Research Project Question and Aims and Objectives.

Research Question: What is it?

  • It’s the central question around which your research is built
  • It identifies the phenomenon to be studied
  • The title of your project may reflect the question
  • Needs to be clear, focussed, concise and arguable
  • Needs to be narrow, not broad
  • It’s not the topic, but lies within the topic

The research question leads to the hypothesis:

  • The hypotheses can be a possible answer to the research question
  • Can be a predication of a research outcome

The purpose of the research is then to test this hypotheses (prove or disprove it)

Aims and objectives:

  • Aim – what it’s for and what you’re planning to do with it. It’s a statement of what the research sets out to achieve, states the purpose of the research. One is usually sufficient. An aim isn’t to investigate but to find out something
  • Objectives – Linked to the aim, list what you will do to achieve the aims. Breaking the aim down into steps, can build consecutively upon each other. Usually 3-5

Objectives should be SMART:

  • Specific: as focussed as possible
  • Measurable: so that progress can be stated in terms of meeting or exceeding the objectives
  • Agreed: by all concerned e.g. tutor
  • Realistic: challenging but doable with available resources
  • Time specific: if relevant, should give a time limit

Long term goals:

  • Long term goals relate to the impact and the relevance of the research after the project is over
  • They are a logical extension of research question, hypothesis and aim

The Best research questions are:

  • Relevant
  • Clear and simple – simple question allows a simple answer, a complex research question could hide unclear thoughts
  • Interesting
  • Consistent with the requirements of the assessment – needs to fulfil the learning outcomes of your module
  • Substantial and with original dimensions – needs to reflect your own imagination, needs sufficient scope for a report, should show ability to construct and develop research issues, do not be too simplistic but sufficiently deep and thought provoking
  • Manageable in terms of research and in terms of your own academic abilities – be realistic about scope and scale of project, do you have sufficient time and can you access the required resources and methods?
  • Should be of academic and intellectual interest to people in your field of study
  • Arises from issues raised in literature or in practise
  • Clear purpose in relation to the field of study – filling gap in knowledge, analysing academic assumptions and professional practise, comparing different approaches, monitoring a development in practise
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