Research Objectives: Meaning & How To Write Them
Updated: May 3
In order to gather key insights to help make strategic decisions, you successfully run research projects to feed into this, but how do you know what to follow and the main goals you are trying to achieve, otherwise you collect a lot of information and data that is irrelevant. This is where research objectives come in.
Table of contents:
What are research objectives?
Research objectives set out the goals of the research in a short descriptive manner, in providing direction and clarification for the research project to be successfully undertaken in achieving its targets, providing they are feasible and relevant in order to be effective.
This could be a couple of research objectives or more but it’s best to minimise the number and keep it short and clear in delivering objectives that are measurable or explorable. It will be the researcher’s job to gain an understanding of what exactly the decision maker is trying to achieve, particularly when the objectives are stated and lack clarity such as “improving brand image” but what perceptions or associations of the brand really need to be looked at in order to focus the research.
Importance of research objectives
Clearly defined research objectives help to fill gaps in knowledge that were identified previously by driving all aspects of the research towards the desired outcomes from design, data collection, analysis and insights, which can be measurable as well as areas you can explore in more detail. These could cover both the organisational objectives and personal objectives of the decision maker as long as there are no potential conflicts.
How to write research objectives?
Below are the following 5 steps in how to write research objectives:
Step 1: Work backwards from the end goal
The first step and the most important is to visual the end goal you are looking to achieve and then work backwards from that. The reason for this is you keep the focus of the research geared towards the desired outcome and this will come through to the analysis and insights you gained from the research. Otherwise, there will be a lot of chopping and changing that will result in a lack of focus and likely to be more costly with findings that are irrelevant based on the now rather than where you want the business to be.
Step 2: Follow the SMART principle
Following on from the above point, work towards the SMART principle in creating these research objectives -
Specific – ensure the objective is clear and well defined
Measurable – are you able to measure the aspect or topic you are looking to research? And to what level?
Achievable – are these objectives realistic? And are they feasible with the resources and support at hand?
Relevant – is this applicable and crucial for the desired outcomes of the research?
Time bound – can this research project be undertaken in the time available?
Step 3: Limit the number of objectives
It’s best to keep the number of research objectives down to ensure you keep focus of the end outcomes, otherwise it can be too broad and irrelevant if you have a lot of research objectives. Therefore, narrow down these numerous objectives to very small number (1-4).
Step 4: Gather feedback from other stakeholders
Collect feedback from colleagues and other stakeholders on what they think of these research objectives and if it’s relevant to what they are working towards. So, everyone is succinct in working towards a common goal no matter what aspect of the business they are involved in.
Step 5: Proofread the research objectives
Once these research objectives are finalised, it is vitally important to read over and review these research objectives to make sure they are concise, relevant, clear, feasible with the end outcomes in mind, so any small changes can be made before research is undertaken.
Research objectives examples
There are many cases where research objectives are applied and tailored towards each research project, below are some examples of what research objectives will include:
Brand awareness amongst your target audience
Brand usage in the last 3 months
Brand perceptions compared to main competitors
To determine which ad creative design is most appealing to use for an ad campaign via Concept testing.
To illustrate brand preference of new versus old products
Likelihood to recommend (NPS) the brand to others
Customer attitudes around the topic of interest
Assessing trends in buyer behaviour over the last couple of years
Positive and negative experiences of customers. One popular way to measure this is using customer satisfaction surveys.
The above is the kind of areas that research objectives are likely to cover but each research project is different and will need to be customised as per the business requirements. This could be in a measured way or research questions can be explored more broadly.
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