- 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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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How to Write the Dissertation Aims and Objectives – Guide & Examples
Published by Grace Graffin at January 27th, 2023 , Revised On April 6, 2023
Aims and objectives are among the essential aspects of a dissertation. If you write aims and objectives effectively, they can act as a foundation to give your research clarity and focus.
This article will provide you with all the necessary information regarding aims and objectives, their differences, writing tips , and the common mistakes you should avoid while writing them.
The aim is often a single sentence or a short paragraph that describes your dissertation’s main goal and intent. It tells what you hope to achieve at the end. You should write the aim so that it becomes identifiable when it is achieved with the completion of your dissertation .
The aim is written in a subsection of the introduction to clarify the overall purpose of the dissertation .
Example: It is often observed that employees in culturally diverse workplaces struggle to work effectively in a team. A probable cause of this issue is bullying at the workplace. This research investigates the impact of bullying on employee job satisfaction at culturally diverse workplaces and the resulting loss of employee productivity. This research will use surveys and case study analysis to analyze the impact of bullying on employees.
The objectives in a dissertation describe the ways through which you intend to achieve the research aim. They are specific statements that break down the aim into several smaller key sections of the overall research. Suitable objectives can help you stay focused and conduct research in the direction of your aim.
The number of objectives should be realistic; usually, between three to six, and each one should be possible to achieve. The following example shows the objectives for the previously-mentioned dissertation aim.
1. identification of the behaviors that are considered as bullying 2. exploring the factors that cause bullying at a culturally diverse workplace 3. analyzing the relationship between bullying and job satisfaction of employees 4. providing suitable recommendations on minimizing the bullying at the workplace
The objectives of a dissertation should be SMART.
- Specific: should be precise, focused, and well-defined
- Measurable: the progress should be measurable, and you should be able to determine when you have achieved an objective.
- Achievable: you should be able to carry out the required action within your available resources
- Relevant: should be related to the dissertation aim
- Time-bound: should be possible within the available time
Differences between aims and objectives
Aims and objectives are often mixed, but there are clear differences between them.
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How to write aims and objectives?
There is no particular way or standard to write the aims and objectives. Different researchers have different writing styles, and often it can be influenced by your research supervisor. However, you should follow certain basic principles while writing aims and objectives in a dissertation.
Writing the aim statement
The aim statement should cover the following essential elements.
- Why is the research necessary? (covers the underlying problem on which the study is to be conducted)
- What is the research about? (description of the research title)
- How are you going to conduct it? (a brief statement of intended research methods)
An appropriate aim clearly defines the research purpose without confusing the reader. If you struggle to explain your research and its importance in simpler terms, you should consider refining your research to clarify it further.
The objectives describe how you would achieve your research aim. You can do this through the following steps,
- The first one to two objectives can be applied to the literature review . (Verbs to be used: investigate, examine, study)
- One objective can be applied to the methodology portion. (Verbs to be used: collect, select, demonstrate, estimate)
- Two to three objectives can cover the critical evaluation or discussion chapters (Verbs to be used: analyze, compare, evaluate)
- The final objective will cover the conclusion or recommendation portion. (Verbs to be used: conclude, recommend)
Instead of writing like a paragraph, the objectives should be written as a numbered list to give them more clarity.
How many aims and objectives should be there?
It depends upon the topic of your research and mainly upon your supervisor’s requirements. Generally, a dissertation has a single broad statement as the research aim. However, it is acceptable to include a main aim along with two to three subsidiary aims.
Similarly, the number of objectives should be realistic and sufficient to measure the progress regarding the achievement of the research aim. Their number can generally vary from three to six depending upon the aim.
Common mistakes to avoid while writing research aims and objectives
- Writing a broad research aim
Writing a broad research aim is a common mistake, and it often becomes difficult to achieve. It may create a problem when you are asked to prove how you have achieved your aims during your viva defense . It would be best to narrow your study to a specific area in the early stages of the dissertation.
- Formulating overlapping research objectives
The objectives should be written such that they are measurable and distinct from each other. If they overlap, it makes it difficult to structure your dissertation properly in specific chapters.
- Setting unrealistic aims
Students often get over-ambitious while describing the research aim and face problems afterward in achieving those aims. You should avoid this mistake and be realistic about what you can achieve in the available time and resources.
Aims and objectives are the sections that require significant time and attention to avoid future hassles while conducting research and writing your dissertation.
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Dissertation Aim & Objectives Examples
Business dissertation aim:, to examine how technology companies manage information and cyber risks in their supply chains..
