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What Are Research Objectives and How To Write Them (with Examples)

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

What Are Research Objectives and How To Write Them (with Examples)

Table of Contents


Research is at the center of everything researchers do, and setting clear, well-defined research objectives plays a pivotal role in guiding scholars toward their desired outcomes. Research papers are essential instruments for researchers to effectively communicate their work. Among the many sections that constitute a research paper, the introduction plays a key role in providing a background and setting the context. 1 Research objectives, which define the aims of the study, are usually stated in the introduction. Every study has a research question that the authors are trying to answer, and the objective is an active statement about how the study will answer this research question. These objectives help guide the development and design of the study and steer the research in the appropriate direction; if this is not clearly defined, a project can fail!

Research studies have a research question, research hypothesis, and one or more research objectives. A research question is what a study aims to answer, and a research hypothesis is a predictive statement about the relationship between two or more variables, which the study sets out to prove or disprove. Objectives are specific, measurable goals that the study aims to achieve. The difference between these three is illustrated by the following example:

  • Research question : How does low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) compare with a placebo device in managing the symptoms of skeletally mature patients with patellar tendinopathy?
  • Research hypothesis : Pain levels are reduced in patients who receive daily active-LIPUS (treatment) for 12 weeks compared with individuals who receive inactive-LIPUS (placebo).
  • 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?

Research objectives are usually included in the introduction section. This section is the first that the readers will read so it is essential that it conveys the subject matter appropriately and is well written to create a good first impression. A good introduction sets the tone of the paper and clearly outlines the contents so that the readers get a quick snapshot of what to expect.

A good introduction should aim to: 2,3

  • Indicate the main subject area, its importance, and cite previous literature on the subject
  • Define the gap(s) in existing research, ask a research question, and state the objectives
  • Announce the present research and outline its novelty and significance
  • Avoid repeating the Abstract, providing unnecessary information, and claiming novelty without accurate supporting information.

Why are research objectives important?

Objectives can help you stay focused and steer your research in the required direction. They help define and limit the scope of your research, which is important to efficiently manage your resources and time. The objectives help to create and maintain the overall structure, and specify two main things—the variables and the methods of quantifying the variables.

A good research objective:

  • defines the scope of the study
  • gives direction to the research
  • helps maintain focus and avoid diversions from the topic
  • minimizes wastage of resources like time, money, and energy

Types of research objectives

Research objectives can be broadly classified into general and specific objectives . 4 General objectives state what the research expects to achieve overall while specific objectives break this down into smaller, logically connected parts, each of which addresses various parts of the research problem. General objectives are the main goals of the study and are usually fewer in number while specific objectives are more in number because they address several aspects of the research problem.

Example (general objective): To investigate the factors influencing the financial performance of firms listed in the New York Stock Exchange market.

Example (specific objective): To assess the influence of firm size on the financial performance of firms listed in the New York Stock Exchange market.

In addition to this broad classification, research objectives can be grouped into several categories depending on the research problem, as given in Table 1.

Table 1: Types of research objectives

Exploratory Explores a previously unstudied topic, issue, or phenomenon; aims to generate ideas or hypotheses
Descriptive Describes the characteristics and features of a particular population or group
Explanatory Explains the relationships between variables; seeks to identify cause-and-effect relationships
Predictive Predicts future outcomes or events based on existing data samples or trends
Diagnostic Identifies factors contributing to a particular problem
Comparative Compares two or more groups or phenomena to identify similarities and differences
Historical Examines past events and trends to understand their significance and impact
Methodological Develops and improves research methods and techniques
Theoretical Tests and refines existing theories or helps develop new theoretical perspectives

Characteristics of research objectives

Research objectives must start with the word “To” because this helps readers identify the objective in the absence of headings and appropriate sectioning in research papers. 5,6

  • A good objective is SMART (mostly applicable to specific objectives):
  • Specific—clear about the what, why, when, and how
  • Measurable—identifies the main variables of the study and quantifies the targets
  • Achievable—attainable using the available time and resources
  • Realistic—accurately addresses the scope of the problem
  • Time-bound—identifies the time in which each step will be completed
  • Research objectives clarify the purpose of research.
  • They help understand the relationship and dissimilarities between variables.
  • They provide a direction that helps the research to reach a definite conclusion.

How to write research objectives?

Research objectives can be written using the following steps: 7

  • State your main research question clearly and concisely.
  • Describe the ultimate goal of your study, which is similar to the research question but states the intended outcomes more definitively.
  • Divide this main goal into subcategories to develop your objectives.
  • Limit the number of objectives (1-2 general; 3-4 specific)
  • Assess each objective using the SMART
  • Start each objective with an action verb like assess, compare, determine, evaluate, etc., which makes the research appear more actionable.
  • Use specific language without making the sentence data heavy.
  • The most common section to add the objectives is the introduction and after the problem statement.
  • Add the objectives to the abstract (if there is one).
  • State the general objective first, followed by the specific objectives.

Formulating research objectives

Formulating research objectives has the following five steps, which could help researchers develop a clear objective: 8

  • Identify the research problem.
  • Review past studies on subjects similar to your problem statement, that is, studies that use similar methods, variables, etc.
  • Identify the research gaps the current study should cover based on your literature review. These gaps could be theoretical, methodological, or conceptual.
  • Define the research question(s) based on the gaps identified.
  • Revise/relate the research problem based on the defined research question and the gaps identified. This is to confirm that there is an actual need for a study on the subject based on the gaps in literature.
  • Identify and write the general and specific objectives.
  • Incorporate the objectives into the study.

Advantages of research objectives

Adding clear research objectives has the following advantages: 4,8

  • Maintains the focus and direction of the research
  • Optimizes allocation of resources with minimal wastage
  • Acts as a foundation for defining appropriate research questions and hypotheses
  • Provides measurable outcomes that can help evaluate the success of the research
  • Determines the feasibility of the research by helping to assess the availability of required resources
  • Ensures relevance of the study to the subject and its contribution to existing literature

Disadvantages of research objectives

Research objectives also have few disadvantages, as listed below: 8

  • Absence of clearly defined objectives can lead to ambiguity in the research process
  • Unintentional bias could affect the validity and accuracy of the research findings

Key takeaways

  • Research objectives are concise statements that describe what the research is aiming to achieve.
  • They define the scope and direction of the research and maintain focus.
  • The objectives should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
  • Clear research objectives help avoid collection of data or resources not required for the study.
  • Well-formulated specific objectives help develop the overall research methodology, including data collection, analysis, interpretation, and utilization.
  • Research objectives should cover all aspects of the problem statement in a coherent way.
  • They should be clearly stated using action verbs.

Frequently asked questions on research objectives

Q: what’s the difference between research objectives and aims 9.

A: Research aims are statements that reflect the broad goal(s) of the study and outline the general direction of the research. They are not specific but clearly define the focus of the study.

Example: This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.

Research objectives focus on the action to be taken to achieve the aims. They make the aims more practical and should be specific and actionable.

Example: To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation.

Q: What are the examples of research objectives, both general and specific?

A: Here are a few examples of research objectives:

  • To identify the antiviral chemical constituents in Mumbukura gitoniensis (general)
  • To carry out solvent extraction of dried flowers of Mumbukura gitoniensis and isolate the constituents. (specific)
  • To determine the antiviral activity of each of the isolated compounds. (specific)
  • To examine the extent, range, and method of coral reef rehabilitation projects in five shallow reef areas adjacent to popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.
  • To investigate species richness of mammal communities in five protected areas over the past 20 years.
  • To evaluate the potential application of AI techniques for estimating best-corrected visual acuity from fundus photographs with and without ancillary information.
  • To investigate whether sport influences psychological parameters in the personality of asthmatic children.

Q: How do I develop research objectives?

A: Developing research objectives begins with defining the problem statement clearly, as illustrated by Figure 1. Objectives specify how the research question will be answered and they determine what is to be measured to test the hypothesis.

what is the objective of study in research

Q: Are research objectives measurable?

A: The word “measurable” implies that something is quantifiable. In terms of research objectives, this means that the source and method of collecting data are identified and that all these aspects are feasible for the research. Some metrics can be created to measure your progress toward achieving your objectives.

Q: Can research objectives change during the study?

A: Revising research objectives during the study is acceptable in situations when the selected methodology is not progressing toward achieving the objective, or if there are challenges pertaining to resources, etc. One thing to keep in mind is the time and resources you would have to complete your research after revising the objectives. Thus, as long as your problem statement and hypotheses are unchanged, minor revisions to the research objectives are acceptable.

Q: What is the difference between research questions and research objectives? 10

Broad statement; guide the overall direction of the research Specific, measurable goals that the research aims to achieve
Identify the main problem Define the specific outcomes the study aims to achieve
Used to generate hypotheses or identify gaps in existing knowledge Used to establish clear and achievable targets for the research
Not mutually exclusive with research objectives Should be directly related to the research question
Example: Example:

Q: Are research objectives the same as hypotheses?

A: No, hypotheses are predictive theories that are expressed in general terms. Research objectives, which are more specific, are developed from hypotheses and aim to test them. A hypothesis can be tested using several methods and each method will have different objectives because the methodology to be used could be different. A hypothesis is developed based on observation and reasoning; it is a calculated prediction about why a particular phenomenon is occurring. To test this prediction, different research objectives are formulated. Here’s a simple example of both a research hypothesis and research objective.

Research hypothesis : Employees who arrive at work earlier are more productive.

Research objective : To assess whether employees who arrive at work earlier are more productive.

To summarize, research objectives are an important part of research studies and should be written clearly to effectively communicate your research. We hope this article has given you a brief insight into the importance of using clearly defined research objectives and how to formulate them.

  • Farrugia P, Petrisor BA, Farrokhyar F, Bhandari M. Practical tips for surgical research: Research questions, hypotheses and objectives. Can J Surg. 2010 Aug;53(4):278-81.
  • Abbadia J. How to write an introduction for a research paper. Mind the Graph website. Accessed June 14, 2023.
  • Writing a scientific paper: Introduction. UCI libraries website. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  • Research objectives—Types, examples and writing guide. website. Accessed June 17, 2023.,track%20and%20achieve%20their%20goals .
  • Bartle P. SMART Characteristics of good objectives. Community empowerment collective website. Accessed June 16, 2023.
  • Research objectives. Studyprobe website. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  • Corredor F. How to write objectives in a research paper. wikiHow website. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  • Research objectives: Definition, types, characteristics, advantages. AccountingNest website. Accessed June 15, 2023.
  • Phair D., Shaeffer A. Research aims, objectives & questions. GradCoach website. Accessed June 20, 2023.
  • Understanding the difference between research questions and objectives. Accessed June 21, 2023.

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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?

what is the objective of study in research

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.

what is the objective of study in research

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This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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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.


Thanks so much. This was really helpful.


I know you pepole have tried to break things into more understandable and easy format. And God bless you. Keep it up


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!


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!


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.


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?


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


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?


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.


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).


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


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.


A great thanks for you. it is really amazing explanation. I grasp a lot and one step up to research knowledge.


I really found these tips helpful. Thank you very much Grad Coach.

Rahma D.

I found this article helpful. Thanks for sharing this.


thank you so much, the explanation and examples are really helpful

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  • Defining Research Objectives: How To  Write Them

Moradeke Owa

Almost all industries use research for growth and development. Research objectives are how researchers ensure that their study has direction and makes a significant contribution to growing an industry or niche.

Research objectives provide a clear and concise statement of what the researcher wants to find out. As a researcher, you need to clearly outline and define research objectives to guide the research process and ensure that the study is relevant and generates the impact you want.

In this article, we will explore research objectives and how to leverage them to achieve successful research studies.

What Are Research Objectives?

Research objectives are what you want to achieve through your research study. They guide your research process and help you focus on the most important aspects of your topic.

You can also define the scope of your study and set realistic and attainable study goals with research objectives. For example, with clear research objectives, your study focuses on the specific goals you want to achieve and prevents you from spending time and resources collecting unnecessary data.

However, sticking to research objectives isn’t always easy, especially in broad or unconventional research. This is why most researchers follow the SMART criteria when defining their research objectives.

Understanding SMART Criteria in Research

Think of research objectives as a roadmap to achieving your research goals, with the SMART criteria as your navigator on the map.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These criteria help you ensure that your research objectives are clear, specific, realistic, meaningful, and time-bound.

Here’s a breakdown of the SMART Criteria:

Specific : Your research objectives should be clear: what do you want to achieve, why do you want to achieve it, and how do you plan to achieve it? Avoid vague or broad statements that don’t provide enough direction for your research.

Measurable : Your research objectives should have metrics that help you track your progress and measure your results. Also, ensure the metrics are measurable with data to verify them.

Achievable : Your research objectives should be within your research scope, timeframe, and budget. Also, set goals that are challenging but not impossible.

Relevant: Your research objectives should be in line with the goal and significance of your study. Also, ensure that the objectives address a specific issue or knowledge gap that is interesting and relevant to your industry or niche.

Time-bound : Your research objectives should have a specific deadline or timeframe for completion. This will help you carefully set a schedule for your research activities and milestones and monitor your study progress.

Characteristics of Effective Research Objectives

Clarity : Your objectives should be clear and unambiguous so that anyone who reads them can understand what you intend to do. Avoid vague or general terms that could be taken out of context.

Specificity : Your objectives should be specific and address the research questions that you have formulated. Do not use broad or narrow objectives as they may restrict your field of research or make your research irrelevant.

Measurability : Define your metrics with indicators or metrics that help you determine if you’ve accomplished your goals or not. This will ensure you are tracking the research progress and making interventions when needed.

Also, do use objectives that are subjective or based on personal opinions, as they may be difficult to accurately verify and measure.

Achievability : Your objectives should be realistic and attainable, given the resources and time available for your research project. You should set objectives that match your skills and capabilities, they can be difficult but not so hard that they are realistically unachievable.

For example, setting very difficult make you lose confidence, and abandon your research. Also, setting very simple objectives could demotivate you and prevent you from closing the knowledge gap or making significant contributions to your field with your research.

Relevance : Your objectives should be relevant to your research topic and contribute to the existing knowledge in your field. Avoid objectives that are unrelated or insignificant, as they may waste your time or resources.

Time-bound : Your objectives should be time-bound and specify when you will complete them. Have a realistic and flexible timeframe for achieving your objectives, and track your progress with it. 

Steps to Writing Research Objectives

Identify the research questions.

The first step in writing effective research objectives is to identify the research questions that you are trying to answer. Research questions help you narrow down your topic and identify the gaps or problems that you want to address with your research.

For example, if you are interested in the impact of technology on children’s development, your research questions could be:

  • What is the relationship between technology use and academic performance among children?
  • Are children who use technology more likely to do better in school than those who do not?
  • What is the social and psychological impact of technology use on children?

Brainstorm Objectives

Once you have your research questions, you can brainstorm possible objectives that relate to them. Objectives are more specific than research questions, and they tell you what you want to achieve or learn in your research.

You can use verbs such as analyze, compare, evaluate, explore, investigate, etc. to express your objectives. Also, try to generate as many objectives as possible, without worrying about their quality or feasibility at this stage.

Prioritize Objectives

Once you’ve brainstormed your objectives, you’ll need to prioritize them based on their relevance and feasibility. Relevance is how relevant the objective is to your research topic and how well it fits into your overall research objective.

Feasibility is how realistic and feasible the objective is compared to the time, money, and expertise you have. You can create a matrix or ranking system to organize your objectives and pick the ones that matter the most.

Refine Objectives

The next step is to refine and revise your objectives to ensure clarity and specificity. Start by ensuring that your objectives are consistent and coherent with each other and with your research questions. 

Make Objectives SMART

A useful way to refine your objectives is to make them SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

  • Specific : Objectives should clearly state what you hope to achieve.
  • Measurable : They should be able to be quantified or evaluated.
  • Achievable : realistic and within the scope of the research study.
  • Relevant : They should be directly related to the research questions.
  • Time-bound : specific timeframe for research completion.

Review and Finalize Objectives

The final step is to review your objectives for coherence and alignment with your research questions and aim. Ensure your objectives are logically connected and consistent with each other and with the purpose of your study.

