Research aims, objectives and questions. Differences and Interdependence explained
The formulation of the research aim and objective in a manner that suits your thesis style is the most important thing to do, because it is only through these that one can figure out the scope, depth as well as the overall direction of the research to be undertaken. The research question is the central question of the study and it must be answered based on the findings generated by research.
What is research aim? In simple terms, research aim is specifying what needs to be achieved within the defined scope of the research, by the time the researcher comes to the end of the research process. Achievement of the research aims means that the research question has been answered.
The research objective further divides the broader research aim into many parts and then further addresses each part separately. Let us understand this more simply further, the research aim specifies exactly WHAT needs to be studies and the research objective gives the step-by-step procedure which address HOW the research aim is to be achieved.
So, as a rule pf thumb, there would be one WHAT in research, which means one research objective and many “HOW” which are the several steps to be taken up to achieve the given research aim.
Look at the following example for better understanding
Research Title: Relationship between Organisational culture and Business profitability: A case Study of TATA Motors
Research Aim: To assess the effects of TATA Motors organisational culture on the profitability of the business
Research Objectives formulated to achieve the research aim with a tentative timeline
- Analyzing the nature of organizational culture at TATA Motors till December, 2022
- Identifying factors impacting TATA Motors organizational culture till January, 2023
- Analyzing impacts of TATA Motors organizational culture on employee performances till February, 2023
- Providing recommendations to TATA Motors strategic level management in terms of increasing the level of effectiveness of organizational culture till April 2023
Let us look at the following flowchart to understand the step-by-step graduation of formulating the research question, aim and objective.
|Vague Research Objectives
|SMART Research Objectives
|Study employee motivation of Pepsico
|To study the impacts of management practices on the levels of employee motivation at Pepsico India by December 5, 2022
|Analysing consumer behaviour in Hotel Industry
|Analyzing changes in consumer behaviour in Hotel industry Pre and Post covid Era in Malaysia by March, 20230
|Incomplete research objectives
|SMART research objectives
|Give Suggestions and Recommendations to TATA Motors management on new market growth strategy
|Formulating recommendations to TATA Motors on the option of a successful strategy to enter Malaysian market by June, 2023
|Finding out about the employee Motivation Strategies used by TCS managers
|Identifying main time-management strategies used by managers of TCS France by December, 2023
Appraisal of the Research Aims and Objectives
By the time you reach the end of your research project, it would be required to reflect on the level of achievement of research aims and objectives. In a situation where research aims and objectives are not achieved by the time the end of the study comes, the reasons will have to be discussed. The reasons could vary from being a faulty or inappropriate research aims and objectives at the initial stage only or the impact of variables that were not anticipated in the planning stage or those uncontrollable changes that happened during the process of research that were beyond the hands of the researcher by impacted the outcome of the research
Common Steps for Formulating Research Aims and Objectives
It is a systematic process to formulate the correct Aims and Objectives and only when the process is systematic that the outcome is clear, specific, achievable, and relevant at the same time. You must begin by asking yourself what is desired out of this research and what exactly is the impact you want to create with your research. Let us list down some of the steps you can follow in the process of developing research aims and objectives:
- Define the Research Question: you must clearly know the questions that you wish to answer through your research. It will help to give a framework to your research and define it explicitly. Understanding the characteristics of a good research question will help you to draft more specific and clearer aims and objectives
- Do Literature Review: It is necessary to conduct a Literature Review to be aware of the key concepts, theories and methods that are related to your research problem or the question. Further, when you conduct a detailed Literature Review it can help you to understand well what research has already been done and what are the gaps in the existing Literature that you can aspire to fill.
- Know your research Aim: your research aim must be typically broad and concise that summarises the otherwise overarching goal of your research.
- Build research objectives: after having structured out research questions and research aim, we need to build research objectives that give a fair outline of what can be achieved through your research. As discussed, these objectives should follow the SMART principle (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound)
- Apply Action Verbs: Make use of action verbs such as “investigate, “examine”, “compare”, “Analyse” to describe your research aims and objectives. This makes them appear and understood to be more realistic in nature.
- Align them with Research Question: make sure that there is a synchronisation between the aim, objectives, and the question. This makes it possible that the research stays focused and the objectives are quite specific to be able to answer your questions.
- Revise and Improvise: After having revised the research aim and objectives, they need to be refined to their final version. For this feedback, opinion and advice can be sought from your supervisor, mentor, colleagues so that you are sure that what you have drafted can be achieved realistically in the given time frame.
- Communicate: now that things have ben finalised from your end, you must communicate this to your research team, stakeholder and whoever is associated with your research directly or indirectly. It is important to bring everyone on the same wavelength in context of the purpose of the study and the steps to achieve it.
To summarise, research aims and objectives are the backbone of any successful research project. They give you the ability to cut through the noise and embark on what really matters. By setting clear goals and aligning them with your research questions and methodology, you can ensure that your research is not just relevant, impactful, and of the highest quality. So, before you hit the road on your research journey, make sure you have a clear destination and steps to get there.