- To identify the key internal and external sources of cyber and information risks in a technology company’s supply chain.
- To explore the organisational initiatives that help technology firms deal with information and cyber risks.
- To assess the effectiveness of technology companies’ responses to cyber and information risks measured on the basis of supply chain resilience.
- To develop practical recommendations on how to improve the cyber supply chain risk management process within technology organisations.
Marketing dissertation aim:
To assess the impact of user-generated and marketer-generated content on consumers’ decision-making in a social media environment..
- To identify the key post categories employed by marketers on social media using the 4Ps of marketing.
- To examine how marketer-generated content (e.g. discounts, special deals, new product announcements, and community-centric posts) on Facebook influences consumers’ purchase decision.
- To explore how user-generated content (e.g. customer reviews and social media posts) on Facebook affects consumers’ purchase decision.
- To compare the effectiveness of user-generated and marketer-generated content in stimulating social media users’ decision to buy.
HRM dissertation aim:
To assess the impact of bullying on employee job satisfaction in the context of culturally diverse project teams..
- To identify what types of behaviour are considered as bullying in the workplace.
- To explore the factors that may trigger workplace bullying in a culturally diverse team.
- To establish the relationship between workplace bullying and employee job satisfaction in project teams with a high level of cultural diversity.
- To produce a set of recommendations on how to minimise workplace bullying in culturally diverse project teams.
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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.
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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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.
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.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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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.
Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.
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.
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.
Thanks so much. This was really helpful.
i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.
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!
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.
This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.
This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!
The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.
Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.
A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .
Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.
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?
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?
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.
Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.
This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.
What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?
What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis
This is quite useful thanks
I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.
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?
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.
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.
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Research Tips and Infromation
How to Write Aims and Objectives for your Dissertation or Thesis?
Understanding aims and objectives, crafting aims, break it down into objectives, developing specific objectives, align with research questions, consider feasibility, review and refine, seek feedback, documenting aims and objectives.
In a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation, the aims and objectives play a crucial role in shaping the research process and ensuring focus. They provide a clear roadmap for your study and serve as the guiding principles that steer your research in the right direction.
Aims represent the broader purpose or the overarching goal of your research. They define what you want to achieve with your dissertation. For example, let’s say you’re conducting a study on renewable energy sources. Your aim could be to analyze the economic viability and environmental impact of solar energy adoption in residential areas.
Objectives, on the other hand, break down the aim into specific, measurable, and achievable targets that help you accomplish your research goal. They outline the specific steps or tasks you need to undertake to fulfill the aim. Continuing with the previous example, some objectives could be:
- Evaluate the current state of solar energy technologies and their efficiency.
- Assess the economic costs and benefits associated with the installation of solar panels in residential areas.
- Analyze the environmental impact of solar energy adoption in terms of carbon emissions reduction.
- Investigate the potential barriers to the widespread adoption of solar energy in residential communities.
- Develop recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders to promote the use of solar energy in residential areas.
These objectives, when combined, address different aspects related to the aim of analyzing the economic viability and environmental impact of solar energy adoption. Each objective guides a specific aspect of the research and contributes to answering the research questions.
By having clear aims and objectives, you establish a solid framework for your study. They help you stay focused on the main purpose of your research and prevent you from getting sidetracked or overwhelmed by tangential topics. Moreover, they provide clarity to both you and your readers, ensuring that your research remains coherent and well-structured.
In summary, clear aims and objectives are instrumental in guiding the research process of a PhD dissertation. They provide a roadmap, define the research goal, and break it down into specific targets. Through the example provided, it is evident how aims and objectives bring focus to a study on renewable energy sources and solar energy adoption in residential areas.
If you are in paucity of time, not confident of your writing skills and in a hurry to complete the writing task then you can think of hiring a research consultant that solves all your problems. Please visit my article on Hiring a Research consultant for your PhD tasks for further details.
Aims and objectives play a crucial role in guiding research projects. It’s important to define these terms and differentiate between them to ensure a clear focus in your work.
Aims represent the broader purpose or goal of your study. They define what you aim to achieve through your research project. Aims provide the overarching context and direction for your work, guiding the selection of topics, methodologies, and outcomes.
Example: Suppose you’re working on a PhD dissertation in computer science with a focus on natural language processing. Your aim could be: “To develop an efficient and accurate algorithm for sentiment analysis in social media data.”
In this example, the aim highlights the objective of creating an algorithm specifically for sentiment analysis in social media data, indicating the main objective of your research.