You also need to check that your objectives are not too broad or too narrow, too easy or too hard, too many or too few. You can use a checklist or a rubric to evaluate your objectives and make modifications.

Examples of Well-Written Research Objectives

Example 1- Psychology

Research question: What are the effects of social media use on teenagers’ mental health?

Objective : To determine the relationship between the amount of time teenagers in the US spend on social media and their levels of anxiety and depression before and after using social media.

What Makes the Research Objective SMART?

The research objective is specific because it clearly states what the researcher hopes to achieve. It is measurable because it can be quantified by measuring the levels of anxiety and depression in teenagers. 

Also, the objective is achievable because the researcher can collect enough data to answer the research question. It is relevant because it is directly related to the research question. It is time-bound because it has a specific deadline for completion.

Example 2- Marketing

Research question : How can a company increase its brand awareness by 10%?

Objective : To develop a marketing strategy that will increase the company’s sales by 10% within the next quarter.

How Is this Research Objective SMART?

The research states what the researcher hopes to achieve ( Specific ). You can also measure the company’s reach before and after the marketing plan is implemented ( Measurable ).

The research objective is also achievable because you can develop a marketing plan that will increase awareness by 10% within the timeframe. The objective is directly related to the research question ( Relevant ). It is also time-bound because it has a specific deadline for completion.

Research objectives are a well-designed roadmap to completing and achieving your overall research goal. 

However, research goals are only effective if they are well-defined and backed up with the best practices such as the SMART criteria. Properly defining research objectives will help you plan and conduct your research project effectively and efficiently.


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  • 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.


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

Table showing common research verbs which should ideally be used at the start of a research aim or objective.
(Understanding and organising information) (Solving problems using information) (reaching conclusion from evidence) (Breaking down into components) (Judging merit)

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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Writing the Research Objectives: 5 Straightforward Examples

The research objective of a research proposal or scientific article defines the direction or content of a research investigation. Without the research objectives, the proposal or research paper is in disarray. It is like a fisherman riding on a boat without any purpose and with no destination in sight. Therefore, at the beginning of any research venture, the researcher must be clear about what he or she intends to do or achieve in conducting a study.

How do you define the objectives of a study? What are the uses of the research objective? How would a researcher write this essential part of the research? This article aims to provide answers to these questions.

Table of Contents

Definition of a research objective.

“ What does the researcher want or hope to achieve at the end of the research project.”  

What are the Uses of the Research Objective?

The uses of the research objective are enumerated below:

The research design serves as the “blueprint” for the research investigation. The University of Southern California describes the different types of research design extensively. It details the data to be gathered, data collection procedure, data measurement, and statistical tests to use in the analysis.

The variables of the study include those factors that the researcher wants to evaluate in the study. These variables narrow down the research to several manageable components to see differences or correlations between them.

Specifying the data collection procedure ensures data accuracy and integrity . Thus, the probability of error is minimized. Generalizations or conclusions based on valid arguments founded on reliable data strengthens research findings on particular issues and problems.

In data mining activities where large data sets are involved, the research objective plays a crucial role. Without a clear objective to guide the machine learning process, the desired outcomes will not be met.

How is the Research Objective Written?

Before forming a research objective, you should read about all the developments in your area of research and find gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed. Readings will help you come up with suitable objectives for your research project.

5 Examples of Research Objectives

The following examples of research objectives based on several published studies on various topics demonstrate how the research objectives are written:

Finally, writing the research objectives requires constant practice, experience, and knowledge about the topic investigated. Clearly written objectives save time, money, and effort.

I wrote a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to develop a conceptual framework with illustration in my post titled “ Conceptual Framework: A Step by Step Guide on How to Make One. “

Evans, K. L., Rodrigues, A. S., Chown, S. L., & Gaston, K. J. (2006). Protected areas and regional avian species richness in South Africa.  Biology letters ,  2 (2), 184-188.

Yeemin, T., Sutthacheep, M., & Pettongma, R. (2006). Coral reef restoration projects in Thailand.  Ocean & Coastal Management ,  49 (9-10), 562-575.

© 2020 March 23 P. A. Regoniel Updated 17 November 2020 | Updated 18 January 2024

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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 Aims and Objectives: The dynamic duo for successful research

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Picture yourself on a road trip without a destination in mind — driving aimlessly, not knowing where you’re headed or how to get there. Similarly, your research is navigated by well-defined research aims and objectives. Research aims and objectives are the foundation of any research project. They provide a clear direction and purpose for the study, ensuring that you stay focused and on track throughout the process. They are your trusted navigational tools, leading you to success.

Understanding the relationship between research objectives and aims is crucial to any research project’s success, and we’re here to break it down for you in this article. Here, we’ll explore the importance of research aims and objectives, understand their differences, and delve into the impact they have on the quality of research.

Understanding the Difference between Research Aims and Objectives

In research, aims and objectives are two important components but are often used interchangeably. Though they may sound similar, they are distinct and serve different purposes.

Research Aims:

Research aims are broad statements that describe the overall purpose of your study. They provide a general direction for your study and indicate the intended achievements of your research. Aims are usually written in a general and abstract manner describing the ultimate goal of the research.

Research Objectives:

Research objectives are specific, measurable, and achievable goals that you aim to accomplish within a specified timeframe. They break down the research aims into smaller, more manageable components and provide a clear picture of what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.

what is the objective of study in research

In the example, the objectives provide specific targets that must be achieved to reach the aim. Essentially, aims provide the overall direction for the research while objectives provide specific targets that must be achieved to accomplish the aims. Aims provide a broad context for the research, while the objectives provide smaller steps that the researcher must take to accomplish the overall research goals. To illustrate, when planning a road trip, your research aim is the destination you want to reach, and your research objectives are the specific routes you need to take to get there.

Aims and objectives are interconnected. Objectives play a key role in defining the research methodology, providing a roadmap for how you’ll collect and analyze data, while aim is the final destination, which represents the ultimate goal of your research. By setting specific goals, you’ll be able to design a research plan that helps you achieve your objectives and, ultimately, your research aim.

Importance of Well-defined Aims and Objectives

The impact of clear research aims and objectives on the quality of research cannot be understated. But it’s not enough to simply have aims and objectives. Well-defined research aims and objectives are important for several reasons:

  • Provides direction: Clear aims and well-defined objectives provide a specific direction for your research study, ensuring that the research stays focused on a specific topic or problem. This helps to prevent the research from becoming too broad or unfocused, and ensures that the study remains relevant and meaningful.
  • Guides research design: The research aim and objectives help guide the research design and methodology, ensuring that your study is designed in a way that will answer the research questions and achieve the research objectives.
  • Helps with resource allocation: Clear research aims and objectives helps you to allocate resources effectively , including time, financial resources, human resources, and other required materials. With a well-defined aim and objectives, you can identify the resources required to conduct the research, and allocate them in a way that maximizes efficiency and productivity.
  • Assists in evaluation: Clearly specified research aims and objectives allow for effective evaluation of your research project’s success. You can assess whether the research has achieved its objectives, and whether the aim has been met. This evaluation process can help to identify areas of the research project that may require further attention or modification.
  • Enhances communication: Well-defined research aims and objectives help to enhance communication among the research team, stakeholders, funding agencies, and other interested parties. Clear aims and objectives ensure that everyone involved in your research project understands the purpose and goals of the study. This can help to foster collaboration and ensure that everyone is working towards the same end goal.

How to Formulate Research Aims and Objectives

Formulating effective research aims and objectives involves a systematic process to ensure that they are clear, specific, achievable, and relevant. Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve through your research. What impact do you want your research to have? Once you have a clear understanding of your aims, you can then break them down into specific, achievable objectives. Here are some steps you can follow when developing research aims and objectives:

  • Identify the research question : Clearly identify the questions you want to answer through your research. This will help you define the scope of your research. Understanding the characteristics of a good research question will help you generate clearer aims and objectives.
  • Conduct literature review : When defining your research aim and objectives, it’s important to conduct a literature review to identify key concepts, theories, and methods related to your research problem or question. Conducting a thorough literature review can help you understand what research has been done in the area and what gaps exist in the literature.
  • Identify the research aim: Develop a research aim that summarizes the overarching goal of your research. The research aim should be broad and concise.
  • Develop research objectives: Based on your research questions and research aim, develop specific research objectives that outline what you intend to achieve through your research. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Use action verbs: Use action verbs such as “investigate,” “examine,” “analyze,” and “compare” to describe your research aims and objectives. This makes them more specific and measurable.
  • Ensure alignment with research question: Ensure that the research aim and objectives are aligned with the research question. This helps to ensure that the research remains focused and that the objectives are specific enough to answer your research question.
  • Refine and revise: Once the research aim and objectives have been developed, refine and revise them as needed. Seek feedback from your colleagues, mentors, or supervisors to ensure that they are clear, concise, and achievable within the given resources and timeframe.
  • Communicate: After finalizing the research aim and objectives, they should be communicated to the research team, stakeholders, and other interested parties. This helps to ensure that everyone is working towards the same end goal and understands the purpose of the study.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid While Formulating Aims and Objectives

There are several common mistakes that researchers can make when writing research aims and objectives. These include:

  • Being too broad or vague: Aims and objectives that are too general or unclear can lead to confusion and lack of focus. It is important to ensure that the aims and objectives are concise and clear.
  • Being too narrow or specific: On the other hand, aims and objectives that are too narrow or specific may limit the scope of the research and make it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions or implications.
  • Being too ambitious: While it is important to aim high, being too ambitious with the aims and objectives can lead to unrealistic expectations and can be difficult to achieve within the constraints of the research project.
  • Lack of alignment: The aims and objectives should be directly linked to the research questions being investigated. Otherwise, this will lead to a lack of coherence in the research project.
  • Lack of feasibility: The aims and objectives should be achievable within the constraints of the research project, including time, budget, and resources. Failing to consider feasibility may cause compromise of the research quality.
  • Failing to consider ethical considerations: The aims and objectives should take into account any ethical considerations, such as ensuring the safety and well-being of study participants.
  • Failing to involve all stakeholders: It’s important to involve all relevant stakeholders, such as participants, supervisors, and funding agencies, in the development of the aims and objectives to ensure they are appropriate and relevant.

To avoid these common pitfalls, it is important to be specific, clear, relevant, and realistic when writing research aims and objectives. Seek feedback from colleagues or supervisors to ensure that the aims and objectives are aligned with the research problem , questions, and methodology, and are achievable within the constraints of the research project. It’s important to continually refine your aims and objectives as you go. As you progress in your research, it’s not uncommon for research aims and objectives to evolve slightly, but it’s important that they remain consistent with the study conducted and the research topic.

In summary, research aims and objectives are the backbone of any successful research project. They give you the ability to cut through the noise and hone in on what really matters. By setting clear goals and aligning them with your research questions and methodology, you can ensure that your research is relevant, impactful, and of the highest quality. So, before you hit the road on your research journey, make sure you have a clear destination and steps to get there. Let us know in the comments section below the challenges you faced and the strategies you followed while fomulating research aims and objectives! Also, feel free to reach out to us at any stage of your research or publication by using #AskEnago  and tagging @EnagoAcademy on Twitter , Facebook , and Quora . Happy researching!

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Research Objectives: Meaning, Types

research objectives

A research objective addresses the purpose of the investigation and the types of knowledge generated from one’s investigation. It provides a framework for what is to be achieved by the study

What is the Research Objective?

A research objective addresses the purpose of the investigation and the types of knowledge generated from one’s investigation. Looking at the objectives of the research , one can anticipate what is to be achieved by the study.

A research objective indicates the population of interest and independent and dependent variables.

Many researchers state their research objective in the declarative form as a broad statement of purpose, such as the objective of this study is to examine the relationship between the initial salary (dependent variable) of those who are employed in NGOs (population of interest) and their previous job experience (independent variable).

The descriptive study does not always have variables that can be designated as independent or dependent.

In such a case, the objective indicates the nature of the inquiry, the study variables, and the population under study, as we find in the example.

This study aims to assess the women’s decision-making autonomy regarding their health care, their child’s health care, large household purchases, household purchases for daily needs, and visits to the women’s family or relatives.

In causal studies, the objectives are usually stated in the form of hypotheses.

Here is an example: Participation of women in household decision-making increases with age, their level of education, and the number of surviving children.

We can enumerate three major reasons for formulating the objectives of the research;

  • Focus the study on narrowing it down to essentials;
  • Avoid collection of data that are not strictly necessary for understanding and solving the problem at hand;
  • Organize the study in clearly defined components or phases.

While formulating the research objectives, we should keep in mind that the results will be compared to the objectives when the study is evaluated.

If the objectives have not been formulated clearly, the study cannot be evaluated as desired. It is because of this reason; we should take care that the objectives fulfill certain criteria;

  • They are realistic to fit the local environment.
  • They cover the different aspects of the problem.
  • They consider the contributing factors in a coherent way and logical sequence.
  • They consider ethical issues, if any.
  • They are phrased in operational terms.

Objectives should be closely related to the research problem statement, giving the sponsor specific, concrete, and achievable goals.

It is best to state the objectives of a study in general terms first and then move down to specific terms.

4 Types of Research Objectives

From this point of view, objectives are of two types: general and specific. We elaborate on these two concepts below, along with two more objectives: immediate objective and ultimate objective.

General Objective

The general objective of a study states what is expected to be achieved by the study in general terms.

For example, if the problem identified is the low utilization of Child Welfare Clinics (CWC), the general objective of the study could be:

  • Identify the reasons for the low utilization of Child Welfare Clinics to find solutions.

Similarly, in a study on anemia in pregnancy, the general objective could be stated as:

  • To study the changes in the hemoglobin level with an increase in the duration of pregnancy.

Or in a study to examine the contribution of goat farming to poverty alleviation, the general objective may be framed as follows:

  • To assess the impact of investment in goat farming for poverty alleviation in rural Bangladesh.

Specific Objectives

Given that we have rightly stated the general objectives, it is advisable to break it down into several smaller, logically connected parts. These are normally referred to as specific objectives.

Specific objectives should systematically address the various aspects of the problems defined under the problem statement and the key factors that are assumed to influence or cause the problems.

They should specify what you will do in your study, where this study will be done, and for what purpose.

If formulated properly, specific objectives will facilitate the development of the research methodology and help the researcher orient the collection, analysis, interpretation, and utilization of data.

Thus in the anemia survey just cited above, the specific objectives could be

  • To determine through history, the duration of pregnancy, parity, and the last birth interval of pregnant women in the study;
  • To assess the hemoglobin level of pregnant women using Sahli’s method;
  • To determine the changes in hemoglobin level with the duration of pregnancy, controlling for birth and parity.

Immediate Objectives

In addition to general objectives and specific objectives, a few studies, particularly evaluative studies, attempt to specify immediate objectives.

The immediate objective serves to indicate the focus of the proposed research in behavioral terms. The objective should specify the following points:

  • Why are we going to do the study?
  • Who will conduct the study?
  • When will the study be conducted?
  • What are we going to study?
  • Whom will the study cover?
  • How will the study be conducted?

The ‘why’  question addresses the rationale and objectives of the study.

The ‘whose’  question is designed to identify the individuals, firms, or organizations responsible for implementing the study.

The ‘when’  question seeks to know the study period.

The ‘what’  question addresses the issue of a statement of the problem, including the key variables.

The ‘ whom’ question seeks to answer the population to be studied.

The ‘ how’   question seeks to know the methodology to be followed, including the research design and sampling strategy to be employed.

Ultimate Objective

Most applied research studies have a statement of ultimate objective that focuses on how the results will be used to motivate the program managers and policymakers to implement and execute the recommendations from the survey results.

In the anemia survey, the ultimate objective may be stated as follows:

It is expected that the study’s findings will help enhance understanding of the effect of pregnancy on hemoglobin levels of mothers and thereby guide the physician’s incorrect iron therapy for pregnant women during the different gestational periods.

In the child nutrition survey cited above, the ultimate objectives were to highlight issues that policymakers and program managers need to address to improve the nutrition status of children in the country.

How are research objectives typically stated in causal studies?

What are the main reasons for formulating research objectives.

