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Chapter 1: Introduction to Research Methods

Learning Objectives

At the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Define the term “research methods”.
  • List the nine steps in undertaking a research project.
  • Differentiate between applied and basic research.
  • Explain where research ideas come from.
  • Define ontology and epistemology and explain the difference between the two.
  • Identify and describe five key research paradigms in social sciences.
  • Differentiate between inductive and deductive approaches to research.

Welcome to Introduction to Research Methods. In this textbook, you will learn why research is done and, more importantly, about the methods researchers use to conduct research. Research comes in many forms and, although you may feel that it has no relevance to you and/ or that you know nothing about it, you are exposed to research multiple times a day. You also undertake research yourself, perhaps without even realizing it. This course will help you to understand the research you are exposed to on a daily basis, and how to be more critical of the research you read and use in your own life and career.

This text is intended as an introduction. A plethora of resources exists related to more detailed aspects of conducting research; it is not our intention to replace any of these more comprehensive resources. Feedback helps to improve this open-source textbook, and is appreciated in the development of the resource.

Research Methods for the Social Sciences: An Introduction by Valerie Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • Chapter 1: Home
  • Narrowing Your Topic
  • Problem Statement
  • Purpose Statement
  • Conceptual Framework

Designing the Theoretical Framework

Theoretical framework guide, making a theoretical framework, example framework, additional framework resources.

  • Quantitative Research Questions This link opens in a new window
  • Qualitative Research Questions This link opens in a new window
  • Qualitative & Quantitative Research Support with the ASC This link opens in a new window
  • Library Research Consultations This link opens in a new window

What is it?

  • A foundational review of existing theories. 
  • Serves as a roadmap or blueprint for developing arguments and supporting research.
  • Overview of the theory that the research is based on.
  • Can be made up of theories, principles, and concepts.

What does it do?

  • Explains the why and how of a particular phenomenon within a particular body of literature.
  • Connects the research subject with the theory.
  • Specifies the study’s scope; makes it more valuable and generalizable.
  • Guides further actions like framing the research questions, developing the literature review, and data collection and analyses.

What should be in it?

  • Theory or theories that the researcher considers relevant for their research, principles, and concepts.
  • Theoretical Framework Guide Use this guide to determine the guiding framework for your theoretical dissertation research.

How to make a theoretical framework

  • Specify research objectives.
  • Note the prominent variables under the study.
  • Explore and review the literature through keywords identified as prominent variables.
  • Note the theories that contain these variables or the keywords.
  • Review all selected theories again in the light of the study’s objectives, and the key variables identified.
  • Search for alternative theoretical propositions in the literature that may challenge the ones already selected.
  • Ensure that the framework aligns with the study’s objectives, problem statement, the main research question, methodology, data analysis, and the expected conclusion.
  • Decide on the final framework and begin developing.
  • Theoretical Framework Example for a Thesis or Dissertation This link offers an example theoretical framework.

Some additional helpful resources in constructing a theoretical framework for study:

  • https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/theoretical-framework/
  • https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/theoretical-framework-example/
  • https://www.projectguru.in/how-to-write-the-theoretical-framework-of-research/

Theoretical Framework Research

The term conceptual framework and theoretical framework are often and erroneously used interchangeably (Grant & Osanloo, 2014). A theoretical framework provides the theoretical assumptions for the larger context of a study, and is the foundation or ‘lens’ by which a study is developed. This framework helps to ground the research focus understudy within theoretical underpinnings and to frame the inquiry for data analysis and interpretation.  The application of theory in traditional theoretical research is to understand, explain, and predict phenomena (Swanson, 2013).

Casanave, C.P.,& Li,Y.(2015). Novices’ struggles with conceptual and theoretical framing in writing  dissertations and papers for publication. Publications,3 (2),104-119.doi:10.3390/publications3020104

Grant, C., & Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework in Dissertation Research: Creating the Blueprint for Your “House. ” Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research, 4(2), 12–26

Swanson, R. (2013). Theory building in applied disciplines . San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

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Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners (2021)

Chapter: chapter 1 - project context, research objectives, and approach.

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

5   1.1 Introduction Many transportation agencies are facing challenges attracting qualified, technically competent, culturally sensitive, and motivated planning staff. Others are able to attract employees, but report that they often lose mid-level supervisors and managers to competition from other organizations that offer more defined career paths or higher salaries. The mid-level supervisors are perhaps the most valuable staff resource due to their experience and knowledge of agency practices. The com- petitive factors, for example, higher salaries, are often very difficult if not impossible for public agencies to match given civil service and, if present, union requirements. There is also a sense among many groups that the staff in many transportation planning units do not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. The cumulative capabilities of an agency’s staff are one of the most important strengths of any organization. NCHRP Project 08-125, “Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners,” was motivated by a concern that transportation agencies were facing challenges attracting, professionally developing, and retaining qualified planning staff. These challenges could be exacerbated in the future given continuing societal, technological, and environmental changes. Transportation agencies will likely need different planning capabilities to meet these future challenges. [1,2,3] In particular, the ability to plan effectively will depend on developing agency planning capabilities and transportation planning staff with requisite talents, including KSAs, that enable the agency to address emerging planning challenges. The research was based on several themes that reflect the nature of the first 20 years of the 21st century as a transformative period in the history of transportation (see, for example, [4]). Although the exact nature of this transformation is not entirely clear, the initial clues are revealing. Rapidly evolving transportation and information technologies include connected and automated vehicles, and new ways of providing mobility (for example, Mobility as a Service (MaaS)). In many instances these new mobility strategies are provided via new business models (for example, trans- portation network companies (TNCs) and docked and dockless bicycle and scooter companies). These technology-based mobility options are heralding a new revolution in personal mobility. [5] This research found that the following key themes associated with a changing planning envi- ronment will likely affect desired staff KSAs. Strategic Perspective—The Long View The need for a strategic perspective on future transportation challenges and on the types of professionals and skill sets needed is especially strong in the field of transportation planning. Understanding the likely characteristics of the world we will live in and of the future role of the transportation system becomes a critical point of departure for creating a credible transportation C H A P T E R 1 Project Context, Research Objectives, and Approach

6 Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners planning capability. In transportation planning, by its very nature, one looks out 20 to 25 years to identify the key characteristics of the world we will likely live in (although some agencies have adopted 40- and 50-year planning horizons). This research adopted such a future orientation, and focused on what different futures might mean to a transportation agency’s planning staffing and required skills sets. The configuration and focus of future transportation agencies and of their planning functions will likely be very different than what exists today. All one needs to do is look back 20 years to see what transportation planners were considering as part of the then planning process and compare this to today’s challenges and opportunities to see how dramatically the planning environment can change. To better prepare for these changes, planning professionals not only need to evaluate their core competencies, but also their ability to anticipate what the future likely holds. Some transportation research has examined possible “game changers” in the evolution of society, their consequences to the transportation system, and thus challenges to transporta- tion agencies. NCHRP Report 798: The Role of Planning in a 21st Century State Department of Transportation—Supporting Strategic Decisionmaking, for example, focused on possible future planning challenges to state departments of transportation (DOTs): Although their responsibilities may have changed over time, planners should continue to have an impor- tant role to play in supporting strategic decision-making. While DOT leaders are dealing with more tactical responsibilities and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the department, they need planners who can stay ahead of the emerging issues, consider the “what if?” scenarios, lead thoughtful evaluations of strategic trade-offs, and communicate the importance of the DOT to the state’s economy and quality of life. [5] Broader Role for Technology The emergence and proliferation of advanced technologies are impacting the transportation system and society in general, in particular in changing the way we plan, move around, and manage communities. The most prominent changes are being driven by the underlying technological trends related to digitalization, electrification, automation, shared use of assets, and interpersonal and data connectivity. These changes also affect consequent business and financial models related to the development of new infrastructure while also filling existing gaps in funding at the federal, state, and local levels. Technology trends also impact both transportation planning as a process (for example, new technology-based means of communicating to a range of diverse groups), as well as an agency’s technical capabilities (for example, large-scale data collection and data management). In the next 5 years, important technology trends affecting transportation will likely include more robust internet and wireless communications, increased electrification of vehicles, higher integration of advanced driver assistance capabilities, changes to freight and logistics resulting from smart manufacturing (first mile/last mile solutions and drone delivery), improved and per- sonalized information access, an uptick in personal mobility devices, and microtransit. Post-2025, electric vehicles will likely continue to be an important trend in transportation system use, putting pressure on an efficient allocation of energy through smart grids. Smart mobility, expanded trav- eler information systems, adoption of wireless traffic management systems, and higher penetra- tion of automated vehicles and shared use technology are all forecasted to impact transportation systems and associated institutional arrangements. Each of these will affect the types of issues that will be considered as part of the transportation planning process. Planning Support for Policy and Decision-Making Needs As part of the planning process, transportation officials anticipate and respond to a range of societal concerns, evolving characteristics of the transportation system, and changing economic,

Project Context, Research Objectives, and Approach 7   demographic, and cultural contexts for transportation decisions. Examples of consequential policy issues identified by the TRB in its Critical Issues in Transportation 2019 Policy Snapshot [6], included: • Transformational technologies and services: Steering the technology revolution • Serving a growing and shifting population • Energy and sustainability: Protecting the planet • Resilience and security: Preparing for threats • Safety and public health: Safeguarding the public • Equity: Serving the disadvantaged • Governance: Managing our systems • System performance and asset management • Funding and finance: Paying the tab • Goods movement: Moving freight • Institutional and workforce capacity • Research and innovation: Preparing for the future It seems likely that planning efforts in states, regions, or local areas could well have their own, in many cases similar, concerns that would need to be reflected in the planning process. The Impact of Changes on Essential Knowledge Transportation planning has evolved considerably since its professional origins in the middle of the 20th century. Transportation planners of the future will likely be expected to ensure that transportation plays a supportive and proactive role in improving a region’s economic, social, and environmental well-being even more so than it does today. Transportation system/ personal use technologies will likely transform the concept of personal travel. Innovations in goods manufacture and delivery could have dramatic effects on freight flows (e.g., 3-D printing). [7] Changing demographics will influence all aspects of society, with a strong focus on equity and transportation for diverse populations. Concerns for transportation system equity, resilience, and public health, which are emerging issues today, could very well be commonplace in 10 to 15 years, with planners spending considerable time identifying transportation system and popu- lation vulnerabilities. The Increasingly Diverse and Dispersed “Clients” of Planning Activities The range of transportation issues, both for mobility demand and infrastructure/service supply, is increasingly responsive to the broad range of socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in society. [8] Developing appropriate transportation solutions requires recognizing key differ- ences, not only in transportation habits and needs and relevant solutions, but also a planning process that can effectively depict key differences and communicate with the broadest range of constituents. Agency Culture and Organization Influence on Workforce Recruitment Development and Retention This research recognized that, taken together, the range of planning issues noted above can have a critical impact on needed planning workforce capabilities (in terms of KSA), but also on the workforce itself in terms of their interests, values, and desired work and life styles. There are distinct differences in these characteristics and in terms of motivation and expectations as