Objectives break down the aim into specific, measurable, and achievable targets that contribute to achieving the overall goal. They are more focused and concrete than aims, outlining the steps or tasks necessary to fulfill the aim. Objectives serve as the building blocks of your research, guiding the implementation and evaluation of your work.
Example: Continuing with the previous aim, let’s define some specific objectives:
- Collect and preprocess a large dataset of social media posts for sentiment analysis.
- Explore and compare existing sentiment analysis techniques to identify their limitations and strengths.
- Design and develop a novel algorithm that addresses the limitations of current approaches.
- Implement the algorithm and evaluate its performance on the collected dataset.
- Analyze the results and compare them with existing state-of-the-art sentiment analysis methods.
These objectives, when combined, address different aspects necessary to fulfill the aim of developing an efficient and accurate sentiment analysis algorithm for social media data. Each objective represents a specific task or milestone that contributes to the overall research goal.
The relationship between aims and objectives is critical in driving research. Objectives are derived from the aim and provide the means to accomplish it. They act as stepping stones, guiding the researcher towards achieving the broader aim.
In summary, aims provide the broader context and goal, while objectives break down the aim into specific tasks and milestones. Together, they ensure focus and direction in your research, guiding the selection of topics, methodologies, and outcomes. The objectives serve as the means to achieve the overall aim, highlighting the relationship between aims and objectives in driving research in the computer science domain.
Formulating the overarching aim of your research is a crucial step in defining the direction and purpose of your dissertation. The aim represents the primary goal or intention of your study, and crafting it effectively is essential for setting the foundation of your research.
Research Topic: Enhancing cybersecurity in cloud computing environments.
In this example, the aim focuses on improving cybersecurity in the context of cloud computing. The aim should be formulated in a concise and focused manner that aligns with the research topic. Here’s an example of how the aim could be crafted effectively:
Aim: Develop an efficient and robust security framework for ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability in cloud computing environments.
The above aim encapsulates the overall goal of the research, which is to develop a security framework for enhancing cybersecurity in cloud computing. It clearly states the intention to address key aspects such as data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The aim is concise, specific, and directly aligned with the research topic.
The significance of a well-defined aim cannot be overstated. It serves as a guiding beacon throughout your research journey, providing a clear direction and purpose. A well-crafted aim helps you stay focused and ensures that your efforts are aligned with the research’s core objectives. It also helps you communicate the purpose of your study to others, including your advisor, peers, and potential readers of your dissertation.
Additionally, an effective aim sets the stage for the subsequent development of specific objectives and research questions. It serves as a foundation upon which you can break down the aim into smaller, manageable objectives that contribute to achieving the overall research goal. Each objective should align with the aim and work together harmoniously to address the research questions and gaps in the field.
Moreover, a concise and aligned aim allows readers to quickly grasp the essence of your research. It provides them with a clear understanding of the research’s scope and purpose. By stating the aim concisely and aligning it with the research topic, you demonstrate your ability to articulate the core objective of your study in a succinct manner.
In summary, crafting effective aims involves formulating the overarching goal or intention of your research in a concise and focused manner. A well-defined aim sets the direction for your dissertation, guiding your efforts and ensuring alignment with the research topic. It serves as a foundation for the development of specific objectives and research questions. By presenting a clear and aligned aim, you convey the purpose of your study to others and demonstrate your ability to articulate the core objective of your research.
After defining the aim of your research, it’s important to break it down into smaller, manageable objectives. These objectives should address key research questions or subtopics that are necessary to achieve the overall aim. Additionally, objectives should be specific, measurable, and utilize action verbs to describe the intended actions or achievements.
Example: Suppose the aim of your research is to develop a recommendation system for an e-commerce platform. Here are some examples of specific objectives:
- Action Verbs: Analyze, Identify
- Description: Gather and analyze user preferences and historical data from the e-commerce platform to identify patterns in user behavior and item preferences.
- Action Verbs: Design, Implement
- Description: Develop and implement collaborative filtering algorithms, such as user-based or item-based methods, to generate personalized recommendations based on user similarities or item similarities.
- Action Verbs: Incorporate
- Description: Integrate machine learning techniques, such as matrix factorization or deep learning models, into the recommendation system to improve the accuracy and personalization of the recommendations.
- Action Verbs: Evaluate
- Description: Conduct experiments and evaluate the performance of the recommendation system using appropriate evaluation metrics, such as precision, recall, or mean average precision, to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.
- Action Verbs: Optimize
- Description: Identify and implement optimization techniques, such as parallel computing or distributed systems, to enhance the scalability and efficiency of the recommendation algorithm, allowing it to handle large-scale datasets and real-time recommendations.