The main reasons for formulating research objectives are to focus the study, avoid unnecessary data collection, and organize the study in clearly defined components or phases.

What is the difference between general and specific research objectives?

The general objective of a study states the expected outcome in broad terms, while specific objectives break down the general objective into smaller, logically connected parts that address various aspects of the research problem.

What are the immediate objectives in research?

Immediate objectives indicate the focus of the proposed research in behavioral terms, specifying why, who, when, what, whom, and how the study will be conducted.

How does an ultimate objective differ from other research objectives?

The ultimate objective focuses on how the results of the research will be used, aiming to motivate program managers and policymakers to implement the recommendations derived from the study’s findings.

Why is it essential to state research objectives clearly?

Clear research objectives are crucial because the study’s results will be compared to these objectives when evaluating the study. If the objectives are not clearly formulated, the study cannot be evaluated as desired.

30 Accounting Research Paper Topics and Ideas for Writing


Formulating Research Aims and Objectives

Formulating research aim and objectives in an appropriate manner is one of the most important aspects of your thesis. This is because research aim and objectives determine the scope, depth and the overall direction of the research. Research question is the central question of the study that has to be answered on the basis of research findings.

Research aim emphasizes what needs to be achieved within the scope of the research, by the end of the research process. Achievement of research aim provides answer to the research question.

Research objectives divide research aim into several parts and address each part separately. Research aim specifies WHAT needs to be studied and research objectives comprise a number of steps that address HOW research aim will be achieved.

As a rule of dumb, there would be one research aim and several research objectives. Achievement of each research objective will lead to the achievement of the research aim.

Consider the following as an example:

Research title: Effects of organizational culture on business profitability: a case study of Virgin Atlantic

Research aim: To assess the effects of Virgin Atlantic organizational culture on business profitability

Following research objectives would facilitate the achievement of this aim:

  • Analyzing the nature of organizational culture at Virgin Atlantic by September 1, 2022
  • Identifying factors impacting Virgin Atlantic organizational culture by September 16, 2022
  • Analyzing impacts of Virgin Atlantic organizational culture on employee performances by September 30, 2022
  • Providing recommendations to Virgin Atlantic strategic level management in terms of increasing the level of effectiveness of organizational culture by October 5, 2022

Figure below illustrates additional examples in formulating research aims and objectives:

Formulating Research Aims and Objectives

Formulation of research question, aim and objectives

Common mistakes in the formulation of research aim relate to the following:

1. Choosing the topic too broadly . This is the most common mistake. For example, a research title of “an analysis of leadership practices” can be classified as too broad because the title fails to answer the following questions:

a) Which aspects of leadership practices? Leadership has many aspects such as employee motivation, ethical behaviour, strategic planning, change management etc. An attempt to cover all of these aspects of organizational leadership within a single research will result in an unfocused and poor work.

b) An analysis of leadership practices in which country? Leadership practices tend to be different in various countries due to cross-cultural differences, legislations and a range of other region-specific factors. Therefore, a study of leadership practices needs to be country-specific.

c) Analysis of leadership practices in which company or industry? Similar to the point above, analysis of leadership practices needs to take into account industry-specific and/or company-specific differences, and there is no way to conduct a leadership research that relates to all industries and organizations in an equal manner.

Accordingly, as an example “a study into the impacts of ethical behaviour of a leader on the level of employee motivation in US healthcare sector” would be a more appropriate title than simply “An analysis of leadership practices”.

2. Setting an unrealistic aim . Formulation of a research aim that involves in-depth interviews with Apple strategic level management by an undergraduate level student can be specified as a bit over-ambitious. This is because securing an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook or members of Apple Board of Directors might not be easy. This is an extreme example of course, but you got the idea. Instead, you may aim to interview the manager of your local Apple store and adopt a more feasible strategy to get your dissertation completed.

3. Choosing research methods incompatible with the timeframe available . Conducting interviews with 20 sample group members and collecting primary data through 2 focus groups when only three months left until submission of your dissertation can be very difficult, if not impossible. Accordingly, timeframe available need to be taken into account when formulating research aims and objectives and selecting research methods.

Moreover, research objectives need to be formulated according to SMART principle,

 where the abbreviation stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Study employee motivation of Coca-Cola To study the impacts of management practices on the levels of employee motivation at Coca-Cola US by December  5, 2022


Analyze consumer behaviour in catering industry


Analyzing changes in consumer behaviour in catering industry in the 21 century in the UK by March 1, 2022
Recommend Toyota Motor Corporation  management on new market entry strategy


Formulating recommendations to Toyota Motor Corporation  management  on the choice of appropriate strategy to enter Vietnam market by June 9, 2022


Analyze the impact of social media marketing on business


Assessing impacts of integration of social media into marketing strategy on the level of brand awareness by March 30, 2022


Finding out about time management principles used by Accenture managers Identifying main time-management strategies used by managers of Accenture France by December 1, 2022

Examples of SMART research objectives

At the conclusion part of your research project you will need to reflect on the level of achievement of research aims and objectives. In case your research aims and objectives are not fully achieved by the end of the study, you will need to discuss the reasons. These may include initial inappropriate formulation of research aims and objectives, effects of other variables that were not considered at the beginning of the research or changes in some circumstances during the research process.

Research Aims and Objectives

John Dudovskiy

what is the objective of study in research

The Importance Of Research Objectives

Imagine you’re a student planning a vacation in a foreign country. You’re on a tight budget and need to draw…

The Importance Of Research Objectives

Imagine you’re a student planning a vacation in a foreign country. You’re on a tight budget and need to draw up a pocket-friendly plan. Where do you begin? The first step is to do your research.

Before that, you make a mental list of your objectives—finding reasonably-priced hotels, traveling safely and finding ways of communicating with someone back home. These objectives help you focus sharply during your research and be aware of the finer details of your trip.

More often than not, research is a part of our daily lives. Whether it’s to pick a restaurant for your next birthday dinner or to prepare a presentation at work, good research is the foundation of effective learning. Read on to understand the meaning, importance and examples of research objectives.

Why Do We Need Research?

What are the objectives of research, what goes into a research plan.

Research is a careful and detailed study of a particular problem or concern, using scientific methods. An in-depth analysis of information creates space for generating new questions, concepts and understandings. The main objective of research is to explore the unknown and unlock new possibilities. It’s an essential component of success.

Over the years, businesses have started emphasizing the need for research. You’ve probably noticed organizations hiring research managers and analysts. The primary purpose of business research is to determine the goals and opportunities of an organization. It’s critical in making business decisions and appropriately allocating available resources.

Here are a few benefits of research that’ll explain why it is a vital aspect of our professional lives:

Expands Your Knowledge Base

One of the greatest benefits of research is to learn and gain a deeper understanding. The deeper you dig into a topic, the more well-versed you are. Furthermore, research has the power to help you build on any personal experience you have on the subject.

Keeps You Up To Date

Research encourages you to discover the most recent information available. Updated information prevents you from falling behind and helps you present accurate information. You’re better equipped to develop ideas or talk about a topic when you’re armed with the latest inputs.

Builds Your Credibility

Research provides you with a good foundation upon which you can develop your thoughts and ideas. People take you more seriously when your suggestions are backed by research. You can speak with greater confidence because you know that the information is accurate.

Sparks Connections

Take any leading nonprofit organization, you’ll see how they have a strong research arm supported by real-life stories. Research also becomes the base upon which real-life connections and impact can be made. It even helps you communicate better with others and conveys why you’re pursuing something.

Encourages Curiosity

As we’ve already established, research is mostly about using existing information to create new ideas and opinions. In the process, it sparks curiosity as you’re encouraged to explore and gain deeper insights into a subject. Curiosity leads to higher levels of positivity and lower levels of anxiety.

Well-defined objectives of research are an essential component of successful research engagement. If you want to drive all aspects of your research methodology such as data collection, design, analysis and recommendation, you need to lay down the objectives of research methodology. In other words, the objectives of research should address the underlying purpose of investigation and analysis. It should outline the steps you’d take to achieve desirable outcomes. Research objectives help you stay focused and adjust your expectations as you progress.

The objectives of research should be closely related to the problem statement, giving way to specific and achievable goals. Here are the four types of research objectives for you to explore:

General Objective

Also known as secondary objectives, general objectives provide a detailed view of the aim of a study. In other words, you get a general overview of what you want to achieve by the end of your study. For example, if you want to study an organization’s contribution to environmental sustainability, your general objective could be: a study of sustainable practices and the use of renewable energy by the organization.

Specific Objectives

Specific objectives define the primary aim of the study. Typically, general objectives provide the foundation for identifying specific objectives. In other words, when general objectives are broken down into smaller and logically connected objectives, they’re known as specific objectives. They help define the who, what, why, when and how aspects of your project. Once you identify the main objective of research, it’s easier to develop and pursue a plan of action.

Let’s take the example of ‘a study of an organization’s contribution to environmental sustainability’ again. The specific objectives will look like this:

To determine through history how the organization has changed its practices and adopted new solutions

To assess how the new practices, technology and strategies will contribute to the overall effectiveness

Once you’ve identified the objectives of research, it’s time to organize your thoughts and streamline your research goals. Here are a few effective tips to develop a powerful research plan and improve your business performance.

Set SMART Goals

Your research objectives should be SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-constrained. When you focus on utilizing available resources and setting realistic timeframes and milestones, it’s easier to prioritize objectives. Continuously track your progress and check whether you need to revise your expectations or targets. This way, you’re in greater control over the process.

Create A Plan

Create a plan that’ll help you select appropriate methods to collect accurate information. A well-structured plan allows you to use logical and creative approaches towards problem-solving. The complexity of information and your skills are bound to influence your plan, which is why you need to make room for flexibility. The availability of resources will also play a big role in influencing your decisions.

Collect And Collate

After you’ve created a plan for the research process, make a list of the data you’re going to collect and the methods you’ll use. Not only will it help make sense of your insights but also keep track of your approach. The information you collect should be:

Logical, rigorous and objective

Can be reproduced by other people working on the same subject

Free of errors and highlighting necessary details

Current and updated

Includes everything required to support your argument/suggestions

Analyze And Keep Ready

Data analysis is the most crucial part of the process and there are many ways in which the information can be utilized. Four types of data analysis are often seen in a professional environment. While they may be divided into separate categories, they’re linked to each other.

Descriptive Analysis:

The most commonly used data analysis, descriptive analysis simply summarizes past data. For example, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) use descriptive analysis. It establishes certain benchmarks after studying how someone has been performing in the past.

Diagnostic Analysis:

The next step is to identify why something happened. Diagnostic analysis uses the information gathered through descriptive analysis and helps find the underlying causes of an outcome. For example, if a marketing initiative was successful, you deep-dive into the strategies that worked.

Predictive Analysis:

It attempts to answer ‘what’s likely to happen’. Predictive analysis makes use of past data to predict future outcomes. However, the accuracy of predictions depends on the quality of the data provided. Risk assessment is an ideal example of using predictive analysis.

Prescriptive Analysis: 

The most sought-after type of data analysis, prescriptive analysis combines the insights of all of the previous analyses. It’s a huge organizational commitment as it requires plenty of effort and resources. A great example of prescriptive analysis is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which consumes large amounts of data. You need to be prepared to commit to this type of analysis.

Review And Interpret

Once you’ve collected and collated your data, it’s time to review it and draw accurate conclusions. Here are a few ways to improve the review process:

Identify the fundamental issues, opportunities and problems and make note of recurring trends if any

Make a list of your insights and check which is the most or the least common. In short, keep track of the frequency of each insight

Conduct a SWOT analysis and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Write down your conclusions and recommendations of the research

When we think about research, we often associate it with academicians and students. but the truth is research is for everybody who is willing to learn and enhance their knowledge. If you want to master the art of strategically upgrading your knowledge, Harappa Education’s Learning Expertly course has all the answers. Not only will it help you look at things from a fresh perspective but also show you how to acquire new information with greater efficiency. The Growth Mindset framework will teach you how to believe in your abilities to grow and improve. The Learning Transfer framework will help you apply your learnings from one context to another. Begin the journey of tactful learning and self-improvement today!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics related to the THINK Habit such as  Learning From Experience ,  Critical Thinking  & What is  Brainstorming  to think clearly and rationally.


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Research questions, hypotheses and objectives

Patricia farrugia.

* Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, the

Bradley A. Petrisor

† Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and the

Forough Farrokhyar

‡ Departments of Surgery and

§ Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont

Mohit Bhandari

There is an increasing familiarity with the principles of evidence-based medicine in the surgical community. As surgeons become more aware of the hierarchy of evidence, grades of recommendations and the principles of critical appraisal, they develop an increasing familiarity with research design. Surgeons and clinicians are looking more and more to the literature and clinical trials to guide their practice; as such, it is becoming a responsibility of the clinical research community to attempt to answer questions that are not only well thought out but also clinically relevant. The development of the research question, including a supportive hypothesis and objectives, is a necessary key step in producing clinically relevant results to be used in evidence-based practice. A well-defined and specific research question is more likely to help guide us in making decisions about study design and population and subsequently what data will be collected and analyzed. 1

Objectives of this article

In this article, we discuss important considerations in the development of a research question and hypothesis and in defining objectives for research. By the end of this article, the reader will be able to appreciate the significance of constructing a good research question and developing hypotheses and research objectives for the successful design of a research study. The following article is divided into 3 sections: research question, research hypothesis and research objectives.

Research question

Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know “where the boundary between current knowledge and ignorance lies.” 1 The challenge in developing an appropriate research question is in determining which clinical uncertainties could or should be studied and also rationalizing the need for their investigation.

Increasing one’s knowledge about the subject of interest can be accomplished in many ways. Appropriate methods include systematically searching the literature, in-depth interviews and focus groups with patients (and proxies) and interviews with experts in the field. In addition, awareness of current trends and technological advances can assist with the development of research questions. 2 It is imperative to understand what has been studied about a topic to date in order to further the knowledge that has been previously gathered on a topic. Indeed, some granting institutions (e.g., Canadian Institute for Health Research) encourage applicants to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence if a recent review does not already exist and preferably a pilot or feasibility study before applying for a grant for a full trial.

In-depth knowledge about a subject may generate a number of questions. It then becomes necessary to ask whether these questions can be answered through one study or if more than one study needed. 1 Additional research questions can be developed, but several basic principles should be taken into consideration. 1 All questions, primary and secondary, should be developed at the beginning and planning stages of a study. Any additional questions should never compromise the primary question because it is the primary research question that forms the basis of the hypothesis and study objectives. It must be kept in mind that within the scope of one study, the presence of a number of research questions will affect and potentially increase the complexity of both the study design and subsequent statistical analyses, not to mention the actual feasibility of answering every question. 1 A sensible strategy is to establish a single primary research question around which to focus the study plan. 3 In a study, the primary research question should be clearly stated at the end of the introduction of the grant proposal, and it usually specifies the population to be studied, the intervention to be implemented and other circumstantial factors. 4

Hulley and colleagues 2 have suggested the use of the FINER criteria in the development of a good research question ( Box 1 ). The FINER criteria highlight useful points that may increase the chances of developing a successful research project. A good research question should specify the population of interest, be of interest to the scientific community and potentially to the public, have clinical relevance and further current knowledge in the field (and of course be compliant with the standards of ethical boards and national research standards).

FINER criteria for a good research question


Adapted with permission from Wolters Kluwer Health. 2

Whereas the FINER criteria outline the important aspects of the question in general, a useful format to use in the development of a specific research question is the PICO format — consider the population (P) of interest, the intervention (I) being studied, the comparison (C) group (or to what is the intervention being compared) and the outcome of interest (O). 3 , 5 , 6 Often timing (T) is added to PICO ( Box 2 ) — that is, “Over what time frame will the study take place?” 1 The PICOT approach helps generate a question that aids in constructing the framework of the study and subsequently in protocol development by alluding to the inclusion and exclusion criteria and identifying the groups of patients to be included. Knowing the specific population of interest, intervention (and comparator) and outcome of interest may also help the researcher identify an appropriate outcome measurement tool. 7 The more defined the population of interest, and thus the more stringent the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the greater the effect on the interpretation and subsequent applicability and generalizability of the research findings. 1 , 2 A restricted study population (and exclusion criteria) may limit bias and increase the internal validity of the study; however, this approach will limit external validity of the study and, thus, the generalizability of the findings to the practical clinical setting. Conversely, a broadly defined study population and inclusion criteria may be representative of practical clinical practice but may increase bias and reduce the internal validity of the study.

