dissertation can be very difficult, if not impossible. Accordingly, timeframe available need to be taken into account when formulating research aims and objectives and selecting research methods.

Moreover, research objectives need to be formulated according to SMART principle,

 where the abbreviation stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Examples of SMART research objectives

At the conclusion part of your research project you will need to reflect on the level of achievement of research aims and objectives. In case your research aims and objectives are not fully achieved by the end of the study, you will need to discuss the reasons. These may include initial inappropriate formulation of research aims and objectives, effects of other variables that were not considered at the beginning of the research or changes in some circumstances during the research process.

Research Aims and Objectives

John Dudovskiy

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Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

Patricia farrugia.

* Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, the

Bradley A. Petrisor

† Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and the

Forough Farrokhyar

‡ Departments of Surgery and

§ Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont

Mohit Bhandari

There is an increasing familiarity with the principles of evidence-based medicine in the surgical community. As surgeons become more aware of the hierarchy of evidence, grades of recommendations and the principles of critical appraisal, they develop an increasing familiarity with research design. Surgeons and clinicians are looking more and more to the literature and clinical trials to guide their practice; as such, it is becoming a responsibility of the clinical research community to attempt to answer questions that are not only well thought out but also clinically relevant. The development of the research question, including a supportive hypothesis and objectives, is a necessary key step in producing clinically relevant results to be used in evidence-based practice. A well-defined and specific research question is more likely to help guide us in making decisions about study design and population and subsequently what data will be collected and analyzed. 1

Objectives of this article

In this article, we discuss important considerations in the development of a research question and hypothesis and in defining objectives for research. By the end of this article, the reader will be able to appreciate the significance of constructing a good research question and developing hypotheses and research objectives for the successful design of a research study. The following article is divided into 3 sections: research question, research hypothesis and research objectives.

Research question

Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know “where the boundary between current knowledge and ignorance lies.” 1 The challenge in developing an appropriate research question is in determining which clinical uncertainties could or should be studied and also rationalizing the need for their investigation.

Increasing one’s knowledge about the subject of interest can be accomplished in many ways. Appropriate methods include systematically searching the literature, in-depth interviews and focus groups with patients (and proxies) and interviews with experts in the field. In addition, awareness of current trends and technological advances can assist with the development of research questions. 2 It is imperative to understand what has been studied about a topic to date in order to further the knowledge that has been previously gathered on a topic. Indeed, some granting institutions (e.g., Canadian Institute for Health Research) encourage applicants to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence if a recent review does not already exist and preferably a pilot or feasibility study before applying for a grant for a full trial.

In-depth knowledge about a subject may generate a number of questions. It then becomes necessary to ask whether these questions can be answered through one study or if more than one study needed. 1 Additional research questions can be developed, but several basic principles should be taken into consideration. 1 All questions, primary and secondary, should be developed at the beginning and planning stages of a study. Any additional questions should never compromise the primary question because it is the primary research question that forms the basis of the hypothesis and study objectives. It must be kept in mind that within the scope of one study, the presence of a number of research questions will affect and potentially increase the complexity of both the study design and subsequent statistical analyses, not to mention the actual feasibility of answering every question. 1 A sensible strategy is to establish a single primary research question around which to focus the study plan. 3 In a study, the primary research question should be clearly stated at the end of the introduction of the grant proposal, and it usually specifies the population to be studied, the intervention to be implemented and other circumstantial factors. 4

Hulley and colleagues 2 have suggested the use of the FINER criteria in the development of a good research question ( Box 1 ). The FINER criteria highlight useful points that may increase the chances of developing a successful research project. A good research question should specify the population of interest, be of interest to the scientific community and potentially to the public, have clinical relevance and further current knowledge in the field (and of course be compliant with the standards of ethical boards and national research standards).

FINER criteria for a good research question

Adapted with permission from Wolters Kluwer Health. 2

Whereas the FINER criteria outline the important aspects of the question in general, a useful format to use in the development of a specific research question is the PICO format — consider the population (P) of interest, the intervention (I) being studied, the comparison (C) group (or to what is the intervention being compared) and the outcome of interest (O). 3 , 5 , 6 Often timing (T) is added to PICO ( Box 2 ) — that is, “Over what time frame will the study take place?” 1 The PICOT approach helps generate a question that aids in constructing the framework of the study and subsequently in protocol development by alluding to the inclusion and exclusion criteria and identifying the groups of patients to be included. Knowing the specific population of interest, intervention (and comparator) and outcome of interest may also help the researcher identify an appropriate outcome measurement tool. 7 The more defined the population of interest, and thus the more stringent the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the greater the effect on the interpretation and subsequent applicability and generalizability of the research findings. 1 , 2 A restricted study population (and exclusion criteria) may limit bias and increase the internal validity of the study; however, this approach will limit external validity of the study and, thus, the generalizability of the findings to the practical clinical setting. Conversely, a broadly defined study population and inclusion criteria may be representative of practical clinical practice but may increase bias and reduce the internal validity of the study.

PICOT criteria 1

A poorly devised research question may affect the choice of study design, potentially lead to futile situations and, thus, hamper the chance of determining anything of clinical significance, which will then affect the potential for publication. Without devoting appropriate resources to developing the research question, the quality of the study and subsequent results may be compromised. During the initial stages of any research study, it is therefore imperative to formulate a research question that is both clinically relevant and answerable.

Research hypothesis

The primary research question should be driven by the hypothesis rather than the data. 1 , 2 That is, the research question and hypothesis should be developed before the start of the study. This sounds intuitive; however, if we take, for example, a database of information, it is potentially possible to perform multiple statistical comparisons of groups within the database to find a statistically significant association. This could then lead one to work backward from the data and develop the “question.” This is counterintuitive to the process because the question is asked specifically to then find the answer, thus collecting data along the way (i.e., in a prospective manner). Multiple statistical testing of associations from data previously collected could potentially lead to spuriously positive findings of association through chance alone. 2 Therefore, a good hypothesis must be based on a good research question at the start of a trial and, indeed, drive data collection for the study.

The research or clinical hypothesis is developed from the research question and then the main elements of the study — sampling strategy, intervention (if applicable), comparison and outcome variables — are summarized in a form that establishes the basis for testing, statistical and ultimately clinical significance. 3 For example, in a research study comparing computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus freehand acetabular component placement in patients in need of total hip arthroplasty, the experimental group would be computer-assisted insertion and the control/conventional group would be free-hand placement. The investigative team would first state a research hypothesis. This could be expressed as a single outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to improved functional outcome) or potentially as a complex/composite outcome; that is, more than one outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to both improved radiographic cup placement and improved functional outcome).

However, when formally testing statistical significance, the hypothesis should be stated as a “null” hypothesis. 2 The purpose of hypothesis testing is to make an inference about the population of interest on the basis of a random sample taken from that population. The null hypothesis for the preceding research hypothesis then would be that there is no difference in mean functional outcome between the computer-assisted insertion and free-hand placement techniques. After forming the null hypothesis, the researchers would form an alternate hypothesis stating the nature of the difference, if it should appear. The alternate hypothesis would be that there is a difference in mean functional outcome between these techniques. At the end of the study, the null hypothesis is then tested statistically. If the findings of the study are not statistically significant (i.e., there is no difference in functional outcome between the groups in a statistical sense), we cannot reject the null hypothesis, whereas if the findings were significant, we can reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternate hypothesis (i.e., there is a difference in mean functional outcome between the study groups), errors in testing notwithstanding. In other words, hypothesis testing confirms or refutes the statement that the observed findings did not occur by chance alone but rather occurred because there was a true difference in outcomes between these surgical procedures. The concept of statistical hypothesis testing is complex, and the details are beyond the scope of this article.

