Easiest way to write research objectives for your project work

Every research paper or project has objectives. These objectives may or may not be stated but the researcher has specific goals he wants to achieve by embarking on the study. However, in most instances, you might be required to state the objectives of study; and this is always the case for seminar papers, project works, thesis and dissertations. Research objectives are very important in a research study because they determine the scope, depth and the overall direction of the research. This article could be of relevance to you in understanding the specific steps to take in writing research objectives for your project work, seminar paper, thesis or dissertation.

What are objectives of study?

Objectives of study are specific outcomes you intend to achieve in a study. They are specific goals or aims stepped down to realistic, measurable, achievable, levels. The objectives provide specific directions on what to set out to look for in a study. You notice that we have mentioned the word ‘specific’ a number of times while attempting a definition of objectives of study. That’s because objectives of study are research specific. Some institutions require that you provide general and specific objectives. While the general objective is the aim or statement of intent which is almost a repeat of the title of your project work or seminar paper, the specific objectives breaks down that general objective into specific futuristic statements that the researcher intends to focus on during the study. So objectives are what you intend to do in a research study. They are written in futuristic terms using “to find out”, “to ascertain”, “to investigate”, “to evaluate”, “to analyse”, among others.

(Objectives of study split and focus on the variables in the title of the research work. Variables are measurable traits in the research topic which can change. Titles of research works have variables and these variables are used in creating objectives of study. Let’s not via into the use of variables in creating research objectives in order not to make this article difficult for beginners to understand. If you want to know more about variables in a research topic click here to watch our video on how to identify dependent and independent variables in a research work.)

General and specific objectives are easy to identify or formulate. You don’t really need to break your head about understanding the meaning of variables in the work before you can formulate objectives of study. All you need do is follow the steps provided in this article, keep trying to formulate objectives of study and by the time you get to a particular level, probably after making series of mistakes, you will notice that you now know how to formulate objectives of study. Of course, when you convert the objectives to questions they become research questions. Find some research topics, try formulating objectives for them and show your lecturer or instructor to assess what you’ve done. That way you improve faster. So focus on formulating objectives using easy techniques we provided here.

Samples of Research Objectives

Here’s a quick example of general and specific objectives of study for a project work in Mass Communication. Where your department does not require that you provide general objectives of study just move straight to writing the specific objectives of study. The number of specific objectives depends on you or in some cases, your department. Some departments insist on a minimum number of objectives while some others leave the student to determine the number of objectives to use in a particular study. It is always advised not to have less than three objectives, though some departments accept two for seminar papers. We suggest you have between three to five objectives of study in other not to carry more than you can realistically work on within specific period of time. We are using research topics in Mass Communication as samples here.

 

First Sample (Survey Research)

Research Topic:

After-School Exposure to Local and Foreign Cartoons by Primary School Pupils In Awka

General Objective:

To investigate after-school exposure to local and foreign cartoons by primary school pupils in Awka

Specific Objectives:

  1. To find out if respondents are exposed to local cartoons
  2. To find out if respondents are exposed to foreign cartoons
  3. To ascertain what motivates exposure to foreign
  4. To ascertain what motivates exposure to local cartoons by respondents
  5. To find out respondents’ most preferred cartoon programmes
  6. To find out what gratifications respondents derive from watching cartoons

Second Sample (Survey Research)

Research topic:

Influence of Selected Television Cartoon Programmes on Primary School Children

General Objective:

To find out the influence of selected cartoon programmes on primary school children

Specific objectives:

  1. To ascertain frequency of exposure to the selected cartoon films by children
  2. To find out the gratifications children derive from watching cartoon programmes
  3. To investigate if the cartoon programmes children are exposed to influences their behavioural pattern
  4. To ascertain in what ways the cartoon programmes influence the children

 

Third Sample (Survey Research)

Research topic:

Exposure to “Emzor Para-1000” Brila FM Advertisement and its influence on Brand Recall

General Objective:

To investigate the Influence of exposure to “Emzor Para-1000” Brila FM advertisement on brand recall

Specific objectives:

  1. To ascertain whether the respondents listen to “Emzor Para – 1000” advertisement in Brila 88.9 FM, Onitsha.
  1. To ascertain how frequently the respondents listen to Brila 88.9 FM Onitsha
  2. To find out the extent Brila 88.9 FM advertisement on Emzor Para–1000 brand persuades respondents to buy the brand.
  1. To investigate whether exposure to “Emzor Para – 1000” Brila 88.9 FM advertisement leads to respondents’ recall of the product.

 

Fourth Sample (Survey Research)

Research topic:

Social Media Use by Male Commercial Sex Workers in Anambra State

Specific objectives:

  1. To find out whether male commercial sex workers use social media.
  2. To investigate the most frequently used social media by male commercial sex workers.
  3. To ascertain what motivates male commercial sex workers social media use.
  4. To find out whether social media enhance business operations of male commercial sex workers.

 

Fifth Sample (Content Analysis Research)

Research topic:

A Content Analysis of Comments by Social Media Users on Daddy Freeze’s Anti-Tithe Postulations

General Objective:

To analyze Comments by social media users on Daddy Freeze’s anti-tithe postulations

Specific objectives:

  1. To ascertain the direction of comments by social media users on Daddy Freeze’s anti-tithe postulations
  2. To identify the sources of comments on Daddy Freeze’s anti-tithe postulations
  3. To ascertain the choice of words used in comments on Daddy Freeze’s position on tithe.
  4. To find out the dominant frame in the comments of social media users on Daddy Freeze’s position on tithe.