PICOT criteria 1

Population (patients)
Intervention (for intervention studies only)
Comparison group
Outcome of interest

A poorly devised research question may affect the choice of study design, potentially lead to futile situations and, thus, hamper the chance of determining anything of clinical significance, which will then affect the potential for publication. Without devoting appropriate resources to developing the research question, the quality of the study and subsequent results may be compromised. During the initial stages of any research study, it is therefore imperative to formulate a research question that is both clinically relevant and answerable.

Research hypothesis

The primary research question should be driven by the hypothesis rather than the data. 1 , 2 That is, the research question and hypothesis should be developed before the start of the study. This sounds intuitive; however, if we take, for example, a database of information, it is potentially possible to perform multiple statistical comparisons of groups within the database to find a statistically significant association. This could then lead one to work backward from the data and develop the “question.” This is counterintuitive to the process because the question is asked specifically to then find the answer, thus collecting data along the way (i.e., in a prospective manner). Multiple statistical testing of associations from data previously collected could potentially lead to spuriously positive findings of association through chance alone. 2 Therefore, a good hypothesis must be based on a good research question at the start of a trial and, indeed, drive data collection for the study.

The research or clinical hypothesis is developed from the research question and then the main elements of the study — sampling strategy, intervention (if applicable), comparison and outcome variables — are summarized in a form that establishes the basis for testing, statistical and ultimately clinical significance. 3 For example, in a research study comparing computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus freehand acetabular component placement in patients in need of total hip arthroplasty, the experimental group would be computer-assisted insertion and the control/conventional group would be free-hand placement. The investigative team would first state a research hypothesis. This could be expressed as a single outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to improved functional outcome) or potentially as a complex/composite outcome; that is, more than one outcome (e.g., computer-assisted acetabular component placement leads to both improved radiographic cup placement and improved functional outcome).

However, when formally testing statistical significance, the hypothesis should be stated as a “null” hypothesis. 2 The purpose of hypothesis testing is to make an inference about the population of interest on the basis of a random sample taken from that population. The null hypothesis for the preceding research hypothesis then would be that there is no difference in mean functional outcome between the computer-assisted insertion and free-hand placement techniques. After forming the null hypothesis, the researchers would form an alternate hypothesis stating the nature of the difference, if it should appear. The alternate hypothesis would be that there is a difference in mean functional outcome between these techniques. At the end of the study, the null hypothesis is then tested statistically. If the findings of the study are not statistically significant (i.e., there is no difference in functional outcome between the groups in a statistical sense), we cannot reject the null hypothesis, whereas if the findings were significant, we can reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternate hypothesis (i.e., there is a difference in mean functional outcome between the study groups), errors in testing notwithstanding. In other words, hypothesis testing confirms or refutes the statement that the observed findings did not occur by chance alone but rather occurred because there was a true difference in outcomes between these surgical procedures. The concept of statistical hypothesis testing is complex, and the details are beyond the scope of this article.

Another important concept inherent in hypothesis testing is whether the hypotheses will be 1-sided or 2-sided. A 2-sided hypothesis states that there is a difference between the experimental group and the control group, but it does not specify in advance the expected direction of the difference. For example, we asked whether there is there an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery or whether the outcomes worse with computer-assisted surgery. We presented a 2-sided test in the above example because we did not specify the direction of the difference. A 1-sided hypothesis states a specific direction (e.g., there is an improvement in outcomes with computer-assisted surgery). A 2-sided hypothesis should be used unless there is a good justification for using a 1-sided hypothesis. As Bland and Atlman 8 stated, “One-sided hypothesis testing should never be used as a device to make a conventionally nonsignificant difference significant.”

The research hypothesis should be stated at the beginning of the study to guide the objectives for research. Whereas the investigators may state the hypothesis as being 1-sided (there is an improvement with treatment), the study and investigators must adhere to the concept of clinical equipoise. According to this principle, a clinical (or surgical) trial is ethical only if the expert community is uncertain about the relative therapeutic merits of the experimental and control groups being evaluated. 9 It means there must exist an honest and professional disagreement among expert clinicians about the preferred treatment. 9

Designing a research hypothesis is supported by a good research question and will influence the type of research design for the study. Acting on the principles of appropriate hypothesis development, the study can then confidently proceed to the development of the research objective.

Research objective

The primary objective should be coupled with the hypothesis of the study. Study objectives define the specific aims of the study and should be clearly stated in the introduction of the research protocol. 7 From our previous example and using the investigative hypothesis that there is a difference in functional outcomes between computer-assisted acetabular component placement and free-hand placement, the primary objective can be stated as follows: this study will compare the functional outcomes of computer-assisted acetabular component insertion versus free-hand placement in patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty. Note that the study objective is an active statement about how the study is going to answer the specific research question. Objectives can (and often do) state exactly which outcome measures are going to be used within their statements. They are important because they not only help guide the development of the protocol and design of study but also play a role in sample size calculations and determining the power of the study. 7 These concepts will be discussed in other articles in this series.

From the surgeon’s point of view, it is important for the study objectives to be focused on outcomes that are important to patients and clinically relevant. For example, the most methodologically sound randomized controlled trial comparing 2 techniques of distal radial fixation would have little or no clinical impact if the primary objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on intraoperative fluoroscopy time. However, if the objective was to determine the effect of treatment A as compared to treatment B on patient functional outcome at 1 year, this would have a much more significant impact on clinical decision-making. Second, more meaningful surgeon–patient discussions could ensue, incorporating patient values and preferences with the results from this study. 6 , 7 It is the precise objective and what the investigator is trying to measure that is of clinical relevance in the practical setting.

The following is an example from the literature about the relation between the research question, hypothesis and study objectives:

Study: Warden SJ, Metcalf BR, Kiss ZS, et al. Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for chronic patellar tendinopathy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rheumatology 2008;47:467–71.

Research question: How does low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) compare with a placebo device in managing the symptoms of skeletally mature patients with patellar tendinopathy?

Research hypothesis: Pain levels are reduced in patients who receive daily active-LIPUS (treatment) for 12 weeks compared with individuals who receive inactive-LIPUS (placebo).

Objective: To investigate the clinical efficacy of LIPUS in the management of patellar tendinopathy symptoms.

The development of the research question is the most important aspect of a research project. A research project can fail if the objectives and hypothesis are poorly focused and underdeveloped. Useful tips for surgical researchers are provided in Box 3 . Designing and developing an appropriate and relevant research question, hypothesis and objectives can be a difficult task. The critical appraisal of the research question used in a study is vital to the application of the findings to clinical practice. Focusing resources, time and dedication to these 3 very important tasks will help to guide a successful research project, influence interpretation of the results and affect future publication efforts.

Tips for developing research questions, hypotheses and objectives for research studies

  • Perform a systematic literature review (if one has not been done) to increase knowledge and familiarity with the topic and to assist with research development.
  • Learn about current trends and technological advances on the topic.
  • Seek careful input from experts, mentors, colleagues and collaborators to refine your research question as this will aid in developing the research question and guide the research study.
  • Use the FINER criteria in the development of the research question.
  • Ensure that the research question follows PICOT format.
  • Develop a research hypothesis from the research question.
  • Develop clear and well-defined primary and secondary (if needed) objectives.
  • Ensure that the research question and objectives are answerable, feasible and clinically relevant.

FINER = feasible, interesting, novel, ethical, relevant; PICOT = population (patients), intervention (for intervention studies only), comparison group, outcome of interest, time.

Competing interests: No funding was received in preparation of this paper. Dr. Bhandari was funded, in part, by a Canada Research Chair, McMaster University.

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Research objective

A research objective, also known as a goal or an objective, is a sentence or question that summarizes the purpose of your study or test. In other words, it’s an idea you want to understand deeper by performing research. Objectives should be the driving force behind every task you assign and each question that you ask. These objectives should be centered on specific features or processes of your product. By having a solid understanding of the information you need when running your usability study, you’ll be able to better stay on track throughout your development process.

How do I write a research objective? 

Before you write your objective, you need a problem statement , which you can source from your support team and the frequent customer issues they encounter, negative customer reviews , or feedback from social media. From there, your objective might look like, “Do people find value in this new product idea?” or “How do our competitors describe their offerings compared to us?”

Many UX researchers agree that the more specific the objectives, the easier it is to write tasks and questions. Subsequently, it’ll also be easier to extract answers later on in the analysis. In addition, your objective doesn’t have to spark one angle alone; it could have the potential to inspire multiple test directions. For instance, take this research objective, “I want to understand and resolve the barriers customers face when looking for answers about products and services on our website.”

From this one objective, potential study angles could be: 

  • Content quality: Learn whether the FAQ questions anticipate users’ needs and if the answers are sufficiently detailed and directive. 
  • FAQ accessibility: Can customers easily find the FAQ section? What access points should we consider?
  • FAQ concept test: Is the design approach we’re considering for the proposed redesign understandable? What can we do to optimize it?

As you can see, the above objective can be branched out to address content, usability, and design. For further inspiration, collaborate with the product’s stakeholders. You can start the conversation at a high level by determining what features or processes they want test participants to review, like a navigation menu or website messaging. 

And before you put a stamp of approval on a research objective, ask for feedback from your team. Two researchers could write very different test plans when an objective is unclear or misaligned. For example, one researcher may hone in on design while another focuses on usability. Meanwhile, another may keep their objective more broad while another writes on that’s more detailed. And while the findings from either case would be insightful, they might not match up with what the team actually needs to learn. So to summarize, start the process with a problem statement, loop in stakeholders early if applicable, and ensure your team is aligned on your objective(s). 

When should I write a research objective—and how should they be prioritized? 

Writing and refining your research objective should come after you have a clear problem statement and before you decide on a research method and test plan to execute your study. 

After you’ve written a rough draft of your research objective, the ink might not even be dry when stakeholders could get involved by offering you an abundance of objectives. To figure out what to tackle first, ask your stakeholders to prioritize their needs. This step could happen via email or in a meeting, but another method could be to list out all of the possible objectives in a Google form and have everyone rearrange the list into their ideal order. 

And if stakeholders haven’t handed you a list of objectives and you’re on your own for brainstorming and prioritizing, opt for the objective that’s tied to a KPI—from increasing website conversions to driving more daily active users in your SaaS product. This will help you size up the relevance and impact your research has on the metrics your business is measuring. The added benefit here is when you’re asked about the impact of that research, you can tie back your ROI calculations to tangible and relatable objectives that you know the business is tracking.

How many research objectives do I need? 

The type of research you do will depend on the stage of product development you’re in. Each stage of development has different research objectives—and different questions that need to be answered. And once you’ve decided on a problem statement, you could either have one or multiple research objectives that tie back to that statement. Typically, this means that you’ll want to select one to three objectives; the less you have, the more manageable your test (and timeline) will be. 

For more, the UserTesting template library is a great place to start for common questions that you need answers to or inspiration for your research objective.

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Research Method

Home » Significance of the Study – Examples and Writing Guide

Significance of the Study – Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Significance of the Study

Significance of the Study


Significance of the study in research refers to the potential importance, relevance, or impact of the research findings. It outlines how the research contributes to the existing body of knowledge, what gaps it fills, or what new understanding it brings to a particular field of study.

In general, the significance of a study can be assessed based on several factors, including:

  • Originality : The extent to which the study advances existing knowledge or introduces new ideas and perspectives.
  • Practical relevance: The potential implications of the study for real-world situations, such as improving policy or practice.
  • Theoretical contribution: The extent to which the study provides new insights or perspectives on theoretical concepts or frameworks.
  • Methodological rigor : The extent to which the study employs appropriate and robust methods and techniques to generate reliable and valid data.
  • Social or cultural impact : The potential impact of the study on society, culture, or public perception of a particular issue.

Types of Significance of the Study

The significance of the Study can be divided into the following types:

Theoretical Significance

Theoretical significance refers to the contribution that a study makes to the existing body of theories in a specific field. This could be by confirming, refuting, or adding nuance to a currently accepted theory, or by proposing an entirely new theory.

Practical Significance

Practical significance refers to the direct applicability and usefulness of the research findings in real-world contexts. Studies with practical significance often address real-life problems and offer potential solutions or strategies. For example, a study in the field of public health might identify a new intervention that significantly reduces the spread of a certain disease.

Significance for Future Research

This pertains to the potential of a study to inspire further research. A study might open up new areas of investigation, provide new research methodologies, or propose new hypotheses that need to be tested.

How to Write Significance of the Study

Here’s a guide to writing an effective “Significance of the Study” section in research paper, thesis, or dissertation:

  • Background : Begin by giving some context about your study. This could include a brief introduction to your subject area, the current state of research in the field, and the specific problem or question your study addresses.
  • Identify the Gap : Demonstrate that there’s a gap in the existing literature or knowledge that needs to be filled, which is where your study comes in. The gap could be a lack of research on a particular topic, differing results in existing studies, or a new problem that has arisen and hasn’t yet been studied.
  • State the Purpose of Your Study : Clearly state the main objective of your research. You may want to state the purpose as a solution to the problem or gap you’ve previously identified.
  • Contributes to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Addresses a significant research gap.
  • Offers a new or better solution to a problem.
  • Impacts policy or practice.
  • Leads to improvements in a particular field or sector.
  • Identify Beneficiaries : Identify who will benefit from your study. This could include other researchers, practitioners in your field, policy-makers, communities, businesses, or others. Explain how your findings could be used and by whom.
  • Future Implications : Discuss the implications of your study for future research. This could involve questions that are left open, new questions that have been raised, or potential future methodologies suggested by your study.

Significance of the Study in Research Paper

The Significance of the Study in a research paper refers to the importance or relevance of the research topic being investigated. It answers the question “Why is this research important?” and highlights the potential contributions and impacts of the study.

The significance of the study can be presented in the introduction or background section of a research paper. It typically includes the following components:

  • Importance of the research problem: This describes why the research problem is worth investigating and how it relates to existing knowledge and theories.
  • Potential benefits and implications: This explains the potential contributions and impacts of the research on theory, practice, policy, or society.
  • Originality and novelty: This highlights how the research adds new insights, approaches, or methods to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Scope and limitations: This outlines the boundaries and constraints of the research and clarifies what the study will and will not address.

Suppose a researcher is conducting a study on the “Effects of social media use on the mental health of adolescents”.

The significance of the study may be:

“The present study is significant because it addresses a pressing public health issue of the negative impact of social media use on adolescent mental health. Given the widespread use of social media among this age group, understanding the effects of social media on mental health is critical for developing effective prevention and intervention strategies. This study will contribute to the existing literature by examining the moderating factors that may affect the relationship between social media use and mental health outcomes. It will also shed light on the potential benefits and risks of social media use for adolescents and inform the development of evidence-based guidelines for promoting healthy social media use among this population. The limitations of this study include the use of self-reported measures and the cross-sectional design, which precludes causal inference.”

Significance of the Study In Thesis

The significance of the study in a thesis refers to the importance or relevance of the research topic and the potential impact of the study on the field of study or society as a whole. It explains why the research is worth doing and what contribution it will make to existing knowledge.

For example, the significance of a thesis on “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare” could be:

  • With the increasing availability of healthcare data and the development of advanced machine learning algorithms, AI has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry by improving diagnosis, treatment, and patient outcomes. Therefore, this thesis can contribute to the understanding of how AI can be applied in healthcare and how it can benefit patients and healthcare providers.
  • AI in healthcare also raises ethical and social issues, such as privacy concerns, bias in algorithms, and the impact on healthcare jobs. By exploring these issues in the thesis, it can provide insights into the potential risks and benefits of AI in healthcare and inform policy decisions.
  • Finally, the thesis can also advance the field of computer science by developing new AI algorithms or techniques that can be applied to healthcare data, which can have broader applications in other industries or fields of research.