By breaking down the aim into these specific objectives, you address key components of developing a recommendation system, such as data analysis, algorithm design, evaluation, and optimization. Each objective represents a distinct step that contributes to achieving the overall aim.
Importantly, these objectives are specific and measurable, allowing you to determine whether you have successfully achieved them. For instance, you can measure the accuracy of the recommendation system, evaluate its performance against baseline models, or assess its scalability in terms of handling large datasets.
In summary, when conducting research, breaking down the aim into specific objectives helps in managing the workload and providing a clear roadmap for your research. These objectives should address key research questions or subtopics, be specific and measurable, and use action verbs to describe the intended actions or achievements. By following this approach, you can ensure a systematic and focused research process.
To develop specific objectives for your research, you need to break down the overarching aim into smaller, measurable objectives. These objectives should be clear, specific, and actionable, providing a roadmap for your research and guiding the entire research process.
Aim: Develop a machine learning-based system for automated sentiment analysis in social media data.
Objective 1: Conduct a comprehensive literature review on existing sentiment analysis techniques and methodologies.
- Breakdown: This objective focuses on reviewing the literature in the field of sentiment analysis, specifically examining the various techniques and methodologies that have been developed and applied. It involves gathering and analyzing research papers, books, and other relevant sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of the existing knowledge in sentiment analysis.
Objective 2: Collect a large dataset of social media posts for training and evaluation.
- Breakdown: This objective entails the collection of a substantial amount of social media data that will be used as input for training and evaluating the machine learning model. It involves designing data collection mechanisms, such as web scraping or utilizing available APIs, to gather a diverse set of social media posts from platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
Objective 3: Design and implement a machine learning algorithm capable of accurately detecting sentiment polarity in social media text.
- Breakdown: This objective focuses on the development of a machine learning algorithm tailored for sentiment analysis in social media text. It involves designing and implementing the necessary algorithms, selecting appropriate feature representations, and training a model to accurately classify sentiment polarity (positive, negative, or neutral) of social media posts.
Objective 4: Evaluate the performance of the developed sentiment analysis system against benchmark datasets and compare it with existing state-of-the-art approaches.
- Breakdown: This objective involves assessing the performance of the developed sentiment analysis system by evaluating it against established benchmark datasets. It requires selecting appropriate evaluation metrics and comparing the system’s performance with existing state-of-the-art approaches in sentiment analysis, such as accuracy, precision, recall, or F1 score.
The importance of clear, specific objectives cannot be overstated. These objectives provide a clear roadmap and direction for your research, guiding your efforts and ensuring that you stay on track. They help you structure your research activities, allocate resources effectively, and measure progress along the way.
Using action verbs to articulate objectives effectively is another crucial aspect. Action verbs convey specific actions or achievements that need to be accomplished. They provide clarity and precision, leaving no room for ambiguity. For example:
By using action verbs, you explicitly state what needs to be done or achieved in each objective, making it easier to track progress and assess the completion of objectives.
In summary, developing specific objectives involves breaking down the overarching aim into smaller, measurable objectives. Clear and specific objectives provide a roadmap for your research and guide the entire research process. By using action verbs, you articulate objectives effectively, leaving no room for ambiguity. These objectives help structure your research activities, allocate resources effectively, and measure progress, ultimately leading to the successful completion of your research.
When formulating objectives for your research, it is essential to ensure that they align with the research questions you have formulated. Each objective should contribute to addressing or answering a specific research question, creating a cohesive and focused research framework.
Example: Suppose your research in computer science focuses on developing an automated system for detecting and preventing cybersecurity threats. Here are examples of objectives aligned with research questions:
Research Question: How can machine learning algorithms be utilized to detect and mitigate cybersecurity threats effectively?
Objective 1: Evaluate and compare different machine learning algorithms for cybersecurity threat detection.
- Description: Explore and assess various machine learning algorithms, such as decision trees, random forests, or neural networks, to identify the most suitable approach for detecting cybersecurity threats accurately and efficiently.
Objective 2: Develop a dataset representative of diverse cybersecurity threats.
- Description: Create a comprehensive dataset containing various types of cybersecurity threats, including malware, phishing attacks, and network intrusions, to train and evaluate the machine learning models effectively.
Research Question: What are the key challenges and vulnerabilities in existing cybersecurity systems that need to be addressed?
Objective 3: Conduct a systematic analysis of existing cybersecurity systems and identify vulnerabilities.
- Description: Analyze and evaluate existing cybersecurity systems, such as intrusion detection systems or antivirus software, to identify vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and potential areas of improvement that can inform the development of a more robust automated system.