8 Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners one considers different generational cohorts, for example, baby boomers, millennials (Gen Y), Gen X, and Gen Z. As noted later, the literature review found that the characteristics of Gen X and Gen Z employees include such things as: • Work attitudes trending toward entrepreneurial and collaborative approaches and multitasking; • More familiarity and interest in digital and internet-based work tools and working remotely; • Career orientation trending toward personal fulfillment and tempered by skepticism about public sector employment; • Interest in career vectors offering personal development and continuous learning opportunities; • Explicit consideration of public versus private sector employment opportunities; • Willingness to move to new jobs that offer greater quality of life benefits and flexibility; and • Expectation of culturally competent, diverse, and inclusive agency staff and leadership. These factors could be at considerable odds with many current workplace environments in both the public and private sectors. In public agencies these factors become even more important when work environments are often characterized by required credentialing for advancement, narrow position descriptions, rigid hierarchy, concentrating talents and skills in position descriptions, minimal opportunities for cross disciplinary enrichment, and narrow recruitment targets. In some cases, these factors are dictated by civil service and/or union requirements. The workforce develop- ment challenge therefore goes well beyond the identification of needed capabilities; it goes to the importance of organizational structure and culture, career opportunities, on-the-job training and enrichment, and quality of life considerations. 1.2 Project Objectives The purposes of this project were to (1) develop knowledge, skills, abilities, education, and experience (KSAEE) characteristics and talent profiles for transportation planners at all levels of planning applications that reflect current needs and capabilities likely needed to meet future work efforts; and (2) provide guidance to transportation agencies on how to attract, develop, manage, and retain future transportation planners. There are multiple audiences for the results of this research most importantly including agency and planning program managers. Other important audiences include university transportation programs and human resource managers who have responsibilities in preparing, attracting, and developing an agency’s staff resources. The results could also be useful for others not familiar with the planning profession. Developing and retaining planning staff with the competency to identify and address future needs depends on: • Analyzing future transportation planning trends and issues as a determinant of planning workforce talent requirements; • Identifying the KSAs relevant to developing a planning process and planning products that anticipate, understand, and meet emerging trends; • Attracting, competing for, and retaining staff that have the requisite KSAs; • Creating a work environment that recognizes the learning, working, and interpersonal commu- nications styles needed for today’s planners; • Providing professional development opportunities that will provide experienced planners with an exposure to new skills and tools to enhance their capabilities; • Providing an attractive work environment and work conditions that meet the organization’s mission while meeting staff needs; • Providing a career plan and professional development opportunities that are competitive with other career paths;

Project Context, Research Objectives, and Approach 9   • Offering a flexible and structured human resource program that supports and encourages fulfilling career paths for transportation planners; and • Attracting transportation planners that reflect the characteristics of the society they serve. These factors were considered as part of the research and are reflected in the approach that guided the research. 1.3 Research Approach Figure 1 shows the steps in the research approach. The approach started with an understand- ing of talent profiles characterized by KSAs. Of note, only KSAs were examined at this point in the research given that the education and experience (EEs) factors were really qualifying criteria for a job and thus not part of the core knowledge and abilities to be successful in the job. An ability to add EEs to a talent profile was later added for those agencies that might want to create job descriptions, which were based on the full set of KSAEEs. The range of desired KSAs was based on a literature review of transportation planning and the “futures” literatures, and a review of transportation agency websites. In order to understand how these driving forces related to agency planning needs and capabilities, the literature review was augmented with outreach efforts that included: • Surveys of – A large engineering/planning consulting firm – AASHTO members of the Committee on Planning 1. Project Management/Interaction with Stakeholders Throughout Project Figure 1. Research approach.

10 Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners – ITE Planning Council – WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) • Focus Group – Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) • Interviews of – Directors of university transportation centers – Program directors of university-based training programs – Program staff for the National Transit Institute (NTI) • Workshop – Session at the 2019 TRB Annual Meeting The results of this data collection led to the identification of the KSAs considered most impor- tant for current and expected future characteristics of transportation planning. Talent profiles represent a new way (for public agencies) of portraying a position’s desired competencies. One of the key points for Task 5, developing talent profiles, was that transportation planning is not considered the same across agencies. Transportation planning consists of many different analysis and data collection efforts, information-producing tasks, interaction with key stakeholders and the public, and conducting multimodal studies as well as mode-specific plan- ning (for example, active transportation). Transportation planning needs also will likely differ for small rural states as compared to large urban states. Task 5 developed a typology for the KSAs reflecting these diverse perspectives that became part of the talent profile template used through- out the research. In other words, the approach toward developing talent profiles was based modularly so that an agency can pick which KSAs will be most relevant to their needs. The planning talent profiles: • Reflect the current relationships among stakeholders regarding the range of planning activities, including conventional transportation planning in areas related to data analysis, forecasting, impact analysis, and evaluation; • Array the appropriate set of distinctly different planning activities defined in terms of differ- ences in needed KSAs and related background in education and expertise; • Reflect differences in positions by function and role including agency director, manager, analyst, specialist, and technician. Common KSAs were identified for every planning position, no matter what role it has in the agency. For example, it was found that “familiarity with trans- portation planning principles” was considered critical for every position in a planning unit. In addition, position-specific KSAs were identified for those that often interact with many dif- ferent agency functions or that require special knowledge, for example, transportation system operations, asset management, access and mobility improvement, system resilience, public health, and the like; • Give special attention to critical planning contexts requiring special talents (non-planning disciplines, work experience, and the like) currently unavailable; and • Represent a range of KSAs relating to a set of driving forces that could influence future trans- portation planning. The results of the initial research tasks led to the development of an Agency Talent Profile Tool (Tool) that could be used by agency managers to develop talent profiles quickly and effec- tively. A separate Tool was developed for use by employees. The draft Tool was piloted with four agencies: the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area; the Minnesota Department of Transpor- tation (MnDOT); the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT); and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). These pilots obtained feedback from transportation planning officials and human resource staff on the substance, usefulness, and form of the Tool.

Project Context, Research Objectives, and Approach 11   This Tool was incorporated into a QRG that included a step-by-step process for agency offi- cials, primarily human resource and planning managers, to do the following: • Identify prospective planning KSAs for their agencies in light of current and likely future planning needs; • Develop talent profiles given external and internal (to the agency) driving forces that have been identified in their agency; • With the addition of EEs requirements, develop position or job descriptions based on these talent profiles; and • Identify strategies for assuring a strong and capable planning staff today (e.g., training and professional development needs), attracting the staff of tomorrow, and retaining both. The final QRG is presented in Appendix C and also is available as a separate PDF on the TRB website. The research approach faced significant challenges caused by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the data collection strategies had to be modified to reflect the changing demands on transportation agency staff and limitations on physical interaction. For example, it was origi- nally planned to survey COMTO members, but given the demands on transportation officials in responding to the pandemic, it was decided that a more focused, internet-based group discussion would be more effective. COVID-19 also affected the plan for conducting pilot studies of the Tool developed for this research, which had been originally envisioned as in-person pilot studies. All of the transportation agencies contacted to participate in the pilots were requiring staff to work remotely and were not allowing in-person meetings from outside individuals. As a result, the pilots were conducted on-line as facilitated, interactive, 1-hour discussions with transportation plan- ning and human resource officials. The discussions focused on the draft Tool, which participants received in advance to allow them to understand how the Tool was structured. Although COVID-19 has affected the work style of many DOT staff, the QRG is still valid in that such external factors are part of the organizational assessment that is part of the QRG pro- cess. The QRG will continue to be valid as work spaces change.

For public agencies, attracting qualified, technically competent, culturally sensitive, and motivated planning staff can be challenging in a competitive landscape.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Research Report 980: Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners presents an assessment of current and emerging forces that are shaping transportation planning practice and the transportation planning workforce.

Supplemental to the report are downloadable tools (one for employees and one for employers ), an implementation memo , a Quick Reference Guide , and a Summary .

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Frequently asked questions

How do i write a research objective.

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

Frequently asked questions: Writing a research paper

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them.

In general, they should be:

  • Focused and researchable
  • Answerable using credible sources
  • Complex and arguable
  • Feasible and specific
  • Relevant and original

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in Chicago style are to:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Include a title page
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center
  • Cite your sources with author-date citations or Chicago footnotes
  • Include a bibliography or reference list

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
  • Center the paper’s title
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end

To format a paper in APA Style , follow these guidelines:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page
  • Apply APA heading styles
  • Cite your sources with APA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a reference page at the end

No, it’s not appropriate to present new arguments or evidence in the conclusion . While you might be tempted to save a striking argument for last, research papers follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the results and discussion sections if you are following a scientific structure). The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

The conclusion of a research paper has several key elements you should make sure to include:

  • A restatement of the research problem
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or findings
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

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research objectives chapter 1

  • Aims and Objectives – A Guide for Academic Writing
  • Doing a PhD

One of the most important aspects of a thesis, dissertation or research paper is the correct formulation of the aims and objectives. This is because your aims and objectives will establish the scope, depth and direction that your research will ultimately take. An effective set of aims and objectives will give your research focus and your reader clarity, with your aims indicating what is to be achieved, and your objectives indicating how it will be achieved.

Introduction

There is no getting away from the importance of the aims and objectives in determining the success of your research project. Unfortunately, however, it is an aspect that many students struggle with, and ultimately end up doing poorly. Given their importance, if you suspect that there is even the smallest possibility that you belong to this group of students, we strongly recommend you read this page in full.

This page describes what research aims and objectives are, how they differ from each other, how to write them correctly, and the common mistakes students make and how to avoid them. An example of a good aim and objectives from a past thesis has also been deconstructed to help your understanding.

What Are Aims and Objectives?

Research aims.

A research aim describes the main goal or the overarching purpose of your research project.

In doing so, it acts as a focal point for your research and provides your readers with clarity as to what your study is all about. Because of this, research aims are almost always located within its own subsection under the introduction section of a research document, regardless of whether it’s a thesis , a dissertation, or a research paper .

A research aim is usually formulated as a broad statement of the main goal of the research and can range in length from a single sentence to a short paragraph. Although the exact format may vary according to preference, they should all describe why your research is needed (i.e. the context), what it sets out to accomplish (the actual aim) and, briefly, how it intends to accomplish it (overview of your objectives).

To give an example, we have extracted the following research aim from a real PhD thesis:

Example of a Research Aim

The role of diametrical cup deformation as a factor to unsatisfactory implant performance has not been widely reported. The aim of this thesis was to gain an understanding of the diametrical deformation behaviour of acetabular cups and shells following impaction into the reamed acetabulum. The influence of a range of factors on deformation was investigated to ascertain if cup and shell deformation may be high enough to potentially contribute to early failure and high wear rates in metal-on-metal implants.