Significance of the Study in Research Proposal

The significance of a study in a research proposal refers to the importance or relevance of the research question, problem, or objective that the study aims to address. It explains why the research is valuable, relevant, and important to the academic or scientific community, policymakers, or society at large. A strong statement of significance can help to persuade the reviewers or funders of the research proposal that the study is worth funding and conducting.

Here is an example of a significance statement in a research proposal:

Title : The Effects of Gamification on Learning Programming: A Comparative Study

Significance Statement:

This proposed study aims to investigate the effects of gamification on learning programming. With the increasing demand for computer science professionals, programming has become a fundamental skill in the computer field. However, learning programming can be challenging, and students may struggle with motivation and engagement. Gamification has emerged as a promising approach to improve students’ engagement and motivation in learning, but its effects on programming education are not yet fully understood. This study is significant because it can provide valuable insights into the potential benefits of gamification in programming education and inform the development of effective teaching strategies to enhance students’ learning outcomes and interest in programming.

Examples of Significance of the Study

Here are some examples of the significance of a study that indicates how you can write this into your research paper according to your research topic:

Research on an Improved Water Filtration System : This study has the potential to impact millions of people living in water-scarce regions or those with limited access to clean water. A more efficient and affordable water filtration system can reduce water-borne diseases and improve the overall health of communities, enabling them to lead healthier, more productive lives.

Study on the Impact of Remote Work on Employee Productivity : Given the shift towards remote work due to recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this study is of considerable significance. Findings could help organizations better structure their remote work policies and offer insights on how to maximize employee productivity, wellbeing, and job satisfaction.

Investigation into the Use of Solar Power in Developing Countries : With the world increasingly moving towards renewable energy, this study could provide important data on the feasibility and benefits of implementing solar power solutions in developing countries. This could potentially stimulate economic growth, reduce reliance on non-renewable resources, and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.

Research on New Learning Strategies in Special Education : This study has the potential to greatly impact the field of special education. By understanding the effectiveness of new learning strategies, educators can improve their curriculum to provide better support for students with learning disabilities, fostering their academic growth and social development.

Examination of Mental Health Support in the Workplace : This study could highlight the impact of mental health initiatives on employee wellbeing and productivity. It could influence organizational policies across industries, promoting the implementation of mental health programs in the workplace, ultimately leading to healthier work environments.

Evaluation of a New Cancer Treatment Method : The significance of this study could be lifesaving. The research could lead to the development of more effective cancer treatments, increasing the survival rate and quality of life for patients worldwide.

When to Write Significance of the Study

The Significance of the Study section is an integral part of a research proposal or a thesis. This section is typically written after the introduction and the literature review. In the research process, the structure typically follows this order:

  • Title – The name of your research.
  • Abstract – A brief summary of the entire research.
  • Introduction – A presentation of the problem your research aims to solve.
  • Literature Review – A review of existing research on the topic to establish what is already known and where gaps exist.
  • Significance of the Study – An explanation of why the research matters and its potential impact.

In the Significance of the Study section, you will discuss why your study is important, who it benefits, and how it adds to existing knowledge or practice in your field. This section is your opportunity to convince readers, and potentially funders or supervisors, that your research is valuable and worth undertaking.

Advantages of Significance of the Study

The Significance of the Study section in a research paper has multiple advantages:

  • Establishes Relevance: This section helps to articulate the importance of your research to your field of study, as well as the wider society, by explicitly stating its relevance. This makes it easier for other researchers, funders, and policymakers to understand why your work is necessary and worth supporting.
  • Guides the Research: Writing the significance can help you refine your research questions and objectives. This happens as you critically think about why your research is important and how it contributes to your field.
  • Attracts Funding: If you are seeking funding or support for your research, having a well-written significance of the study section can be key. It helps to convince potential funders of the value of your work.
  • Opens up Further Research: By stating the significance of the study, you’re also indicating what further research could be carried out in the future, based on your work. This helps to pave the way for future studies and demonstrates that your research is a valuable addition to the field.
  • Provides Practical Applications: The significance of the study section often outlines how the research can be applied in real-world situations. This can be particularly important in applied sciences, where the practical implications of research are crucial.
  • Enhances Understanding: This section can help readers understand how your study fits into the broader context of your field, adding value to the existing literature and contributing new knowledge or insights.

Limitations of Significance of the Study

The Significance of the Study section plays an essential role in any research. However, it is not without potential limitations. Here are some that you should be aware of:

  • Subjectivity: The importance and implications of a study can be subjective and may vary from person to person. What one researcher considers significant might be seen as less critical by others. The assessment of significance often depends on personal judgement, biases, and perspectives.
  • Predictability of Impact: While you can outline the potential implications of your research in the Significance of the Study section, the actual impact can be unpredictable. Research doesn’t always yield the expected results or have the predicted impact on the field or society.
  • Difficulty in Measuring: The significance of a study is often qualitative and can be challenging to measure or quantify. You can explain how you think your research will contribute to your field or society, but measuring these outcomes can be complex.
  • Possibility of Overstatement: Researchers may feel pressured to amplify the potential significance of their study to attract funding or interest. This can lead to overstating the potential benefits or implications, which can harm the credibility of the study if these results are not achieved.
  • Overshadowing of Limitations: Sometimes, the significance of the study may overshadow the limitations of the research. It is important to balance the potential significance with a thorough discussion of the study’s limitations.
  • Dependence on Successful Implementation: The significance of the study relies on the successful implementation of the research. If the research process has flaws or unexpected issues arise, the anticipated significance might not be realized.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Different Types of Research

what is the objective of study in research

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: June 15, 2024

two researchers working in a laboratory

When embarking on a research project, selecting the right methodology can be the difference between success and failure. With various methods available, each suited to different types of research, it’s essential you make an informed choice. This blog post will provide tips on how to choose a research methodology that best fits your research goals .

We’ll start with definitions: Research is the systematic process of exploring, investigating, and discovering new information or validating existing knowledge. It involves defining questions, collecting data, analyzing results, and drawing conclusions.

Meanwhile, a research methodology is a structured plan that outlines how your research is to be conducted. A complete methodology should detail the strategies, processes, and techniques you plan to use for your data collection and analysis.

 a computer keyboard being worked by a researcher

Research Methods

The first step of a research methodology is to identify a focused research topic, which is the question you seek to answer. By setting clear boundaries on the scope of your research, you can concentrate on specific aspects of a problem without being overwhelmed by information. This will produce more accurate findings. 

Along with clarifying your research topic, your methodology should also address your research methods. Let’s look at the four main types of research: descriptive, correlational, experimental, and diagnostic.

Descriptive Research

Descriptive research is an approach designed to describe the characteristics of a population systematically and accurately. This method focuses on answering “what” questions by providing detailed observations about the subject. Descriptive research employs surveys, observational studies , and case studies to gather qualitative or quantitative data. 

A real-world example of descriptive research is a survey investigating consumer behavior toward a competitor’s product. By analyzing the survey results, the company can gather detailed insights into how consumers perceive a competitor’s product, which can inform their marketing strategies and product development.

Correlational Research

Correlational research examines the statistical relationship between two or more variables to determine whether a relationship exists. Correlational research is particularly useful when ethical or practical constraints prevent experimental manipulation. It is often employed in fields such as psychology, education, and health sciences to provide insights into complex real-world interactions, helping to develop theories and inform further experimental research.

An example of correlational research is the study of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. Researchers observe and collect data on individuals’ smoking habits and the incidence of lung cancer to determine if there is a correlation between the two variables. This type of research helps identify patterns and relationships, indicating whether increased smoking is associated with higher rates of lung cancer.

Experimental Research

Experimental research is a scientific approach where researchers manipulate one or more independent variables to observe their effect on a dependent variable. This method is designed to establish cause-and-effect relationships. Fields like psychology , medicine, and social sciences frequently employ experimental research to test hypotheses and theories under controlled conditions. 

A real-world example of experimental research is Pavlov’s Dog experiment. In this experiment, Ivan Pavlov demonstrated classical conditioning by ringing a bell each time he fed his dogs. After repeating this process multiple times, the dogs began to salivate just by hearing the bell, even when no food was presented. This experiment helped to illustrate how certain stimuli can elicit specific responses through associative learning.

Diagnostic Research

Diagnostic research tries to accurately diagnose a problem by identifying its underlying causes. This type of research is crucial for understanding complex situations where a precise diagnosis is necessary for formulating effective solutions. It involves methods such as case studies and data analysis and often integrates both qualitative and quantitative data to provide a comprehensive view of the issue at hand. 

An example of diagnostic research is studying the causes of a specific illness outbreak. During an outbreak of a respiratory virus, researchers might conduct diagnostic research to determine the factors contributing to the spread of the virus. This could involve analyzing patient data, testing environmental samples, and evaluating potential sources of infection. The goal is to identify the root causes and contributing factors to develop effective containment and prevention strategies.

Using an established research method is imperative, no matter if you are researching for marketing , technology , healthcare , engineering, or social science. A methodology lends legitimacy to your research by ensuring your data is both consistent and credible. A well-defined methodology also enhances the reliability and validity of the research findings, which is crucial for drawing accurate and meaningful conclusions. 

Additionally, methodologies help researchers stay focused and on track, limiting the scope of the study to relevant questions and objectives. This not only improves the quality of the research but also ensures that the study can be replicated and verified by other researchers, further solidifying its scientific value.

a graphical depiction of the wide possibilities of research

How to Choose a Research Methodology

Choosing the best research methodology for your project involves several key steps to ensure that your approach aligns with your research goals and questions. Here’s a simplified guide to help you make the best choice.

Understand Your Goals

Clearly define the objectives of your research. What do you aim to discover, prove, or understand? Understanding your goals helps in selecting a methodology that aligns with your research purpose.

Consider the Nature of Your Data

Determine whether your research will involve numerical data, textual data, or both. Quantitative methods are best for numerical data, while qualitative methods are suitable for textual or thematic data.

Understand the Purpose of Each Methodology

Becoming familiar with the four types of research – descriptive, correlational, experimental, and diagnostic – will enable you to select the most appropriate method for your research. Many times, you will want to use a combination of methods to gather meaningful data. 

Evaluate Resources and Constraints

Consider the resources available to you, including time, budget, and access to data. Some methodologies may require more resources or longer timeframes to implement effectively.

Review Similar Studies

Look at previous research in your field to see which methodologies were successful. This can provide insights and help you choose a proven approach.

By following these steps, you can select a research methodology that best fits your project’s requirements and ensures robust, credible results.

Completing Your Research Project

Upon completing your research, the next critical step is to analyze and interpret the data you’ve collected. This involves summarizing the key findings, identifying patterns, and determining how these results address your initial research questions. By thoroughly examining the data, you can draw meaningful conclusions that contribute to the body of knowledge in your field. 

It’s essential that you present these findings clearly and concisely, using charts, graphs, and tables to enhance comprehension. Furthermore, discuss the implications of your results, any limitations encountered during the study, and how your findings align with or challenge existing theories.

Your research project should conclude with a strong statement that encapsulates the essence of your research and its broader impact. This final section should leave readers with a clear understanding of the value of your work and inspire continued exploration and discussion in the field.

Now that you know how to perform quality research , it’s time to get started! Applying the right research methodologies can make a significant difference in the accuracy and reliability of your findings. Remember, the key to successful research is not just in collecting data, but in analyzing it thoughtfully and systematically to draw meaningful conclusions. So, dive in, explore, and contribute to the ever-growing body of knowledge with confidence. Happy researching!

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.

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What is cloud computing?

Group of white spheres on light blue background

With cloud computing, organizations essentially buy a range of services offered by cloud service providers (CSPs). The CSP’s servers host all the client’s applications. Organizations can enhance their computing power more quickly and cheaply via the cloud than by purchasing, installing, and maintaining their own servers.

The cloud-computing model is helping organizations to scale new digital solutions with greater speed and agility—and to create value more quickly. Developers use cloud services to build and run custom applications and to maintain infrastructure and networks for companies of virtually all sizes—especially large global ones. CSPs offer services, such as analytics, to handle and manipulate vast amounts of data. Time to market accelerates, speeding innovation to deliver better products and services across the world.

What are examples of cloud computing’s uses?

Get to know and directly engage with senior mckinsey experts on cloud computing.

Brant Carson is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Vancouver office; Chandra Gnanasambandam and Anand Swaminathan are senior partners in the Bay Area office; William Forrest is a senior partner in the Chicago office; Leandro Santos is a senior partner in the Atlanta office; Kate Smaje is a senior partner in the London office.

Cloud computing came on the scene well before the global pandemic hit, in 2020, but the ensuing digital dash  helped demonstrate its power and utility. Here are some examples of how businesses and other organizations employ the cloud:

  • A fast-casual restaurant chain’s online orders multiplied exponentially during the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, climbing to 400,000 a day, from 50,000. One pleasant surprise? The company’s online-ordering system could handle the volume—because it had already migrated to the cloud . Thanks to this success, the organization’s leadership decided to accelerate its five-year migration plan to less than one year.
  • A biotech company harnessed cloud computing to deliver the first clinical batch of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Phase I trials in just 42 days—thanks in part to breakthrough innovations using scalable cloud data storage and computing  to facilitate processes ensuring the drug’s safety and efficacy.
  • Banks use the cloud for several aspects of customer-service management. They automate transaction calls using voice recognition algorithms and cognitive agents (AI-based online self-service assistants directing customers to helpful information or to a human representative when necessary). In fraud and debt analytics, cloud solutions enhance the predictive power of traditional early-warning systems. To reduce churn, they encourage customer loyalty through holistic retention programs managed entirely in the cloud.
  • Automakers are also along for the cloud ride . One company uses a common cloud platform that serves 124 plants, 500 warehouses, and 1,500 suppliers to consolidate real-time data from machines and systems and to track logistics and offer insights on shop floor processes. Use of the cloud could shave 30 percent off factory costs by 2025—and spark innovation at the same time.

That’s not to mention experiences we all take for granted: using apps on a smartphone, streaming shows and movies, participating in videoconferences. All of these things can happen in the cloud.

Learn more about our Cloud by McKinsey , Digital McKinsey , and Technology, Media, & Telecommunications  practices.

How has cloud computing evolved?

Going back a few years, legacy infrastructure dominated IT-hosting budgets. Enterprises planned to move a mere 45 percent of their IT-hosting expenditures to the cloud by 2021. Enter COVID-19, and 65 percent of the decision makers surveyed by McKinsey increased their cloud budgets . An additional 55 percent ended up moving more workloads than initially planned. Having witnessed the cloud’s benefits firsthand, 40 percent of companies expect to pick up the pace of implementation.

The cloud revolution has actually been going on for years—more than 20, if you think the takeoff point was the founding of Salesforce, widely seen as the first software as a service (SaaS) company. Today, the next generation of cloud, including capabilities such as serverless computing, makes it easier for software developers to tweak software functions independently, accelerating the pace of release, and to do so more efficiently. Businesses can therefore serve customers and launch products in a more agile fashion. And the cloud continues to evolve.

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Introducing McKinsey Explainers : Direct answers to complex questions

Cost savings are commonly seen as the primary reason for moving to the cloud but managing those costs requires a different and more dynamic approach focused on OpEx rather than CapEx. Financial-operations (or FinOps) capabilities  can indeed enable the continuous management and optimization of cloud costs . But CSPs have developed their offerings so that the cloud’s greatest value opportunity is primarily through business innovation and optimization. In 2020, the top-three CSPs reached $100 billion  in combined revenues—a minor share of the global $2.4 trillion market for enterprise IT services—leaving huge value to be captured. To go beyond merely realizing cost savings, companies must activate three symbiotic rings of cloud value creation : strategy and management, business domain adoption, and foundational capabilities.

What’s the main reason to move to the cloud?

The pandemic demonstrated that the digital transformation can no longer be delayed—and can happen much more quickly than previously imagined. Nothing is more critical to a corporate digital transformation than becoming a cloud-first business. The benefits are faster time to market, simplified innovation and scalability, and reduced risk when effectively managed. The cloud lets companies provide customers with novel digital experiences—in days, not months—and delivers analytics absent on legacy platforms. But to transition to a cloud-first operating model, organizations must make a collective effort that starts at the top. Here are three actions CEOs can take to increase the value their companies get from cloud computing :

  • Establish a sustainable funding model.
  • Develop a new business technology operating model.
  • Set up policies to attract and retain the right engineering talent.