Objective 4: Propose novel techniques to enhance the resilience of the cybersecurity system.
- Description: Develop innovative approaches, such as anomaly detection algorithms or behavior-based analysis techniques, to enhance the resilience of the automated cybersecurity system and address the identified vulnerabilities.
By aligning the objectives with the research questions, you ensure that each objective contributes to addressing a specific aspect of your research. For example, Objective 1 directly addresses the research question regarding the utilization of machine learning algorithms for cybersecurity threat detection. Objective 3 focuses on analyzing existing systems to identify vulnerabilities, which is in line with the question about challenges and vulnerabilities in existing cybersecurity systems.
The alignment between research questions and objectives helps maintain a clear focus on the research objectives and ensures that your efforts are directed towards addressing the research questions. It also enhances the coherence of your research, as each objective becomes a stepping stone towards answering the research questions and achieving the overall aim of your study.
In summary, aligning objectives with research questions is crucial in research. It ensures that each objective contributes to answering or addressing a specific research question, creating a logical and cohesive framework for your study. By establishing this alignment, you can maintain a clear focus on the research objectives and make meaningful contributions to the field.
When setting objectives for your research, it is important to consider their feasibility. Feasibility refers to the realistic achievability of your objectives within the scope of your PhD research, taking into account available resources, time constraints, and other practical limitations.
Example: Suppose your research focuses on developing a new algorithm for real-time video processing and analysis. Here are examples of objectives that consider feasibility:
Objective 1: Implement the real-time video processing algorithm on a high-performance computing cluster.
- Feasibility Considerations: Before setting this objective, assess whether you have access to a high-performance computing cluster and the necessary resources (e.g., hardware, software, computational power) to support the implementation and testing of the algorithm. If such resources are available within your research environment or institution, this objective is feasible.
Objective 2: Collect and annotate a large-scale video dataset for algorithm training and evaluation.
- Feasibility Considerations: Consider the practical aspects of collecting and annotating a large-scale video dataset. Evaluate the time, manpower, and equipment required for this task. Assess whether you have access to the necessary resources (e.g., cameras, storage, annotation tools) and the capability to manage and process such a dataset. If these resources and capabilities are available within your research context, this objective is feasible.
Objective 3: Collaborate with industry partners to obtain real-world video data for testing and validation.
- Feasibility Considerations: Evaluate the feasibility of establishing collaborations with industry partners to obtain real-world video data. Consider factors such as data sharing agreements, legal and privacy considerations, and the willingness of industry partners to provide access to their data. Assess the potential challenges and limitations that may arise during this collaboration process. If such collaborations are feasible and can be established within the constraints of your research, this objective is feasible.
By considering feasibility, you ensure that your objectives are realistically achievable within the resources, time, and other constraints of your PhD research. It helps you avoid setting objectives that are too ambitious or beyond the scope of what you can reasonably accomplish.
Feasibility assessment is crucial in ensuring the successful completion of your research project. It allows you to allocate resources effectively, manage your time, and avoid potential pitfalls or setbacks that could hinder your progress. By setting feasible objectives, you can maintain a practical and manageable research plan that is more likely to lead to meaningful outcomes within the given constraints.
In summary, considering feasibility when setting objectives in computer science research is essential. Assess the available resources, time constraints, and practical limitations to ensure that your objectives are realistically achievable within the scope of your PhD research. By doing so, you can plan and execute your research effectively, making the most of the resources at your disposal and increasing the likelihood of successful outcomes.
Once you have defined your aims and objectives for your research, it’s important to review and refine them to ensure clarity, coherence, and logical flow. This step allows you to make any necessary revisions to ensure that your aims and objectives accurately reflect the scope and purpose of your research.
Example: Suppose your research in computer science focuses on developing a mobile application for enhancing cybersecurity awareness among smartphone users. Here’s an example of reviewing and refining aims and objectives:
Aim: Develop a mobile application for enhancing cybersecurity awareness among smartphone users.
Objective 1: Conduct a comprehensive literature review on cybersecurity awareness strategies and mobile application design principles.
- Review and Refinement: Upon review, you find that the objective is clear and aligned with the aim. However, you decide to refine it to include specific aspects you intend to cover in the literature review, such as user education techniques, persuasive design elements, and existing cybersecurity awareness mobile applications.
Objective 2: Design and develop a user-friendly mobile application prototype that delivers educational content and interactive features.