Note: Extracted with permission from thesis titled “T he Impact And Deformation Of Press-Fit Metal Acetabular Components ” produced by Dr H Hothi of previously Queen Mary University of London.

Research Objectives

Where a research aim specifies what your study will answer, research objectives specify how your study will answer it.

They divide your research aim into several smaller parts, each of which represents a key section of your research project. As a result, almost all research objectives take the form of a numbered list, with each item usually receiving its own chapter in a dissertation or thesis.

Following the example of the research aim shared above, here are it’s real research objectives as an example:

Example of a Research Objective

  • Develop finite element models using explicit dynamics to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion, initially using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum.
  • Investigate the number, velocity and position of impacts needed to insert a cup.
  • Determine the relationship between the size of interference between the cup and cavity and deformation for different cup types.
  • Investigate the influence of non-uniform cup support and varying the orientation of the component in the cavity on deformation.
  • Examine the influence of errors during reaming of the acetabulum which introduce ovality to the cavity.
  • Determine the relationship between changes in the geometry of the component and deformation for different cup designs.
  • Develop three dimensional pelvis models with non-uniform bone material properties from a range of patients with varying bone quality.
  • Use the key parameters that influence deformation, as identified in the foam models to determine the range of deformations that may occur clinically using the anatomic models and if these deformations are clinically significant.

It’s worth noting that researchers sometimes use research questions instead of research objectives, or in other cases both. From a high-level perspective, research questions and research objectives make the same statements, but just in different formats.

Taking the first three research objectives as an example, they can be restructured into research questions as follows:

Restructuring Research Objectives as Research Questions

  • Can finite element models using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum together with explicit dynamics be used to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion?
  • What is the number, velocity and position of impacts needed to insert a cup?
  • What is the relationship between the size of interference between the cup and cavity and deformation for different cup types?

Difference Between Aims and Objectives

Hopefully the above explanations make clear the differences between aims and objectives, but to clarify:

  • The research aim focus on what the research project is intended to achieve; research objectives focus on how the aim will be achieved.
  • Research aims are relatively broad; research objectives are specific.
  • Research aims focus on a project’s long-term outcomes; research objectives focus on its immediate, short-term outcomes.
  • A research aim can be written in a single sentence or short paragraph; research objectives should be written as a numbered list.

How to Write Aims and Objectives

Before we discuss how to write a clear set of research aims and objectives, we should make it clear that there is no single way they must be written. Each researcher will approach their aims and objectives slightly differently, and often your supervisor will influence the formulation of yours on the basis of their own preferences.

Regardless, there are some basic principles that you should observe for good practice; these principles are described below.

Your aim should be made up of three parts that answer the below questions:

  • Why is this research required?
  • What is this research about?
  • How are you going to do it?

The easiest way to achieve this would be to address each question in its own sentence, although it does not matter whether you combine them or write multiple sentences for each, the key is to address each one.

The first question, why , provides context to your research project, the second question, what , describes the aim of your research, and the last question, how , acts as an introduction to your objectives which will immediately follow.

Scroll through the image set below to see the ‘why, what and how’ associated with our research aim example.

Explaining aims vs objectives

Note: Your research aims need not be limited to one. Some individuals per to define one broad ‘overarching aim’ of a project and then adopt two or three specific research aims for their thesis or dissertation. Remember, however, that in order for your assessors to consider your research project complete, you will need to prove you have fulfilled all of the aims you set out to achieve. Therefore, while having more than one research aim is not necessarily disadvantageous, consider whether a single overarching one will do.

Research Objectives

Each of your research objectives should be SMART :

  • Specific – is there any ambiguity in the action you are going to undertake, or is it focused and well-defined?
  • Measurable – how will you measure progress and determine when you have achieved the action?
  • Achievable – do you have the support, resources and facilities required to carry out the action?
  • Relevant – is the action essential to the achievement of your research aim?
  • Timebound – can you realistically complete the action in the available time alongside your other research tasks?

In addition to being SMART, your research objectives should start with a verb that helps communicate your intent. Common research verbs include:

Table of Research Verbs to Use in Aims and Objectives

Last, format your objectives into a numbered list. This is because when you write your thesis or dissertation, you will at times need to make reference to a specific research objective; structuring your research objectives in a numbered list will provide a clear way of doing this.

To bring all this together, let’s compare the first research objective in the previous example with the above guidance:

Checking Research Objective Example Against Recommended Approach

Research Objective:

1. Develop finite element models using explicit dynamics to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion, initially using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum.

Checking Against Recommended Approach:

Q: Is it specific? A: Yes, it is clear what the student intends to do (produce a finite element model), why they intend to do it (mimic cup/shell blows) and their parameters have been well-defined ( using simplified experimentally validated foam models to represent the acetabulum ).

Q: Is it measurable? A: Yes, it is clear that the research objective will be achieved once the finite element model is complete.

Q: Is it achievable? A: Yes, provided the student has access to a computer lab, modelling software and laboratory data.

Q: Is it relevant? A: Yes, mimicking impacts to a cup/shell is fundamental to the overall aim of understanding how they deform when impacted upon.

Q: Is it timebound? A: Yes, it is possible to create a limited-scope finite element model in a relatively short time, especially if you already have experience in modelling.

Q: Does it start with a verb? A: Yes, it starts with ‘develop’, which makes the intent of the objective immediately clear.

Q: Is it a numbered list? A: Yes, it is the first research objective in a list of eight.

Mistakes in Writing Research Aims and Objectives

1. making your research aim too broad.

Having a research aim too broad becomes very difficult to achieve. Normally, this occurs when a student develops their research aim before they have a good understanding of what they want to research. Remember that at the end of your project and during your viva defence , you will have to prove that you have achieved your research aims; if they are too broad, this will be an almost impossible task. In the early stages of your research project, your priority should be to narrow your study to a specific area. A good way to do this is to take the time to study existing literature, question their current approaches, findings and limitations, and consider whether there are any recurring gaps that could be investigated .

Note: Achieving a set of aims does not necessarily mean proving or disproving a theory or hypothesis, even if your research aim was to, but having done enough work to provide a useful and original insight into the principles that underlie your research aim.

2. Making Your Research Objectives Too Ambitious

Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available. It is natural to want to set ambitious research objectives that require sophisticated data collection and analysis, but only completing this with six months before the end of your PhD registration period is not a worthwhile trade-off.

3. Formulating Repetitive Research Objectives

Each research objective should have its own purpose and distinct measurable outcome. To this effect, a common mistake is to form research objectives which have large amounts of overlap. This makes it difficult to determine when an objective is truly complete, and also presents challenges in estimating the duration of objectives when creating your project timeline. It also makes it difficult to structure your thesis into unique chapters, making it more challenging for you to write and for your audience to read.

Fortunately, this oversight can be easily avoided by using SMART objectives.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of how to create an effective set of aims and objectives for your research project, whether it be a thesis, dissertation or research paper. While it may be tempting to dive directly into your research, spending time on getting your aims and objectives right will give your research clear direction. This won’t only reduce the likelihood of problems arising later down the line, but will also lead to a more thorough and coherent research project.

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Davidson D, Ellis Paine A, Glasby J, et al. Analysis of the profile, characteristics, patient experience and community value of community hospitals: a multimethod study. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2019 Jan. (Health Services and Delivery Research, No. 7.1.)

Cover of Analysis of the profile, characteristics, patient experience and community value of community hospitals: a multimethod study

Analysis of the profile, characteristics, patient experience and community value of community hospitals: a multimethod study.

Chapter 2 research objectives, questions and methodology.

In the light of the unfolding policy context and gaps within the existing literature outlined in Chapter 1 , and informed by conversations with key stakeholders (see Patient and public involvement ), this study aimed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the profile, characteristics, patient and carer experience and community engagement and value of community hospitals in contrasting local contexts. The specific objectives were to:

  • construct a national database and develop a typology of community hospitals
  • explore and understand the nature and extent of patients’ and carers’ experiences of community hospital care and services
  • investigate the value of the interdependent relationship between community hospitals and their communities through in-depth case studies of community value (qualitative study) and analysis of Charity Commission data (quantitative study).

In meeting these aims and objectives, the study addressed three overarching research questions (each with an associated set of more specific subquestions as summarised in Table 1 ):

TABLE 1

Research questions and objectives

  • What is a community hospital? In addressing this question, we drew on existing definitions and conceptualisations of ‘community hospitals’ as outlined in Chapter 1 , Research on community hospitals . Although our emphasis here was primarily empirical and descriptive, we were nevertheless guided by, and sought to contribute to, theoretical debates on definitions of community hospitals and their place within wider health and care systems, drawing on concepts of rural health care, chronic disease and complex care burden, integrated care and clinical leadership.
  • What are patients’ (and carers’) experiences of community hospitals? This element of the study was designed to contribute to the conceptualisation of the distinctive elements of community hospitals as understood through the ‘lived experiences’ of patients, rather than just satisfaction ratings. Here, we were influenced by prior analysis of the functional, technical and relational components of patient experience (e.g. environment and facilities, delivery of care, staff) alongside a more theoretical interest in the interpersonal, psychological and social dimensions of patient experience. Very early on in our study, through conversations with patient and public involvement (PPI) stakeholders, we recognised the importance of exploring and understanding the experience not only of patients but also of family carers, and hence we extended our initial question to include both patients’ and carers’ experiences.
  • What does the community do for its community hospital, and what does the community hospital do for its community? In addressing this question, we drew on notions of voluntarism and participation and brought together thinking from the separate bodies of literature on volunteering, philanthropy and co-production. This led us to question not just the level of voluntary support for community hospitals but also the different forms it took, how this varies between and within communities, how it is encouraged, organised and managed, and what difference it makes (outcomes). We also drew on notions of social value, including existing typologies, that encouraged us to question different forms of value (e.g. economic, social, human, symbolic) and different stakeholder groups (e.g. staff, patients, communities).

Given the diversity of the questions, we do not set out to provide an over-riding hypothesis or unified theoretical framework for the study as a whole. Instead, these concepts, frameworks and debates served as ‘sensitising categories’, shaping our approach to study design as well as data collection and analysis. 71 We return to these in Chapter 8 and augment them with new concepts that emerged from our analysis.

In addressing these diverse questions, we adopted a multimethod approach with a convergent design. Quantitative methods were employed to provide breadth of understanding relating to the questions concerning ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how much’, whereas qualitative methods provided depth of understanding, particularly in relation to questions of ‘how’, ‘why’ and ‘to what effect’.

The research was conducted in three distinct (although temporally overlapping) phases, each with a number of different associated elements and research methods: (1) mapping (database construction and analysis through data set reconciliation and verification), (2) qualitative case studies (semistructured interviews, discovery interviews, focus groups) and (3) quantitative analysis of charity commission data. Table 1 summarises the study objectives, questions and research methods. Each of the three phases of research are discussed in turn through the following sections of this chapter, before the final sections discuss data integration, PPI and ethics.