Another important concept inherent in hypothesis testing is whether the hypotheses will be 1-sided or 2-sided. A 2-sided hypothesis states that there is a difference between the experimental group and the control group, but it does not specify in advance the expected direction of the difference. For example, we asked whether there is there an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery or whether the outcomes worse with computer-assisted surgery. We presented a 2-sided test in the above example because we did not specify the direction of the difference. A 1-sided hypothesis states a specific direction (e.g., there is an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery). A 2-sided hypothesis should be used unless there is a good justification for using a 1-sided hypothesis. As Bland and Atlman 8 stated, “One-sided hypothesis testing should never be used as a device to make a conventionally nonsignificant difference significant.”

The research hypothesis should be stated at the beginning of the study to guide the objectives for research. Whereas the investigators may state the hypothesis as being 1-sided (there is an improvement with treatment), the study and investigators must adhere to the concept of clinical equipoise. According to this principle, a clinical (or surgical) trial is ethical only if the expert community is uncertain about the relative therapeutic merits of the experimental and control groups being evaluated. 9 It means there must exist an honest and professional disagreement among expert clinicians about the preferred treatment. 9

Designing a research hypothesis is supported by a good research question and will influence the type of research design for the study. Acting on the principles of appropriate hypothesis development, the study can then confidently proceed to the development of the research objective.

Research objective

The primary objective should be coupled with the hypothesis of the study. Study objectives define the specific aims of the study and should be clearly stated in the introduction of the research protocol. 7 From our previous example and using the investigative hypothesis that there is a difference in functional outcomes between computer-assisted acetabular component placement and free-hand placement, the primary objective can be stated as follows: this study will compare the functional outcomes of computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus free-hand placement in patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty. Note that the study objective is an active statement about how the study is going to answer the specific research question. Objectives can (and often do) state exactly which outcome measures are going to be used within their statements. They are important because they not only help guide the development of the protocol and design of study but also play a role in sample size calculations and determining the power of the study. 7 These concepts will be discussed in other articles in this series.

From the surgeon’s point of view, it is important for the study objectives to be focused on outcomes that are important to patients and clinically relevant. For example, the most methodologically sound randomized controlled trial comparing 2 techniques of distal radial fixation would have little or no clinical impact if the primary objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on intraoperative fluoroscopy time. However, if the objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on patient functional outcome at 1 year, this would have a much more significant impact on clinical decision-making. Second, more meaningful surgeon–patient discussions could ensue, incorporating patient values and preferences with the results from this study. 6 , 7 It is the precise objective and what the investigator is trying to measure that is of clinical relevance in the practical setting.

The following is an example from the literature about the relation between the research question, hypothesis and study objectives:

Study: Warden SJ, Metcalf BR, Kiss ZS, et al. Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for chronic patellar tendinopathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rheumatology 2008;47:467–71.

Research question: How does low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) compare with a placebo device in managing the symptoms of skeletally mature patients with patellar tendinopathy?

Research hypothesis: Pain levels are reduced in patients who receive daily active-LIPUS (treatment) for 12 weeks compared with individuals who receive inactive-LIPUS (placebo).

Objective: To investigate the clinical efficacy of LIPUS in the management of patellar tendinopathy symptoms.

The development of the research question is the most important aspect of a research project. A research project can fail if the objectives and hypothesis are poorly focused and underdeveloped. Useful tips for surgical researchers are provided in Box 3 . Designing and developing an appropriate and relevant research question, hypothesis and objectives can be a difficult task. The critical appraisal of the research question used in a study is vital to the application of the findings to clinical practice. Focusing resources, time and dedication to these 3 very important tasks will help to guide a successful research project, influence interpretation of the results and affect future publication efforts.

Tips for developing research questions, hypotheses and objectives for research studies

  • Perform a systematic literature review (if one has not been done) to increase knowledge and familiarity with the topic and to assist with research development.
  • Learn about current trends and technological advances on the topic.
  • Seek careful input from experts, mentors, colleagues and collaborators to refine your research question as this will aid in developing the research question and guide the research study.
  • Use the FINER criteria in the development of the research question.
  • Ensure that the research question follows PICOT format.
  • Develop a research hypothesis from the research question.
  • Develop clear and well-defined primary and secondary (if needed) objectives.
  • Ensure that the research question and objectives are answerable, feasible and clinically relevant.

FINER = feasible, interesting, novel, ethical, relevant; PICOT = population (patients), intervention (for intervention studies only), comparison group, outcome of interest, time.

Competing interests: No funding was received in preparation of this paper. Dr. Bhandari was funded, in part, by a Canada Research Chair, McMaster University.

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Research objective

A research objective, also known as a goal or an objective, is a sentence or question that summarizes the purpose of your study or test. In other words, it’s an idea you want to understand deeper by performing research. Objectives should be the driving force behind every task you assign and each question that you ask. These objectives should be centered on specific features or processes of your product. By having a solid understanding of the information you need when running your usability study, you’ll be able to better stay on track throughout your development process.

How do I write a research objective? 

Before you write your objective, you need a problem statement , which you can source from your support team and the frequent customer issues they encounter, negative customer reviews , or feedback from social media. From there, your objective might look like, “Do people find value in this new product idea?” or “How do our competitors describe their offerings compared to us?”

Many UX researchers agree that the more specific the objectives, the easier it is to write tasks and questions. Subsequently, it’ll also be easier to extract answers later on in the analysis. In addition, your objective doesn’t have to spark one angle alone; it could have the potential to inspire multiple test directions. For instance, take this research objective, “I want to understand and resolve the barriers customers face when looking for answers about products and services on our website.”

From this one objective, potential study angles could be: 

  • Content quality: Learn whether the FAQ questions anticipate users’ needs and if the answers are sufficiently detailed and directive. 
  • FAQ accessibility: Can customers easily find the FAQ section? What access points should we consider?
  • FAQ concept test: Is the design approach we’re considering for the proposed redesign understandable? What can we do to optimize it?

As you can see, the above objective can be branched out to address content, usability, and design. For further inspiration, collaborate with the product’s stakeholders. You can start the conversation at a high level by determining what features or processes they want test participants to review, like a navigation menu or website messaging. 

And before you put a stamp of approval on a research objective, ask for feedback from your team. Two researchers could write very different test plans when an objective is unclear or misaligned. For example, one researcher may hone in on design while another focuses on usability. Meanwhile, another may keep their objective more broad while another writes on that’s more detailed. And while the findings from either case would be insightful, they might not match up with what the team actually needs to learn. So to summarize, start the process with a problem statement, loop in stakeholders early if applicable, and ensure your team is aligned on your objective(s). 

When should I write a research objective—and how should they be prioritized? 

Writing and refining your research objective should come after you have a clear problem statement and before you decide on a research method and test plan to execute your study. 

After you’ve written a rough draft of your research objective, the ink might not even be dry when stakeholders could get involved by offering you an abundance of objectives. To figure out what to tackle first, ask your stakeholders to prioritize their needs. This step could happen via email or in a meeting, but another method could be to list out all of the possible objectives in a Google form and have everyone rearrange the list into their ideal order. 