How much value will the cloud create?

Fortune 500 companies adopting the cloud could realize more than $1 trillion in value  by 2030, and not from IT cost reductions alone, according to McKinsey’s analysis of 700 use cases.

For example, the cloud speeds up design, build, and ramp-up, shortening time to market when companies have strong DevOps (the combination of development and operations) processes in place; groups of software developers customize and deploy software for operations that support the business. The cloud’s global infrastructure lets companies scale products almost instantly to reach new customers, geographies, and channels. Finally, digital-first companies use the cloud to adopt emerging technologies and innovate aggressively, using digital capabilities as a competitive differentiator to launch and build businesses .

If companies pursue the cloud’s vast potential in the right ways, they will realize huge value. Companies across diverse industries have implemented the public cloud and seen promising results. The successful ones defined a value-oriented strategy across IT and the business, acquired hands-on experience operating in the cloud, adopted a technology-first approach, and developed a cloud-literate workforce.

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What is the cloud cost/procurement model?

Some cloud services, such as server space, are leased. Leasing requires much less capital up front than buying, offers greater flexibility to switch and expand the use of services, cuts the basic cost of buying hardware and software upfront, and reduces the difficulties of upkeep and ownership. Organizations pay only for the infrastructure and computing services that meet their evolving needs. But an outsourcing model  is more apt than other analogies: the computing business issues of cloud customers are addressed by third-party providers that deliver innovative computing services on demand to a wide variety of customers, adapt those services to fit specific needs, and work to constantly improve the offering.

What are cloud risks?

The cloud offers huge cost savings and potential for innovation. However, when companies migrate to the cloud, the simple lift-and-shift approach doesn’t reduce costs, so companies must remediate their existing applications to take advantage of cloud services.

For instance, a major financial-services organization  wanted to move more than 50 percent of its applications to the public cloud within five years. Its goals were to improve resiliency, time to market, and productivity. But not all its business units needed to transition at the same pace. The IT leadership therefore defined varying adoption archetypes to meet each unit’s technical, risk, and operating-model needs.

Legacy cybersecurity architectures and operating models can also pose problems when companies shift to the cloud. The resulting problems, however, involve misconfigurations rather than inherent cloud security vulnerabilities. One powerful solution? Securing cloud workloads for speed and agility : automated security architectures and processes enable workloads to be processed at a much faster tempo.

What kind of cloud talent is needed?

The talent demands of the cloud differ from those of legacy IT. While cloud computing can improve the productivity of your technology, it requires specialized and sometimes hard-to-find talent—including full-stack developers, data engineers, cloud-security engineers, identity- and access-management specialists, and cloud engineers. The cloud talent model  should thus be revisited as you move forward.

Six practical actions can help your organization build the cloud talent you need :

  • Find engineering talent with broad experience and skills.
  • Balance talent maturity levels and the composition of teams.
  • Build an extensive and mandatory upskilling program focused on need.
  • Build an engineering culture that optimizes the developer experience.
  • Consider using partners to accelerate development and assign your best cloud leaders as owners.
  • Retain top talent by focusing on what motivates them.

How do different industries use the cloud?

Different industries are expected to see dramatically different benefits from the cloud. High-tech, retail, and healthcare organizations occupy the top end of the value capture continuum. Electronics and semiconductors, consumer-packaged-goods, and media companies make up the middle. Materials, chemicals, and infrastructure organizations cluster at the lower end.

Nevertheless, myriad use cases provide opportunities to unlock value across industries , as the following examples show:

  • a retailer enhancing omnichannel  fulfillment, using AI to optimize inventory across channels and to provide a seamless customer experience
  • a healthcare organization implementing remote heath monitoring to conduct virtual trials and improve adherence
  • a high-tech company using chatbots to provide premier-level support combining phone, email, and chat
  • an oil and gas company employing automated forecasting to automate supply-and-demand modeling and reduce the need for manual analysis
  • a financial-services organization implementing customer call optimization using real-time voice recognition algorithms to direct customers in distress to experienced representatives for retention offers
  • a financial-services provider moving applications in customer-facing business domains to the public cloud to penetrate promising markets more quickly and at minimal cost
  • a health insurance carrier accelerating the capture of billions of dollars in new revenues by moving systems to the cloud to interact with providers through easier onboarding

The cloud is evolving  to meet the industry-specific needs of companies. From 2021 to 2024, public-cloud spending on vertical applications (such as warehouse management in retailing and enterprise risk management in banking) is expected to grow by more than 40 percent annually. Spending on horizontal workloads (such as customer relationship management) is expected to grow by 25 percent. Healthcare and manufacturing organizations, for instance, plan to spend around twice as much on vertical applications as on horizontal ones.

Learn more about our Cloud by McKinsey , Digital McKinsey , Financial Services , Healthcare Systems & Services , Retail , and Technology, Media, & Telecommunications  practices.

What are the biggest cloud myths?

Views on cloud computing can be clouded by misconceptions. Here are seven common myths about the cloud —all of which can be debunked:

  • The cloud’s value lies primarily in reducing costs.
  • Cloud computing costs more than in-house computing.
  • On-premises data centers are more secure than the cloud.
  • Applications run more slowly in the cloud.
  • The cloud eliminates the need for infrastructure.
  • The best way to move to the cloud is to focus on applications or data centers.
  • You must lift and shift applications as-is or totally refactor them.

How large must my organization be to benefit from the cloud?

Here’s one more huge misconception: the cloud is just for big multinational companies. In fact, cloud can help make small local companies become multinational. A company’s benefits from implementing the cloud are not constrained by its size. In fact, the cloud shifts barrier to entry skill rather than scale, making it possible for a company of any size to compete if it has people with the right skills. With cloud, highly skilled small companies can take on established competitors. To realize the cloud’s immense potential value fully, organizations must take a thoughtful approach, with IT and the businesses working together.

For more in-depth exploration of these topics, see McKinsey’s Cloud Insights collection. Learn more about Cloud by McKinsey —and check out cloud-related job opportunities if you’re interested in working at McKinsey.

Articles referenced include:

  • “ Six practical actions for building the cloud talent you need ,” January 19, 2022, Brant Carson , Dorian Gärtner , Keerthi Iyengar, Anand Swaminathan , and Wayne Vest
  • “ Cloud-migration opportunity: Business value grows, but missteps abound ,” October 12, 2021, Tara Balakrishnan, Chandra Gnanasambandam , Leandro Santos , and Bhargs Srivathsan
  • “ Cloud’s trillion-dollar prize is up for grabs ,” February 26, 2021, Will Forrest , Mark Gu, James Kaplan , Michael Liebow, Raghav Sharma, Kate Smaje , and Steve Van Kuiken
  • “ Unlocking value: Four lessons in cloud sourcing and consumption ,” November 2, 2020, Abhi Bhatnagar , Will Forrest , Naufal Khan , and Abdallah Salami
  • “ Three actions CEOs can take to get value from cloud computing ,” July 21, 2020, Chhavi Arora , Tanguy Catlin , Will Forrest , James Kaplan , and Lars Vinter

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Meet the 2024 Winners of Major Scholarships

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Each year, graduate students in McGill's Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) apply for external scholarships to support their research studies. These are prestigious scholarships awarded to top-ranked graduate students across Canada. We are very pleased to announce that three graduate students from McGill's Language Education program have won this year's major scholarships:

Albert Maganaka has won the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship for his research on the Impact of Church-based ESL Programs on the English Proficiency of Adult Immigrant Learners. His doctoral study, under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Riches , seeks to reveal the objectives, motivations, and perceptions of students in these religiously-affiliated language programs, with a focus on curriculum, instructional methods, teacher qualifications, and teaching styles. The SSHRC Fellowship enables Albert to examine how religious institutions influence language education. His research aims to contribute to the dynamic field of English language teaching, providing valuable recommendations for improving church-run and similar adult ESL programs. These insights are expected to benefit future learners and the educational landscape at large. Albert’s inspiration stems from his extensive work in the immigration sector, where he assists newcomers in integrating into Canadian society through language education. Despite churches’ vital role in immigrant settlement and integration in Canada, their contributions remain relatively uncharted. Albert’s research bridges this gap, shedding light on place-based education within church-run ESL programs, ultimately enriching our understanding of community-based language learning.

Kiana Kishiyama has won the Canada Graduate Scholarship – Masters Program (SSHRC CGS-M) (Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholarship). Her MA research, supervised by Dr. Angelica Galante , is titled Reclaiming identity through language learning: Examining the lived experiences among adoptees in Canada . Kiana’s work is largely inspired by her own lived experiences with her heritage language learning as an international adoptee. Through her research, she hopes to document the heritage language learning-related experiences of international adoptees throughout Canada and how those experiences intersect with their identities. While little research has been conducted in this area, Kiana hopes to pioneer this investigation and contribute to the small yet impactful body of literature on heritage language learning by international adoptees.

Cris Barabas , an incoming third year PhD student in educational studies and this year’s runner-up of the department’s Emerging Scholar Award has recently won both the Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC CGS-D) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Société et culture (FRQSC) doctoral awards. He is supervised by Dr. Amir Kalan and his doctoral research proposal is tentatively titled The Sociomateriality of Literacies in Community Centers: A Study of Immigrant Youth’s Entanglements and Becomings . His thesis will apply a posthumanist approach and theoretical framings to further understand immigrant youth’s engagements with literacies and becomings with (new) identities, language(s), institutions, and the land. Barabas has also successfully completed his tenure as the Principal Editor of the Journal of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia.

Congratulations to this year's winners of these prestigious scholarships. We wish you success in your research journey!

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  • Published: 17 June 2024

Cognition of diet quality and dietary management in elderly patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease in western China, a qualitative research study

  • Jiamengying Chen 1   na1 ,
  • Xiaojie Li 1   na1 ,
  • Yun Wang 2 ,
  • Chunling Zhang 3 ,
  • Li Yang 3 ,
  • Lvheng Zhao 1 ,
  • Qingqing Zhu 1 ,
  • Li Wang 4 &
  • Yixia Zhou 1 , 2  

BMC Geriatrics volume  24 , Article number:  525 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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Metrics details

Healthy eating is one of the most important nonpharmacologic treatments for patients with atherosclerosis(AS). However, it is unclear how elderly AS patients in western China perceive their dietary status and which type of nutritional assistance they would be willing to receive. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to understand the level of knowledge about current dietary habits and healthy eating habits among elderly AS patients in western China, and the secondary purpose was to identify acceptable nutritional assistance measures or pathways for those patients to help them manage disease progression.

An implementation study approach was used to recruit elderly patients with AS-related diseases in western China for semistructured interviews.

14 participants were included in the study, and the following three themes were identified from the interviews:(1) the diet with regional characteristics; (2) low nutrition-related health literacy; (3) complex attitudes towards nutritional assistance. Most participants had misconceptions about healthy eating, and the sources of their knowledge might not be trustworthy. Participants expressed a preference for personalized nutritional assistance, especially that provided by medical-nursing combined institutions.

Patients in western China need nutritional assistance for their regional dietary habits; therefore, healthy dietary patterns consistent with the regional culture are proposed to improve the prevailing lack of knowledge about healthy diets, improve the dietary structure of patients, and control the development of the disease.

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Patients generally misunderstand dietary information, and their perceptions of dietary quality are different. With improvements in people’s living standards and a general lack of exercise, the incidence of atherosclerosis (AS) is increasing annually. The main incidence group is still the elderly population [ 1 ], and this disease has brought a greater economic burden to people and medical systems [ 2 ].

Poor eating habits are a definite risk factor for AS and one of the important risk factors associated with the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) [ 3 ]. In 2016, 2.1 million global deaths from CVD were linked to poor eating habits [ 4 ]. Many studies had shown that most people with AS have poor diet quality and poor knowledge of healthy diets [ 5 ]. Global comparative risk assessment studies have estimated that hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths in patients with CVD can be attributed to the effects of certain diets and environments [ 6 ]. In China, many scholars had investigated the dietary behaviour of patients with AS. With the further development of the economy and the steady increase in the degree of urbanization [ 7 ], Chinese consumption of fruits, dairy products, snacks, fast food and beverages is increasing significantly, and the dietary pattern is gradually shifting to a high-fat Western diet [ 8 ]. This tendency may be closely related to the increasing incidence of AS-related diseases. China is a vast country, which leads to different eating habits among people in different regions. A study of 11,512 respondents in 47 provinces of China showed that the mortality rate of CVD in the central and western regions was greater than that in the eastern provinces of China, and poor eating habits were one of the risk factors for death. However, we found that the current research is still targeting individuals living in the eastern and northern regions of China [ 9 ]. There is a lack of surveys on people in western China, which may lead to a lack of targeted and personalized nutritional assistance for this population [ 10 ].

Nutritional assistance methods include providing relevant dietary advice [ 11 ], diet intervention measures [ 12 ], diet patterns [ 13 ], nutritional supplements [ 14 ], etc. In previous studies, health education related to diet management has been shown to effectively improve the disease awareness of patients with AS and to have a positive impact on some of its indicators, such as blood lipid levels and body mass index [ 15 ]. Before designing interventions, some investigators did not consider whether participants were willing to accept nutritional assistance, and they lacked an understanding of the participants’ daily life [ 16 ]. Moreover, researchers and clinical staff may be biased against interventions recognized by patients [ 17 ]. The incorporation of the perspective of patients can help researchers explore new interventions or discover new understandings of existing interventions to form higher-quality research. Understanding local eating habits in advance can also help researchers better identify the possible bad eating behaviours of the target group and develop more targeted interventions [ 18 ].

The main purpose of this study was to explore the views of patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular diseases in western China on dietary quality and previously received dietary recommendations or nutritional assistance. The secondary purpose was to determine which nutritional assistance methods are acceptable for these patients to help them improve their health management.

Qualitative approach & research paradigm

This was a qualitative study, and we used a semistructured interview method. Mainly, we discussed how patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular diseases viewed their dietary habits and intake, as well as their views on various nutritional assistance methods and approaches, and explored their feelings and expectations regarding nutritional assistance.

Researcher characteristics and reflexivity

Two researchers (Li Wang, Yixia Zhou) were responsible for the research design, and 1 researcher (Li Yang) who had a clinical nurse–patient relationship with the interviewees recruited and screened participants with the assistance of 3 researchers (Lvheng Zhao, Qingqing Zhu, Yun Wang). Two researchers (Jiamengying Chen, Xiaojie Li) conducted patient interviews under the supervision of a nutrition expert (Chunling Zhang) and entered and analysed the data. A total of 9 researchers participated in this study, all of whom had research/work backgrounds related to nutrition or CVD.

From March 2023 to June 2023, elderly people who visited 3 medical institutions in Guizhou Province, China, were selected as interviewees using purposive sampling methods. The average number of elderly people in the 3 medical institutions is approximately 80 per week. A stable medical team provides medical security and regularly carries out cardiac rehabilitation and other services.

Sampling strategy

The inclusion criteria for patients were as follows: (1) \(\ge\) 60 years old; (2) diagnosed with coronary or other atherosclerotic vascular disease [ 19 ]; (3) clear thinking, able to speak Chinese fluently, including Mandarin or dialect; and (4) signed written informed consent form to voluntarily participate in the study. The exclusion criteria were as follows: (1) cognitive impairment, (2) communication barriers.

After ethical review, posters were placed in cardiovascular clinics and nutrition clinics of medical institutions to recruit volunteers to participate in the study. Information on the poster included the purpose of the study, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and contact information for the principal investigator (Jiamengying Chen, Xiaojie Li). The posters were posted from February 2023 to May 2023, and 16 elderly patients with AS were invited to participate. Due to data saturation, a total of 14 elderly patients with AS were finally interviewed and numbered P1 to P14.

Before beginning the study, the researchers invited potential participants, explained the purpose and methods of the study to the participants who were willing to participate in the study, and interviewed the participants with their consent.