  • Phase 1: mapping and profiling community hospitals

Phase 1 of the research involved a national mapping exercise to address the first study question ‘what is a community hospital?’. It aimed to map the number and location of all hospitals in England to then provide a profile and definition of community hospitals. A database of characteristics would enable the profiling of community hospitals, inform a typology and support a sampling strategy for subsequent case studies. Data were collected from all four UK countries but, in accordance with the brief of the study, this report focuses on England. Reference is made to Scotland’s data as they were important in developing the methodology. The structure of the mapping comprised five elements:

  • literature review – constructing a working definition: (see Chapter 1 )
  • data set reconciliation – building a new database from multiple data sets
  • database analysis – developing an initial classification of community hospitals with beds
  • rapid telephone enquiry – refining the classification
  • verification – checking and refining the database through internet searches.

The flow of activities is depicted in Figure 1 .

Structure of the national mapping exercise.

Literature review: constructing a working definition

We developed a working definition of a community hospital as drawn from the literature (and as outlined in Chapter 1 ):

  • A hospital with < 100 beds serving a local population of up to 100,000 and providing direct access to GPs and local community staff.
  • Typically GP led, or nurse led with medical support from local GPs.
  • Services provided are likely to include inpatient care for older people, rehabilitation and maternity services, outpatient clinics and day care as well as minor injury and illness units, diagnostics and day surgery. The hospital may also be a base for the provision of outreach services by MDTs.
  • Will not have a 24-hour A&E nor provide complex surgery. In addition, a specialist hospital (e.g. a children’s hospital, a hospice or a specialist mental health or learning disability hospital) would not be classified as a community hospital.

The initial enquiry was framed around a ‘classic’ community hospital. The term was drawn directly from the Community Hospital Association 2008 classification, 72 describing classic community hospitals as ‘local community hospitals with inpatient facilities’ (i.e. with beds) and as distinct from community care resource centres (without beds), community care homes (integrated health and social care campus) or rehabilitation units. Although the term ‘classic’ was initially helpful in setting the boundaries of the study, it presented ongoing problems, such as whether it described all community hospitals with beds or a subset within that. Throughout the study, therefore, we have adopted the term ‘community hospital’ and omitted the adjective ‘classic’. Our focus, however, has remained on community hospitals with beds.

Data reconciliation: building a new database from multiple data sets

There was no up-to-date comprehensive database of community hospitals in England. The NHS Benchmarking Network [URL: www.nhsbenchmarking.nhs.uk (accessed 8 October 2018)] membership database was not comprehensive and could not be used to populate our hospital-level database because the data were anonymised. For this reason, one of our first tasks was to compile a new database, by bringing together existing health-care data sets, each of which provided different fields of information needed to test our working definition and to map and profile community hospitals.

Two types of data sets were collected. Centrally available data sets formed the starting point for the mapping study, providing codified data (see Appendix 1 ). As none of these centrally available data sets provided a comprehensive picture, it was necessary to supplement them through extensive internet searching and by talking to people in the field, as well as drawing on the expertise of research team members.

The base year for major data sets was 2012/13. Data were difficult to access, not comprehensive and spread across a greater number of sources. Four data sets were used:

  • Community Hospital Association databases of community hospitals (one from 2008 and another from 2013)
  • Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) 2013 [replacing the former Patient Environment Action Team programme]
  • Estates database – Estates Returns Information Collection (ERIC) 2012
  • NHS Digital activity by site of treatment 2012/13.

Barriers to obtaining site and activity data included (1) specific difficulties in the period 2012/13 when primary care trusts (PCTs) were being disbanded and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) were being established (with effect from 31 March 2013) and (2) processes and caution in NHS Digital associated with releasing patient-sensitive data (even though we had not requested patient-based data). Quality problems were associated with the ‘location of treatment’ code, which was central to our enquiry identifying community hospitals but did not appear to be well used in England, leading to examples of missing data and inconsistent labels (described under reconciliation and duplication). The code also lacked stability as it changed with each new NHS reconfiguration in England.

The core data set for England, supplied by NHS Digital, was a list of all hospitals in England, based on ‘site of treatment code.’ Figure 2 shows the relationship between national data sets.

The relationship between four England data sets. CHA, Community Hospitals Associations.

The new database, populated through our reconciliation of these various data sets, provided a census of community hospitals at 2012/13, which was updated to August 2015 (e.g. when a hospital closed and then redeveloped, formed a new hospital replacing two old community hospitals, closed beds on a temporary basis and changed its name).

Database analysis: developing an initial classification of community hospitals with beds

Although the focus of this report is on England, it is important to mention our work on mapping community hospitals in Scotland, as this was instrumental in developing our approach to classifying data for England. Data sets on community hospitals in Scotland [Information Services Division (ISD) and government community hospital data sets: community hospital, general hospital, long-stay/psychiatric hospital, small long-stay hospital] were both more accessible and more comprehensive, lending themselves to early analysis (see Appendix 2 ).

An initial classification of hospitals in England was developed, informed by categories set out by Estates (community hospital, general acute hospital, long-stay hospital, multiservice hospital, short-term non-acute hospital, specialist hospital, support facility, treatment centre) and PLACE (acute/specialist, community, mental health only, mixed acute and mental health/mental health, treatment centre). It was combined with specialty classifications based mainly on NHS Digital inpatient activity data and developed further through analysis of Community Hospitals Association (CHA) data and discussions within the study team ( Table 2 ).

TABLE 2

Classification of all hospitals in England

Rapid telephone enquiry: refining the classification

Analysis of the Scotland data suggested that the code ‘GP specialty’ was a defining feature of community hospitals, but early analysis of the England data showed that this was less transferable. If we relied on GP specialty coding alone, many known community hospitals would be excluded from our database: not all community hospital inpatient beds in England were coded to GPs.

A short piece of empirical data collection was undertaken to understand the link between the specialty codes and practice and to test the working definition (based on the literature and on the Scottish data) that community hospitals were predominantly GP led. A telephone questionnaire was designed by the study team (see Appendix 3 ) and piloted through the CHA.

Seven hospitals from five specialty category codes (≥ 80% GP, < 80% GP and mixed specialties, general medicine, geriatric medicine, geriatric mixed specialties) were randomly selected. The test sample of 35 was reduced by four as a result of closure or conversion to nursing homes. The research team called the hospitals to gain contact details of the matron or ward manager ( n  = 20; the small sample size highlighting the difficulty of identifying leadership, especially when the community hospital is represented by a single ward), e-mailed the questionnaire, conducted telephone interviews with staff to complete the questionnaire (taking 10–20 minutes each), transcribed notes and returned the completed questionnaire to respondents ( n  = 12). Analysis of these telephone interviews gave us confidence in the specialty coding, while also confirming the need to be more expansive in our working definitions and categorisations.

Verification: checking and refining the database through internet searches

The mapping enquiry was finalised through five iterations of searching and checking. The CHA consulted its database and membership list (from both 2008 and 2013). A full internet search took place at two points, in February 2015 and August 2015, taking account of hospital closures and changes of function up to 2014/15, with further validation and amendments up to August 2015. By the end of the study, the 2012/13 data set, based on the NHS Digital Spine using ‘site of treatment code’, had been validated through a check of every potential community hospital. A total of 366 sites were examined through web-based and telephone enquiries, including 60 that were not present on the NHS Digital database (see Appendix 4 for the list of community hospitals with beds).

  • Phase 2: case studies

In order to explore patient and carer experience of community hospitals and aspects of community engagement and value, we undertook qualitative case studies. Although the initial aim of the case studies was to address the second and third research questions, the findings also enabled new insights into the first study question of ‘what is a community hospital’.

The decision to adopt a comparative case study design 73 across multiple community hospital sites was influenced by three factors. First, given the gaps in the literature highlighted in Chapter 1 , it would be useful to uncover different aspects of the patient experience, community engagement and value of community hospitals and enable the identification and analysis of common themes (looking for similarities, differences and patterns) both within and across cases. 74 – 76 Second, it provides a suitable way of ‘exemplifying’ sites, 77 given the variety of ownership models and locations. Third, it is useful in enabling an examination of ‘complex social phenomena’, 78 and, in particular, the social, functional, interpersonal and psychological factors that shape patient experiences, as well as those that influence community engagement and value. Below, we summarise the approach to case study selection for work packages 2 and 3, before moving on to discuss the research elements used.

Selection of case study sites

In selecting case study sites, we adopted a ‘realist’ approach to sampling, 79 moving back and forth between categories identified from the literature as being important for patient experience and community value and our learning about the characteristics of community hospitals identified from the mapping exercise. In order to reflect the diversity of community hospitals (highlighted in the literature and mapping), we selected cases in contrasting locations with different numbers of beds, ranges of services, ownership/provision and levels of voluntary income and deprivation.

To allow for a particular focus on variations in voluntary support for community hospitals, hinted at through the national mapping exercise and identified as a particular gap in the existing literature, we selected pairs of hospitals across four Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas with contrasting levels of voluntary income but similar levels of deprivation. This would allow for a good comparison within and between cases (e.g. why two community hospitals within one CCG area, with similar levels of deprivation, have contrasting levels of voluntary support, given that previous research has tended to suggest a strong negative correlation between deprivation and voluntary activity).

Using these criteria, we selected eight case studies of hospitals of different sizes, ages and service profiles located across England (although mostly concentrated in the south, reflecting the national pattern of community hospital development; see Figure 7 ) in areas of contrasting levels of deprivation. Six of the buildings were owned by, and their main inpatient service was provided by, the NHS. Two were owned by the NHS but their main inpatient services were provided by a community interest company (CIC). We added a ninth case study, owned by a charity, to increase diversity in terms of ownership/provision (as there were very few examples of independently owned community hospitals, it was not possible to identify a matched pair). Table 3 provides a summary of the nine case studies selected, according to the data that were available from the mapping exercise. Fuller qualitative descriptions are provided in Chapter 4 and Appendix 5 .

TABLE 3

Profile of selected case studies

Case study data collection

The case studies involved seven research elements, as summarised in Table 4 . All elements were conducted over five visits to each case study. Across all case study sites and research methods, 241 people participated in the study through interviews and 130 people participated through 22 focus groups; a small number of people who participated in individual interviews also participated in focus groups (see Appendix 6 for full details).

TABLE 4

Research elements and focus

Scoping visits were made to each of the case studies in order to build relationships with key stakeholders (primarily matrons and chairpersons of Leagues of Friends), gather background information on the hospitals and local communities, identify potential study participants and collect key documents and data. Documents selected included hospital histories, annual reports, local service information (when available) and media coverage. Reviewing these helped to provide a basic understanding of the cases prior to the main fieldwork visits and added to our profiling of each of the case study hospitals.