And if stakeholders haven’t handed you a list of objectives and you’re on your own for brainstorming and prioritizing, opt for the objective that’s tied to a KPI—from increasing website conversions to driving more daily active users in your SaaS product. This will help you size up the relevance and impact your research has on the metrics your business is measuring. The added benefit here is when you’re asked about the impact of that research, you can tie back your ROI calculations to tangible and relatable objectives that you know the business is tracking.

How many research objectives do I need? 

The type of research you do will depend on the stage of product development you’re in. Each stage of development has different research objectives—and different questions that need to be answered. And once you’ve decided on a problem statement, you could either have one or multiple research objectives that tie back to that statement. Typically, this means that you’ll want to select one to three objectives; the less you have, the more manageable your test (and timeline) will be. 

For more, the UserTesting template library is a great place to start for common questions that you need answers to or inspiration for your research objective.

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21 Research Objectives Examples (Copy and Paste)

research aim and research objectives, explained below

Research objectives refer to the definitive statements made by researchers at the beginning of a research project detailing exactly what a research project aims to achieve.

These objectives are explicit goals clearly and concisely projected by the researcher to present a clear intention or course of action for his or her qualitative or quantitative study. 

Research objectives are typically nested under one overarching research aim. The objectives are the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve the aim (see the examples below, for example, which demonstrate an aim followed by 3 objectives, which is what I recommend to my research students).

Research Objectives vs Research Aims

Research aim and research objectives are fundamental constituents of any study, fitting together like two pieces of the same puzzle.

The ‘research aim’ describes the overarching goal or purpose of the study (Kumar, 2019). This is usually a broad, high-level purpose statement, summing up the central question that the research intends to answer.

Example of an Overarching Research Aim:

“The aim of this study is to explore the impact of climate change on crop productivity.” 

Comparatively, ‘research objectives’ are concrete goals that underpin the research aim, providing stepwise actions to achieve the aim.

Objectives break the primary aim into manageable, focused pieces, and are usually characterized as being more specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Examples of Specific Research Objectives:

1. “To examine the effects of rising temperatures on the yield of rice crops during the upcoming growth season.” 2. “To assess changes in rainfall patterns in major agricultural regions over the first decade of the twenty-first century (2000-2010).” 3. “To analyze the impact of changing weather patterns on crop diseases within the same timeframe.”

The distinction between these two terms, though subtle, is significant for successfully conducting a study. The research aim provides the study with direction, while the research objectives set the path to achieving this aim, thereby ensuring the study’s efficiency and effectiveness.

How to Write Research Objectives

I usually recommend to my students that they use the SMART framework to create their research objectives.

SMART is an acronym standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It provides a clear method of defining solid research objectives and helps students know where to start in writing their objectives (Locke & Latham, 2013).

Each element of this acronym adds a distinct dimension to the framework, aiding in the creation of comprehensive, well-delineated objectives.

Here is each step:

  • Specific : We need to avoid ambiguity in our objectives. They need to be clear and precise (Doran, 1981). For instance, rather than stating the objective as “to study the effects of social media,” a more focused detail would be “to examine the effects of social media use (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) on the academic performance of college students.”
  • Measurable: The measurable attribute provides a clear criterion to determine if the objective has been met (Locke & Latham, 2013). A quantifiable element, such as a percentage or a number, adds a measurable quality. For example, “to increase response rate to the annual customer survey by 10%,” makes it easier to ascertain achievement.
  • Achievable: The achievable aspect encourages researchers to craft realistic objectives, resembling a self-check mechanism to ensure the objectives align with the scope and resources at disposal (Doran, 1981). For example, “to interview 25 participants selected randomly from a population of 100” is an attainable objective as long as the researcher has access to these participants.
  • Relevance : Relevance, the fourth element, compels the researcher to tailor the objectives in alignment with overarching goals of the study (Locke & Latham, 2013). This is extremely important – each objective must help you meet your overall one-sentence ‘aim’ in your study.
  • Time-Bound: Lastly, the time-bound element fosters a sense of urgency and prioritization, preventing procrastination and enhancing productivity (Doran, 1981). “To analyze the effect of laptop use in lectures on student engagement over the course of two semesters this year” expresses a clear deadline, thus serving as a motivator for timely completion.

You’re not expected to fit every single element of the SMART framework in one objective, but across your objectives, try to touch on each of the five components.

Research Objectives Examples

1. Field: Psychology

Aim: To explore the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance in college students.

  • Objective 1: To compare cognitive test scores of students with less than six hours of sleep and those with 8 or more hours of sleep.
  • Objective 2: To investigate the relationship between class grades and reported sleep duration.
  • Objective 3: To survey student perceptions and experiences on how sleep deprivation affects their cognitive capabilities.

2. Field: Environmental Science

Aim: To understand the effects of urban green spaces on human well-being in a metropolitan city.

  • Objective 1: To assess the physical and mental health benefits of regular exposure to urban green spaces.
  • Objective 2: To evaluate the social impacts of urban green spaces on community interactions.
  • Objective 3: To examine patterns of use for different types of urban green spaces. 

3. Field: Technology

Aim: To investigate the influence of using social media on productivity in the workplace.

  • Objective 1: To measure the amount of time spent on social media during work hours.
  • Objective 2: To evaluate the perceived impact of social media use on task completion and work efficiency.
  • Objective 3: To explore whether company policies on social media usage correlate with different patterns of productivity.

4. Field: Education

Aim: To examine the effectiveness of online vs traditional face-to-face learning on student engagement and achievement.

  • Objective 1: To compare student grades between the groups exposed to online and traditional face-to-face learning.
  • Objective 2: To assess student engagement levels in both learning environments.
  • Objective 3: To collate student perceptions and preferences regarding both learning methods.

5. Field: Health

Aim: To determine the impact of a Mediterranean diet on cardiac health among adults over 50.

  • Objective 1: To assess changes in cardiovascular health metrics after following a Mediterranean diet for six months.
  • Objective 2: To compare these health metrics with a similar group who follow their regular diet.
  • Objective 3: To document participants’ experiences and adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

6. Field: Environmental Science

Aim: To analyze the impact of urban farming on community sustainability.

  • Objective 1: To document the types and quantity of food produced through urban farming initiatives.
  • Objective 2: To assess the effect of urban farming on local communities’ access to fresh produce.
  • Objective 3: To examine the social dynamics and cooperative relationships in the creating and maintaining of urban farms.

7. Field: Sociology

Aim: To investigate the influence of home offices on work-life balance during remote work.

  • Objective 1: To survey remote workers on their perceptions of work-life balance since setting up home offices.
  • Objective 2: To conduct an observational study of daily work routines and family interactions in a home office setting.
  • Objective 3: To assess the correlation, if any, between physical boundaries of workspaces and mental boundaries for work in the home setting.

8. Field: Economics

Aim: To evaluate the effects of minimum wage increases on small businesses.

  • Objective 1: To analyze cost structures, pricing changes, and profitability of small businesses before and after minimum wage increases.
  • Objective 2: To survey small business owners on the strategies they employ to navigate minimum wage increases.
  • Objective 3: To examine employment trends in small businesses in response to wage increase legislation.

