Designing SMART Research Objectives

What are the most common weakness formulating research question?

  1. Is it linked to the theory
  2. Provide fresh insight
  3. Is the topic clearly stated
  4. Is doable in the available time
  5. Is realistic in terms of knowledge and skills
  6. Do you have an access to data

Objectives must always be set after having formulated a good research question. After all, they are to explain the way in which such question is going to be answered. Objectives are usually headed by infinitive verbs. (Refer Bloom Taxanomy/Revised Bloom Taxanomy)

It can be difficult to develop realistic research objectives. There are common pitfalls such as the scope being too broad, not including enough detail, being too simplistic, being too ambitious, etc.  Use these S.M.A.R.T. guidelines to try and develop your objectives:

  1. Specific – avoid general statements, include detail about what you are going to do.
  2. Measureable – there should be a definable outcome.
  3. Achievable – be realistic in what you hope to cover, don’t attempt too much. A less ambitious but completed objective is better than an over-ambitious one that you cannot Rpossible achieve.
  4. Realistic – think about logistics. Are you practically able to do what you wish to do? Factors to consider include: time; expense; skills; access to sensitive information; participant’s consent; etc.
  5. Time constrained – be aware of the time-frame of the project.

Example

Title: An investigation into the student use of e-books at Bolton University.

Aims: Many academic libraries have expanded their library provision by the acquisition of e-books. Despite this strategic direction, the literature reveals that relatively little is known about student perceptions and attitudes towards e-books. Consequently, this research aims to narrow this research gap and conduct empirical research into student perceptions towards e-books and their frequency of use. The results will be used to provide recommendations to library management to improve the quality of service provision regarding e-books.

Research Objectives: The above aim will be accomplished by fulfilling the following research objectives:

  1. Review the literature concerning the student uptake and experience of e-books in academic libraries.
  2. Investigate perceptions and attitudes towards e-books and the usage of e-books at the University of Bolton.
  3. Compare usage statistics between various user-groups, e.g. full-time, part-time, course type, etc.
  4. Identify if any improvements or alterations are required to facilitate a high service quality provision in relation to the e-books service at Bolton University library.

References

  1. Designing Research Aims and Objectives
  2. How to Write SMART Research Objectives
  3. http://www.bolton.ac.uk/bissto/Writing-a-Dissertation/Topic-Aims-Objectives.aspx#sthash.2L0PRody.dpuf
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