Ethical issues pertaining to human subjects

Before the start of the study, the research team provided written informed consent forms to the eligible participants. This study was approved by the the Ethics Committee of The Second Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (No.: KYW2022007).

Data collection and instruments

Participants participated in research interviews from March 2023 to June 2023. The interviews were conducted in a separate lounge of the medical institutions to ensure participants’ privacy. After obtaining the participants’ consent, the researchers recorded the entire interview, and all recordings were obtained using the same electronic device. All participants were interviewed by the same researcher and supervised by the chief nurses on the research team. The participants had the right to know the educational level, professional title and other information about the researchers.

According to the purpose of the study, the members of the research group conducted a literature review in advance, discussed and formulated the interview outline, and conducted a pre-interview with 2 participants in advance. According to the interview results, the outline was modified, and the interview outline applied in this survey was finally determined. The interview outline consisted of open and closed questions. The main topics of discussion were the participants’ views on the current quality of their diet, whether they feel that their diet should be improved, and whether they were willing to accept medical assistance related to diet management. In addition, the researchers asked participants whether they had received diet-related or nutritionist guidance.

At the end of the interview, the researchers listed many types of nutritional assistance or approaches to participants and asked them to provide preferences for each type of nutritional assistance or approach. Before the interview, the researchers used a warm-up question to create a friendly atmosphere between the interviewer and the interviewee: “If you do not mind, could you tell me something about your AS-related disease?”

Clinical measures

The researchers collected information such as the participants’ age, sex, and types of disease. This information was collected to provide a sufficient sample description and determine whether there was heterogeneity.

Units of study

In this study, the saturation of data collection was used as the end point of the interview process; that is, if the data analysis was repeated with the previous data, and no new coding appeared, then the interview process was considered to be completed. After data saturation, 2 participants were interviewed to ensure that no new coding appeared [ 20 ]. The interview time ranged from 11 minutes and 08 seconds to 27 minutes and 35 seconds, with an average time of 17 minutes and 42 seconds.

Data processing

During the interview, the researcher recorded the patient’s intonation, speech rate, expression, gesture and so on. To reduce the researchers’ memory bias, the recordings were converted into text within 24 hours after the end of the interview and supplemented and modified in combination with the notes of on-site observation [ 21 ] .

Data analysis

This study was conducted by 2 researchers (Jiamengying Chen, Xiaojie Li) using the Colaizzi seven-step method of phenomenological research to guide the data analysis. The 2 researchers independently and repeatedly listened to the audio recordings of the interviews, verified the content, and ultimately analysed the data separately.

During the study, the researcher verified unclear statements in the recordings by contacting the respondent via WeChat or telephone. In addition, the transcribed notes and the themes generated from the analysis were confirmed with the interviewees to ensure that their views were authentically recorded. After the information was completed for thematic extraction and coding, the research team held 1 team meeting to review it. All the researchers commented on and ultimately agreed on the themes and coding of the interviews.

Participant characteristics

Fourteen elderly patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease, with an average age of 75 years, were included in the study. Five participants were male, and 9 participants were female. The disease categories included coronary atherosclerotic heart disease, cerebral infarction, and carotid atherosclerotic plaque. Participant information is shown in Table 1 .

The results of this study show the acceptability of the current dietary status, the understanding of previous nutritional assistance, and the methods of future nutritional assistance in elderly patients with AS-related diseases in western China. The following 3 themes emerged from this study: (1) the diet with regional characteristics; (2) low nutrition-related health literacy; (3) complex attitudes towards nutritional assistance.

The diet with regional characteristics

In terms of staple food preferences, most of the elderly people included in this study claimed that they consumed rice vermicelli for breakfast and lunch because it is “easily digestible” (P3, female, 71 years old). They liked to add animal fats when eating rice vermicelli or noodles (especially ChangWang noodles from Guizhou, China), even if they knew that animal fats can be harmful to the body. These animal fats included solid animal fats and fried animal fats (known as CuiShao) to increase the flavour of the food. Another common breakfast choice among these participants was steamed glutinous rice with chili oil, soy sauce and a variety of side dishes, including “CuiShao”, bacon or sausage, fried peanuts and so on. The family members met the participants’ requests and provided them with this type of food.

“I eat either rice vermicelli or ChangWang noodles every morning. Sometimes (I) do not want to go downstairs, and I let my son or daughter bring it back to me. I think ChangWang noodles need a lot of “CuiShao” to be delicious.”

(P14; Male, 73 years old)

Some participants also said that they were not keen on eating refined rice products or noodles but preferred coarse grains, mainly including “corns, sweet potatoes, and potatoes, because this state produces potatoes” (P8; Female, 66 year old). The discussed cooking methods for the potatoes mainly including frying, fire baking and stir-frying.

“I liked to eat potatoes when I was young, and I also like to eat them now. When I was younger, I would bake my potatoes, but now I prefer fried potatoes.”

(P12; Male, 81 year old)

Some male participants favoured alcohol. They mainly consumed Chinese Baijiu, but all of them reduced their alcohol consumption after learning that they suffered from AS-related diseases. Female participants widely mentioned that they would like to drink Chinese rice wine (Mijiu) (especially homemade) rather than Chinese Baijiu and considered Chinese rice wine (Mijiu) consumption a habit that “everyone in Guizhou should have” (P9; Female, 83 year old).

“I used to drink at least 100 ml of Chinese baijiu; after learning that I was sick, I quit drinking.”

(P13; Male, 64 year old)

Most participants believed that their dietary intake was healthy, while some participants said that after the diagnosis of AS-related diseases, they consciously chose to eat more vegetarian foods, such as ‘Suguadou’, a specialty of Guizhou Province, China, and avoid consuming animal fats.

“After I got sick, I gained some knowledge from the newspaper and TV. It was said that eating a vegetarian diet is good for my health. [Now] I eat a vegetarian diet and do not eat chicken, duck or fish.”

(P2; Female, 61 year old)

Other participants said that they liked and frequently ate “red sour soup”, a Chinese Guizhou specialty, 2 to 3 times a week, or even more frequently. They cooked “red sour soup” in dishes by adding water or soup stock and boiled freshwater fish, lean meat and vegetables. They expressed their preference for ethnic-specific eating habits, and even if they chose to eat out, they would more frequently choose restaurants that sell “red sour soup” because “fish is easy to digest for elderly individuals, so we eat fish in sour soup at restaurants, and we like that too” (P13; Male, 64 year old). Some participants expressed their recognition of the simple cooking method of “red sour soup”. Many participants mentioned their decreasing food intake after entering old age, and they indicated that “I cannot eat much, and they say that the amount of one meal I eat is equal to the amount of one meal that a cat eats” (P4; Female, 77 year old), emphasizing “You need to eat something sour to get an appetite” (P3; Female, 71 year old).

“People in Guizhou should eat red sour soup; I have to eat it several times a week.”

(P11; Male, 82 year old)

For the intake of fruit, many participants thought that fruit consumption was a treat because their family or caregivers did not allow them to eat too much other food outside of dinner, and being provided with fruit could make them feel happy. “They did not allow me to eat too much fruit, and every time I ate fruit, they were worried that my blood sugar would rise” (P1; Female, 90 year old). The participants usually actively discussed their preferences for fruits, including buying their favourite fruits at the market or asking their caregivers to provide some fruits. Some participants mentioned that they liked to drink rosa roxburghii Tratt (RRT) juice or directly ate sliced fresh RRT for “vitamin C supplementation” (P9; Female, 83 year old).

“This plant [RRT] was widely cultivated in my hometown, and when it was ripe, we picked the fruit and ate it. It became a habit!”

(P7; Male, 80 year old)

Low nutrition-related health literacy

Most of the participants did not receive professional nutritionist consulting services and did not know that the hospital had nutrition-related departments. Some participants mentioned that when visiting a hospital, doctors or nurses mentioned diet-related knowledge, such as avoiding a greasy diet and not eating animal fats, but rarely explained the reasons.

“Nutrition department? The hospital has this department?” I do not know what to eat, so the doctor told me, ‘eat less oil and less salt.’ However, he did not tell me why”.

(P3; Female, 71 year old)

The majority of participants stated that they could use the internet to gain much knowledge about healthy eating patterns. In addition to professional notification, participants also obtained diet-related knowledge through newspapers, television, online short video publicity, family notification, etc. “(I) watched many of these kinds of videos on my telephone” (P5; Female, 62 year old). However, they had no way to tell whether the information was correct These information sources contained contradictory content, which made participants unable to distinguish the correctness of the information. Other participants said that they could not learn diet-related knowledge through commonly used health education methods, such as public accounts, videos, and brochures, in tertiary hospitals due to the degradation of vision and hearing caused by age.

“I’m old, my eyesight is poor, and I cannot see with my glasses! I also want to read the brochure [on nutrition], but I cannot see it clearly”.

Most participants could list the relevant nutritional knowledge they knew, and they also performed a small number of healthy eating behaviours, such as the most basic behaviours: quitting smoking and drinking. They believed that the implementation of a healthy diet contributes to recovery from the diseases.

“I stopped smoking or drinking after I got sick! I know that these [cigarettes, alcohol] are not good for the body” .

Some participants blindly implemented diet-related knowledge after acquiring it. These participants believed that consuming dietary supplements can ensure good health, so visiting medical institutions was unnecessary. They thought that the greater the intake of dietary supplements, the better the body they would have, even if their health might be harmed by excessive intake.

“I hardly go to the hospital because I eat a lot of health supplements; my body is fine, and I am fine”.

(P8; Female, 66 year old).

Although in medical institutions, participants received health education on diet-related knowledge, not all patients were able to effectively implement the information. Some patients were not willing to implement the recommended healthy eating patterns, and they did not want to change their preferences. The participants had different understandings of healthy eating patterns. Some participants were aware of systematic dietary patterns that they described as “good” but “difficult to implement” (P2; Female, 61 year old). Others described these eating patterns as “unpalatable”. A common view is that the ingredients of these dietary patterns are difficult or inaccessible to them.

“No, no, [they want me to] eat so many vegetables, like I am a rabbit! I have maintained my eating habits for so many years and cannot change them. These diets are weird; I do not eat avocados, I do not eat oats. If I can live to be a hundred years old if I eat these things, then I would rather die at age eighty”.

(P1; Female, 90 year old)

In addition, many participants said that doctors and nurses could not monitor whether they consumed a healthy diet after leaving hospitals. It is difficult to follow a healthy diet after discharge, especially when most patients and their families do not have a medical background.

“After I was discharged from the hospital, they [the doctors and nurses] did not know what I was eating at home. Doctors and nurses are very busy with work; how can there be time to help us with our eating?”

Complex attitudes towards nutritional assistance

Participants generally expressed fear of diseases. They said, “This disease will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I cannot cure it” (P12; Male, 81 year old). These participants elaborated on their desire to become healthier through nutritional assistance, and they also tended to be more willing to receive dietary-related guidance and assistance and viewed the role of nutritional assistance in delaying the development of AS positively. Personalized nutritional assistance received a positive response from the participants, and they were willing to try nutritional assistance that would help them.

“I dare not to do anything when I suffer from this disease because I fear that something will happen to my blood vessels..... Of course, it is good to be able to eat healthier; people live to eat three meals a day. If the meal tastes good and the body can be healthy, then I will wake up laughing in my dreams” .

The vast majority of participants expressed their willingness to use customized recipes, diet lists, etc., but the implementation process required the understanding and support of their families. Two male participants said that “My wife is the head of the family”, and whether to use custom recipes and diet lists required the cooperation and consent of his wife. Other patients said that because they are old, whether they could cook according to the recipe required the cooperation of their sons and daughters or caregivers (paid by the elderly individuals themselves or their families).

“We are all old and need help with daily activities such as eating and dressing. Some things require children’s help to achieve”.

(P6; Female, 81 year old)

Some participants were not very skilled in the operation of electronic devices such as telephone, computers, or televisions. They also suffered from diseases that caused them to be unable to use communication devices such as telephone. Therefore, they could not receive online health education. They only accepted one-to-one or one-to-many nutritional assistance methods that were held offline. However, some participants mentioned that they would selectively adopt the nutritional recommendations made in the meetings for the public because “not all of them suit me” (P1, female, 90 years old). Other participants suggested that they prefer to use remote online methods for meetings because they “do not have the time or energy to attend the meeting, and it is not safe if the meeting place is far away” (P7; Male, 80 year old); they were worried about traffic safety between hospitals and therefore could not attend the meetings.

“I am old, and I have no idea how to use telephone or computers for online meetings. So, I prefer offline meetings where we do whatever the doctors and nurses say” .

(P14; Male, 73 year old).

Some participants were more likely to take dietary supplements such as vitamins rather than considering other forms of nutritional assistance first. Other participants had their own views on dietary supplements; they might try to consume fresh or “medicinal” (P1; Female, 90 year old) ingredients instead of the dietary supplements prescribed by their doctors. Due to the severity of AS-related diseases, these participants were willing to receive various forms of nutritional assistance. Other participants expressed that they had too much concern and distrust regarding the use of dietary supplements. Some participants were worried about the interaction between dietary supplements and the drug treatment they were currently receiving, while other participants thought that were already using too many oral drugs, and whether dietary supplements were useful was uncertain.

“There are a lot of bad people [selling dietary supplements] now, and it is hard to identify who is good and who is bad”.

Some participants showed the opposite attitude towards nutritional assistance; they believed that they were old enough to receive intervention for their diet. Regarding the malignant cardiovascular events, cerebrovascular events, and amputations that could result from AS-related diseases, these participants stated that they “did not know and did not understand how it could be so serious” (P9; Female, 83 year old).

“I’m so old, I should eat what I want to eat” .

Most of the participants expressed their willingness to try nutritional assistance measures, which were considered beneficial for delaying the development of AS, including medical-nursing combined institutions that could provide them with a diet, but those facilities put forwards higher requirements on the price and quality of the meals. If they did not meet the requirements, they would not choose this nutritional assistance measure.

“The community should do something practical for us old people. We will eat what is good, and we do not eat what is bad”.

Some participants said they were concerned about the price of the diet provided by the medical-nursing combined institutions and were worried about their economic situation. When their income was not enough to pay for the diet provided by the medical and nursing institutions, they would not choose this method. Less income had taken away their freedom of consumption.

“We are all rural people, we have no income, and the cost of eating out is equal to the cost of a few days of our daily life..... If the food is very expensive, we will definitely be unwilling to eat it” .

The results of this study showed the acceptability of the current dietary status, the understanding of previous nutritional assistance, and the methods of future nutritional assistance in elderly patients with AS-related diseases in western China. The theme generated in this study shows that the factors affecting dietary status are multifaceted and complex, and the participants’ dietary preferences had obvious regional characteristics.

The first theme generated by this qualitative research is that the diet with regional characteristics. In this topic, we explored the relationship between participants and their food choices. We found that the participants’ diets had strong regional characteristics, reflecting the regional characteristics of the provinces in western China. The diagnosis of AS-related diseases resulted in some patients changing their eating habits, following the health education of doctors or nurses and choosing to limit alcohol consumption and eat more vegetables. For other participants, there were some difficulties in adhering to healthy eating habits; for example, the tastes and dietary preferences formed during perennial life are difficult to change. The second theme was centred on the implementation of nutritional assistance by participants. We measured participants’ understanding and implantation of knowledge about a healthy diet, which reflected their general misunderstanding of healthy diet knowledge. The third theme was that attitudes towards nutritional assistance were complex; we summarized the participants’ attitudes towards a variety of nutritional assistance approaches. Research has shown that most participants were welcoming and receptive to nutritional assistance, but other patients expressed a resistant attitude. Some participants highlighted their concerns about the price of food.

The participants discussed their current dietary intake with the researchers. In this component of the study, the participants’ dietary preferences showed obvious regionality. This study showed that the mainstream staple food choices for elderly patients with AS-related diseases in western China include rice (including refined rice and its products), glutinous rice, and some coarse grains, such as potatoes and corn. Such staple food choices were suitable for local geographical conditions but might adversely affect the health of participants. Rice products, such as rice vermicelli, were one of the main food choices that participants were interested in. They often mentioned mutton rice vermicelli, beef rice vermicelli, chili chicken rice vermicelli and so on. Most commonly, rice vermicelli and noodles were cooked in boiling water and then put into seasoned broth. Studies have shown that cooked rice flour is a moderate-GI food [ 22 ], and a higher GI index has been shown to be significantly associated with an increased risk of CVD [ 23 ]. Postprandial hyperglycaemia can lead to elevated triglycerides and increased oxidative stress, which have a negative impact on the vascular endothelium [ 24 ].