9. Field: Education

Aim: To explore the role of extracurricular activities in promoting soft skills among high school students.

  • Objective 1: To assess the variety of soft skills developed through different types of extracurricular activities.
  • Objective 2: To compare self-reported soft skills between students who participate in extracurricular activities and those who do not.
  • Objective 3: To investigate the teachers’ perspectives on the contribution of extracurricular activities to students’ skill development.

10. Field: Technology

Aim: To assess the impact of virtual reality (VR) technology on the tourism industry.

  • Objective 1: To document the types and popularity of VR experiences available in the tourism market.
  • Objective 2: To survey tourists on their interest levels and satisfaction rates with VR tourism experiences.
  • Objective 3: To determine whether VR tourism experiences correlate with increased interest in real-life travel to the simulated destinations.

11. Field: Biochemistry

Aim: To examine the role of antioxidants in preventing cellular damage.

  • Objective 1: To identify the types and quantities of antioxidants in common fruits and vegetables.
  • Objective 2: To determine the effects of various antioxidants on free radical neutralization in controlled lab tests.
  • Objective 3: To investigate potential beneficial impacts of antioxidant-rich diets on long-term cellular health.

12. Field: Linguistics

Aim: To determine the influence of early exposure to multiple languages on cognitive development in children.

  • Objective 1: To assess cognitive development milestones in monolingual and multilingual children.
  • Objective 2: To document the number and intensity of language exposures for each group in the study.
  • Objective 3: To investigate the specific cognitive advantages, if any, enjoyed by multilingual children.

13. Field: Art History

Aim: To explore the impact of the Renaissance period on modern-day art trends.

  • Objective 1: To identify key characteristics and styles of Renaissance art.
  • Objective 2: To analyze modern art pieces for the influence of the Renaissance style.
  • Objective 3: To survey modern-day artists for their inspirations and the influence of historical art movements on their work.

14. Field: Cybersecurity

Aim: To assess the effectiveness of two-factor authentication (2FA) in preventing unauthorized system access.

  • Objective 1: To measure the frequency of unauthorized access attempts before and after the introduction of 2FA.
  • Objective 2: To survey users about their experiences and challenges with 2FA implementation.
  • Objective 3: To evaluate the efficacy of different types of 2FA (SMS-based, authenticator apps, biometrics, etc.).

15. Field: Cultural Studies

Aim: To analyze the role of music in cultural identity formation among ethnic minorities.

  • Objective 1: To document the types and frequency of traditional music practices within selected ethnic minority communities.
  • Objective 2: To survey community members on the role of music in their personal and communal identity.
  • Objective 3: To explore the resilience and transmission of traditional music practices in contemporary society.

16. Field: Astronomy

Aim: To explore the impact of solar activity on satellite communication.

  • Objective 1: To categorize different types of solar activities and their frequencies of occurrence.
  • Objective 2: To ascertain how variations in solar activity may influence satellite communication.
  • Objective 3: To investigate preventative and damage-control measures currently in place during periods of high solar activity.

17. Field: Literature

Aim: To examine narrative techniques in contemporary graphic novels.

  • Objective 1: To identify a range of narrative techniques employed in this genre.
  • Objective 2: To analyze the ways in which these narrative techniques engage readers and affect story interpretation.
  • Objective 3: To compare narrative techniques in graphic novels to those found in traditional printed novels.

18. Field: Renewable Energy

Aim: To investigate the feasibility of solar energy as a primary renewable resource within urban areas.

  • Objective 1: To quantify the average sunlight hours across urban areas in different climatic zones. 
  • Objective 2: To calculate the potential solar energy that could be harnessed within these areas.
  • Objective 3: To identify barriers or challenges to widespread solar energy implementation in urban settings and potential solutions.

19. Field: Sports Science

Aim: To evaluate the role of pre-game rituals in athlete performance.

  • Objective 1: To identify the variety and frequency of pre-game rituals among professional athletes in several sports.
  • Objective 2: To measure the impact of pre-game rituals on individual athletes’ performance metrics.
  • Objective 3: To examine the psychological mechanisms that might explain the effects (if any) of pre-game ritual on performance.

20. Field: Ecology

Aim: To investigate the effects of urban noise pollution on bird populations.

  • Objective 1: To record and quantify urban noise levels in various bird habitats.
  • Objective 2: To measure bird population densities in relation to noise levels.
  • Objective 3: To determine any changes in bird behavior or vocalization linked to noise levels.

21. Field: Food Science

Aim: To examine the influence of cooking methods on the nutritional value of vegetables.

  • Objective 1: To identify the nutrient content of various vegetables both raw and after different cooking processes.
  • Objective 2: To compare the effect of various cooking methods on the nutrient retention of these vegetables.
  • Objective 3: To propose cooking strategies that optimize nutrient retention.

The Importance of Research Objectives

The importance of research objectives cannot be overstated. In essence, these guideposts articulate what the researcher aims to discover, understand, or examine (Kothari, 2014).

When drafting research objectives, it’s essential to make them simple and comprehensible, specific to the point of being quantifiable where possible, achievable in a practical sense, relevant to the chosen research question, and time-constrained to ensure efficient progress (Kumar, 2019). 

Remember that a good research objective is integral to the success of your project, offering a clear path forward for setting out a research design , and serving as the bedrock of your study plan. Each objective must distinctly address a different dimension of your research question or problem (Kothari, 2014). Always bear in mind that the ultimate purpose of your research objectives is to succinctly encapsulate your aims in the clearest way possible, facilitating a coherent, comprehensive and rational approach to your planned study, and furnishing a scientific roadmap for your journey into the depths of knowledge and research (Kumar, 2019). 

Kothari, C.R (2014). Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques . New Delhi: New Age International.

Kumar, R. (2019). Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners .New York: SAGE Publications.

Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management review, 70 (11), 35-36.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2013). New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance . New York: Routledge.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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Research Method

Home » Purpose of Research – Objectives and Applications

Purpose of Research – Objectives and Applications

Table of Contents

Purpose of Research

Purpose of Research

Definition:

The purpose of research is to systematically investigate and gather information on a particular topic or issue, with the aim of answering questions, solving problems, or advancing knowledge.

The purpose of research can vary depending on the field of study, the research question, and the intended audience. In general, research can be used to:

  • Generate new knowledge and theories
  • Test existing theories or hypotheses
  • Identify trends or patterns
  • Gather information for decision-making
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of programs, policies, or interventions
  • Develop new technologies or products
  • Identify new opportunities or areas for further study.

Objectives of Research

The objectives of research may vary depending on the field of study and the specific research question being investigated. However, some common objectives of research include:

  • To explore and describe a phenomenon: Research can be conducted to describe and understand a phenomenon or situation in greater detail.
  • To test a hypothesis or theory : Research can be used to test a specific hypothesis or theory by collecting and analyzing data.
  • To identify patterns or trends: Research can be conducted to identify patterns or trends in data, which can provide insights into the behavior of a system or population.
  • To evaluate a program or intervention: Research can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a program or intervention, such as a new drug or educational intervention.
  • To develop new knowledge or technology : Research can be conducted to develop new knowledge or technologies that can be applied to solve practical problems.
  • To inform policy decisions: Research can provide evidence to inform policy decisions and improve public policy.
  • To improve existing knowledge: Research can be conducted to improve existing knowledge and fill gaps in the current understanding of a topic.

