- Are broad statements of desired outcomes, or the general intentions of the research, which 'paint a picture' of your research project
- Emphasize what is to be accomplished (not how it is to be accomplished)
- Address the long-term project outcomes, i.e. they should reflect the aspirations and expectations of the research topic.
Once aims have been established, the next task is to formulate the objectives. Generally, a project should have no more than two or three aims statements, while it may include a number of objectives consistent with them.
Objectives are subsidiary to aims and:
- Are the steps you are going to take to answer your research questions or a specific list of tasks needed to accomplish the goals of the project
- Emphasize how aims are to be accomplished
- Must be highly focused and feasible
- Address the more immediate project outcomes
- Make accurate use of concepts
- Must be sensible and precisely described
- Should read as an 'individual' statement to convey your intentions
Here is an example of a project aim and subsidiary objectives:
- To critically assess the collection and disposal operations for bulky household waste in order to identify factors, which contribute to performance and technical efficiency.
- To critically assess bulky waste operations by local authorities, including volumes/types of materials arising and current disposal/recovery routes.
- To classify and evaluate the operation of furniture recovery schemes nationally.
- To make recommendations to improve the operational effectiveness of, and to maximise recovery opportunities of bulky waste collection.
Aims and Objectives should:
- Be concise and brief.
- Be interrelated; the aim is what you want to achieve, and the objective describes how you are going to achieve that aim.
- Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the duration of the project and the other commitments you have
- Provide you and your supervisor(s) with indicators of how you intend to:
- approach the literature and theoretical issues related to your project.
- access your chosen subjects, respondents, units, goods or services.
- develop a sampling frame and strategy or a rationale for their selection.
- develop a strategy and design for data collection and analysis.
- deal with ethical and practical problems in your research.
Aims and Objectives should not:
- Be too vague, ambitious or broad in scope.
- Just repeat each other in different terms.
- Just be a list of things related to your research topic.
- Contradict your methods - i.e. they should not imply methodological goals or standards of measurement, proof or generalisability of findings that the methods cannot sustain.