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When it comes to defining our research goals and setting the course for getting the information that we need, it is important that we know how each step in our approach fits into our workflows.
One question which researchers might often grapple with, is whether research question and objectives are the same – and if not, what the difference then is.
In today’s blog, we will be unpacking how objectives and questions differ – and what the roles are that they play in the research process, as well as that important link that they need to have.
However, let’s first take a look at how our research aim forms part of the important building blocks of our research.
Before delving into our objectives, we need to understand the value of having a research aim. You need to have a concrete statement of what your research’s desired outcome will be: clear, simple and to the point to make it easy to determine when you have succeeded.
Now, let’s move on to research objectives and how they fit into the research process.
Research objectives can, in a way, be seen as our plan of action. These activities are our roadmap to what needs to be done to answer the research questions that we have – but even more so, helping us to achieve our research aims.
Therefore, the difference between objectives and questions is already clear: the questions inform our objectives and what needs to be done to get specific information.
So, what are the ground rules of research objectives? How do you ensure that you have the right steps in place?
Certainly the most important point, is that our objectives need to be feasible and should enable you to answer the research questions that you have. Therefore, consider the questions that you are posing and how they will directly relate to your objectives.
Your objectives are also not set in stone: you need to adapt them as needed as you progress in your research. This will ensure that you get the best results for your research – so, be flexible in your approach and don’t be afraid to tweak where needed when you experience stagnation in your research.
In the same manner, the research that you conduct needs to answer the questions that will inform your research aims – and if the information sources that you have do not lead you there, you need to relook your sources.
When you ask the right questions, you will be better equipped towards achieving your research aim. So, formulate objectives that will help you answer typical why, how and who questions, and make it your goal to tie together your objectives, aim and questions to conduct cohesive research that is concise, correct and carefully formulated.
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