Applications of Research

Research has a wide range of applications across various fields and industries. Here are some examples:

  • Medicine : Research is critical in developing new treatments and drugs for diseases. Researchers conduct clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of new medications and therapies. They also study the underlying causes of diseases to find new ways to prevent or treat them.
  • Technology : Research is crucial in developing new technologies and improving existing ones. Researchers work to develop new software, hardware, and other technological innovations that can be used in various industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
  • Education : Research is essential in the field of education to develop new teaching methods and strategies. Researchers conduct studies to determine the effectiveness of various educational approaches and to identify factors that influence student learning.
  • Business : Research is critical in helping businesses make informed decisions. Market research can help businesses understand their target audience and identify trends in the market. Research can also help businesses improve their products and services.
  • Environmental Science : Research is crucial in the field of environmental science to understand the impact of human activities on the environment. Researchers conduct studies to identify ways to reduce pollution, protect natural resources, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Goal of Research

The ultimate goal of research is to advance our understanding of the world and to contribute to the development of new theories, ideas, and technologies that can be used to improve our lives. Some more common Goals are follows:

  • Explore and discover new knowledge : Research can help uncover new information and insights that were previously unknown.
  • Test hypotheses and theories : Research can be used to test and validate theories and hypotheses, allowing researchers to refine and develop their ideas.
  • Solve practical problems: Research can be used to identify solutions to real-world problems and to inform policy and decision-making.
  • Improve understanding : Research can help improve our understanding of complex phenomena and systems, such as the human body, the natural world, and social systems.
  • Develop new technologies and innovations : Research can lead to the development of new technologies, products, and innovations that can improve our lives and society.
  • Contribute to the development of academic fields : Research can help advance academic fields by expanding our knowledge and understanding of important topics and areas of inquiry.

Importance of Research

The importance of research lies in its ability to generate new knowledge and insights, to test existing theories and ideas, and to solve practical problems.

Some of the key reasons why research is important are:

  • Advancing knowledge: Research is essential for advancing knowledge and understanding in various fields. It enables us to explore and discover new concepts, ideas, and phenomena that can contribute to scientific and technological progress.
  • Solving problems : Research can help identify and solve practical problems and challenges in various domains, such as health care, agriculture, engineering, and social policy.
  • Innovation : Research is a critical driver of innovation, as it enables the development of new products, services, and technologies that can improve people’s lives and contribute to economic growth.
  • Evidence-based decision-making : Research provides evidence and data that can inform decision-making in various fields, such as policy-making, business strategy, and healthcare.
  • Personal and professional development : Engaging in research can also contribute to personal and professional development, as it requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

When to use Research

Research should be used in situations where there is a need to gather new information, test existing theories, or solve problems. Some common scenarios where research is often used include:

  • Scientific inquiry : Research is essential for advancing scientific knowledge and understanding, and for exploring new concepts, theories, and phenomena.
  • Business and market analysis: Research is critical for businesses to gather data and insights about the market, customer preferences, and competition, to inform decision-making and strategy development.
  • Social policy and public administration: Research is often used in social policy and public administration to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies, and to identify areas where improvements are needed.
  • Healthcare: Research is essential in healthcare to develop new treatments, improve existing ones, and to understand the causes and mechanisms of diseases.
  • Education : Research is critical in education to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching methods and programs, and to develop new approaches to learning.

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In the spotlight: Performance management that puts people first

In volatile times, companies are under outsize pressure to respond to economic, technological, and social changes. Effective performance management systems can be a powerful part of this response. They’re designed to help people get better in their work, and they offer clarity in career development and professional performance. And then there’s the big picture: companies that focus on their people’s performance are 4.2 times more likely to outperform their peers, realizing an average 30 percent higher revenue growth and experiencing attrition five percentage points lower (see sidebar, “About the research”). Companies that focus on their people and organizational health also reap dividends in culture, collaboration, and innovation—as well as sustained competitive performance. 1 Alex Camp, Arne Gast, Drew Goldstein, and Brooke Weddle, “ Organizational health is (still) the key to long-term performance ,” McKinsey, February 12, 2024.

Today, company leaders lack full confidence in most performance management systems—despite these systems’ importance and value—citing fragmentation, the existence of informal or “shadow” systems, misalignment, and inconsistency as common challenges. What sort of systems fit the company’s needs? Should rewards focus on individual or team goals? Where are limited resources best spent?

About the research

The insights in this article draw from a comprehensive review of industry best practices, including the experiences of more than 30 global companies across sectors, as well as research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) into how companies gain a competitive edge and deliver top-tier financial results. Specifically, MGI studied more than 1,800 companies with revenues of greater than $100 million. 1 Performance through people: Transforming human capital into competitive advantage ; MGI, February 2, 2023. The article’s author team also completed a study of more than 50 companies’ performance management practices, aiming to provide a nuanced understanding of how organizations approach and execute performance management.

An understanding of the four basic elements of performance management—goal setting, performance reviews, ongoing development, and rewards—provides a foundation for answering these questions and more. Of course, the right performance management system will vary by organization. Leaders who embrace a fit-for-purpose design built on a proven set of core innovations can build motivational and meritocratic companies that attract and retain outstanding employees.

How leading companies approach performance management

Our research across a set of global companies found that despite widespread agreement about certain performance management best practices—such as offering regular feedback outside of an annual review—many companies remain stuck in old ways of working. There are many design choices that can determine the characteristics of a performance management system, but some are more critical than others (Exhibit 1). These decisions—and how they interact with each other—will help determine how the performance management system maps onto the company’s overarching strategy.

Goal setting

Two critical design decisions relate to goal setting: the number of performance management systems used and whether to prioritize individual or team performance goals.

Degree of differentiation. The simplest and best option for many organizations is a single performance management system to address the needs of all employees. However, in more-complex companies with several employee groups, more than one system might be necessary. Manufacturing companies, for instance, may employ three performance management systems with few commonalities: one for sales, in which sales agents are provided direct incentives for the number of goods sold; one for production, with a monthly rhythm focusing on improving core production KPIs; and one for executives, in which the focus might be related more to annual objectives and leadership behavior.

Considerations for these choices often revolve around the nature of the work and the ease of quantifying outputs. For roles in which performance can be easily measured through tangible metrics, such as sales and production, a system emphasizing quantifiable outcomes may be more suitable. On the other hand, for roles involving tasks that are less easily measured, such as those in R&D, a performance management system should be designed to accommodate the nuanced and less tangible aspects of their contributions.

The nucleus of performance. Many organizations have traditionally placed a strong emphasis on individual performance, rooted in the belief that individual accountability drives results. In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift toward recognizing the importance of the team in achieving overall organizational success.

At a large European online retailer, for instance, the focus of performance management has been put on the team rather than the individual. Goals are set for the team, feedback is given to the team, and the performance appraisal is conducted for the team. Example performance metrics for teams can include project completion timelines, cross-functional collaboration success, and the achievement of collective milestones. On an individual level, the company assesses performance using a sophisticated model that prescribes skills and behaviors for 14 job families, each with up to four hierarchies.

Another prominent company in the automotive industry underscores the team as the cornerstone of performance. The teams could be defined along both functional and organizational lines—such as the division or the business line—and the company linked the organizational lines’ performance to the individuals’ compensation.