We also aimed to gather hospital-level data from patient-reported experience measures (PREMs) 80 and the revised Friends and Family Test (FFT). 81 However, none of the case study community hospitals collected PREMs data, as this had only recently been required of community providers. Although all sites collected FFT scores, we were able to access data for only seven of the nine case studies because, in the remaining two cases, the trust compiled data at trust rather than hospital level and it was not possible to disaggregate the data. Furthermore, the FFT data were not strictly comparable as some scores covered inpatient care only, whereas others covered both inpatient and outpatient care.

Local reference group

We established a local reference group (LRG) in each of our case studies to bring local people together to steer, support and inform the research at the local level. These LRGs comprised key members of hospital staff, the League of Friends, volunteers and local voluntary and community groups, some of whom had also been patients and/or carers. Their role was to help build a picture of the local context to inform subsequent data collection elements, build support for the study within the local community and reflect on emerging findings and their implications for local practice. There were two LRG meetings per case study during the local fieldwork stage: one at the start of the fieldwork period (which focused on mapping the community hospital services and community links) and one at the end (which focused on discussing the emerging findings and their potential implications). The first LRG meeting for CH3 and CH4 was joint (for convenience) but the second meeting was separate. Following completion of the fieldwork and analysis, each LRG received a report of the findings relating to their specific case study (i.e. alongside this national report, we produced nine local reports).

Semistructured interviews with staff, volunteers and community representatives

We conducted semistructured interviews with staff ( n  = 89 staff across the nine cases), community stakeholders ( n  = 20) and volunteers ( n  = 35). Although most of the interviews were with single respondents, some were with two or, very occasionally, three people (depending on respondent preferences). Respondents were selected through purposive sampling 79 guided by the scoping visits, the initial LRG and snowballing. Each of the interviews explored the profile of the hospital and the local context, perceptions of patient and carer experience, and community engagement and value. The emphasis placed on the different sets of questions, however, varied between the groups of respondents (e.g. more time was spent on community engagement and value within the community stakeholder interviews, although we still asked questions relating to hospital profile and perceptions of patient/carer experience). Interviews were nearly all conducted face to face, although a small number were conducted via telephone, at respondent preference. Interviews with staff, volunteers and stakeholders lasted, on average, 60 minutes. All were digitally recorded and later transcribed verbatim.

Discovery interviews with patients

Rather than focusing on satisfaction levels, or other quantifiable measures of experience, the study was concerned with exploring the lived experience of being a patient using community hospital services. Lessons from previous studies show that gathering experiences in the form of stories enhances their power and richness, 36 so we selected an experience-centred interview method 82 that drew on the principles of narrative approaches 83 and, particularly, discovery interviewing. 84 Narrative approaches invite respondents to tell their stories uninterrupted, rather than respond to predetermined questions, giving control to the ‘storyteller’. This approach can elicit richer and more complete accounts than other methods 85 , 86 because reflection enables respondents to contextualise, and connect to, different aspects of their experiences. Discovery interviewing helps to capture patients’ experiences of health care when there may be pathways or clinical interventions central to patient experience. 87 As such, after a general opening question, our interviews focused around a very open question inviting respondents to tell their story of being a patient at the community hospital. We followed this by asking respondents to consider a visual representation we had developed of factors found in previous research to have shaped patient experience, to prompt people’s memories and thoughts (see Appendix 7 for an example of the discovery interview).

Our aim was to interview six patients from each case study. Our final sample across all sites was 60 patients. The small sample size reflected the in-depth nature of the interviews. We sought, as far as possible, to select patients with a mix of demographics (particularly in terms of gender), care pathways (particularly in terms of step up/step down) and services used (inpatient/outpatient). Potential participants were identified by the hospital matron and/or lead clinician and/or service leads. Each was written to by the hospital with a request to participate in the study and was sent an information sheet and an opt-in consent form. Patients who were willing to participate sent their replies directly to the study team. Written consent was provided prior to the commencement of the interview. In line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice, 88 we made provision for the appointment of consultees when potential respondents lacked the capacity to consent to participation in the study, although this was not utilised.

Although many of our respondents were current inpatients, we also spoke to some inpatients who had been recently discharged and to outpatients from a range of different clinics. Outpatients who agreed to participate tended to be those using services several times a week (e.g. renal patients) or over a longer period of time (e.g. those with chronic conditions), rather than one-off users. Interviews with patients lasted between 30 and 90 minutes, were digitally recorded (in all cases except for two because of respondent preference/requirements) and transcribed verbatim. At the end of the interviews, we asked respondents to complete a short pro forma to gather basic demographic and service information for analysis purposes.

Semistructured interviews with carers

Semistructured interviews were conducted with carers in order to explore their experience of using the community hospital as a carer of an inpatient. Our aim was to interview three carers per case study; in total we spoke to 28 carers across the nine sites. Carers were either related to, or close friends of, patients (either current or recent) at the hospital. In most cases, we interviewed carers of patients who had also been interviewed, but in some cases carers were not directly linked to patients involved in the study (indeed, some carers were reflecting on the experience of caring for a patient who had recently died).

The main focus of the interviews was on the experience of being a carer of someone at the hospital, with our initial question reflecting the narrative approach adopted for patients by asking respondents to tell us their story of using the hospital. In addition, as the respondents were typically local residents, we also asked questions about their perceptions of patient experience, about local support for, and engagement with, the hospital and of value. Interviews with carers lasted, on average, 60 minutes. All were digitally recorded and later transcribed verbatim.

Focus groups

We conducted focus groups with members of MDTs, volunteers and community stakeholders. Although we had anticipated conducting each of the three focus groups in each of the case study sites, this was not always possible owing to practical reasons; for example, in some of the case study sites there were very few volunteers, making it difficult to organise a focus group. We ran focus groups with MDTs in eight of the nine case studies, involving a total of 43 respondents; with volunteers in six of the case studies, involving a total of 33 respondents; and with community stakeholders in eight of the cases, involving 54 respondents. Individual focus group respondents were selected through purposive sampling. We worked with LRGs and other key contacts to identify potential participants, each of whom was written to and asked to participate.

The focus groups complemented the interviews, enabling the inclusion of a wider range of perspectives in the study and, in particular, allowing us to observe the emergence of discussion, consensus and dissonance among groups of participants. They lasted, on average, 90 minutes and were digitally recorded and transcribed in full.

Telephone interviews with managers and commissioners

We conducted telephone interviews to explore the views of senior managers of provider organisations and commissioners of community hospitals. The nine case studies were based in five CCG areas where the main inpatient services were provided by four NHS trusts and one integrated health and social care CIC. Our aim was to interview one respondent from each of the providers and CCGs. In total, we spoke to five provider and four CCG representatives. The interviews explored the strategic context for the community hospitals involved in the study, alongside the perceptions of these senior stakeholders of patient experience and the value of community hospitals. The interviews lasted, on average, 60 minutes and were digitally recorded and later transcribed in full.

Qualitative case study data analysis

We adopted a thematic approach to qualitative data analysis, aided by the use of NVivo 11 (QSR International, Warrington, UK) for data management and exploration. Our approach was both inductive, with themes emerging from the data, and deductive, framed by our research questions and ongoing reading of the literature. Initial themes and codes were developed after three members of the team (AEP, DD and NLM), who collectively had been responsible for the case study data collection, reviewed the transcripts. The emerging themes, codes and associated findings were discussed at wider study team meetings, at the LRG meetings for individual case studies and at annual learning events that brought together participants from across the case studies. A refined coding frame was then tested by the same three members of the research team each coding a sample of transcripts; this led to a further refinement of the codes, while also helping to ensure that each of the researchers was adopting a similar approach.

In this report, we focus in particular on across-case comparisons, highlighting themes that emerged across the case studies, emphasising key points of similarity and difference between the cases, as relevant. In addition, we have produced individual reports for each of the local case study sites that have shared findings from our within-case analysis, as relevant for each individual hospital. Comparative analysis, including of the paired cases, will be developed further in future research articles, in which a focus on more specific aspects of the study will allow more space for presentation of such work.

Throughout the analysis, unique identifiers were used for the transcripts/respondents to help ensure confidentiality and anonymity. Sites were assigned a number (e.g. CH1) and respondents given a letter: patient (P), family carer (CA), staff (S), volunteer (V), community stakeholder (CY) and senior manager or commissioner (T), with sequential numbering, date of interview and initials of researcher added to provide an audit trail. This basic coding method is used throughout the report (e.g. CH1, S01 represents the first staff member to be interviewed at the first community hospital case study site). It is worth noting, however, that, although respondents were identified by a key characteristic (e.g. patient or staff) and their transcripts labelled as such, the boundaries between these categories were not discrete: many community stakeholders, for example, had also been patients or carers, and many staff were also members of the local community.

  • Phase 3: quantitative analysis of Charity Commission data

Collating data on charitable finance and volunteering support

The third phase of our research involved the quantitative analysis of data from the Charity Commission on voluntary income and volunteering for community hospitals across England. The aim of this activity was to examine charitable financial and volunteering support for community hospitals by investigating:

  • variations in the likelihood that hospitals receive support through a formal organisational structure such as a League of Friends, and if so, variations in its scale (in financial terms) between communities
  • uses of the funds raised (e.g. capital development, equipment, patient amenities).

We captured financial and volunteering data for registered charities from the Charity Commission (the Commission). The Commission holds details of organisations that have been recognised as charitable in law and that hold most of their assets in England, or have all or the majority of their trustees normally resident in England, or are companies incorporated in England. The data are described more fully in Appendix 9 .

Subject to a small number of exceptions, all charities in England with incomes of > £5000 must register with the Commission and submit financial statements consisting of trustees’ annual reports (returns) and annual accounts. The accounts of those charities whose income or expenditure exceeds a threshold of £25,000 are made available on the Commission’s website. 89 Charities that have income and expenditure of < £5000 a year have (since 2009) been exempted from the need to register. We identified 274 hospitals in England that satisfied the inclusion criteria for this research project ( Figure 3 ). We used the Charity Commission’s data to identify charities that support each of these hospitals, matching by name or through examining lists of charities registered in the locality where the hospital is based.

Community hospital and charities sampling frame.

We also directly approached eight non-registered charities (usually those with an income of < £5000 a year) that were known to have been established to support specific community hospitals, but received no usable data relating to them. Four hospitals in our data set were registered as charities themselves but were excluded from the analysis because they are exceptional cases of charitable action.

We found that 247 of these charities were registered in their own right (labelled ‘individual associated charities’ in Figure 3 ). The remainder were what is known as ‘linked’ charities, that is, entities associated with larger charitable organisations serving a NHS trust comprising several institutions. These ‘linked’ charities were excluded because it was not possible to disaggregate the support they provide to individual components of the trust. Financial information was available for the period from 1995 to 2014 (only small numbers of observations were available for years prior to that because digitisation of the register began only in the early 1990s).