- Review and Refinement: During the review, you realize that the objective lacks specificity regarding the educational content and interactive features. You refine it to explicitly mention the inclusion of topics like phishing prevention, password management, and interactive quizzes to reinforce learning.
Objective 3: Conduct usability testing and collect feedback from potential users to evaluate the effectiveness of the mobile application.
- Review and Refinement: While reviewing, you realize that the objective could benefit from additional information. You refine it to include details such as the target user group (e.g., smartphone users aged 18-35), the number of participants you plan to involve in the usability testing, and the specific metrics you will use to evaluate the effectiveness of the application.
By reviewing and refining your aims and objectives, you ensure that they accurately capture the scope and purpose of your research. It helps you identify any gaps, ambiguities, or areas that need further clarification. Through this process, you can enhance the clarity, coherence, and logical flow of your aims and objectives, making them more robust and aligned with your research goals.
Additionally, reviewing and refining your aims and objectives allows you to align them with the current state of knowledge in the field. As you conduct literature reviews and gain more insights into existing research, you may discover the need to make adjustments to your aims and objectives to reflect the most relevant and up-to-date information.
In summary, reviewing and refining aims and objectives in research is essential to ensure clarity, coherence, and logical flow. By carefully reviewing each aim and objective, you can identify areas for improvement, refine them to include specific details, and align them with the current state of knowledge in the field. This process enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of your aims and objectives, providing a strong foundation for your research.
Once you have developed your aims and objectives for your research, it is important to seek feedback from your supervisor or peers. Sharing your aims and objectives with others allows you to gather valuable insights, suggestions, and perspectives that can help refine and improve your objectives, ensuring they are appropriate and aligned with your research.
Imagine you have formulated the following objectives for your computer science research on developing an intelligent tutoring system:
Objective 1: Conduct a literature review on existing intelligent tutoring systems and their effectiveness in enhancing student learning outcomes.
Objective 2: Design and develop an adaptive learning algorithm to personalize the tutoring experience based on individual student needs.
Objective 3: Implement a user-friendly interface for the intelligent tutoring system that provides an intuitive and engaging learning environment.
Objective 4: Evaluate the effectiveness of the developed intelligent tutoring system through a series of user studies and compare it with traditional tutoring methods.
At this stage, it would be beneficial to share your aims and objectives with your supervisor or peers to receive feedback. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions to help you refine and improve your objectives. For example:
- Your supervisor may suggest including a specific research question to further clarify the focus of Objective 1, such as “What are the key features and techniques used in successful intelligent tutoring systems?”
- Peers may provide feedback on the clarity and specificity of Objective 2, suggesting adding details on the specific adaptability mechanisms to be incorporated.
- Your supervisor might suggest considering the inclusion of usability testing as part of Objective 3 to ensure the interface meets the needs and preferences of the target users.
- Peers may offer suggestions on additional evaluation metrics or experimental setups to strengthen Objective 4 and provide more robust comparisons.
By seeking feedback, you open yourself up to constructive criticism and valuable perspectives that can help enhance the quality and effectiveness of your aims and objectives. Feedback from experienced researchers or knowledgeable peers can help you identify any potential gaps or weaknesses in your objectives and provide suggestions for improvement.
Remember that feedback is an iterative process, and it is important to carefully consider the suggestions provided while also critically evaluating them in the context of your research. Incorporating constructive feedback will help you refine your aims and objectives, ensuring they are robust, relevant, and aligned with your research goals.
In summary, seeking feedback on your aims and objectives is a valuable step in the process of developing your research. Sharing your objectives with your supervisor or peers allows you to gather insights, suggestions, and perspectives that can help refine and improve your objectives. Feedback helps ensure that your objectives are appropriate, clear, and aligned with your research goals, ultimately strengthening the overall quality of your research.
When writing your dissertation, it is crucial to properly document and present your aims and objectives. The placement and presentation of aims and objectives play a significant role in providing readers with a clear understanding of the research’s purpose and direction.
Placement: The aims and objectives of your research should be presented early on in your dissertation, typically within the introduction chapter. This allows readers to grasp the overall scope and intent of your research from the beginning. Placing them in the introduction helps set the context and provides a roadmap for the rest of the dissertation.
Presentation: When presenting aims and objectives, it is important to clearly distinguish between the two and articulate their role in driving the research. Here’s an example of how you can document aims and objectives:
Aims: Start by presenting the overarching aim of your research, which represents the primary goal or intention of your study. It should be a concise statement that captures the essence of your research focus.
Aim: The aim of this research is to develop a machine learning-based system for automated sentiment analysis in social media data.