Performance reviews

Performance reviews raise the question of how to balance the individual objectives and their appraisal with respect to the “what” and the “how,” as well as whether review responsibility should lie primarily with managers, committees, or a combination of both.

Performance formula: What versus how. The balance between setting objectives and assessing what employees accomplish and how they go about their work is the central focus here. To measure the “what,” reviews have traditionally used KPIs, concentrating on quantifiable metrics and specific targets and emphasizing measurable outcomes and achievements. 2 For more on metrics best practices and how they can help leaders avoid pitfalls in their performance management systems, see Raffaele Carpi, John Douglas, and Frédéric Gascon, “ Performance management: Why keeping score is so important, and so hard ,” McKinsey, October 4, 2017.

However, for many roles and in many segments of the company, the work is complex, multifaceted, and fast-paced and can be difficult to capture with rather static KPIs. Consequently, many companies have reverted to using objective key results (OKRs) to link results to defined objectives. The objectives represent the qualitative, aspirational goals an individual or team aims to achieve, while the key results are the quantifiable metrics used to measure progress toward those objectives. The objectives provide context and direction, capturing the broader strategic intent behind the measurable key results.

Companies that explicitly focus a portion of performance reviews on the “how” consider qualities such as collaboration, communication, adaptability, and ethical decision making. Considering behavior and conduct, in particular, can help assess leaders whose teams’ outcomes are hard to measure—such as long-term projects, complex initiatives, or qualitative improvements that may not have easily quantifiable metrics. About three in five companies in our sample look at a mix of both what and how, which can equip managers with a more comprehensive understanding of not only tangible results but also the underlying approach and mindset that contributed to those outcomes.

Review responsibility. In structuring accountability for conducting performance reviews, companies tend to lean on managers, committees, or a combination of both.

Managers should play a central role, and their discretion should be a significant factor in performance assessments because they can judge the context in which an employee has been working. For example, when evaluating performance, it’s crucial to consider the headwinds and tailwinds that the business, team, or employee faced during the evaluation period. External factors, market conditions, and organizational dynamics can significantly affect an employee’s ability to achieve their goals, and considering them helps provide a fair and contextual assessment.

In this context, another design question emerges: whether to appraise employees against OKR fulfilment or the effort they put into achieving the desired outcome. Particularly in many large digital players, OKRs are set as “moonshot” goals—objectives so ambitious they are difficult to achieve. Managers can help ensure that, at the end of the performance cycle, an employee is assessed against not only OKR fulfillment but also—and to an even greater degree—how hard they tried given the resources available to them.

Managers’ points of view, formed with knowledge of the circumstances that produced employees’ performance, produce richer assessments that are sensitive to context—given that managers work closely with their team members and have firsthand knowledge of the challenges, workloads, and specific situations that each employee encounters.

Committees, meanwhile, bring diverse perspectives and can mitigate biases that might arise from individual managers’ subjectivity. Committees can provide a checks-and-balances system, promoting consistency and standardization in the evaluation process.

A combination of these two approaches can be an effective solution. Senior managers and high performers across hierarchies could be discussed in committees, while the rest of the workforce could be evaluated by their direct managers. This integrated approach leverages the contextual insights of managers while also incorporating the diverse viewpoints and standardization that committees offer, particularly for more-senior or high-impact roles.

Regardless of the review responsibility structure, it’s worth noting that more and more managers, committees, and employees are using generative AI (gen AI) to aggregate and extract information to inform performance reviews. For example, some employees may toil to define clear, specific, and measurable goals that align with their career aspirations; gen AI can help create a first draft and iterate based on their role, helping the employee focus on their specific growth areas as well as gauge improvement on an ongoing basis. Managers and committees, meanwhile, used to spend a lot of time gathering performance metrics from different sources and systems for employee evaluation. Gen AI can aggregate input from various sources into a consolidated format to provide managers with a more comprehensive starting point for reviews.

Beyond employees’ formal professional-development opportunities, their managers’ capability to set goals, appraise performance fairly and motivationally, and provide feedback is one of the most critical success factors for an effective performance management system. As a result, many companies have pivoted to invest in focused capability building.

Ongoing development

Another key aspect to consider when designing a performance management system is the focus of the assessment: will it evaluate past performances, or will the emphasis be placed on creating an understanding and foundation for further growth?

A backward-looking assessment will focus on fulfillment of the what and how objectives to create a fair basis for ranking and related consequences. However, many companies are pivoting to complement this assessment or are even focusing entirely on a developmental appraisal. In this approach, the focus is on truly understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the individual as a basis for further development, capability building, and personal growth.

Against that backdrop, rather than concentrating solely on top performers, an inclusive developmental system should cater to the growth needs of employees across all levels and backgrounds. McKinsey research emphasizes the importance of ongoing development for all employees, including—crucially—efforts tailored specifically for women 3 Women in the Workplace 2023 , McKinsey, October 5, 2023. and other underrepresented groups. 4 Diversity matters even more: The case for holistic impact , McKinsey, December 5, 2023. Such development programs not only foster a more equitable culture but also help unlock the full potential of the entire workforce.

Traditionally, many companies have used relative ratings to compare and rank employees against one another, often resulting in a forced distribution or curve. Employees are placed into categories or tiers based on their relative performance, with a predetermined percentage falling into each category (for example, top 10 percent, middle 70 percent, and bottom 20 percent).

Many companies today are simplifying their ratings systems so employees understand where they stand while shifting toward development approaches tailored to individuals’ strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to identify areas for growth and provide targeted support to help employees enhance their capabilities and skills.

While assessing performance remains important, the emphasis should be on using those assessments as a starting point for identifying developmental opportunities, with an understanding of both strengths and weaknesses and the specific development needs to improve performance. The focus shifts from mere evaluation to understanding the underlying factors that contribute to an individual’s performance, be it skills gaps, mindsets, or environmental factors.

Four reward categories—compensation, career progression, development opportunities, and recognition—remain the core pillars of an effective performance management system. Most leading companies provide individual rewards (as opposed to team- or corporate-driven ones), with equal relevance given to short- and long-term incentives, looking at impact holistically and balancing investment in all four reward categories.

Under certain circumstances, it may make sense to emphasize financial rewards, particularly in sales functions or other roles where monetary incentives are highly valued. Indeed, some organizations may double down on monetary compensation, offering significantly higher pay packages to their top performers, because money is seen as a key motivator in these roles.

In other cases, it may be more effective to take money off the table and emphasize nonfinancial rewards, such as recognition, flexibility, and career development opportunities. While base pay may remain the same across the firm, high performers can be rewarded with faster career progression, more recognition, and better development opportunities. A 2009 McKinsey survey found that “three noncash motivators—praise from immediate managers, leadership attention (for example, one-on-one conversations), and a chance to lead projects or task forces” were “no less or even more effective motivators than the three highest-rated financial incentives: cash bonuses, increased base pay, and stock or stock options.” Furthermore, “The survey’s top three nonfinancial motivators play critical roles in making employees feel that their companies value them, take their well-being seriously, and strive to create opportunities for career growth.” 5 “ Motivating people: Getting beyond money ,” McKinsey Quarterly , November 1, 2009. More than a decade later, McKinsey research found that managers and employees remain misaligned: specifically, employers overlook the relational elements—such as feeling valued by a manager and the organization and feeling a sense of belonging—relative to how important these factors are to employee retention (Exhibit 2). 6 “ ‘ Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours ,” McKinsey Quarterly , September 8, 2021. Indeed, the importance of nonmonetary incentives represents a consistent theme in performance management research and inquiry.