Measurements

Financial information for at least 1 year between 1995 and 2014 was available for 245 charities in England, and this information formed the final sample for this part of the study. The number of non-zero financial reports to the Commission in each year ranged from 181 (1996) to 226 (2007). The data, covering the period to 2014, were the latest available at the time of analysis (2016). See Appendix 9 for full details of available charity reports by year. All financial information in this paper is presented at constant 2014 prices.

Using the Charity Commission website, we obtained copies of these accounts for those selected charities whose expenditure or income exceeded £25,000 in any one year. This gave data covering 358 separate financial years; the number of accounts available is shown in Table 5 .

TABLE 5

Accounts for larger charities (income of > £25,000)

We focused on the period from 2008 to 2013, when between 41 and 91 charities of interest generated at least one such financial return. Numbers vary because an individual charity may or may not exceed the £25,000 threshold at which its accounts are presented via the Charity Commission’s website, depending on fluctuations in its finances.

Charity accounts aggregate income and expenditure figures into a small number of general categories. These provide relatively little detail on income and expenditure and may even aggregate quite different sources of expenditure within the same funding stream. As such, to probe income sources and the application of expenditure in more detail, data were captured from the notes to the accounts of these charities. The extensive income data that were generated (21,733 items) were categorised to provide useful insights into sources of income. Classifying the expenditure of charities was not undertaken because of the complexity of the data and the limits to the usefulness of such an exercise. Appendix 9 provides further details of the extraction, classification and analysis of income and expenditure data.

Contribution: number of volunteers and estimates of input

The Charity Commission guidelines 90 require charities to record their best estimates of the number of individual UK volunteers involved in the charity during the financial year, excluding trustees (see Appendix 9 ).

Before 2013, data on volunteer numbers were often sparse, but, since that date, efforts have been made to gather more detailed information. Approximately 73,000 charities had supplied between one and three non-zero returns of their volunteer counts in the three years between 2013 and 2015, including > 90% of our charities. We calculated the average number of volunteers for the period in question. To provide an upper-bound estimate, we also take the maximum value returned for each charity.

Volunteer hours were estimated using regular survey data (Home Office Citizenship Survey, 2001–10; Community Life survey, 2012 onwards). We take the average number of hours per week reported by those who say they have given unpaid help to organisations during the previous year. This is approximately 2.2 hours. This is a minimum estimate and it may be that the actual numbers are larger than these survey data would imply. If we make the assumption that these are probably fairly regular volunteers, a higher figure of 3.05 hours per week is given if we take the average number of hours reported by those who say they volunteer either at least once a week or more frequently, or at least monthly but less frequently than once a week.

There are no studies that would tell us with any certainty whether or not volunteers in these kinds of organisations put in more or fewer hours than the volunteering population generally. We then multiply these two estimates of time inputs by the average and maximum volunteer numbers, respectively, to give the number of hours contributed by volunteers over the course of the year (assuming 46 weeks of volunteering a year). These can be converted to full-time equivalent numbers by dividing by 37.5 (hours per working week) and 46 (weeks per working year).

Opinions differ on the best method for calculating a cash equivalent for the value of volunteer labour. The lowest is to use the national minimum wage; others might include an estimate of the replacement cost (i.e. what it would cost the organisation to employ people to do the same tasks if they had to pay them), but this assumes knowledge of the tasks being undertaken. The national minimum wage for the period for which we have the most comprehensive volunteering data (2013–15) was £6.50 per hour. 91

Data convergence and integration

Although the quantitative (phases 1 and 3) and qualitative (phase 2) data were collected separately, they could nevertheless be considered ‘integrated’ because the different research elements were explicitly related to each other within a single study and in such a way ‘as to be mutually illuminating, thereby producing findings that are greater than the sum of the parts’. 92 Data triangulation, convergence and integration occurred in a number of different ways, at different stages of the research.

In phase 1 of the research, a revised definition and set of characteristics captured within the database was used to support development of a typology and informed the case study sampling for phase 2. For phase 3, the database informed the sample of charities selected for analysing voluntary income and volunteering data and providing additional data fields to be linked to the Charity Commission data.

Although the national quantitative data provided breadth to the study, these were limited and left questions unanswered. The local qualitative data brought depth to the question ‘what is a community hospital’, by helping to build a picture of the history, context and change over time. Qualitative interviews in work packages 2 and 3 were conducted concurrently, and triangulation of data between stakeholder, volunteer, staff, carer and patient interviews helped validate findings and strengthen our understanding of patient and carer experiences and community engagement and value.

In addition, the combination of researchers working on more than one work package, reflexive team meetings and the involvement of different representations in the team [CHA, University of Birmingham and Crystal Blue Consulting (London, UK)] allowed for healthy dialogue, debate and analysis. Emerging findings from each phase of the research were, for example, shared through internal working papers and discussed regularly at whole project team meetings.

  • Patient and public involvement

Our commitment to PPI ensured that patients, carers and the public were involved in this study before and during its conduct. PPI involvement in the study design was facilitated by one of the researchers (HT), who first consulted with 10 PPI members of the Swanage Health Forum, representing the League of Friends; a GP practice Patient Participation Group; Swanage Carers; Partnership for Older People’s Programme; Wayfinders; the Senior Forum; the Health and Wellbeing Board; Cancare; a public Governor for Dorset Healthcare NHS Trust; and a retired GP. This group provided an endorsement of the study’s proposed focus and methodology.

At the national level, 13 board members of CHA (four GPs, six nurses, two managers and one League of Friends member) co-produced the initial research proposal. Two members then became part of the study steering group, which met regularly throughout the study, supported the development of research materials and supporting documentation, helped facilitate access to potential case studies, contributed to the local and national reports and reviewed several drafts. We also engaged with approximately 100 delegates at three CHA annual conferences (presentations and workshops focused on working with findings) that included not only practitioners but members of community hospital Leagues of Friends.

In addition, a cross-study steering group, chaired by Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie, University of Aberdeen, provided guidance across all three Health Services and Delivery Research community hospital studies, with representation from the CHA, Attend (National League of Friends) and the Patients Association, alongside the three study teams. The steering group met seven times over the period of this study, offering opportunities to share findings and explore experiences between the studies.

As described in Local reference group , at the local level we established LRGs within each of our case study sites to bring local people together (hospital staff, volunteers and community members, a number of whom were patients and/or carers) to steer, support and inform the case study research. To facilitate cross-case learning, we brought together representatives from each of the LRGs three times to share experiences, identify best practice and network. Event themes reflected each of the three research questions, and the days offered time for case study representatives to work together, share across sites, hear from national experts, contribute to the ongoing development of the study and reflect on emerging findings and their implications.

  • Ethics approval

Ethics approval was provided by the University of Birmingham, in line with the Department of Health and Social Care’s Research Governance Framework, for work package 1 (national mapping) and elements of work package 3 (quantitative charitable finance and volunteering support data). The university also provided sponsorship for the whole study. The qualitative case studies required full ethics review through the National Research Ethics Service as they involved interviews with patients and carers and interviews and focus groups with NHS staff, volunteers and community stakeholders. The Wales Research Ethics Committee 6 reviewed this research and provided a favourable ethics opinion (study reference number: 16/WA/0021).

Informed by key stakeholder engagement and a review of the policy context and existing literature, this study explored the profile, characteristics, patient and carer experience, community engagement and value of community hospitals in England through a multimethod approach. The research was conducted in three overlapping phases – mapping, case studies and Charity Commission data analysis – that, together, involved a range of qualitative and quantitative methods. Data for each phase were collected and analysed separately but iteratively, with emerging findings discussed regularly through a range of mechanisms, including whole project team meetings and internal working papers. We involved key national and local stakeholders throughout the study, from design, through to data collection and analysis, and reporting and dissemination.

Having framed the study (see Chapter 1 ) and described our research methodology (see Chapter 2 ), we now move on to share the findings. Chapters 3 – 7 describe the findings emerging from different elements of the study, and Chapter 8 brings those findings together and discusses them in relation to the wider literature and their significance for knowledge and practice.

  • Cite this Page Davidson D, Ellis Paine A, Glasby J, et al. Analysis of the profile, characteristics, patient experience and community value of community hospitals: a multimethod study. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2019 Jan. (Health Services and Delivery Research, No. 7.1.) Chapter 2, Research objectives, questions and methodology.
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Research Method

Home » Research Objectives – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Objectives – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Objectives

Research Objectives

Research objectives refer to the specific goals or aims of a research study. They provide a clear and concise description of what the researcher hopes to achieve by conducting the research . The objectives are typically based on the research questions and hypotheses formulated at the beginning of the study and are used to guide the research process.

Types of Research Objectives

Here are the different types of research objectives in research:

  • Exploratory Objectives: These objectives are used to explore a topic, issue, or phenomenon that has not been studied in-depth before. The aim of exploratory research is to gain a better understanding of the subject matter and generate new ideas and hypotheses .
  • Descriptive Objectives: These objectives aim to describe the characteristics, features, or attributes of a particular population, group, or phenomenon. Descriptive research answers the “what” questions and provides a snapshot of the subject matter.
  • Explanatory Objectives : These objectives aim to explain the relationships between variables or factors. Explanatory research seeks to identify the cause-and-effect relationships between different phenomena.
  • Predictive Objectives: These objectives aim to predict future events or outcomes based on existing data or trends. Predictive research uses statistical models to forecast future trends or outcomes.
  • Evaluative Objectives : These objectives aim to evaluate the effectiveness or impact of a program, intervention, or policy. Evaluative research seeks to assess the outcomes or results of a particular intervention or program.
  • Prescriptive Objectives: These objectives aim to provide recommendations or solutions to a particular problem or issue. Prescriptive research identifies the best course of action based on the results of the study.
  • Diagnostic Objectives : These objectives aim to identify the causes or factors contributing to a particular problem or issue. Diagnostic research seeks to uncover the underlying reasons for a particular phenomenon.
  • Comparative Objectives: These objectives aim to compare two or more groups, populations, or phenomena to identify similarities and differences. Comparative research is used to determine which group or approach is more effective or has better outcomes.
  • Historical Objectives: These objectives aim to examine past events, trends, or phenomena to gain a better understanding of their significance and impact. Historical research uses archival data, documents, and records to study past events.
  • Ethnographic Objectives : These objectives aim to understand the culture, beliefs, and practices of a particular group or community. Ethnographic research involves immersive fieldwork and observation to gain an insider’s perspective of the group being studied.
  • Action-oriented Objectives: These objectives aim to bring about social or organizational change. Action-oriented research seeks to identify practical solutions to social problems and to promote positive change in society.
  • Conceptual Objectives: These objectives aim to develop new theories, models, or frameworks to explain a particular phenomenon or set of phenomena. Conceptual research seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter by developing new theoretical perspectives.
  • Methodological Objectives: These objectives aim to develop and improve research methods and techniques. Methodological research seeks to advance the field of research by improving the validity, reliability, and accuracy of research methods and tools.
  • Theoretical Objectives : These objectives aim to test and refine existing theories or to develop new theoretical perspectives. Theoretical research seeks to advance the field of knowledge by testing and refining existing theories or by developing new theoretical frameworks.
  • Measurement Objectives : These objectives aim to develop and validate measurement instruments, such as surveys, questionnaires, and tests. Measurement research seeks to improve the quality and reliability of data collection and analysis by developing and testing new measurement tools.
  • Design Objectives : These objectives aim to develop and refine research designs, such as experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational designs. Design research seeks to improve the quality and validity of research by developing and testing new research designs.
  • Sampling Objectives: These objectives aim to develop and refine sampling techniques, such as probability and non-probability sampling methods. Sampling research seeks to improve the representativeness and generalizability of research findings by developing and testing new sampling techniques.