The participants often mentioned “Cuishao”, bacon, sausage, and fried peanuts. Cuishao is a unique snack and was popular among people living in Guizhou Province, China. Pork (i.e., pork belly meat with more adipose tissue mixed with lean meat) was used as the raw material, and seasonings were added to marinate and then fry the meat. The fried “Cuishao” contained a large amount of oil. Excessive intake of oil can cause a variety of adverse effects on health and may lead to a greater risk of disease, including hypertension, AS and cancer [ 25 ]. During the frying process, a series of chemical reactions, such as the oil oxidation reaction, Maillard reaction and oxidative degradation of proteins, occur in the matrix of fried meat products. These chemical reactions lead to the production of harmful substances, such as trans fatty acids (TFAs), in fried meat products [ 26 ]. Studies have shown that excessive intake of TFAs promotes vascular inflammation and oxidative stress and accelerates the development of AS [ 27 ]. Numerous academic organizations have recommended that the intake of saturated fatty acids and TFAs should be limited to regulate blood lipid levels in high-risk populations [ 28 ]. Importantly, even though the potatoes that people in western China like to eat are a good source of carbohydrates [ 29 ], the frying cooking method leads to an increase in the risk of noninfectious diseases such as CVD and diabetes by affecting inflammatory factors and vascular endothelial function [ 30 ]. This showed that when designing a diet plan for patients with AS-related diseases in western China, the patients should be asked to limit their intake of fried, high-fat foods, even if they like to eat these foods.

Most participants took the initiative to adjust their diet after being diagnosed with the disease. Some participants indicated that they had actively chosen a vegetarian diet or consciously tended to eat vegetables and fruits. People in western China often use boiled water to cook vegetables when they choose to eat vegetables and form a local characteristic dish, “Suguadou”. Commonly consumed vegetable types included kidney beans, immature pumpkin. Studies have shown that the choice of cooking method is related to cardiovascular risk factors. In addition to raw food, boiling is also a healthier cooking method, which is related to healthier cardiovascular conditions [ 31 ]. Boiled cooking methods could also better retain antioxidant compounds in vegetables. We found that people in western China like to eat a seasonal fruit called RRT in summer. This fruit is a medicinal plant and traditional food in western China. In recent years, studies have shown that RRT is rich in vitamin C [ 32 ]. The presence of other substances (organic acids, flavonoids, polyphenols, etc.) can improve dyslipidaemia through the intestinal flora [ 33 ]. Therefore, eating RRT or drinking freshly squeezed fruit juice might improve AS-related diseases.

In addition, people in western China were also keen to eat “red sour soup”. “Red sour soup” is a common fermented seasoning in Guizhou Province, China. It is mainly fermented with “Maolaguo”, red peppers, etc., followed by the addition of Litsea cubeba fruit essential oil [ 34 ]. People often use “red sour soup” to cook vegetables, lean meat slices, fish slices and so on. Studies have shown that “red sour soup” can alleviate nonalcoholic fatty liver disease induced by a high-fat diet in rats and reduce body mass index, total cholesterol, triglyceride, and insulin resistance [ 35 ]. According to a study by Yang et al. [ 36 ], red sour soup can prevent and treat hyperlipidaemia in obese rats by regulating the AMPK signalling pathway, which might be related to the antioxidant and anti-atherosclerotic effects of lycopene and capsaicin, which are abundant among the red sour soup raw materials [ 37 ].

Studies have shown that the fermentation process of red sour soup will produce beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli, Acetobacter , and Leuconostoc and acid substances such as lactic acid, acetic acid and citric acid [ 38 ]. These acids regulate inflammation and promote immunity, neuroprotection, and anti-ageing activity [ 39 ]. However, the impact of food as a whole on the health of organisms rather than the impact of a single component of food [ 40 ] should be noted. Therefore, it is necessary to comprehensively consider the impact of red sour soup on human health; that is, the beneficial effects of red sour soup on human health are due to its rich bioactive substances and beneficial components produced during fermentation.

Notably, some male participants mentioned frequent consumption of alcohol. Studies have shown that higher alcohol intake increases the risk of CVD mortality in Chinese men and that alcohol intake does not have a protective effect on CVD [ 41 ]. Although participants might reduce or stop consuming alcohol after the diagnosis of AS-related diseases, past studies have shown that patients who continue to drink alcohol have a similar risk of death to those who have quit [ 42 ]. This suggested that the harm caused to the human body by alcohol consumption is permanent, even if the patient has chosen to quit drinking alcohol.

This study revealed that participants generally lack healthy eating knowledge. Research has shown that among participants, there is a widespread bias towards certain types of food and a misconception regarding nutritional assistance. A survey of elderly individuals [ 43 ] revealed similar findings; for example, some participants believed that “thin” is healthy and “fat” is unhealthy, and they believed that fat, sugar, etc., are “bad” foods and prefer vegetarian food [ 44 ]. However, studies have shown that proper fat intake is beneficial to human health, and people should consume a certain amount of high-quality fat and reduce saturated fat intake [ 45 ]. The intake of omega-3 fatty acids had some benefits for participants with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases [ 46 ]. Many studies have shown that a plant-based diet can promote vascular endothelial protection and reduce the generation of harmful factors in endothelial cells, which is beneficial for treating AS-related diseases [ 47 ]. A meta-analysis of 55 studies showed that compared to other eating patterns, plant-based diets and whole-grain foods are associated with better prevention of coronary heart disease and multiple metabolic diseases [ 48 ]. However, it is worth noting that even though plant-based diets have been shown to be beneficial to human health, all dietary patterns are associated with potential nutritional risks [ 49 ]. Studies have shown that long-term intake of a vegan diet may lead to a lack of micronutrients, resulting in potential nutritional risks [ 50 ]. Therefore, for elderly patients with AS-related diseases, dietary guidance should include prompting patients to choose a balanced diet, consuming abundant plant-based foods, and correcting their misunderstanding regarding their current dietary patterns.

In contrast, there were also some participants who had received relevant health education, but the information provided by the internet may conflict with it, making it difficult for them to consume a healthy diet. Numerous studies have shown that the quality of health-related information that patients can learn on the internet is mixed [ 51 ]. Many sources of information were nonprofessionals who had not received medical professional training, which leads to mixed and inaccurate or biased information that may mislead patients and even have a negative impact on their health [ 52 ]. However, even if there was erroneous or unconfirmed information, viewing internet videos was still a popular method of health education for patients. Health education, in which professional people use networks, can significantly improve patients’ compliance behaviour and reduce costs [ 53 ]. However, in this survey, some participants were unable to obtain health knowledge by reading or watching videos because of old age, illness or disability. At the same time, some participants suggested that after leaving the medical environment, doctors or nurses could not guide and supervise their diet, which led them to collect relevant health knowledge in other ways, and their compliance behaviour gradually decreased over time. Doctors or nurses should carry out continuous and personalized health education for patients. Notably, only providing advice on improving diet and activity behaviours is not enough to change and maintain these behaviours in the long run. Effective health education that supports behavioural changes requires effective incentives and promotion, including environmental support [ 54 ], and provides patients with intervention methods suitable for their culture, age and other characteristics [ 55 ].

The majority of participants accepted nutritional assistance. Our survey showed that elderly participants with AS-related diseases need personalized nutritional assistance to improve their physical condition. In addition to the need for nutritional assistance, they also need corresponding dietary support from the government or institutions because the diseases limits their physical movement [ 56 ]. At the same time, because of the decline in functional living ability, many participants showed dependence on their families. This finding was consistent with most studies [ 57 ]. With the widespread promotion of medical-nursing combinations in China, meals are increasingly being prepared by medical-nursing combined institutions rather than by the patients themselves, community health service institutions, etc., to improve diet quality. Based on the patient interviews, we found that the nutritional assistance provided by medical-nursing combined institutions may be more suitable for and accepted by elderly patients with AS-related diseases. Medical-nursing combined institutions could help elderly people with full and partial disability to solve the problems of meals, medical treatment and self-care at a lower cost. In some European and American countries, there have been similar nutritional assistance models for elderly people, but most of them involve modelled nutrition management, such as communities providing three meals a day to elderly people in the form of meal boxes. However, this intervention model cannot be used for personalized service [ 58 ].

In contrast, some participants thought that they did not need to receive nutritional assistance. They held the mentality of ‘being so old’ and had a resistant and unacceptable attitude towards nutritional assistance. This might be because they think they were old enough to no longer have to put much effort into fighting the death caused by the diseases. This study revealed that elderly people with increasing age are becoming increasingly more deeply aware of the limitations of their lives. They could accept death as an inevitable event and reduce their avoidance of death [ 59 ]. However, it should be noted that the participants’ lack of healthy diet knowledge may have led them to mistakenly believe that diet cannot significantly improve the clinical manifestations of AS-related diseases, so they still maintain unhealthy eating habits and refuse to perform healthy lifestyles. Moreover, these participants might underestimate the consequences of poor lifestyles, resulting in serious cardiovascular events, including vascular obstruction and vascular rupture. These conditions might lead to paralysis, dysphagia and other symptoms, which would result in reduced or even loss of self-care ability and a significant reduction in quality of life [ 60 ].

This study has several limitations. The research team tried to recruit participants with heterogeneous characteristics, including age, sex, family status, and education level. However, due to the purposive sampling method, the results of this study may not be extended to the wider Chinese or international population of elderly patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular diseases. This study excluded individuals who did not speak Chinese. Therefore, we cannot determine whether the samples of this study included multicultural or multiethnic groups.

This study showed that elderly patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular diseases who are living in western China have regional dietary preferences, which may have a certain impact on their disease development. They have different views due to differences in sex, disease status, personal habits, and modes of receiving dietary knowledge. These views are mainly regarding their own dietary status, cooking behaviours, and dietary management models. Regional and individual differences may influence the effects of diet management. In the future, for research regarding the dietary management of elderly patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular diseases in western China, researchers should conduct personalized and sex-specific dietary management interventions according to their regional dietary preferences and consider whether individual patients are able to receive relevant nutritional assistance. Medical and nursing combination institutions can provide them with modelled nutrition management, such as providing three meals in the form of lunch boxes or open canteens. They can also use a variety of methods, such as face-to-face conversations and meetings, to provide them with dietary advice and flexibly use the internet to achieve online intervention. Changes in dietary behaviour may have a positive impact on the overall dietary quality of this population and may improve the patient’s disease status and prognosis.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due ethical reasons but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  • Atherosclerosis

Cardiovascular Disease

rosa roxburghii Tratt

Tras Fatty Acid

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We would like to thank all the participants in this study for their willingness to participate in this study and to express their views honestly.

This research was funded by the following projects: nsfc-funded project-The mechanism of MCPIP1 regulating Myocardin in vascular smooth muscle cells on atherosclerosis (No.82160099); Science and Technology Plan Project of Guizhou Province-Construction and Application of Internet of Things + Traditional Chinese Medicine Characteristic Intelligent Health Care System (No.Qiankehe support [2022] generally 263); Guizhou Provincial Health Commission Project (No.WJW-llc-H2021(11-01)).

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Jiamengying Chen and Xiaojie Li contributed equally to this work.

Authors and Affiliations

Nursing School, Guizhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, China

Jiamengying Chen, Xiaojie Li, Lvheng Zhao, Qingqing Zhu & Yixia Zhou

Nursing School, Guizhou Medical University, Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, China

Yun Wang & Yixia Zhou

The Second Affiliated Hospital, Guizhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, China

Chunling Zhang & Li Yang

School of Nursing, Suzhou Medical College of Soochow University, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China

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Data curation, J.C., X.L., Y.W. and L.Z.; Investigation, J.C., X.L. and Q.Z.; Methodology, Y.Z. and L.W.; Interviewees recruited, C.Z., L.Y., L.Z, Q.Z. and Y.W.; Writing original manuscript, J.C.; Revised the manuscript, X.L. and L.W.

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Correspondence to Li Wang or Yixia Zhou .

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Chen, J., Li, X., Wang, Y. et al. Cognition of diet quality and dietary management in elderly patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease in western China, a qualitative research study. BMC Geriatr 24 , 525 (2024).

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Received : 27 September 2023

Accepted : 08 May 2024

Published : 17 June 2024


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If your child or teen is struggling with bipolar depression, they may be eligible to take part in the Balance Study. The purpose of this study is to evaluate an investigational drug for bipolar depression in children and teens 10 to 17 years of age.

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

    Research studies have a research question, research hypothesis, and one or more research objectives. A research question is what a study aims to answer, and a research hypothesis is a predictive statement about the relationship between two or more variables, which the study sets out to prove or disprove.

  2. Research Objectives

    Research objectives describe what your research project intends to accomplish. They should guide every step of the research process, including how you collect data, build your argument, and develop your conclusions. Your research objectives may evolve slightly as your research progresses, but they should always line up with the research carried ...

  3. What is a Research Objective? Definition, Types, Examples and Best

    A research objective is defined as a clear and concise statement of the specific goals and aims of a research study. It outlines what the researcher intends to accomplish and what they hope to learn or discover through their research. Research objectives are crucial for guiding the research process and ensuring that the study stays focused and ...

  4. 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.

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

    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 ...

  6. A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research

    In turn, these would determine the research objectives and the design of the study, and ultimately, ... Many research studies have floundered because the development of research questions and subsequent hypotheses was not given the thought and meticulous attention needed. The development of research questions and hypotheses is an iterative ...

  7. Defining Research Objectives: How To Write Them

    For example, with clear research objectives, your study focuses on the specific goals you want to achieve and prevents you from spending time and resources collecting unnecessary data. However, sticking to research objectives isn't always easy, especially in broad or unconventional research. This is why most researchers follow the SMART ...

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    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.

  9. Writing the Research Objectives: 5 Straightforward Examples

    5 Examples of Research Objectives. The following examples of research objectives based on several published studies on various topics demonstrate how the research objectives are written: This study aims to find out if there is a difference in quiz scores between students exposed to direct instruction and flipped classrooms (Webb and Doman, 2016).

  10. Writing Effective Research Aims and Objectives

    In order to write effective research aims and objectives, researchers should consider all aspects of their proposed work. For example, the sample(s) to be approached for participation in the primary data collection. Identifying research objectives that are SMART is key to ensuring key aspects of the work are considered prior to any data collection.

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    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.

  12. What are research objectives?| Editage Insights

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    Research aims and objectives are the foundation of any research project. They provide a clear direction and purpose for the study, ensuring that you stay focused and on track throughout the process. They are your trusted navigational tools, leading you to success. Understanding the relationship between research objectives and aims is crucial to ...

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    Here are three simple steps that you can follow to identify and write your research objectives: 1. Pinpoint the major focus of your research. The first step to writing your research objectives is to pinpoint the major focus of your research project. In this step, make sure to clearly describe what you aim to achieve through your research.

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    Research question. Interest in a particular topic usually begins the research process, but it is the familiarity with the subject that helps define an appropriate research question for a study. 1 Questions then arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study. 2 Indeed, Haynes suggests that it is important to know "where the boundary between current ...

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  28. Cognition of diet quality and dietary management in elderly patients

    Qualitative approach & research paradigm. This was a qualitative study, and we used a semistructured interview method. Mainly, we discussed how patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular diseases viewed their dietary habits and intake, as well as their views on various nutritional assistance methods and approaches, and explored their feelings and expectations regarding ...

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  30. Participants needed for pediatric bipolar depression research study

    If your child or teen is struggling with bipolar depression, they may be eligible to take part in the Balance Study. The purpose of this study is to evaluate an investigational drug for bipolar depression in children and teens 10 to 17 years of age. Participation in this study will involve about 9 clinic visits over the course of 13 weeks.