Given the time and effort required to effectively implement nonfinancial rewards, it’s crucial for organizations to carefully consider how to deploy these rewards strategically with employee groups. The decision of where to place emphasis should align with the organization’s culture, values, and the specific workforce’s motivations.

It’s worth noting that companies focusing on team achievement over individual performance also tend to value praise of the team. Public recognition and praise for effective teamwork and joint accomplishments can foster a sense of unity, camaraderie, and motivation.

Things to get right

Of the global companies we observed, there was a shared set of enabling factors across those with effective performance management systems. These things are fairly intuitive, but they are hard to practice well. Done consistently, they can produce powerful results.

  • Ensure that performance management systems are agile. Systems should allow for goals to be easily updated so the workforce—and therefore the organization—can respond to quickly changing conditions. The processes themselves should also be agile. For instance, relationships and interactions between managers and employees should allow for coaching that is close to real time so employees are consistently being pushed in the right direction—and learning to create that momentum themselves.
  • Provide regular feedback. Annual reviews can create a bottleneck on managers and the C-suite. More regular performance conversations can be successful in a variety of formats; quarterly, weekly, and casual check-ins should supplement formal reviews. Conversations can be about both the what and the how of the work and be a source of ongoing coaching.

If reviews remain once a year rather than more frequent, top management may consider prioritizing their direct involvement in the evaluation process to keep a pulse on employee sentiment and progress. A leading financial institution in Europe chose this route and found it was able to build a strong capability-building program around a feedback culture that is unafraid of difficult conversations.

  • Establish an effective fact base. According to our research, only two in five companies use both upward and downward evaluation in individual performance reviews. To establish a more comprehensive fact base, organizations can implement robust 360° review processes that solicit feedback from an employee’s manager, peers, direct reports, and even customers or stakeholders outside the company. Many leaders have found that 360° reviews offer a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s performance because such reviews consider perspectives from both those who are led and those who are in leadership roles.
  • Maintain rating and differentiation. Many companies have reassessed their approach to employee ratings and the subsequent differentiation of consequences. While some companies have eliminated ratings altogether, most companies have been evolving their systems to drive motivation, recognize and incentivize performance, and create a “talent currency.” This means a high performer from one division is considered by the organization to be of the same caliber as one from another division. Overall, leaders are pushing for simplification, such as moving from a seven-tier approach to a four-tier or even three-tier system. There is also a stronger link between ratings and outcomes, as well as a shift from forced distribution to distribution guidance.
  • Employ gen AI. Gen AI—the latest technology to change the business landscape—can be a tool to support select elements of performance management, such as setting goals and drafting performance reviews. A manager could use the technology to aggregate and synthesize input from different sources to draft communications to and about employees more efficiently, freeing them to focus on the core value driving parts of performance management and giving more time for personal interactions with their employees, such as coaching and feedback. 7 For more, see People and Organization Blog , “ Four ways to start using generative AI in HR ,” blog post by Julian Kirchherr, Dana Maor, Kira Rupietta, and Kirsten Weerda, McKinsey, March 4, 2024.

Getting started

Companies can get started by understanding where they are now. Specifically, they should assess their organizations’ current performance culture, including the level of adoption of the existing performance management system and its quality. Decision makers should then use the following three questions to check the health of their performance management efforts and outline their ambitions for performance management:

  • Are we getting the expected returns from the time invested in the performance management process, and does it drive higher performance and capabilities?
  • Does the current performance management system reflect the needs and context of this particular business or workforce segment?
  • Do we have a performance culture? (Hint: How frequent are employees’ coaching interactions? How clear and differentiated is feedback?)

Many traditional approaches to people management are unlikely to suffice in today’s top-performing organizations. The research-backed benefits of prioritizing people’s performance, from enhanced revenue growth to lower attrition rates, underscore the strategic importance of these systems. By embracing a fit-for-purpose design anchored in the key elements of performance management, organizations can position themselves as dynamic and adaptive employers.

Simon Gallot Lavallée is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Milan office, where Andrea Pedroni  is a partner; Asmus Komm is a partner in the Hamburg office; and Amaia Noguera Lasa is a partner in the Madrid office.

The authors wish to thank Katharina Wagner, Brooke Weddle, and the many industry professionals who contributed to the development of this article.

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ANU Centre for Art History and Art Theory Sir William Dobell Visiting Chair for 2025

Each year the Centre for Art History and Art Theory in the College of Arts and Social Science may offer one position known as the Sir William Dobell Visiting Chair for the Centre for Art History and Art Theory.

The objective of the Sir William Dobell Visiting Chair scheme is to offer valuable opportunities to mid-career or senior art historians and curators while also providing ANU staff and students access to top-tier art experts, fostering potential for international research collaboration. The scheme aims to be adaptable and responsive to the latest and pressing issues in the field.

Funding for the Visiting Chair has been provided by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation.

Applications for the 2025 Visiting Chair Fellowship close on 31/07/24.

Value and Benefits:

The Visiting Chair will be provided with:

  • AUD$15,000 (domestic-based) and AUD$18,000 (international-based) maximum allowance in costs towards economy-class travel and accommodation in Canberra;
  • Up to AU$20,000 in research-related expenses, including living costs.
  • An ANU office space with computer and printing facilities;
  • ANU Library borrowing privileges;
  • Access to ANU facilities and events.  

Eligibility:

The award is available each year to a recipient who:

  • Is a national or international Art Historian or Curator;
  • can demonstrate an international reputation as a mid-career or senior scholar in the field of art history or curatorial studies/practice;
  • has the ability to travel to, and work in Australia for a period of up to 6 months.  

Selection Criteria:

Selection is based on a candidate’s ability to make an impact through innovative research in the fields of art history and curatorial studies/practice.  

Other factors may also be taken into account, including, but not limited to, publication track record (both traditional and non-traditional research outputs) and demonstrated excellence in research collaboration. 

Preference may be given to scholars and curators from underrepresented communities, particularly Australian First Nations Peoples, those who identify as Indigenous (outside of Australian territories), People of Colour, and those from the Global South. 

To ensure our vision is realized, all awards, programs, and initiatives must demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and work to dismantle any barriers that prevent full participation and representation in art history, theory, and curatorial practice. 

The Centre for Art History and Art Theory reserves the right to make no award if it considers there is no applicant of sufficient merit.   

Conditions: 

  • The duration of the Visiting Chair position is a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 6 months. The dates must overlap with at least 4 ANU teaching weeks.
  • The Chair is expected to be based full-time at ANU for the duration of the fellowship.
  • It is the Chair’s responsibility to ensure they have the correct visa and travel insurance required for their stay.
  • The Chair is responsible for securing the approval of their institution to undertake the Fellowship. The Chair must provide a letter from their institution supporting their visit to ANU before travel is booked.
  • The fellowship must be commenced within the period nominated by the Chair, and approved by the selection committee, unless otherwise approved.
  • The Chair will be required to run a postgraduate workshop, and to provide at least two guest lectures into the ANU Centre for Art History and Art Theory’s program.
  • The Chair must cite ANU Centre for Art History and Art Theory on any publications or ERA eligible research outputs related to research undertaken during the fellowship and provide documentation of these for data collection purposes.  