Objectives: Following the aim, present a list of specific objectives that outline the key steps or milestones required to achieve the aim. Each objective should be clear, specific, and measurable. Here’s an example:
- Analyze existing sentiment analysis techniques and methodologies in the literature to identify their limitations and challenges.
- Collect and preprocess a large dataset of social media posts to serve as the training and evaluation data for the sentiment analysis system.
- Design and implement a machine learning algorithm capable of accurately detecting sentiment polarity in social media text.
- Evaluate the performance of the developed sentiment analysis system against existing state-of-the-art approaches, using appropriate evaluation metrics.
- Optimize the system for scalability and efficiency, allowing it to handle large volumes of real-time social media data.
By clearly documenting the aims and objectives in your dissertation, you provide readers with a clear understanding of the purpose and direction of your research. This enables them to follow your thought process and evaluate the relevance and significance of your study. Aims and objectives serve as guideposts that help readers navigate through your dissertation and understand the specific research questions you seek to address.
Moreover, the well-documented aims and objectives help you maintain focus throughout your research journey and provide a framework for organizing your dissertation. They establish the foundation upon which your methodology, analysis, and conclusions are built.
In summary, when documenting aims and objectives in a dissertation, it is important to place them in the introduction chapter and clearly present their role in guiding the research. Aims and objectives should be distinct, with the aim of capturing the overarching goal and the objectives outlining the specific steps or milestones to achieve it. By effectively documenting aims and objectives, you provide readers with a clear understanding of the research’s purpose and direction, facilitating their engagement with your work.
Crafting clear and well-defined aims and objectives is a critical aspect of writing a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation. These aims and objectives provide a solid foundation for your research, guiding your efforts and ensuring a focused and coherent study. Through this discussion, we have explored the importance of aims and objectives in a PhD dissertation and how they contribute to the research process.
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Aims and Objectives for Master’s Dissertations
Aims and Objectives for Master’s Dissertations. This blog will look at writing an ‘Aim’ statement and ‘Objectives’ for a Master’s thesis. It should also be helpful for final year projects at undergraduate level.
I have done 2 previous blogs on ‘Topic Selection’ and ‘Dissertation Title Writing’ that may also be of interest.
Here is a short video clip on writing the Aims and Objectives.
Where should the Aims and Objectives be?
The Aims and Objectives for your Master’s Dissertations need to be in chapter 1, the introduction to the research project. Chapter 1 should be an introduction to the project, and not an introduction to the topic. The topic is covered in the Literature Review, usually chapter 2. However, there needs to be a few pages of background introduction to set the scene and the reasons for the research. Therefore, the Aims and Objectives should be around page 2, 3, or 4.
Tips for Writing the AIM Statement
There will be one overall AIM statement as described here. Sometimes a research project may contain several distinct aims. However, they need to fit together to an overall research AIM.
The AIM is really just a longer and more explanatory version of the research title. The AIM can be an expansion of the title to 3 to 6 sentences. Make sure you cover these three elements:
- Why is this research necessary – some background showing a problem.
- What is this research about – an expansion of the title.
- How is the research to be performed – a brief statement of the intended research methods.
Initially aim for 1 sentence for each item. Expanding to two sentences for each will be OK. The AIM statement should not exceed a paragraph or a quarter to a third of a page.
Example of an Aim Statement
Example: I will take a project title: “An investigation into Project Management Life-Cycles in the Automotive Industry: Honda as a case study.”
The AIM will need to include:
- Why: Oversupply and unfilled manufacturing capacity, and increasing innovation in the industry are causing all automotive companies problems. This states the problem.
- What: This project seeks to examine how Project Life Cycles are implemented in the Honda Motor Company.
- How: By case study analysis and comparison with other automotive companies.
Put those three sentences together and the AIM statement becomes:
Aim Statement: Oversupply and unfilled manufacturing capacity is leading to increasing innovation in the automotive industry. This requires all automotive companies to reduce their project life cycles to remain competitive. This project seeks to examine how Project Life Cycles are implemented in the Honda Motor Company. The research will use case study analysis and comparison of Honda Project Life Cycles implementation with that of other automotive companies.
The first part of the aim statement – the problem – is what needs to be covered in the first 2 or 3 pages of the introduction chapter. Some researchers may then introduce a secondary aim statement to complement the first. In this example there may be a secondary AIM to distribute or publish the research findings.
Writing Objectives for a Master’s Dissertation
I suggest that 6-9 Objectives is an initial target. There are often comments that 9 may be too many. However, as a Project Manager my natural inclination is to break a project into manageable chunks of work. Also, if there are 9 objectives and one objective is not met, then there are still 8 objectives that are met.