 

If you look at these examples closely you will notice several patterns. The most common pattern is that they are all in futuristic terms, showing what you intend to achieve in the field. Another pattern is that they show specific aspects of the research topic you intend to study. So you can see that the objectives breakdown the topic into various sub-units or sub-targets for study. They make it easier for you to get into the field and ask the right questions. The objectives point towards direct expected results, either your result confirm or contradict them. The fact that they look like what you can achieve means they are measurable. We can go on and on to provide you with several topics in various aspects of Mass Communication or any of the social sciences but these ones can actually assist you in understanding how to formulate objectives of study.

To summarize this excursion on how to write objectives of study we have provided 15 quickest strategies and facts about writing objectives of study. These 15 facts will also help you better understand the samples we gave above and how to get to work with regards to practicalizing what you have learnt here. Here are fifteen quick facts about writing objectives of study.

15 Quick Facts About Writing Objectives of Study for a Research Work

  1. Objectives are like open doors that show you what you should set out to achieve in a research work; what you should focus on while in the field carrying out the study.
  2. Objectives are specific roadmaps that provide boundaries of the scope of your study.
  3. Objectives breakdown the research topic to measurable targets.
  4. Objectives are futuristic in nature; they are written in futuristic terms often using such expressions as “to find out”, “to investigate”, “to ascertain”, “to evaluate”, among others.
  5. Objectives of study turn into research questions once they are converted to questions ending with question mark. This is why you need to formulate good objectives of study so that so that when you get to the stage of formulating research questions all you need do is to convert the objectives to questions ending with question mark.
  6. Objectives of study should not be ambiguous, bogus, or overloaded. Anyone who sees the objectives should see specifics, know which variable or action/behaviour/observation you want to measure. Here is a sample of an overloaded objective: “To find out if exposure to cartoon and children’s music influences social behaviour and academic performance.” This can actually be split into two separate objectives for easy assessment.

If you take a closer look on the objectives we provided in the second sample, you will see they have measurable variables such as to ascertain frequency of exposure to the selected cartoon films by children (how often they watched the cartoons), to find out the gratifications children derive from watching cartoon programmes, to investigate if the cartoon programmes children are exposed to influences their behavioural pattern, and to ascertain in what ways the cartoon programmes influence the children. These objectives are very clear and point towards specific data you will search for in the field. That’s a good way to write objectives of study.

  1. You write objectives of study by first taking a close look at the title of the research work and splitting it into different parts. The different parts come in form of futuristic sentences that all combine to achieve the goal of your study. Take a close look at the samples provided earlier you will discover how to split a research topic into various parts called objectives of study.
  2. The easiest way to learn how to write objectives of study is to look at objectives of study written in similar research topics. You probably have heard the saying that “there’s nothing new under the sun”. So you could begin learning how to write good objectives of study by taking a look at the research objectives in several other research topics related to yours then follow the same pattern in formulating yours. By the time you look at three or four related topics and their objectives you would have seen up to six or more ideas on how to formulate objectives for your own study, no matter how fresh your own topic might be. Just try this particular tip and see the magic it will perform for you. You might even discover that all you need do as a beginner is to change a few words and the sample objective will match yours. This is a short cut but you need to do this for a long time to master how to write objectives even without looking at samples. Sometimes you learn by taking a look at what those good at what you are learning have done, then attempt to replicate them in your own way.
  3. Research objectives identify the variables to be measured in your study. So you really need to know a little about variables to make research objectives writing easy for you.
  4. Research objectives help you avoid collection of irrelevant during your study.
  5. Research objectives describe the possible outcomes of your study. They show you what you’re likely to confirm or contradict based on data you collected from the field.
  6. Research objectives save you time and money by ensuring that you don’t’ embark on a waste of time or jamboree in the name of research study. Once your study objectives are poorly written or they lack direction, you cannot go ahead with the study otherwise you will be stuck in the middle of the study. By then you would have wasted precious time and money only to discover that your work is not researchable or is simply a jamboree.
  7. Well written objectives of study make project research writing easier for you.
  8. It is easier to formulate research objectives if you can identify the variables in your research topic. The variables actually provide the premise upon which the objectives of study are formulated. Learn about variables then identify them in your topic so you can easily split them into specific objectives of study.
  9. You learn how to write research objectives by attempting to practically write research objectives. It is not enough to have the theoretical knowledge of the meaning and how to write research objectives. You have to attempt to write them, make the initial mistakes and perfect the art of writing objectives of study with time. Remember the saying that that “practice makes permanent.”

 

Summing Up

Good research objectives should be written so they can be evaluated at the end of the work. The best format to bear in mind while writing research objectives is the SMART format. This summarises all explanations on how to write research objectives. The SMART format means the objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bounded. The aspect that says it should be time bound might not be specifically mentioned in research objectives of seminar papers, projects works, thesis and dissertations, except your department requests for that. The SMART format is for all kinds of research objectives, even beyond formal academic institutions.

SMART first appeared in a 1981 issue of the magazine Management Review, in a paper by Gorge T. Doran titled, “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” The paper discussed objectives and how difficult, yet critical, it is to set them. He created SMART to help guide managers in their objective setting process. This format is now commonly referred to when discussing how to write research objectives.

 

We hope that our article on how to write objectives of study has been useful to you. If you have questions on research objectives regarding the work you are currently doing or you want more clarifications on what you’ve read do let us know it the comment section.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

He is a Senior Lecturer in a Nigerian University.

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