How to Write Research Objectives

Writing clear and concise research objectives is an important part of any research project, as it helps to guide the study and ensure that it is focused and relevant. Here are some steps to follow when writing research objectives:

  • Identify the research problem : Before you can write research objectives, you need to identify the research problem you are trying to address. This should be a clear and specific problem that can be addressed through research.
  • Define the research questions : Based on the research problem, define the research questions you want to answer. These questions should be specific and should guide the research process.
  • Identify the variables : Identify the key variables that you will be studying in your research. These are the factors that you will be measuring, manipulating, or analyzing to answer your research questions.
  • Write specific objectives: Write specific, measurable objectives that will help you answer your research questions. These objectives should be clear and concise and should indicate what you hope to achieve through your research.
  • Use the SMART criteria: To ensure that your research objectives are well-defined and achievable, use the SMART criteria. This means that your objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Revise and refine: Once you have written your research objectives, revise and refine them to ensure that they are clear, concise, and achievable. Make sure that they align with your research questions and variables, and that they will help you answer your research problem.

Example of Research Objectives

Examples of research objectives Could be:

Research Objectives for the topic of “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Employment”:

  • To investigate the effects of the adoption of AI on employment trends across various industries and occupations.
  • To explore the potential for AI to create new job opportunities and transform existing roles in the workforce.
  • To examine the social and economic implications of the widespread use of AI for employment, including issues such as income inequality and access to education and training.
  • To identify the skills and competencies that will be required for individuals to thrive in an AI-driven workplace, and to explore the role of education and training in developing these skills.
  • To evaluate the ethical and legal considerations surrounding the use of AI for employment, including issues such as bias, privacy, and the responsibility of employers and policymakers to protect workers’ rights.

When to Write Research Objectives

  • At the beginning of a research project : Research objectives should be identified and written down before starting a research project. This helps to ensure that the project is focused and that data collection and analysis efforts are aligned with the intended purpose of the research.
  • When refining research questions: Writing research objectives can help to clarify and refine research questions. Objectives provide a more concrete and specific framework for addressing research questions, which can improve the overall quality and direction of a research project.
  • After conducting a literature review : Conducting a literature review can help to identify gaps in knowledge and areas that require further research. Writing research objectives can help to define and focus the research effort in these areas.
  • When developing a research proposal: Research objectives are an important component of a research proposal. They help to articulate the purpose and scope of the research, and provide a clear and concise summary of the expected outcomes and contributions of the research.
  • When seeking funding for research: Funding agencies often require a detailed description of research objectives as part of a funding proposal. Writing clear and specific research objectives can help to demonstrate the significance and potential impact of a research project, and increase the chances of securing funding.
  • When designing a research study : Research objectives guide the design and implementation of a research study. They help to identify the appropriate research methods, sampling strategies, data collection and analysis techniques, and other relevant aspects of the study design.
  • When communicating research findings: Research objectives provide a clear and concise summary of the main research questions and outcomes. They are often included in research reports and publications, and can help to ensure that the research findings are communicated effectively and accurately to a wide range of audiences.
  • When evaluating research outcomes : Research objectives provide a basis for evaluating the success of a research project. They help to measure the degree to which research questions have been answered and the extent to which research outcomes have been achieved.
  • When conducting research in a team : Writing research objectives can facilitate communication and collaboration within a research team. Objectives provide a shared understanding of the research purpose and goals, and can help to ensure that team members are working towards a common objective.

Purpose of Research Objectives

Some of the main purposes of research objectives include:

  • To clarify the research question or problem : Research objectives help to define the specific aspects of the research question or problem that the study aims to address. This makes it easier to design a study that is focused and relevant.
  • To guide the research design: Research objectives help to determine the research design, including the research methods, data collection techniques, and sampling strategy. This ensures that the study is structured and efficient.
  • To measure progress : Research objectives provide a way to measure progress throughout the research process. They help the researcher to evaluate whether they are on track and meeting their goals.
  • To communicate the research goals : Research objectives provide a clear and concise description of the research goals. This helps to communicate the purpose of the study to other researchers, stakeholders, and the general public.

Advantages of Research Objectives

Here are some advantages of having well-defined research objectives:

  • Focus : Research objectives help to focus the research effort on specific areas of inquiry. By identifying clear research questions, the researcher can narrow down the scope of the study and avoid getting sidetracked by irrelevant information.
  • Clarity : Clearly stated research objectives provide a roadmap for the research study. They provide a clear direction for the research, making it easier for the researcher to stay on track and achieve their goals.
  • Measurability : Well-defined research objectives provide measurable outcomes that can be used to evaluate the success of the research project. This helps to ensure that the research is effective and that the research goals are achieved.
  • Feasibility : Research objectives help to ensure that the research project is feasible. By clearly defining the research goals, the researcher can identify the resources required to achieve those goals and determine whether those resources are available.
  • Relevance : Research objectives help to ensure that the research study is relevant and meaningful. By identifying specific research questions, the researcher can ensure that the study addresses important issues and contributes to the existing body of knowledge.

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper ). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

Need a helping hand?

research objectives chapter 1

Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

research objectives chapter 1

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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34 Comments

Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.

Tosin

Thanks so much. This was really helpful.

sylas

i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!

Scarlett

Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!

Chulyork

The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.

JB

Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?

UN

Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks

Yetunde

I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?

Webby

Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.

Joe

As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).

Abdella

Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.

Sheikh

Well explained

New Growth Care Group

The blog article on research aims, objectives, and questions by Grad Coach is a clear and insightful guide that aligns with my experiences in academic research. The article effectively breaks down the often complex concepts of research aims and objectives, providing a straightforward and accessible explanation. Drawing from my own research endeavors, I appreciate the practical tips offered, such as the need for specificity and clarity when formulating research questions. The article serves as a valuable resource for students and researchers, offering a concise roadmap for crafting well-defined research goals and objectives. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced researcher, this article provides practical insights that contribute to the foundational aspects of a successful research endeavor.

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EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in the EU will be regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law. Find out how it will protect you.

A man faces a computer generated figure with programming language in the background

As part of its digital strategy , the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits , such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.

In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI.

Learn more about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used

What Parliament wants in AI legislation

Parliament’s priority is to make sure that AI systems used in the EU are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly. AI systems should be overseen by people, rather than by automation, to prevent harmful outcomes.

Parliament also wants to establish a technology-neutral, uniform definition for AI that could be applied to future AI systems.

Learn more about Parliament’s work on AI and its vision for AI’s future

AI Act: different rules for different risk levels

The new rules establish obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk from artificial intelligence. While many AI systems pose minimal risk, they need to be assessed.

Unacceptable risk

Unacceptable risk AI systems are systems considered a threat to people and will be banned. They include:

  • Cognitive behavioural manipulation of people or specific vulnerable groups: for example voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children
  • Social scoring: classifying people based on behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics
  • Biometric identification and categorisation of people
  • Real-time and remote biometric identification systems, such as facial recognition

Some exceptions may be allowed for law enforcement purposes. “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems will be allowed in a limited number of serious cases, while “post” remote biometric identification systems, where identification occurs after a significant delay, will be allowed to prosecute serious crimes and only after court approval.

AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights will be considered high risk and will be divided into two categories:

1) AI systems that are used in products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation . This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts.

2) AI systems falling into specific areas that will have to be registered in an EU database:

  • Management and operation of critical infrastructure
  • Education and vocational training
  • Employment, worker management and access to self-employment
  • Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
  • Law enforcement
  • Migration, asylum and border control management
  • Assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.

All high-risk AI systems will be assessed before being put on the market and also throughout their lifecycle.

General purpose and generative AI

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements:

  • Disclosing that the content was generated by AI
  • Designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content
  • Publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training

High-impact general-purpose AI models that might pose systemic risk, such as the more advanced AI model GPT-4, would have to undergo thorough evaluations and any serious incidents would have to be reported to the European Commission.

Limited risk

Limited risk AI systems should comply with minimal transparency requirements that would allow users to make informed decisions. After interacting with the applications, the user can then decide whether they want to continue using it. Users should be made aware when they are interacting with AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio or video content, for example deepfakes.

On December 9 2023, Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act . The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to become EU law. Before all MEPs have their say on the agreement, Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees will vote on it.

More on the EU’s digital measures

  • Cryptocurrency dangers and the benefits of EU legislation
  • Fighting cybercrime: new EU cybersecurity laws explained
  • Boosting data sharing in the EU: what are the benefits?
  • EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act
  • Five ways the European Parliament wants to protect online gamers
  • Artificial Intelligence Act

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Read our research on: Immigration & Migration | Podcasts | Election 2024

Regions & Countries

1. how americans view the u.s.-mexico border situation and the government’s handling of the issue.

Nearly all Americans say the large number of migrants seeking to enter the United States at the Mexican border is a problem. However, perceptions of the seriousness of the problem differ significantly:

  • Most adults say the situation is either a crisis (45%) or a major problem ( 32%).
  • Just 21% view it as a minor problem (17%) or not a problem (4%).

Views by age, race and ethnicity

Chart shows Republicans, older adults more likely to view border situation as a ‘crisis’

Young adults are less likely than older people to say the situation at the border is a crisis. Only about a quarter (23%) of adults under 30 view it as a crisis, compared with 38% of those 30 to 49 and a 60% majority of adults ages 50 and older.

About half of White adults (52%) say the influx of migrants is a crisis, higher than the shares of Hispanic, Asian (38% each) and Black (26%) adults who say the same.

Views by partisanship, ideology

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are far more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say that the border situation is a crisis: 70% of Republicans describe it as a crisis, compared with 22% of Democrats.

More Democrats, by contrast, view it as a major problem (44% vs. 20% of Republicans). And while a third of Democrats say the border situation is a minor problem or not a problem, just 9% of Republicans say the same.

Ideological differences are wider within the GOP. A sizable majority of conservative Republicans (81%) say the large number of migrants at the border seeking to enter the U.S. represents a crisis. About half of moderate and liberal Republicans (53%) say the same.