Applications are open until 31 July 2024.  Apply here .

File attachments

  • Sir William Dobell Visiting Chair and Fellowship Program for 2025 - Application guidance document.pdf ( PDF , 90.83 KB )

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  2. What is a Research Objective? Definition, Types, Examples and Best

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  1. LECTURE 1. THE MEANING OF RESEARCH

  2. How to Write Objectives in Research Proposal

  3. Research Objectives

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  1. Research Objectives

    What is a research objective? Research objectives describe what your research project intends to accomplish. They should guide every step of the research process, including how you collect data, build your argument, and develop your conclusions.. Your research objectives may evolve slightly as your research progresses, but they should always line up with the research carried out and the actual ...

  2. What Are Research Objectives and How to Write Them (with Examples)

    Research studies have a research question, research hypothesis, and one or more research objectives. A research question is what a study aims to answer, and a research hypothesis is a predictive statement about the relationship between two or more variables, which the study sets out to prove or disprove.

  3. What is a Research Objective? Definition, Types, Examples and Best

    A research objective is defined as a clear and concise statement of the specific goals and aims of a research study. It outlines what the researcher intends to accomplish and what they hope to learn or discover through their research. Research objectives are crucial for guiding the research process and ensuring that the study stays focused and ...

  4. Research Objectives

    Research Objectives. Research objectives refer to the specific goals or aims of a research study. They provide a clear and concise description of what the researcher hopes to achieve by conducting the research.The objectives are typically based on the research questions and hypotheses formulated at the beginning of the study and are used to guide the research process.

  5. Aims and Objectives

    Summary. One of the most important aspects of a thesis, dissertation or research paper is the correct formulation of the aims and objectives. This is because your aims and objectives will establish the scope, depth and direction that your research will ultimately take. An effective set of aims and objectives will give your research focus and ...

  6. Research Questions, Objectives & Aims (+ Examples)

    Research Aims: Examples. True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording "this research aims to…", "this research seeks to…", and so on. For example: "This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.". "This study sets out to assess the interaction between student ...

  7. Writing the Research Objectives: 5 Straightforward Examples

    5 Examples of Research Objectives. The following examples of research objectives based on several published studies on various topics demonstrate how the research objectives are written: This study aims to find out if there is a difference in quiz scores between students exposed to direct instruction and flipped classrooms (Webb and Doman, 2016).

  8. Defining Research Objectives: How To Write Them

    For example, with clear research objectives, your study focuses on the specific goals you want to achieve and prevents you from spending time and resources collecting unnecessary data. However, sticking to research objectives isn't always easy, especially in broad or unconventional research. This is why most researchers follow the SMART ...

  9. What are research objectives?| Editage Insights

    Answer: Research objectives describe concisely what the research is trying to achieve. They summarize the accomplishments a researcher wishes to achieve through the project and provides direction to the study. A research objective must be achievable, i.e., it must be framed keeping in mind the available time, infrastructure required for ...

  10. Research Objectives: Definition and How To Write Them

    Identifying your research objectives is crucial to conducting a successful research project. Here are three simple steps that you can follow to identify and write your research objectives: 1. Pinpoint the major focus of your research. The first step to writing your research objectives is to pinpoint the major focus of your research project.

  11. Develop the research objectives (Chapter 1)

    Summary. The importance of research aims and objectives cannot be over-stressed. It is vital to have a very clear understanding of what the research is about and what you are actually trying to achieve. You need to know this. And you need to be able to communicate it to others. Carrying out a research project is rather like going on a journey.

  12. Research Aims and Objectives: The dynamic duo for successful ...

    Research aims and objectives are the foundation of any research project. They provide a clear direction and purpose for the study, ensuring that you stay focused and on track throughout the process. They are your trusted navigational tools, leading you to success. Understanding the relationship between research objectives and aims is crucial to ...

  13. The Importance Of Research Objectives

    An in-depth analysis of information creates space for generating new questions, concepts and understandings. The main objective of research is to explore the unknown and unlock new possibilities. It's an essential component of success. Over the years, businesses have started emphasizing the need for research.

  14. Research Objectives: Meaning, Types

    A research objective addresses the purpose of the investigation and the types of knowledge generated from one's investigation. Looking at the objectives of the research, one can anticipate what is to be achieved by the study. A research objective indicates the population of interest and independent and dependent variables.

  15. A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research

    In turn, these would determine the research objectives and the design of the study, and ultimately, ... Many research studies have floundered because the development of research questions and subsequent hypotheses was not given the thought and meticulous attention needed. The development of research questions and hypotheses is an iterative ...

  16. Formulating Research Aims and Objectives

    Formulating research aim and objectives in an appropriate manner is one of the most important aspects of your thesis. This is because research aim and objectives determine the scope, depth and the overall direction of the research. Research question is the central question of the study that has to be answered on the basis of research findings.

  17. Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

    Research question. Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know "where the boundary between current ...

  18. Research Objective Definition

    Research objective. A research objective, also known as a goal or an objective, is a sentence or question that summarizes the purpose of your study or test. In other words, it's an idea you want to understand deeper by performing research. Objectives should be the driving force behind every task you assign and each question that you ask.

  19. 21 Research Objectives Examples (Copy and Paste)

    7. Field: Sociology. Aim: To investigate the influence of home offices on work-life balance during remote work. Objective 1: To survey remote workers on their perceptions of work-life balance since setting up home offices. Objective 2: To conduct an observational study of daily work routines and family interactions in a home office setting. Objective 3: To assess the correlation, if any ...

  20. Purpose of Research

    The purpose of research can vary depending on the field of study, the research question, and the intended audience. In general, research can be used to: Generate new knowledge and theories. Test existing theories or hypotheses. Identify trends or patterns. Gather information for decision-making. Evaluate the effectiveness of programs, policies ...

  21. What is Research? Definition, Types, Methods and Process

    Research is defined as a meticulous and systematic inquiry process designed to explore and unravel specific subjects or issues with precision. This methodical approach encompasses the thorough collection, rigorous analysis, and insightful interpretation of information, aiming to delve deep into the nuances of a chosen field of study.

  22. On the unity of knowledge: Integrating scientific and humanistic

    The integration of scientific and humanistic disciplines in academic research and teaching ("consilience") is grounded in the concept of the unity of knowledge. Opponents of consilience argue that there is a difference between factual or propositional knowledge (i.e., "objective" knowledge) produced by science and philosophy through theory, empirical data, or logic-based argumentation ...

  23. Performance management that puts people first

    The objectives represent the qualitative, aspirational goals an individual or team aims to achieve, while the key results are the quantifiable metrics used to measure progress toward those objectives. The objectives provide context and direction, capturing the broader strategic intent behind the measurable key results.

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    Background: Theta burst stimulation (TBS) is a novel and faster modality of transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is showing promise as a treatment-resistant depression (TRD) treatment. Though TBS can be applied unilaterally or bilaterally, few studies have compared the effectiveness of both approaches in a naturalistic clinical sample. Objectives: In this retrospective chart review, we ...

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    Description. The 8th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2024), one of the top global health symposiums organized bi-annually, will be held in Nagasaki, Japan in November 2024. It will be co-hosted by Health System Global (HSG), Alliance for Health System Research (HPSR), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Nagasaki ...