The objectives when read alone should tell a story through the dissertation. This can be done by ensuring:
- 2 or 3 Objectives apply to the Literature Review – Demonstrating knowledge. Verbs such as Research, Examine, Study, and Investigate are suitable.
- 1 Objectives apply to the Research Methodology – How the research is performed. These might include: Collect data, Select interviewees, Analyse results as examples.
- 2 or 3 Objectives focus on the Critical Evaluation or Discussion chapters. Verbs such as Analyse, Compare, Discuss, and Evaluate would be appropriate.
- There may be one or two final objectives. To Conclude, and/or To Recommend.
I have already issued blogs about the requirements of a Master’s Dissertation from the QAA perspective and the three elements of a Master’s Dissertation . Using the above approach to write the objectives will demonstrate that these requirements have been met.
When writing objectives, keep to just one verb, and avoid the use of ‘and’. If you are using ‘and’ then perhaps this objective should be broken into two separate objectives.
Don’t forget that the objectives will need to be repeated and commented on in the conclusion chapter of the dissertation.
Examples of Research Objectives
For the example AIM from earlier, here are some suggested project objectives. Note how they start broad, and become more specific:
- To examine the current status of the Automotive Industry
- Study Project Management as it applies to the Automotive Industry
- To research Project Life Cycles specifically as used within the Automotive Industry
- Identify suitable case studies concerning Automotive Project Life Cycles for evaluation
- To analyse the case studies
- Compare Project Life Cycles as demonstrated b the case study companies
- To critical evaluate the use of Project Life Cycles at Honda Motor Company
- Recommend improvements to the Honda Motor Company in their use of Project Life Cycles
Just reading the verbs tells a story through the dissertation. To examine, to study, to research, to identify, to analyse, to compare, to evaluate and to recommend.
Honda Motor Car
Higher Level Verbs
Don’t forget to use Blooms Higher level verbs when looking at the critical evaluation section. It is also important not to duplicate a verb. There are around 40-50 different verbs that you could use to write your objectives, and therefore it looks lazy to use the same verb more than once.
The Project Aim is an expansion of the title covering Why, What and How. The objectives should cover the whole dissertation from the Literature Review, through the Research Methodology, and to the Critical Evaluation and Conclusions.
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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:
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.
How to Develop Effective Dissertation Aims and Objectives that’ll Impress Your Supervisors Are you trying to compose your dissertation aims and objectives and don’t know where to start? You have selected the theme of your research but don’t know what to do next? Don’t worry because we will guide you. Not only will we tell […]
How to Develop Effective Dissertation Aims and Objectives that’ll Impress Your Supervisors
Are you trying to compose your dissertation aims and objectives and don’t know where to start, you have selected the theme of your research but don’t know what to do next.
Don’t worry because we will guide you.
Not only will we tell you how to compose the aims and objectives of the dissertation, but we will also give you easy-to-understand Dissertation aims and objectives examples that will help you in composing your own research aims and objectives.
The purpose of the aim and objectives of the research report is to support a logical supposition with valid arguments on which your investigation and data analysis will be based.
After the selection of your research theme, the most important step is to develop the aims and objectives of your research study. This will give a clear direction for your entire investigative process; the hypothesis, data collection method, statistical tool, analysis, and conclusion of your report.
What is the difference between the aims and objectives in a dissertation?
Both the statements in a research report try to determine the purpose of the study with assumed outcomes. The only difference between the two is that the aims are generally broad statements that are based on the research theme while the dissertation objectives examples are more specific statements that give way to further tasks in the investigative process. There is one general aim of the research while there can be several objectives.
How to formulate the aims and objectives?
Keep in mind that your research aims and objectives should answer the following questions. While composing this part of your research report, just make sure that you answer the following questions which will make the composition process easier.
While composing the dissertation objectives, just keep these factors in mind
- Your objectives should be interlinked with the theme of the research and should be leading up to it
- The scope of your objectives should not be so broad that your research becomes too generic or insignificant.
- Make sure that the objectives that you have listed are realistic and doable.
Dissertation aims and objectives examples
Substance abuse patterns in college students.
To determine the factors that result in substance abuse patterns in college students
- To determine the effect of peer pressure on substance abuse patterns among college students.
- To determine the effect of educational pressure on substance abuse patterns among college students.
There you have all the information you need to know to develop effective aims and objectives for your dissertation that will impress your supervisors.
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21 Research Objectives Examples (Copy and Paste)
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.
Chris Drew (PhD)
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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