4.3 Research objective(s)
What are the research objectives?
In general, research objectives describe what we expect to achieve by a project.
Research objectives are usually expressed in lay terms and are directed as much to the client as to the researcher. Research objectives may be linked with a hypothesis or used as a statement of purpose in a study that does not have a hypothesis.
Even if the nature of the research has not been clear to the layperson from the hypotheses, s/he should be able to understand the research from the objectives.
A statement of research objectives can serve to guide the activities of research. Consider the following examples.
- Objective: To describe what factors farmers take into account in making such decisions as whether to adopt a new technology or what crops to grow.
- Objective: To develop a budget for reducing pollution by a particular enterprise.
- Objective: To describe the habitat of the giant panda in China.
In the above examples the intent of the research is largely descriptive.
- In the case of the first example, the research will end the study by being able to specify factors which emerged in household decisions.
- In the second, the result will be the specification of a pollution reduction budget.
- In the third, creating a picture of the habitat of the giant panda in China.
These observations might prompt researchers to formulate hypotheses which could be tested in another piece of research. So long as the aim of the research is exploratory, ie to describe what is, rather than to test an explanation for what is, a research objective will provide an adequate guide to the research.