Democrats’ differences are more modest. However, 41% of liberal Democrats say the border situation is a minor problem or not a problem, compared with 27% of moderate Democrats.

How is the U.S. government doing in handling the situation at the border?

Chart shows Large majorities in both parties express negative views of the U.S. govt.’s handling of border situation

As has been the case for the last few years , Americans express very negative views of the government’s handling of the border situation:

  • 80% say the government is doing a very or somewhat bad job of dealing with the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S – including 45% who say it’s doing a very bad job.
  • Just 18% have a positive view of the government’s handling of the situation.

Both partisan coalitions are broadly dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the border situation.

About nine-in-ten (89%) Republicans say the government is doing a bad job, including 71% who say it is doing very badly. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Democrats also rate the government’s performance negatively.

Large majorities across age categories and all racial and ethnic groups say the government is doing a bad job dealing with the migrant situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wide age, partisan differences in attention to border situation

Republicans are much more interested than Democrats in news about the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Chart shows About twice as many Republicans as Democrats are following news about border extremely or very closely

  • 43% of Republicans say they are following news about the border situation extremely or very closely, compared with 20% of Democrats.
  • Conservative Republicans are especially interested in news about the border: 51% say they are following this news extremely or very closely while only 28% of moderate and liberal Republicans say the same.

Age differences

Young adults are far less engaged with news about the U.S.-Mexico border than are older people.

Just 12% of adults under 30 say they are following this news extremely or very closely; another 30% say they are following somewhat closely. A majority of young adults (57%) follow news about the border not too or not at all closely.

Interest is higher among older age groups: 45% of adults ages 50 and older are following news about the border extremely or very closely.

Does the migration surge have an impact on crime in the U.S.?

Republicans and Democrats have very different views about whether the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. has an impact on crime in the country.

Chart shows Wide partisan gap over the impact of migrant situation on crime in the U.S.

Republicans and Republican leaners overwhelmingly say the large number of migrants trying to enter the country is leading to more crime in the country: 85% say this, including 90% of conservative Republicans and 77% of moderate and liberal Republicans.

By comparison, a far smaller share of Democrats – 31% – say crime is increasing because of the migrant surge. Most Democrats (63%) say the number of migrants trying to enter the U.S. at the border doesn’t have much effect on crime.

Moderate and conservative Democrats are more likely than liberals to say the number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. is leading to more crime (40% vs. 21%). Still, majorities in both groups say there isn’t much relationship between the migrants and crime in the U.S.

Few in either party (just 5% of Democrats and 2% of Republicans) say the migrant situation at the border is leading to less crime in the U.S.

How demographic groups view the relationship between the border surge and crime

Partisanship is, by far, the strongest predictor of whether someone thinks there is a relationship between the migration surge and crime in the U.S.

Chart shows Differences by age, race, education in views of whether migrant situation at border is leading to more crime in U.S.

But there are also some differences in these views by age, race and education, even after accounting for partisanship.

Race and ethnicity

Overall, White and Asian Americans are more likely than Hispanic and Black Americans to say that the migrant surge is leading to increased crime in the U.S.

  • Majorities of both White and Hispanic Republicans say the number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. is contributing to crime in the country, but this view is more widespread among White Republicans (89%) than Hispanic Republicans (72%). (There is insufficient sample size of Black and Asian Republicans to separately report these views.)
  • Most Democrats – across racial and ethnic groups – do not think the migration situation is leading to more crime in the U.S. But Black Democrats (38%) are more likely than White Democrats (27%) to say that it is.

Overall, younger adults are far less likely than older adults to say the migration situation is resulting in more crime.

This gap is particularly pronounced among Republicans: 66% of Republicans under 30 say the migration surge is leading to more crime, compared with 82% of those ages 30 to 49 and 93% of those 50 and older.

By comparison, there is a narrower age gap among Democrats: 28% of those under 50 and 35% of those 50 and older say crime is increasing due to the migrant situation.

Overall, those with a bachelor’s degree or more education are 11 percentage points less likely than those with less formal education to say crime in the U.S. has increased because of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

There are no significant differences among Republicans by education. But Democrats without a bachelor’s degree (37%) are more likely than those with a degree (23%) to say the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. is leading to more crime.

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Table of contents, fast facts on how greeks see migrants as greece-turkey border crisis deepens, americans’ immigration policy priorities: divisions between – and within – the two parties, from the archives: in ’60s, americans gave thumbs-up to immigration law that changed the nation, around the world, more say immigrants are a strength than a burden, latinos have become less likely to say there are too many immigrants in u.s., most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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  6. Research Characteristics, Research Objectives #educatinalvideo #researchscholar #researchmethodology

COMMENTS

  1. Develop the research objectives (Chapter 1)

    1 - Develop the research objectives from Part 1 - The research process Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2018 Nick Moore Chapter Get access Share Cite Summary The importance of research aims and objectives cannot be over-stressed.

  2. PDF CHAPTER 1 RESEARCH BACKGROUND, OBJECTIVES, AND HYPOTHESIS

    The objective of this research is to provide the decision-maker with a framework that offers greater flexibility when measuring system performance in a complex and dynamic environment. This research will begin its scientific journey by searching for and finding a solution to the dynamic performance measurement problem.

  3. PDF CHAPTER 1 THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND

    1 CHAPTER 1 THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND This chapter includes the introduction, theoretical framework, statement of the problem, hypothesis, scope and limitation, conceptual framework, significance of the study and the definition of terms used. Introduction

  4. Research Objectives

    Published on July 12, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 20, 2023. Research objectives describe what your research is trying to achieve and explain why you are pursuing it. They summarize the approach and purpose of your project and help to focus your research.

  5. PDF CHAPTER 1 The Selection of a Research Approach

    CHAPTER 1 The Selection of a Research Approach Learning Objectives Define major research terms used in this book so that you can incorporate them into your projects. Describe the three major methodologies and their differences to select an appropriate methodology for your study.

  6. PDF Chapter 1 The Selection of a Research Approach Do not copy, post or

    Chapter 1 The Selection of a Research Approach ... is an approach for testing objective . theories by examining the relationship among variables. These variables, in turn, can be measured, typically on instruments, so that numbered data can be analyzed using statistical procedures. The final written report has a set structure consisting of

  7. PDF Chapter 1. Study Objectives and Questions

    Overview The foundation for designing a new research protocol is the study's objectives and the questions that will be investigated through its implementation. All aspects of study design and analysis are based on the objectives and questions articulated in a study's protocol.

  8. Chapter 1: Home

    Chapter 1. Chapter 1 introduces the research problem and the evidence supporting the existence of the problem. It outlines an initial review of the literature on the study topic and articulates the purpose of the study. The definitions of any technical terms necessary for the reader to understand are essential.

  9. Chapter 1: Introduction to Research Methods

    Chapter 1: Introduction to Research Methods Learning Objectives. At the end of this chapter, you will be able to: Define the term "research methods". List the nine steps in undertaking a research project. Differentiate between applied and basic research. Explain where research ideas come from.

  10. PDF An Introduction to Business Research

    Research Learning Objectives After reading this chapter, you should be able to: • know what research and business research are, and why they are important in both ... 'The role of the supervisor', in Chapter 1 in order to illustrate the importance of the supervisor from the outset. Finally, the chapter concludes with a case study, ...

  11. Theoretical Framework

    Specify research objectives. Note the prominent variables under the study. Explore and review the literature through keywords identified as prominent variables. Note the theories that contain these variables or the keywords. Review all selected theories again in the light of the study's objectives, and the key variables identified.

  12. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Introduce your topic. Step 2: Describe the background. Step 3: Establish your research problem. Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper. Research paper introduction examples. Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

  13. (PDF) CHAPTER 1

    Chapter 1 is made up of five parts: (1) Background and Theoretical Framework of the Study, (2) Statement of the Problem and the Hypotheses, (3) Significance of the Study, (4) Definition of...

  14. Chapter 1

    Chapter 1 - Research Objectives and Main Methodology | Improving Our Understanding of How Highway Congestion and Pricing Affect Travel Demand | The National Academies Press Improving Our Understanding of How Highway Congestion and Pricing Affect Travel Demand (2012) Chapter: Chapter 1 - Research Objectives and Main Methodology

  15. Chapter 1

    Read chapter Chapter 1 - Project Context, Research Objectives, and Approach: For public agencies, attracting qualified, technically competent, culturally ... Login Register Cart Help Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners (2021)

  16. How do I write a research objective?

    A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement, before your research objectives. Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you'll address the overarching aim.

  17. PDF Chapter 1: Research Objectives and Methods

    Chapter 1: Research Objectives and Methods. 1. 1. Introduction: Time Context . The credit crisis that seriously discouraged housing and other developments on agricultural land began in 2007, by some people's calculations in August of that year. Under a grant provided by the National Research Initiative Program of USDA's Cooperative State ...

  18. Chapter 1 Study Objectives and Questions

    The steps involved in the process of developing research questions and study objectives for conducting observational comparative effectiveness research (CER) are described in this chapter. It is important to begin with identifying decisions under consideration, determining who the decisionmakers and stakeholders in the specific area of research under study are, and understanding the context in ...

  19. Aims and Objectives

    As a result, almost all research objectives take the form of a numbered list, with each item usually receiving its own chapter in a dissertation or thesis. ... Research Objective: 1. Develop finite element models using explicit dynamics to mimic mallet blows during cup/shell insertion, initially using simplified experimentally validated foam ...

  20. What Are Research Objectives and How to Write Them (with Examples)

    Research objective: To investigate the clinical efficacy of LIPUS in the management of patellar tendinopathy symptoms. This article discusses the importance of clear, well-thought out objectives and suggests methods to write them clearly. What is the introduction in research papers?

  21. Chapter 2 Research objectives, questions and methodology

    The research was conducted in three distinct (although temporally overlapping) phases, each with a number of different associated elements and research methods: (1) mapping (database construction and analysis through data set reconciliation and verification), (2) qualitative case studies (semistructured interviews, discovery interviews, focus gr...

  22. Research Objectives

    Research objectives refer to the specific goals or aims of a research study. They provide a clear and concise description of what the researcher hopes to achieve by conducting the research. The objectives are typically based on the research questions and hypotheses formulated at the beginning of the study and are used to guide the research process.

  23. Research Questions, Objectives & Aims (+ Examples)

    The research aims, objectives and research questions (collectively called the "golden thread") are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you're crafting a research proposal, dissertation or thesis.We receive questions almost every day about this "holy trinity" of research and there's certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we've crafted this post to help ...

  24. Who Are You? The Art and Science of Measuring Identity

    About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions.

  25. EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

    As part of its digital strategy, the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits, such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.. In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU ...

  26. Americans' views of the U.S.-Mexico border situation and how the

    About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions.