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How to Write the Dissertation Aims and Objectives – Guide & Examples
Published by Grace Graffin at January 27th, 2023 , Revised On October 9, 2023
Aims and objectives are among the essential aspects of a dissertation. If you write aims and objectives effectively, they can act as a foundation to give your research clarity and focus.
This article will provide you with all the necessary information regarding aims and objectives, their differences, writing tips , and the common mistakes you should avoid while writing them.
The aim is often a single sentence or a short paragraph that describes your dissertation’s main goal and intent. It tells what you hope to achieve at the end. You should write the aim so that it becomes identifiable when it is achieved with the completion of your dissertation .
The aim is written in a subsection of the introduction to clarify the overall purpose of the dissertation .
Example: It is often observed that employees in culturally diverse workplaces struggle to work effectively in a team. A probable cause of this issue is bullying at the workplace. This research investigates the impact of bullying on employee job satisfaction at culturally diverse workplaces and the resulting loss of employee productivity. This research will use surveys and case study analysis to analyze the impact of bullying on employees.
The objectives in a dissertation describe the ways through which you intend to achieve the research aim. They are specific statements that break down the aim into several smaller key sections of the overall research. Suitable objectives can help you stay focused and conduct research in the direction of your aim.
The number of objectives should be realistic; usually, between three to six, and each one should be possible to achieve. The following example shows the objectives for the previously-mentioned dissertation aim.
1. identification of the behaviors that are considered as bullying 2. exploring the factors that cause bullying at a culturally diverse workplace 3. analyzing the relationship between bullying and job satisfaction of employees 4. providing suitable recommendations on minimizing the bullying at the workplace
The objectives of a dissertation should be SMART.
- Specific: should be precise, focused, and well-defined
- Measurable: the progress should be measurable, and you should be able to determine when you have achieved an objective.
- Achievable: you should be able to carry out the required action within your available resources
- Relevant: should be related to the dissertation aim
- Time-bound: should be possible within the available time
Differences between aims and objectives
Aims and objectives are often mixed, but there are clear differences between them.
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How to write aims and objectives?
There is no particular way or standard to write the aims and objectives. Different researchers have different writing styles, and often it can be influenced by your research supervisor. However, you should follow certain basic principles while writing aims and objectives in a dissertation.
Writing the aim statement
The aim statement should cover the following essential elements.
- Why is the research necessary? (covers the underlying problem on which the study is to be conducted)
- What is the research about? (description of the research title)
- How are you going to conduct it? (a brief statement of intended research methods)
An appropriate aim clearly defines the research purpose without confusing the reader. If you struggle to explain your research and its importance in simpler terms, you should consider refining your research to clarify it further.
The objectives describe how you would achieve your research aim. You can do this through the following steps,
- The first one to two objectives can be applied to the literature review . (Verbs to be used: investigate, examine, study)
- One objective can be applied to the methodology portion. (Verbs to be used: collect, select, demonstrate, estimate)
- Two to three objectives can cover the critical evaluation or discussion chapters (Verbs to be used: analyze, compare, evaluate)
- The final objective will cover the conclusion or recommendation portion. (Verbs to be used: conclude, recommend)
Instead of writing like a paragraph, the objectives should be written as a numbered list to give them more clarity.
How many aims and objectives should be there?
It depends upon the topic of your research and mainly upon your supervisor’s requirements. Generally, a dissertation has a single broad statement as the research aim. However, it is acceptable to include a main aim along with two to three subsidiary aims.
Similarly, the number of objectives should be realistic and sufficient to measure the progress regarding the achievement of the research aim. Their number can generally vary from three to six depending upon the aim.
Common mistakes to avoid while writing research aims and objectives
- Writing a broad research aim
Writing a broad research aim is a common mistake, and it often becomes difficult to achieve. It may create a problem when you are asked to prove how you have achieved your aims during your viva defense . It would be best to narrow your study to a specific area in the early stages of the dissertation.
- Formulating overlapping research objectives
The objectives should be written such that they are measurable and distinct from each other. If they overlap, it makes it difficult to structure your dissertation properly in specific chapters.
- Setting unrealistic aims
Students often get over-ambitious while describing the research aim and face problems afterward in achieving those aims. You should avoid this mistake and be realistic about what you can achieve in the available time and resources.
Aims and objectives are the sections that require significant time and attention to avoid future hassles while conducting research and writing your dissertation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to set dissertation aims and objectives.
To set dissertation aims and objectives, define your research goals clearly. Aims state what you want to achieve, while objectives outline specific, measurable steps to reach those goals. Ensure they align with your research question and contribute to your study’s significance.
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What is an abstract?
The abstract is a brief summary of your dissertation to help a new reader understand the purpose and content of the document, in much the same way as you would read the abstract of a journal article to help decide whether it was relevant to your work. The function of the abstract is to describe and summarise the contents of the dissertation, rather than making critical or evaluative statements about the project.
When should I write the abstract?
The abstract should be the last section you write before submitting your final dissertation or extended project report, as the content will only be decided once the main document is complete.
What should I include?
One of the best ways to find the right ‘voice’ for the abstract is to look at other examples, either from dissertations in your field or study, or from journal articles. Look out for examples that you feel communicate complex ideas in a simple and accessible way. Your abstract should be clear and understandable to a non-specialist, so avoid specialist vocabulary as far as possible, and use simple sentence structures over longer more complex constructions. You can find a list of phrases for abstract writing here .
Most abstracts are written in the present tense, but this may differ in some disciplines, so find examples to inform your decision on how to write. Avoid the future tense - ‘this dissertation will consider’ - as the research has already been completed by the time someone is reading the abstract! You can explore some key phrases to use in abstract writing here.
Examples of dissertation abstracts Dissertation abstracts, University of Leeds Overview of what to include in your abstract, University of Wisconsin - Madison Abstract structures from different disciplines, The Writing Center For examples from Sheffield Hallam University, use the 'Advanced Search' function in Library Search to access ‘Dissertations/Theses’.
What should the introduction include?
Your introduction should cover the following points:.
- Provide context and set the scene for your research project using literature where necessary.
- Explain the rationale and value of the project.
- Provide definitions and address general limitations in the literature that have influenced the topic or scope of your project.
- Present your research aims and objectives, which may also be phrased as the research ‘problem’ or questions.
Although it is important to draft your research aims and objectives early in the research process, the introduction will be one of the last sections you write. When deciding on how much context and which definitions to include in this section, remember to look back at your literature review to avoid any repetition. It may be that you can repurpose some of the early paragraphs in the literature review for the introduction.
What is the ‘research aim’?
The research aim is a mission statement, that states the main ambition of your project. in other words, what does your research project hope to achieve you may also express this as the ‘big questions’ that drives your project, or as the research problem that your dissertation will aim to address or solve..
You only need one research aim, and this is likely to change as your dissertation develops through the literature review. Keep returning to your research aim and your aspirations for the project regularly to help shape this statement.
What are the research objectives? How are they different from research questions?
Research objectives and questions are the same thing – the only difference is how they are written! The objectives are the specific tasks that you will need to complete – the stepping stones – that will enable you to achieve your overall research aim.
You will usually have 3-5 research objectives, and their order will hep the reader to understand how you will progress through your research project from start to finish. If you can achieve each objective, or answer each research question, you should meet your research aim! It is therefore important to be specific in your choice of language: verbs, such as ‘to investigate’, ‘to explore’, ‘to assess’ etc. will help your research appear “do-able” (Farrell, 2011).
Here’s an example of three research objectives, also phrased as research questions (this depends entirely on your preference):
For more ideas on how to write research objectives, take at look at this list of common academic verbs for creating specific, achievable research tasks and questions.
We have an online study guide dedicated to planning and structuring your literature review.
What is the purpose of the methodology section?
The methodology outlines the procedure and process of your data collection. You should therefore provide enough detail so that a reader could replicate or adapt your methodology in their own research.
While the literature review focuses on the views and arguments of other authors, the methodology puts the spotlight on your project. Two of the key questions you should aim to answer in this section are:
- Why did you select the methods you used?
- How do these methods answer your research question(s)?
The methodology chapter should also justify and explain your choice of methodology and methods. At every point where you faced a decision, ask: Why did choose this approach? Why not something else? Why was this theory/method/tool the most relevant or suitable for my project? How did this decision contribute to answering my research questions?
Although most students write their methodology before carrying out their data collection, the methodology section should be written in the past tense, as if the research has already been completed.
What is the difference between my methodology and my methods?
There are three key aspects of any methodology section that you should aim to address:.
- Methodology: Your choice of methodology will be grounded in a discipline-specific theory about how research should proceed, such as quantitative or qualitative. This overarching decision will help to provide rationale for the specific methods you go on to use.
- Research Design: An explanation of the approach that you have chosen, and the type of data you will collect. For example, case study or action research? Will the data you collect be quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both?
- Methods: The concrete research tools used to collect and analyse data: questionnaires, in-person surveys, observations etc.
You may also need to include information on epistemology and your philosophical approach to research. You can find more information on this in our research planning guide.
What should I include in the methodology section?
Research paradigm: What is the underpinning philosophy of your research? How does this align with your research aim and objectives?
Methodology : Qualitative or quantitative? Mixed? What are the advantages of your chosen methodology, and why were the other options discounted?
- Research design : Show how your research design is influenced by other studies in your field and justify your choice of approach.
- Methods : What methods did you use? Why? Do these naturally fit together or do you need to justify why you have used different methods in combination?
- Participants/Data Sources: What were your sources/who were your participants? Which sampling approach did you use and why? How were they identified as a suitable group to research, and how were they recruited?
- Procedure : What did you do to collect your data? Remember, a reader should be able to replicate or adapt your methodology in their own research from the information you provide here.
- Limitations : What are the general limitations of your chosen method(s)? Don’t be specific here about your project (ie. what you could have done differently), but instead focus on what the literature outlines as the disadvantages of your methods.
Should I reflect on my position as a researcher?
If you feel your position as a researcher has influenced your choice of methods or procedure in any way, the methodology is a good place to reflect on this. Positionality acknowledges that no researcher is entirely objective: we are all, to some extent, influenced by prior learning, experiences, knowledge, and personal biases. This is particularly true in qualitative research or practice-based research, where the student is acting as a researcher in their own workplace, where they are otherwise considered a practitioner/professional.
The following questions can help you to reflect on your positionality and gauge whether this is an important section to include in your dissertation (for some people, this section isn’t necessary or relevant):
- How might my personal history influence how I approach the topic?
- How am I positioned in relation to this knowledge? Am I being influenced by prior learning or knowledge from outside of this course?
- How does my gender/social class/ ethnicity/ culture influence my positioning in relation to this topic?
- Do I share any attributes with my participants? Are we part of a s hared community? How might this have influenced our relationship and my role in interviews/observations?
- Am I invested in the outcomes on a personal level? Who is this research for and who will feel the benefits?
Visit our detailed guides on qualitative and quantitative research for more information.
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T he purpose of this section is to report the findings of your study. In quantitative research, the results section usually functions as a statement of your findings without discussion.
Results sections generally begin with descriptive statistics before moving on to further tests such as multiple linear regression, or inferential statistical tests such as ANOVA, and any associated Post-Hoc testing.
Here are some top tips for planning/writing your results section:
- Explain any treatments you have applied to your data.
- Present your findings in a logical order.
- Describe trends in the data/anomalous findings but don’t start to interpret them. Save that for your discussion section.
- Figures and tables are usually the clearest way to present information. It is important to remember to title and label any titles/diagrams to communicate their meaning to the reader and so that you can refer to them again later in the report (e.g. Table 1).
- Remember to be consistent with the rounding of figures. If you start by rounding to 2 decimal places, ensure that you do this for all data you report.
- Avoid repeating any information - if something appears in a table it does not need to appear again in the main body of the text.
Presenting qualitative data
In qualitative studies, your results are often presented alongside the discussion, as it is difficult to include this data in a meaningful way without explanation and interpretation. In the dsicussion section, aim to structure your work thematically, moving through the key concepts or ideas that have emerged from your qualitative data. Use extracts from your data collection - interviews, focus groups, observations - to illustrate where these themes are most prominent, and refer back to the sources from your literature review to help draw conclusions.
Here's an example of how your data could be presented in paragraph format in this section:
Example from 'Reporting and discussing your findings ', Monash University .
What should I include in the discussion section?
The purpose of the discussion section is to interpret your findings and discuss these against the context of the wider literature. This section should also highlight how your research has contributed to the understanding of a phenomenon or problem: this can be achieved by responding to your research questions.
Though the structure of discussion sections can vary, a relatively common structure is offered below:
- State your major findings – this can be a brief opening paragraph that restates the research problem, the methods you used to attempt to address this, and the major findings of your research.
- Address your research questions - detail your findings in relation to each of your research questions to help demonstrate how you have attempted to address the research problem. Answer each research question in turn by interpreting the relevant results: this may involve highlighting patterns, relationships or statistically significant differences depending on the design of your research and how you analysed your data.
- Discuss your findings against the wider literature - this will involve comparing and contrasting your findings against those of others and using key literature to support the interpretation of your results; often, this will involve revisiting key studies from your literature review and discussing where your findings fit in the pre-existing literature. This process can help to highlight the importance of your research through demonstrating what is novel about your findings and how this contributes to the wider understanding of your research area.
- Address any unexpected findings in your study - begin with by stating the unexpected finding and then offer your interpretation as to why this might have occurred. You may relate unexpected findings to other research literature and you should also consider how any unexpected findings relate to your overall study – especially if you think this is significant in terms of what your findings contribute to the understanding of your research problem!
- Discuss alternative interpretations - it’s important to remember that in research we find evidence to support ideas, theories and understanding; nothing is ever proven. Consequently, you should discuss possible alternative interpretations of your data – not just those that neatly answer your research questions and confirm your hypotheses.
- Limitations/weaknesses of your research – acknowledge any factors that might have affected your findings and discuss how this relates to your interpretation of the data. This might include detailing problems with your data collection method, or unanticipated factors that you had not accounted for in your original research plan. Likewise, detail any questions that your findings could not answer and explain why this was the case.
- Future directions (this part of your discussion could also be included in your conclusion) – this section should address what questions remain unanswered about your research problem. For example, it may be that your findings have answered some questions but raised new ones; this can often occur as a result of unanticipated findings. Likewise, some of the limitations of your research may necessitate further work to address a methodological confound or weakness in a tool of measurement. Whatever these future directions are, remember you’re not writing a proposal for this further research; a brief suggestion of what the research should do and how this would address one of the new problems/limitations you have identified is enough.
Here are some final top tips for writing your discussion section:
- Don’t rewrite your results section – remember your goal is to interpret and explain how your findings address the research problem.
- Be clear about what you have found, how this has addressed a gap in the literature and how it changes our understanding of your research problem.
- Structure your discussion in a logical way that highlights your most important/interesting findings first.
- Be careful about how you interpret your data: be wary over-interpreting to confirm a hypothesis. Remember, we can still learn from non-significant research findings.
- Avoid being apologetic or too critical when discussing the limitations of your research. Be concise and analytical.
How do I avoid repetition in the conclusion?
The conclusion is your opportunity to synthesise everything you have done/written as part of your research, in order to demonstrate your understanding.
A well-structured conclusion is likely to include the following:
- State your conclusions – in clear language, state the conclusions from your research. Crucially, this not just restating your results/findings: instead, this is a synthesis of the research problem, your research questions, your findings (and interpretation), and the relevant research literature. From your conclusions, it should be clear to your reader how our understanding of the research topic has changed.
- Discuss wider significance – this is your opportunity to highlight (potential) wider implications of your conclusions. Depending on your discipline, this might include recommendations for policy, professional practice or a tentative speculation about how an academic theory might change given your findings. It is important not to over-generalise here; remember the limitations of your theoretical and methodological choices and what these mean for the applicability of your findings/conclusions. If your discipline encourages reflection, this can be a suitable place to include your thoughts about the research process, the choices you made and how your findings/conclusions might influence your professional outlook/practice going forwards.
- Take home message – this should be a strong and clear final statement that draws the reader’s focus to the primary message of your study. Whilst it’s important to avoid being overly grandiose, this is your closing argument, and you should remind the reader of what your research has achieved.
Ultimately, your conclusion is your final word about the research problem you have investigated; don’t be afraid of emphasising your contribution to the understanding of that problem. Your conclusion should be clear, succinct and provide a summary of everything that has been learned as a result of your research project.
What supervisors expect from their dissertation students:
- to determine the focus and direction of the dissertation, particularly in terms of identifying a topic of interest and research question.
- to work independently to explore literature and research in the chosen topic area.
- to be proactive in arranging supervision meetings, email draft work before meetings for feedback and prepare specific questions and issues to discuss in supervision time.
- to be honest and open about any challenges or difficulties that arise during the research or writing process.
- to bring a problem-solving approach to the dissertation (you are not expected to know all the answers but should show initiative in exploring possible solutions to any problems that might arise).
What you can expect from your supervisor:
- to offer guidance on the best way to structure and carry out a successful research project in the timescale for your dissertation, and to help you to set achievable and appropriate research objectives.
- to act as an expert in your discipline and sounding board for your ideas, and to advise you on the literature search and theoretical background for your project.
- to serve as a 'lifeline' and point of support when the dissertation feels challenging.
- to read your drafts and give feedback in supervision meetings.
- to offer practical advice and strategies for managing your time, securing ethics approval, collecting data and common pitfalls to avoid during the research process.
Making the most of your supervision meetings
Meeting your supervisor can feel daunting at first but your supervision meetings offer a great opportunity to discuss your research ideas and get feedback on the direction of your project. Here are our top tips to getting the most out of time with your supervisor:
- Y ou are in charge of the agenda. If you arrange a meeting with your supervisor, you call the shots! Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of the time with your supervisor.
- Send an email in advance of the meeting , with an overview of the key ideas you want to talk about. This can save time in the meeting and helps to give you some structure to follow. If this isn't possible, run through these points quickly when you first sit down as you introduce the meeting - "I wanted to focus on the literature review today, as I'm having some trouble deciding on the order my key themes and points should be introduced in."
- What do you want to get out of the meeting? Note down any questions you would like the answers to or identify what it is you will need from the meeting in order to make progress on the next stage of your dissertation. Supervision meetings offer the change to talk about your ideas for the project, but they can also be an opportunity to find out practical details and troubleshoot. Don't leave the meeting until you have addressed these and got answers/advice in each key area.
- Trust your supervisor. Your supervisor may not be an expert in your chosen subject, but they will have experience of writing up research projects and coaching other dissertation students. You are responsible for reading up on your subject and exploring the literature - your supervisor can't tell you what to read, but they can give you advice on how to read your sources and integrate them into your argument and writing.
- Choose a short section to discuss in the meeting for feedback - for example, if you're not sure on structure, pick a page or two that demonstrate this, or if you want advice on being critical, find an example from a previous essay where you think you did this well and ask your supervisor how to translate this into dissertation writing.
- Agree an action plan . Work with your supervisor to set a goal for your next meeting, or an objective that you will meet in the week following your supervision. Feeling accountable to someone can be a great motivator and also helps you to recognise where you are starting to fall behind the targets that you've set for yourself.
- Be open and honest . It can feel daunting meeting your supervisor, but supervision meetings aren't an interview where you have to prove everything is going well. Ask for help and advice where you need it, and be honest if you're finding things difficult. A supervisor is there to support you and help you to develop the skills and knowledge you need along the journey to submitting your dissertation.
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Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019
So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.
To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .
*The Caveat *
In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).
So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.
Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis
- Acknowledgements page
- Abstract (or executive summary)
- Table of contents , list of figures and tables
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Literature review
- Chapter 3: Methodology
- Chapter 4: Results
- Chapter 5: Discussion
- Chapter 6: Conclusion
- Reference list
As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:
- The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
- The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
- The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
- The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .
In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.
To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.
Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.
The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:
- Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
- Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
- Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)
Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:
- The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
- The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
- Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or mixed methods ).
A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].
Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).
This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.
So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:
- Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
- Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
- Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
- Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).
There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.
Abstract or executive summary
The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .
For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):
- Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
- Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
- Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
- Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?
So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.
In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .
Need a helping hand?
Table of contents
This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:
If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.
Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…
It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:
- What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
- Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
- What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
- What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
- How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
- How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?
These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.
If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.
Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:
- What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
- Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
- How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
- How does your research contribute something original?
- How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?
Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.
Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.
Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…
In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:
- Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
- Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?
Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.
Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.
In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!
You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.
Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.
Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).
What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.
Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.
The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).
Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings? In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?
Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!
This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.
The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.
It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:
Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.
The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.
Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!
Time to recap…
And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:
- Acknowledgments page
Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).
I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach Blog .
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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many thanks i found it very useful
Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.
Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!
what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much
Thanks so much this helped me a lot!
Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.
Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..
Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?
Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment
You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.
best ever benefit i got on right time thank you
Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .
I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these
You have given immense clarity from start to end.
Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?
Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!
Thanks ! so concise and valuable
This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.
Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.
Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times
Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.
Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills
Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear
That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!
My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!
Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?
It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂
Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!
Great video; I appreciate that helpful information
It is so necessary or avital course
This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you
Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates
wow this is an amazing gain in my life
This is so good
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What are you doing and how are you doing it? Articulating your aims and objectives.
Mar 6, 2019
Have you checked out the rest of The PhD Knowledge Base ? It’s home to hundreds more free resources and guides, written especially for PhD students.
How long does it take the person reading your thesis to understand what you’re doing and how you’re doing it? If the answer is anything other than ’in the opening paragraphs of the thesis’ then keep reading.
If you tell them as early as possible what you’re doing and how you’re doing it – and do so in clear and simple terms – whatever you write after will make much more sense. If you leave them guessing for ten pages, everything they read in those ten pages has no coherence. You’ll know where it is all leading, but they won’t.
Unless you tell them.
If you tell the reader what you’re doing as early as possible in clear and simple terms, whatever you write after will make much more sense.
What are aims & objectives?
If you build a house without foundations, it’s pretty obvious what will happen. It’ll collapse. Your thesis is the same; fail to build the foundations and your thesis just won’t work .
Your aims and objectives are those foundations. That’s why we’ve put them right at the top of our PhD Writing Template (if you haven’t already downloaded it, join the thousands who have by clicking here ).
If you write your aims and objectives clearly then you’ll make your reader’s life easier.
A lot of students fail to clearly articulate their aims and objectives because they aren’t sure themselves what they actually are.
Picture this: if there’s one thing that every PhD student hates it’s being asked by a stranger what their research is on.
Your PhD thesis. All on one page.
Use our free PhD structure template to quickly visualise every element of your thesis.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Be able to call yourself Doctor sooner with our five-star rated How to Write A PhD email-course. Learn everything your supervisor should have taught you about planning and completing a PhD.
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Your research aims are the answer to the question, ‘What are you doing?’
1. You need to clearly describe what your intentions are and what you hope to achieve. These are your aims.
2. Your aims may be to test theory in a new empirical setting, derive new theory entirely, construct a new data-set, replicate an existing study, question existing orthodoxy, and so on. Whatever they are, clearly articulate them and do so early. Definitely include them in your introduction and, if you’re smart, you’ll write them in your abstract .
3. Be very explicit . In the opening paragraphs, say, in simple terms, ‘ the aim of this thesis is to …’
4. Think of your aims then as a statement of intent. They are a promise to the reader that you are going to do something. You use the next two hundred pages or so to follow through on that promise. If you don’t make the promise, the reader won’t understand your follow-through. Simple as that.
Because they serve as the starting point of the study, there needs to be a flow from your aims through your objectives (more on this below) to your research questions and contribution and then into the study itself. If you have completed your research and found that you answered a different question (not that uncommon), make sure your original aims are still valid. If they aren’t, refine them.
If you struggle to explain in simple terms what your research is about and why it matters, you may need to refine your aims and objectives to make them more concise.
When writing up your aims, there are a number of things to bear in mind.
1. Avoid listing too many. Your PhD isn’t as long as you think it is and you won’t have time or room for more than around two or three.
2. When you write them up, be very specific. Don’t leave things so vague that the reader is left unsure or unclear on what you aim to achieve.
3. Make sure there is a logical flow between each of your aims. They should make sense together and should each be separate components which, when added together, are bigger than the sum of their parts.
Your aims answer the question, ‘What are you doing?’ The objectives are the answer to the question, ‘How are you doing it?’
Research objectives refer to the goals or steps that you will take to achieve your aims.
When you write them, make sure they are SMART.
- S pecific: talk in a precise and clear way about what you are going to do.
- M easurable: how will you know when you have achieved your aim?
- A chievable: make sure that you aren’t overly ambitious.
- R ealistic: recognise the time and resource constraints that come with doing a PhD and don’t attempt to do too much.
- T ime constrained: determine when each objective needs to be completed.
You need to be as explicit as possible here. Leave the reader in no doubt about what you will do to achieve your aims. Step by step. Leave no ambiguity. At the same time, be careful not to repeat your methods chapter here. Just hint at your methods by presenting the headlines. You’ll have plenty of space in your methods discussion to flesh out the detail.
Elsewhere in the thesis you will necessarily have to talk in a complex language and juggle complex ideas. Here you don’t. You can write in clear, plain sentences.
What is the difference between research aims and objectives?
The aims of a study describe what you hope to achieve. The objectives detail how you are going to achieve your aims.
Let’s use an example to illustrate.
- To understand the contribution that local governments make to national level energy policy.
- Conduct a survey of local politicians to solicit responses.
- Conduct desk-research of local government websites to create a database of local energy policy.
- Interview national level politicians to understand the impact these local policies have had.
- Data will be coded using a code book derived from dominant theories of governance.
If you’re still struggling, Professor Pat Thompson’s great blog has a guide that will help.
Leave the reader in no doubt about what you will do to achieve your aims. Step by step. Leave no ambiguity.
I can’t articulate them clearly, my research is complicated!
Of course your research is complex. That’s the name of the game. But the sign of someone being able to master complexity is their ability to summarise it . Sure, you’re not looking to capture all the richness and detail in a short summary of aims and objectives, but you are looking to tell the reader what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
If you’re struggling to clearly articulate your aims and objectives, then try the following task. At the top of a Post-it note write the sentence: ‘In this research I will…’. Then keep trying until you can fit an answer onto one single Post-it note. The answer should answer two questions: what are are you doing and how are you doing it?
Remember – whenever you write, make it as clear as possible. Pay attention to the words ‘as possible’ there. That means you should write as clearly as you can given the fact that your subject and research is necessarily complex. Think of it the other way: it’s about not making things more complicated and unclear than they need to be.
In other words, make your reader’s job as easy as you can. They’ll thank you for it.
If you’re still having trouble, get in touch to arrange a one-on-one coaching session and we can work through your aims and objectives together.
The write up is quite inspiring.
My topic is setting up a healing gardens in hospitals Need a aim and objectives for a dissertation
Dis is really good and more understandable thanks
Crisp, concise, and easy to understnad. Thank you for posint this. I now know how to write up my report.
Great. Glad you found it useful.
Good piece of work! Very useful
Great. Glad you found it useful!
The write up makes sense
I love this article. Amazing, outstanding and incredible facts.
Glad you found it useful!
Well written and easy to follow
Thank you for the comment, I’m really glad you found it valuable.
I’m currently developing a dissertation proposal for my PhD in organizational leadership. I need guidance in writing my proposal
Hey – have you checked out this guide? https://www.thephdproofreaders.com/writing/how-to-write-a-phd-proposal/
Indeed I’m impressed and gained a lot from this and I hope I can write an acceptable thesis with this your guide. Bello, H.K
Great. Thanks for the kind words. Good luck with the thesis.
Thumbs up! God job, well done. The information is quite concise and straight to the point.
Glad you thought so – good luck with the writing.
Dear Max, thank you so much for your work and efforts!
Your explanation about Aims and Objectives really helped me out. However, I got stuck with other parts of the Aims and Objectives Work Sheet: Scope, Main Argument, and Contribution.
Could you please explain these as well, preferably including some examples?
Thanks for your kind words. Your question is a big one! Without knowing lots about your topics/subject I’m not able to provide tailored advice, but broadly speaking your scope is the aims/objectives, your main argument is the thread running through the thesis (i.e. what your thesis is trying to argue) and the contribution (again, broadly speaking) is that gap you are filling.
I love your website and you’ve been so SO helpful..
DUMB QUESTION ALERT: Is there supposed to be a difference between aims and research question?
I mean, using your own example.. if the aim of my research is: “To understand the contribution that local governments make to national level energy policy” then wouldn’t the research question be: “How do local governments contribute to energy policy at national level”?
I am sorry if this comes out as completely obvious but I am at that stage of confusion where I am starting to question everything I know.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply! It’s not a dumb question at all. The aim of the study is what the study as a whole is seeking to achieve. So that might be the gap it is filling/the contribution it is making. The research questions are your means to achieving that aim. Your aim might be to fill a gap in knowledge, and you then may have a small number of questions that help you along that path. Does that make sense?
Thank you Max for this post! So helpful!
Thanks so much this piece. I have written both bachelor’s and master’s thesis but haven’t read this made me feel like I didn’t know anything about research at all. I gained more insight into aims and objectives of academic researches.
Interesting explanation. Thank you.
I’m glad you found it useful.
Hi… I really like the way it is put “What are you going?” (Aims) and “How are you doing it?” (Objectives). Simple and straightforward. Thanks for making aims and objectives easy to understand.
Thank you for the write up it is insightful. if you are ask to discuss your doctoral aims. that means: what you are doing how you are doing it.
I was totally lost and still in the woods to the point of thinking I am dull, but looking at how you are coaching it tells me that i am just a student who needs to understand the lesson. I now believe that with your guidance i will pass my PhD. I am writing on an otherwise obvious subject, Value addition to raw materials, why Africa has failed to add value to raw materials? Difficult question as answers seem to abound, but that is where i differ and i seem to be against the general tide. However with your guidance I believe i will make it. Thanks.
Thanks for your lovely, kind words. So kind.
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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
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
- 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.
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
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. https://mindthegraph.com/blog/how-to-write-an-introduction-for-a-research-paper/
- Writing a scientific paper: Introduction. UCI libraries website. Accessed June 15, 2023. https://guides.lib.uci.edu/c.php?g=334338&p=2249903
- Research objectives—Types, examples and writing guide. Researchmethod.net website. Accessed June 17, 2023. https://researchmethod.net/research-objectives/#:~:text=They%20provide%20a%20clear%20direction,track%20and%20achieve%20their%20goals .
- Bartle P. SMART Characteristics of good objectives. Community empowerment collective website. Accessed June 16, 2023. https://cec.vcn.bc.ca/cmp/modules/pd-smar.htm
- Research objectives. Studyprobe website. Accessed June 18, 2023. https://www.studyprobe.in/2022/08/research-objectives.html
- Corredor F. How to write objectives in a research paper. wikiHow website. Accessed June 18, 2023. https://www.wikihow.com/Write-Objectives-in-a-Research-Proposal
- Research objectives: Definition, types, characteristics, advantages. AccountingNest website. Accessed June 15, 2023. https://www.accountingnest.com/articles/research/research-objectives
- Phair D., Shaeffer A. Research aims, objectives & questions. GradCoach website. Accessed June 20, 2023. https://gradcoach.com/research-aims-objectives-questions/
- Understanding the difference between research questions and objectives. Accessed June 21, 2023. https://board.researchersjob.com/blog/research-questions-and-objectives
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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:
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.
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 Tips and Infromation
How to Write Aims and Objectives for your Dissertation or Thesis?
Understanding aims and objectives, crafting aims, break it down into objectives, developing specific objectives, align with research questions, consider feasibility, review and refine, seek feedback, documenting aims and objectives.
In a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation, the aims and objectives play a crucial role in shaping the research process and ensuring focus. They provide a clear roadmap for your study and serve as the guiding principles that steer your research in the right direction.
Aims represent the broader purpose or the overarching goal of your research. They define what you want to achieve with your dissertation. For example, let’s say you’re conducting a study on renewable energy sources. Your aim could be to analyze the economic viability and environmental impact of solar energy adoption in residential areas.
Objectives, on the other hand, break down the aim into specific, measurable, and achievable targets that help you accomplish your research goal. They outline the specific steps or tasks you need to undertake to fulfill the aim. Continuing with the previous example, some objectives could be:
- Evaluate the current state of solar energy technologies and their efficiency.
- Assess the economic costs and benefits associated with the installation of solar panels in residential areas.
- Analyze the environmental impact of solar energy adoption in terms of carbon emissions reduction.
- Investigate the potential barriers to the widespread adoption of solar energy in residential communities.
- Develop recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders to promote the use of solar energy in residential areas.
These objectives, when combined, address different aspects related to the aim of analyzing the economic viability and environmental impact of solar energy adoption. Each objective guides a specific aspect of the research and contributes to answering the research questions.
By having clear aims and objectives, you establish a solid framework for your study. They help you stay focused on the main purpose of your research and prevent you from getting sidetracked or overwhelmed by tangential topics. Moreover, they provide clarity to both you and your readers, ensuring that your research remains coherent and well-structured.
In summary, clear aims and objectives are instrumental in guiding the research process of a PhD dissertation. They provide a roadmap, define the research goal, and break it down into specific targets. Through the example provided, it is evident how aims and objectives bring focus to a study on renewable energy sources and solar energy adoption in residential areas.
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Aims and objectives play a crucial role in guiding research projects. It’s important to define these terms and differentiate between them to ensure a clear focus in your work.
Aims represent the broader purpose or goal of your study. They define what you aim to achieve through your research project. Aims provide the overarching context and direction for your work, guiding the selection of topics, methodologies, and outcomes.
Example: Suppose you’re working on a PhD dissertation in computer science with a focus on natural language processing. Your aim could be: “To develop an efficient and accurate algorithm for sentiment analysis in social media data.”
In this example, the aim highlights the objective of creating an algorithm specifically for sentiment analysis in social media data, indicating the main objective of your research.
Objectives break down the aim into specific, measurable, and achievable targets that contribute to achieving the overall goal. They are more focused and concrete than aims, outlining the steps or tasks necessary to fulfill the aim. Objectives serve as the building blocks of your research, guiding the implementation and evaluation of your work.
Example: Continuing with the previous aim, let’s define some specific objectives:
- Collect and preprocess a large dataset of social media posts for sentiment analysis.
- Explore and compare existing sentiment analysis techniques to identify their limitations and strengths.
- Design and develop a novel algorithm that addresses the limitations of current approaches.
- Implement the algorithm and evaluate its performance on the collected dataset.
- Analyze the results and compare them with existing state-of-the-art sentiment analysis methods.
These objectives, when combined, address different aspects necessary to fulfill the aim of developing an efficient and accurate sentiment analysis algorithm for social media data. Each objective represents a specific task or milestone that contributes to the overall research goal.
The relationship between aims and objectives is critical in driving research. Objectives are derived from the aim and provide the means to accomplish it. They act as stepping stones, guiding the researcher towards achieving the broader aim.
In summary, aims provide the broader context and goal, while objectives break down the aim into specific tasks and milestones. Together, they ensure focus and direction in your research, guiding the selection of topics, methodologies, and outcomes. The objectives serve as the means to achieve the overall aim, highlighting the relationship between aims and objectives in driving research in the computer science domain.
Formulating the overarching aim of your research is a crucial step in defining the direction and purpose of your dissertation. The aim represents the primary goal or intention of your study, and crafting it effectively is essential for setting the foundation of your research.
Research Topic: Enhancing cybersecurity in cloud computing environments.
In this example, the aim focuses on improving cybersecurity in the context of cloud computing. The aim should be formulated in a concise and focused manner that aligns with the research topic. Here’s an example of how the aim could be crafted effectively:
Aim: Develop an efficient and robust security framework for ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability in cloud computing environments.
The above aim encapsulates the overall goal of the research, which is to develop a security framework for enhancing cybersecurity in cloud computing. It clearly states the intention to address key aspects such as data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The aim is concise, specific, and directly aligned with the research topic.
The significance of a well-defined aim cannot be overstated. It serves as a guiding beacon throughout your research journey, providing a clear direction and purpose. A well-crafted aim helps you stay focused and ensures that your efforts are aligned with the research’s core objectives. It also helps you communicate the purpose of your study to others, including your advisor, peers, and potential readers of your dissertation.
Additionally, an effective aim sets the stage for the subsequent development of specific objectives and research questions. It serves as a foundation upon which you can break down the aim into smaller, manageable objectives that contribute to achieving the overall research goal. Each objective should align with the aim and work together harmoniously to address the research questions and gaps in the field.
Moreover, a concise and aligned aim allows readers to quickly grasp the essence of your research. It provides them with a clear understanding of the research’s scope and purpose. By stating the aim concisely and aligning it with the research topic, you demonstrate your ability to articulate the core objective of your study in a succinct manner.
In summary, crafting effective aims involves formulating the overarching goal or intention of your research in a concise and focused manner. A well-defined aim sets the direction for your dissertation, guiding your efforts and ensuring alignment with the research topic. It serves as a foundation for the development of specific objectives and research questions. By presenting a clear and aligned aim, you convey the purpose of your study to others and demonstrate your ability to articulate the core objective of your research.
After defining the aim of your research, it’s important to break it down into smaller, manageable objectives. These objectives should address key research questions or subtopics that are necessary to achieve the overall aim. Additionally, objectives should be specific, measurable, and utilize action verbs to describe the intended actions or achievements.
Example: Suppose the aim of your research is to develop a recommendation system for an e-commerce platform. Here are some examples of specific objectives:
- Action Verbs: Analyze, Identify
- Description: Gather and analyze user preferences and historical data from the e-commerce platform to identify patterns in user behavior and item preferences.
- Action Verbs: Design, Implement
- Description: Develop and implement collaborative filtering algorithms, such as user-based or item-based methods, to generate personalized recommendations based on user similarities or item similarities.
- Action Verbs: Incorporate
- Description: Integrate machine learning techniques, such as matrix factorization or deep learning models, into the recommendation system to improve the accuracy and personalization of the recommendations.
- Action Verbs: Evaluate
- Description: Conduct experiments and evaluate the performance of the recommendation system using appropriate evaluation metrics, such as precision, recall, or mean average precision, to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.
- Action Verbs: Optimize
- Description: Identify and implement optimization techniques, such as parallel computing or distributed systems, to enhance the scalability and efficiency of the recommendation algorithm, allowing it to handle large-scale datasets and real-time recommendations.
By breaking down the aim into these specific objectives, you address key components of developing a recommendation system, such as data analysis, algorithm design, evaluation, and optimization. Each objective represents a distinct step that contributes to achieving the overall aim.
Importantly, these objectives are specific and measurable, allowing you to determine whether you have successfully achieved them. For instance, you can measure the accuracy of the recommendation system, evaluate its performance against baseline models, or assess its scalability in terms of handling large datasets.
In summary, when conducting research, breaking down the aim into specific objectives helps in managing the workload and providing a clear roadmap for your research. These objectives should address key research questions or subtopics, be specific and measurable, and use action verbs to describe the intended actions or achievements. By following this approach, you can ensure a systematic and focused research process.
To develop specific objectives for your research, you need to break down the overarching aim into smaller, measurable objectives. These objectives should be clear, specific, and actionable, providing a roadmap for your research and guiding the entire research process.
Aim: Develop a machine learning-based system for automated sentiment analysis in social media data.
Objective 1: Conduct a comprehensive literature review on existing sentiment analysis techniques and methodologies.
- Breakdown: This objective focuses on reviewing the literature in the field of sentiment analysis, specifically examining the various techniques and methodologies that have been developed and applied. It involves gathering and analyzing research papers, books, and other relevant sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of the existing knowledge in sentiment analysis.
Objective 2: Collect a large dataset of social media posts for training and evaluation.
- Breakdown: This objective entails the collection of a substantial amount of social media data that will be used as input for training and evaluating the machine learning model. It involves designing data collection mechanisms, such as web scraping or utilizing available APIs, to gather a diverse set of social media posts from platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
Objective 3: Design and implement a machine learning algorithm capable of accurately detecting sentiment polarity in social media text.
- Breakdown: This objective focuses on the development of a machine learning algorithm tailored for sentiment analysis in social media text. It involves designing and implementing the necessary algorithms, selecting appropriate feature representations, and training a model to accurately classify sentiment polarity (positive, negative, or neutral) of social media posts.
Objective 4: Evaluate the performance of the developed sentiment analysis system against benchmark datasets and compare it with existing state-of-the-art approaches.
- Breakdown: This objective involves assessing the performance of the developed sentiment analysis system by evaluating it against established benchmark datasets. It requires selecting appropriate evaluation metrics and comparing the system’s performance with existing state-of-the-art approaches in sentiment analysis, such as accuracy, precision, recall, or F1 score.
The importance of clear, specific objectives cannot be overstated. These objectives provide a clear roadmap and direction for your research, guiding your efforts and ensuring that you stay on track. They help you structure your research activities, allocate resources effectively, and measure progress along the way.
Using action verbs to articulate objectives effectively is another crucial aspect. Action verbs convey specific actions or achievements that need to be accomplished. They provide clarity and precision, leaving no room for ambiguity. For example:
By using action verbs, you explicitly state what needs to be done or achieved in each objective, making it easier to track progress and assess the completion of objectives.
In summary, developing specific objectives involves breaking down the overarching aim into smaller, measurable objectives. Clear and specific objectives provide a roadmap for your research and guide the entire research process. By using action verbs, you articulate objectives effectively, leaving no room for ambiguity. These objectives help structure your research activities, allocate resources effectively, and measure progress, ultimately leading to the successful completion of your research.
When formulating objectives for your research, it is essential to ensure that they align with the research questions you have formulated. Each objective should contribute to addressing or answering a specific research question, creating a cohesive and focused research framework.
Example: Suppose your research in computer science focuses on developing an automated system for detecting and preventing cybersecurity threats. Here are examples of objectives aligned with research questions:
Research Question: How can machine learning algorithms be utilized to detect and mitigate cybersecurity threats effectively?
Objective 1: Evaluate and compare different machine learning algorithms for cybersecurity threat detection.
- Description: Explore and assess various machine learning algorithms, such as decision trees, random forests, or neural networks, to identify the most suitable approach for detecting cybersecurity threats accurately and efficiently.
Objective 2: Develop a dataset representative of diverse cybersecurity threats.
- Description: Create a comprehensive dataset containing various types of cybersecurity threats, including malware, phishing attacks, and network intrusions, to train and evaluate the machine learning models effectively.
Research Question: What are the key challenges and vulnerabilities in existing cybersecurity systems that need to be addressed?
Objective 3: Conduct a systematic analysis of existing cybersecurity systems and identify vulnerabilities.
- Description: Analyze and evaluate existing cybersecurity systems, such as intrusion detection systems or antivirus software, to identify vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and potential areas of improvement that can inform the development of a more robust automated system.
Objective 4: Propose novel techniques to enhance the resilience of the cybersecurity system.
- Description: Develop innovative approaches, such as anomaly detection algorithms or behavior-based analysis techniques, to enhance the resilience of the automated cybersecurity system and address the identified vulnerabilities.
By aligning the objectives with the research questions, you ensure that each objective contributes to addressing a specific aspect of your research. For example, Objective 1 directly addresses the research question regarding the utilization of machine learning algorithms for cybersecurity threat detection. Objective 3 focuses on analyzing existing systems to identify vulnerabilities, which is in line with the question about challenges and vulnerabilities in existing cybersecurity systems.
The alignment between research questions and objectives helps maintain a clear focus on the research objectives and ensures that your efforts are directed towards addressing the research questions. It also enhances the coherence of your research, as each objective becomes a stepping stone towards answering the research questions and achieving the overall aim of your study.
In summary, aligning objectives with research questions is crucial in research. It ensures that each objective contributes to answering or addressing a specific research question, creating a logical and cohesive framework for your study. By establishing this alignment, you can maintain a clear focus on the research objectives and make meaningful contributions to the field.
When setting objectives for your research, it is important to consider their feasibility. Feasibility refers to the realistic achievability of your objectives within the scope of your PhD research, taking into account available resources, time constraints, and other practical limitations.
Example: Suppose your research focuses on developing a new algorithm for real-time video processing and analysis. Here are examples of objectives that consider feasibility:
Objective 1: Implement the real-time video processing algorithm on a high-performance computing cluster.
- Feasibility Considerations: Before setting this objective, assess whether you have access to a high-performance computing cluster and the necessary resources (e.g., hardware, software, computational power) to support the implementation and testing of the algorithm. If such resources are available within your research environment or institution, this objective is feasible.
Objective 2: Collect and annotate a large-scale video dataset for algorithm training and evaluation.
- Feasibility Considerations: Consider the practical aspects of collecting and annotating a large-scale video dataset. Evaluate the time, manpower, and equipment required for this task. Assess whether you have access to the necessary resources (e.g., cameras, storage, annotation tools) and the capability to manage and process such a dataset. If these resources and capabilities are available within your research context, this objective is feasible.
Objective 3: Collaborate with industry partners to obtain real-world video data for testing and validation.
- Feasibility Considerations: Evaluate the feasibility of establishing collaborations with industry partners to obtain real-world video data. Consider factors such as data sharing agreements, legal and privacy considerations, and the willingness of industry partners to provide access to their data. Assess the potential challenges and limitations that may arise during this collaboration process. If such collaborations are feasible and can be established within the constraints of your research, this objective is feasible.
By considering feasibility, you ensure that your objectives are realistically achievable within the resources, time, and other constraints of your PhD research. It helps you avoid setting objectives that are too ambitious or beyond the scope of what you can reasonably accomplish.
Feasibility assessment is crucial in ensuring the successful completion of your research project. It allows you to allocate resources effectively, manage your time, and avoid potential pitfalls or setbacks that could hinder your progress. By setting feasible objectives, you can maintain a practical and manageable research plan that is more likely to lead to meaningful outcomes within the given constraints.
In summary, considering feasibility when setting objectives in computer science research is essential. Assess the available resources, time constraints, and practical limitations to ensure that your objectives are realistically achievable within the scope of your PhD research. By doing so, you can plan and execute your research effectively, making the most of the resources at your disposal and increasing the likelihood of successful outcomes.
Once you have defined your aims and objectives for your research, it’s important to review and refine them to ensure clarity, coherence, and logical flow. This step allows you to make any necessary revisions to ensure that your aims and objectives accurately reflect the scope and purpose of your research.
Example: Suppose your research in computer science focuses on developing a mobile application for enhancing cybersecurity awareness among smartphone users. Here’s an example of reviewing and refining aims and objectives:
Aim: Develop a mobile application for enhancing cybersecurity awareness among smartphone users.
Objective 1: Conduct a comprehensive literature review on cybersecurity awareness strategies and mobile application design principles.
- Review and Refinement: Upon review, you find that the objective is clear and aligned with the aim. However, you decide to refine it to include specific aspects you intend to cover in the literature review, such as user education techniques, persuasive design elements, and existing cybersecurity awareness mobile applications.
Objective 2: Design and develop a user-friendly mobile application prototype that delivers educational content and interactive features.
- Review and Refinement: During the review, you realize that the objective lacks specificity regarding the educational content and interactive features. You refine it to explicitly mention the inclusion of topics like phishing prevention, password management, and interactive quizzes to reinforce learning.
Objective 3: Conduct usability testing and collect feedback from potential users to evaluate the effectiveness of the mobile application.
- Review and Refinement: While reviewing, you realize that the objective could benefit from additional information. You refine it to include details such as the target user group (e.g., smartphone users aged 18-35), the number of participants you plan to involve in the usability testing, and the specific metrics you will use to evaluate the effectiveness of the application.
By reviewing and refining your aims and objectives, you ensure that they accurately capture the scope and purpose of your research. It helps you identify any gaps, ambiguities, or areas that need further clarification. Through this process, you can enhance the clarity, coherence, and logical flow of your aims and objectives, making them more robust and aligned with your research goals.
Additionally, reviewing and refining your aims and objectives allows you to align them with the current state of knowledge in the field. As you conduct literature reviews and gain more insights into existing research, you may discover the need to make adjustments to your aims and objectives to reflect the most relevant and up-to-date information.
In summary, reviewing and refining aims and objectives in research is essential to ensure clarity, coherence, and logical flow. By carefully reviewing each aim and objective, you can identify areas for improvement, refine them to include specific details, and align them with the current state of knowledge in the field. This process enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of your aims and objectives, providing a strong foundation for your research.
Once you have developed your aims and objectives for your research, it is important to seek feedback from your supervisor or peers. Sharing your aims and objectives with others allows you to gather valuable insights, suggestions, and perspectives that can help refine and improve your objectives, ensuring they are appropriate and aligned with your research.
Imagine you have formulated the following objectives for your computer science research on developing an intelligent tutoring system:
Objective 1: Conduct a literature review on existing intelligent tutoring systems and their effectiveness in enhancing student learning outcomes.
Objective 2: Design and develop an adaptive learning algorithm to personalize the tutoring experience based on individual student needs.
Objective 3: Implement a user-friendly interface for the intelligent tutoring system that provides an intuitive and engaging learning environment.
Objective 4: Evaluate the effectiveness of the developed intelligent tutoring system through a series of user studies and compare it with traditional tutoring methods.
At this stage, it would be beneficial to share your aims and objectives with your supervisor or peers to receive feedback. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions to help you refine and improve your objectives. For example:
- Your supervisor may suggest including a specific research question to further clarify the focus of Objective 1, such as “What are the key features and techniques used in successful intelligent tutoring systems?”
- Peers may provide feedback on the clarity and specificity of Objective 2, suggesting adding details on the specific adaptability mechanisms to be incorporated.
- Your supervisor might suggest considering the inclusion of usability testing as part of Objective 3 to ensure the interface meets the needs and preferences of the target users.
- Peers may offer suggestions on additional evaluation metrics or experimental setups to strengthen Objective 4 and provide more robust comparisons.
By seeking feedback, you open yourself up to constructive criticism and valuable perspectives that can help enhance the quality and effectiveness of your aims and objectives. Feedback from experienced researchers or knowledgeable peers can help you identify any potential gaps or weaknesses in your objectives and provide suggestions for improvement.
Remember that feedback is an iterative process, and it is important to carefully consider the suggestions provided while also critically evaluating them in the context of your research. Incorporating constructive feedback will help you refine your aims and objectives, ensuring they are robust, relevant, and aligned with your research goals.
In summary, seeking feedback on your aims and objectives is a valuable step in the process of developing your research. Sharing your objectives with your supervisor or peers allows you to gather insights, suggestions, and perspectives that can help refine and improve your objectives. Feedback helps ensure that your objectives are appropriate, clear, and aligned with your research goals, ultimately strengthening the overall quality of your research.
When writing your dissertation, it is crucial to properly document and present your aims and objectives. The placement and presentation of aims and objectives play a significant role in providing readers with a clear understanding of the research’s purpose and direction.
Placement: The aims and objectives of your research should be presented early on in your dissertation, typically within the introduction chapter. This allows readers to grasp the overall scope and intent of your research from the beginning. Placing them in the introduction helps set the context and provides a roadmap for the rest of the dissertation.
Presentation: When presenting aims and objectives, it is important to clearly distinguish between the two and articulate their role in driving the research. Here’s an example of how you can document aims and objectives:
Aims: Start by presenting the overarching aim of your research, which represents the primary goal or intention of your study. It should be a concise statement that captures the essence of your research focus.
Aim: The aim of this research is to develop a machine learning-based system for automated sentiment analysis in social media data.
Objectives: Following the aim, present a list of specific objectives that outline the key steps or milestones required to achieve the aim. Each objective should be clear, specific, and measurable. Here’s an example:
- Analyze existing sentiment analysis techniques and methodologies in the literature to identify their limitations and challenges.
- Collect and preprocess a large dataset of social media posts to serve as the training and evaluation data for the sentiment analysis system.
- Design and implement a machine learning algorithm capable of accurately detecting sentiment polarity in social media text.
- Evaluate the performance of the developed sentiment analysis system against existing state-of-the-art approaches, using appropriate evaluation metrics.
- Optimize the system for scalability and efficiency, allowing it to handle large volumes of real-time social media data.
By clearly documenting the aims and objectives in your dissertation, you provide readers with a clear understanding of the purpose and direction of your research. This enables them to follow your thought process and evaluate the relevance and significance of your study. Aims and objectives serve as guideposts that help readers navigate through your dissertation and understand the specific research questions you seek to address.
Moreover, the well-documented aims and objectives help you maintain focus throughout your research journey and provide a framework for organizing your dissertation. They establish the foundation upon which your methodology, analysis, and conclusions are built.
In summary, when documenting aims and objectives in a dissertation, it is important to place them in the introduction chapter and clearly present their role in guiding the research. Aims and objectives should be distinct, with the aim of capturing the overarching goal and the objectives outlining the specific steps or milestones to achieve it. By effectively documenting aims and objectives, you provide readers with a clear understanding of the research’s purpose and direction, facilitating their engagement with your work.
Crafting clear and well-defined aims and objectives is a critical aspect of writing a PhD or Post Graduate dissertation. These aims and objectives provide a solid foundation for your research, guiding your efforts and ensuring a focused and coherent study. Through this discussion, we have explored the importance of aims and objectives in a PhD dissertation and how they contribute to the research process.
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Approaching literature review for academic purposes: The Literature Review Checklist
Debora f.b. leite.
I Departamento de Ginecologia e Obstetricia, Faculdade de Ciencias Medicas, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP, BR
II Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Pernambuco, PE, BR
III Hospital das Clinicas, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Pernambuco, PE, BR
Maria Auxiliadora Soares Padilha
Jose g. cecatti.
A sophisticated literature review (LR) can result in a robust dissertation/thesis by scrutinizing the main problem examined by the academic study; anticipating research hypotheses, methods and results; and maintaining the interest of the audience in how the dissertation/thesis will provide solutions for the current gaps in a particular field. Unfortunately, little guidance is available on elaborating LRs, and writing an LR chapter is not a linear process. An LR translates students’ abilities in information literacy, the language domain, and critical writing. Students in postgraduate programs should be systematically trained in these skills. Therefore, this paper discusses the purposes of LRs in dissertations and theses. Second, the paper considers five steps for developing a review: defining the main topic, searching the literature, analyzing the results, writing the review and reflecting on the writing. Ultimately, this study proposes a twelve-item LR checklist. By clearly stating the desired achievements, this checklist allows Masters and Ph.D. students to continuously assess their own progress in elaborating an LR. Institutions aiming to strengthen students’ necessary skills in critical academic writing should also use this tool.
Writing the literature review (LR) is often viewed as a difficult task that can be a point of writer’s block and procrastination ( 1 ) in postgraduate life. Disagreements on the definitions or classifications of LRs ( 2 ) may confuse students about their purpose and scope, as well as how to perform an LR. Interestingly, at many universities, the LR is still an important element in any academic work, despite the more recent trend of producing scientific articles rather than classical theses.
The LR is not an isolated section of the thesis/dissertation or a copy of the background section of a research proposal. It identifies the state-of-the-art knowledge in a particular field, clarifies information that is already known, elucidates implications of the problem being analyzed, links theory and practice ( 3 - 5 ), highlights gaps in the current literature, and places the dissertation/thesis within the research agenda of that field. Additionally, by writing the LR, postgraduate students will comprehend the structure of the subject and elaborate on their cognitive connections ( 3 ) while analyzing and synthesizing data with increasing maturity.
At the same time, the LR transforms the student and hints at the contents of other chapters for the reader. First, the LR explains the research question; second, it supports the hypothesis, objectives, and methods of the research project; and finally, it facilitates a description of the student’s interpretation of the results and his/her conclusions. For scholars, the LR is an introductory chapter ( 6 ). If it is well written, it demonstrates the student’s understanding of and maturity in a particular topic. A sound and sophisticated LR can indicate a robust dissertation/thesis.
A consensus on the best method to elaborate a dissertation/thesis has not been achieved. The LR can be a distinct chapter or included in different sections; it can be part of the introduction chapter, part of each research topic, or part of each published paper ( 7 ). However, scholars view the LR as an integral part of the main body of an academic work because it is intrinsically connected to other sections ( Figure 1 ) and is frequently present. The structure of the LR depends on the conventions of a particular discipline, the rules of the department, and the student’s and supervisor’s areas of expertise, needs and interests.
Interestingly, many postgraduate students choose to submit their LR to peer-reviewed journals. As LRs are critical evaluations of current knowledge, they are indeed publishable material, even in the form of narrative or systematic reviews. However, systematic reviews have specific patterns 1 ( 8 ) that may not entirely fit with the questions posed in the dissertation/thesis. Additionally, the scope of a systematic review may be too narrow, and the strict criteria for study inclusion may omit important information from the dissertation/thesis. Therefore, this essay discusses the definition of an LR is and methods to develop an LR in the context of an academic dissertation/thesis. Finally, we suggest a checklist to evaluate an LR.
WHAT IS A LITERATURE REVIEW IN A THESIS?
Conducting research and writing a dissertation/thesis translates rational thinking and enthusiasm ( 9 ). While a strong body of literature that instructs students on research methodology, data analysis and writing scientific papers exists, little guidance on performing LRs is available. The LR is a unique opportunity to assess and contrast various arguments and theories, not just summarize them. The research results should not be discussed within the LR, but the postgraduate student tends to write a comprehensive LR while reflecting on his or her own findings ( 10 ).
Many people believe that writing an LR is a lonely and linear process. Supervisors or the institutions assume that the Ph.D. student has mastered the relevant techniques and vocabulary associated with his/her subject and conducts a self-reflection about previously published findings. Indeed, while elaborating the LR, the student should aggregate diverse skills, which mainly rely on his/her own commitment to mastering them. Thus, less supervision should be required ( 11 ). However, the parameters described above might not currently be the case for many students ( 11 , 12 ), and the lack of formal and systematic training on writing LRs is an important concern ( 11 ).
An institutional environment devoted to active learning will provide students the opportunity to continuously reflect on LRs, which will form a dialogue between the postgraduate student and the current literature in a particular field ( 13 ). Postgraduate students will be interpreting studies by other researchers, and, according to Hart (1998) ( 3 ), the outcomes of the LR in a dissertation/thesis include the following:
- To identify what research has been performed and what topics require further investigation in a particular field of knowledge;
- To determine the context of the problem;
- To recognize the main methodologies and techniques that have been used in the past;
- To place the current research project within the historical, methodological and theoretical context of a particular field;
- To identify significant aspects of the topic;
- To elucidate the implications of the topic;
- To offer an alternative perspective;
- To discern how the studied subject is structured;
- To improve the student’s subject vocabulary in a particular field; and
- To characterize the links between theory and practice.
A sound LR translates the postgraduate student’s expertise in academic and scientific writing: it expresses his/her level of comfort with synthesizing ideas ( 11 ). The LR reveals how well the postgraduate student has proceeded in three domains: an effective literature search, the language domain, and critical writing.
Effective literature search
All students should be trained in gathering appropriate data for specific purposes, and information literacy skills are a cornerstone. These skills are defined as “an individual’s ability to know when they need information, to identify information that can help them address the issue or problem at hand, and to locate, evaluate, and use that information effectively” ( 14 ). Librarian support is of vital importance in coaching the appropriate use of Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT) and other tools for highly efficient literature searches (e.g., quotation marks and truncation), as is the appropriate management of electronic databases.
Academic writing must be concise and precise: unnecessary words distract the reader from the essential content ( 15 ). In this context, reading about issues distant from the research topic ( 16 ) may increase students’ general vocabulary and familiarity with grammar. Ultimately, reading diverse materials facilitates and encourages the writing process itself.
Critical judgment includes critical reading, thinking and writing. It supposes a student’s analytical reflection about what he/she has read. The student should delineate the basic elements of the topic, characterize the most relevant claims, identify relationships, and finally contrast those relationships ( 17 ). Each scientific document highlights the perspective of the author, and students will become more confident in judging the supporting evidence and underlying premises of a study and constructing their own counterargument as they read more articles. A paucity of integration or contradictory perspectives indicates lower levels of cognitive complexity ( 12 ).
Thus, while elaborating an LR, the postgraduate student should achieve the highest category of Bloom’s cognitive skills: evaluation ( 12 ). The writer should not only summarize data and understand each topic but also be able to make judgments based on objective criteria, compare resources and findings, identify discrepancies due to methodology, and construct his/her own argument ( 12 ). As a result, the student will be sufficiently confident to show his/her own voice .
Writing a consistent LR is an intense and complex activity that reveals the training and long-lasting academic skills of a writer. It is not a lonely or linear process. However, students are unlikely to be prepared to write an LR if they have not mastered the aforementioned domains ( 10 ). An institutional environment that supports student learning is crucial.
Different institutions employ distinct methods to promote students’ learning processes. First, many universities propose modules to develop behind the scenes activities that enhance self-reflection about general skills (e.g., the skills we have mastered and the skills we need to develop further), behaviors that should be incorporated (e.g., self-criticism about one’s own thoughts), and each student’s role in the advancement of his/her field. Lectures or workshops about LRs themselves are useful because they describe the purposes of the LR and how it fits into the whole picture of a student’s work. These activities may explain what type of discussion an LR must involve, the importance of defining the correct scope, the reasons to include a particular resource, and the main role of critical reading.
Some pedagogic services that promote a continuous improvement in study and academic skills are equally important. Examples include workshops about time management, the accomplishment of personal objectives, active learning, and foreign languages for nonnative speakers. Additionally, opportunities to converse with other students promotes an awareness of others’ experiences and difficulties. Ultimately, the supervisor’s role in providing feedback and setting deadlines is crucial in developing students’ abilities and in strengthening students’ writing quality ( 12 ).
HOW SHOULD A LITERATURE REVIEW BE DEVELOPED?
A consensus on the appropriate method for elaborating an LR is not available, but four main steps are generally accepted: defining the main topic, searching the literature, analyzing the results, and writing ( 6 ). We suggest a fifth step: reflecting on the information that has been written in previous publications ( Figure 2 ).
First step: Defining the main topic
Planning an LR is directly linked to the research main question of the thesis and occurs in parallel to students’ training in the three domains discussed above. The planning stage helps organize ideas, delimit the scope of the LR ( 11 ), and avoid the wasting of time in the process. Planning includes the following steps:
- Reflecting on the scope of the LR: postgraduate students will have assumptions about what material must be addressed and what information is not essential to an LR ( 13 , 18 ). Cooper’s Taxonomy of Literature Reviews 2 systematizes the writing process through six characteristics and nonmutually exclusive categories. The focus refers to the reviewer’s most important points of interest, while the goals concern what students want to achieve with the LR. The perspective assumes answers to the student’s own view of the LR and how he/she presents a particular issue. The coverage defines how comprehensive the student is in presenting the literature, and the organization determines the sequence of arguments. The audience is defined as the group for whom the LR is written.
- Designating sections and subsections: Headings and subheadings should be specific, explanatory and have a coherent sequence throughout the text ( 4 ). They simulate an inverted pyramid, with an increasing level of reflection and depth of argument.
- Identifying keywords: The relevant keywords for each LR section should be listed to guide the literature search. This list should mirror what Hart (1998) ( 3 ) advocates as subject vocabulary . The keywords will also be useful when the student is writing the LR since they guide the reader through the text.
- Delineating the time interval and language of documents to be retrieved in the second step. The most recently published documents should be considered, but relevant texts published before a predefined cutoff year can be included if they are classic documents in that field. Extra care should be employed when translating documents.
Second step: Searching the literature
The ability to gather adequate information from the literature must be addressed in postgraduate programs. Librarian support is important, particularly for accessing difficult texts. This step comprises the following components:
- Searching the literature itself: This process consists of defining which databases (electronic or dissertation/thesis repositories), official documents, and books will be searched and then actively conducting the search. Information literacy skills have a central role in this stage. While searching electronic databases, controlled vocabulary (e.g., Medical Subject Headings, or MeSH, for the PubMed database) or specific standardized syntax rules may need to be applied.
In addition, two other approaches are suggested. First, a review of the reference list of each document might be useful for identifying relevant publications to be included and important opinions to be assessed. This step is also relevant for referencing the original studies and leading authors in that field. Moreover, students can directly contact the experts on a particular topic to consult with them regarding their experience or use them as a source of additional unpublished documents.
Before submitting a dissertation/thesis, the electronic search strategy should be repeated. This process will ensure that the most recently published papers will be considered in the LR.
- Selecting documents for inclusion: Generally, the most recent literature will be included in the form of published peer-reviewed papers. Assess books and unpublished material, such as conference abstracts, academic texts and government reports, are also important to assess since the gray literature also offers valuable information. However, since these materials are not peer-reviewed, we recommend that they are carefully added to the LR.
This task is an important exercise in time management. First, students should read the title and abstract to understand whether that document suits their purposes, addresses the research question, and helps develop the topic of interest. Then, they should scan the full text, determine how it is structured, group it with similar documents, and verify whether other arguments might be considered ( 5 ).
Third step: Analyzing the results
Critical reading and thinking skills are important in this step. This step consists of the following components:
- Reading documents: The student may read various texts in depth according to LR sections and subsections ( defining the main topic ), which is not a passive activity ( 1 ). Some questions should be asked to practice critical analysis skills, as listed below. Is the research question evident and articulated with previous knowledge? What are the authors’ research goals and theoretical orientations, and how do they interact? Are the authors’ claims related to other scholars’ research? Do the authors consider different perspectives? Was the research project designed and conducted properly? Are the results and discussion plausible, and are they consistent with the research objectives and methodology? What are the strengths and limitations of this work? How do the authors support their findings? How does this work contribute to the current research topic? ( 1 , 19 )
- Taking notes: Students who systematically take notes on each document are more readily able to establish similarities or differences with other documents and to highlight personal observations. This approach reinforces the student’s ideas about the next step and helps develop his/her own academic voice ( 1 , 13 ). Voice recognition software ( 16 ), mind maps ( 5 ), flowcharts, tables, spreadsheets, personal comments on the referenced texts, and note-taking apps are all available tools for managing these observations, and the student him/herself should use the tool that best improves his/her learning. Additionally, when a student is considering submitting an LR to a peer-reviewed journal, notes should be taken on the activities performed in all five steps to ensure that they are able to be replicated.
Fourth step: Writing
The recognition of when a student is able and ready to write after a sufficient period of reading and thinking is likely a difficult task. Some students can produce a review in a single long work session. However, as discussed above, writing is not a linear process, and students do not need to write LRs according to a specific sequence of sections. Writing an LR is a time-consuming task, and some scholars believe that a period of at least six months is sufficient ( 6 ). An LR, and academic writing in general, expresses the writer’s proper thoughts, conclusions about others’ work ( 6 , 10 , 13 , 16 ), and decisions about methods to progress in the chosen field of knowledge. Thus, each student is expected to present a different learning and writing trajectory.
In this step, writing methods should be considered; then, editing, citing and correct referencing should complete this stage, at least temporarily. Freewriting techniques may be a good starting point for brainstorming ideas and improving the understanding of the information that has been read ( 1 ). Students should consider the following parameters when creating an agenda for writing the LR: two-hour writing blocks (at minimum), with prespecified tasks that are possible to complete in one section; short (minutes) and long breaks (days or weeks) to allow sufficient time for mental rest and reflection; and short- and long-term goals to motivate the writing itself ( 20 ). With increasing experience, this scheme can vary widely, and it is not a straightforward rule. Importantly, each discipline has a different way of writing ( 1 ), and each department has its own preferred styles for citations and references.
Fifth step: Reflecting on the writing
In this step, the postgraduate student should ask him/herself the same questions as in the analyzing the results step, which can take more time than anticipated. Ambiguities, repeated ideas, and a lack of coherence may not be noted when the student is immersed in the writing task for long periods. The whole effort will likely be a work in progress, and continuous refinements in the written material will occur once the writing process has begun.
LITERATURE REVIEW CHECKLIST
In contrast to review papers, the LR of a dissertation/thesis should not be a standalone piece or work. Instead, it should present the student as a scholar and should maintain the interest of the audience in how that dissertation/thesis will provide solutions for the current gaps in a particular field.
A checklist for evaluating an LR is convenient for students’ continuous academic development and research transparency: it clearly states the desired achievements for the LR of a dissertation/thesis. Here, we present an LR checklist developed from an LR scoring rubric ( 11 ). For a critical analysis of an LR, we maintain the five categories but offer twelve criteria that are not scaled ( Figure 3 ). The criteria all have the same importance and are not mutually exclusive.
First category: Coverage
1. justified criteria exist for the inclusion and exclusion of literature in the review.
This criterion builds on the main topic and areas covered by the LR ( 18 ). While experts may be confident in retrieving and selecting literature, postgraduate students must convince their audience about the adequacy of their search strategy and their reasons for intentionally selecting what material to cover ( 11 ). References from different fields of knowledge provide distinct perspective, but narrowing the scope of coverage may be important in areas with a large body of existing knowledge.
Second category: Synthesis
2. a critical examination of the state of the field exists.
A critical examination is an assessment of distinct aspects in the field ( 1 ) along with a constructive argument. It is not a negative critique but an expression of the student’s understanding of how other scholars have added to the topic ( 1 ), and the student should analyze and contextualize contradictory statements. A writer’s personal bias (beliefs or political involvement) have been shown to influence the structure and writing of a document; therefore, the cultural and paradigmatic background guide how the theories are revised and presented ( 13 ). However, an honest judgment is important when considering different perspectives.
3. The topic or problem is clearly placed in the context of the broader scholarly literature
The broader scholarly literature should be related to the chosen main topic for the LR ( how to develop the literature review section). The LR can cover the literature from one or more disciplines, depending on its scope, but it should always offer a new perspective. In addition, students should be careful in citing and referencing previous publications. As a rule, original studies and primary references should generally be included. Systematic and narrative reviews present summarized data, and it may be important to cite them, particularly for issues that should be understood but do not require a detailed description. Similarly, quotations highlight the exact statement from another publication. However, excessive referencing may disclose lower levels of analysis and synthesis by the student.
4. The LR is critically placed in the historical context of the field
Situating the LR in its historical context shows the level of comfort of the student in addressing a particular topic. Instead of only presenting statements and theories in a temporal approach, which occasionally follows a linear timeline, the LR should authentically characterize the student’s academic work in the state-of-art techniques in their particular field of knowledge. Thus, the LR should reinforce why the dissertation/thesis represents original work in the chosen research field.
5. Ambiguities in definitions are considered and resolved
Distinct theories on the same topic may exist in different disciplines, and one discipline may consider multiple concepts to explain one topic. These misunderstandings should be addressed and contemplated. The LR should not synthesize all theories or concepts at the same time. Although this approach might demonstrate in-depth reading on a particular topic, it can reveal a student’s inability to comprehend and synthesize his/her research problem.
6. Important variables and phenomena relevant to the topic are articulated
The LR is a unique opportunity to articulate ideas and arguments and to purpose new relationships between them ( 10 , 11 ). More importantly, a sound LR will outline to the audience how these important variables and phenomena will be addressed in the current academic work. Indeed, the LR should build a bidirectional link with the remaining sections and ground the connections between all of the sections ( Figure 1 ).
7. A synthesized new perspective on the literature has been established
The LR is a ‘creative inquiry’ ( 13 ) in which the student elaborates his/her own discourse, builds on previous knowledge in the field, and describes his/her own perspective while interpreting others’ work ( 13 , 17 ). Thus, students should articulate the current knowledge, not accept the results at face value ( 11 , 13 , 17 ), and improve their own cognitive abilities ( 12 ).
Third category: Methodology
8. the main methodologies and research techniques that have been used in the field are identified and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed.
The LR is expected to distinguish the research that has been completed from investigations that remain to be performed, address the benefits and limitations of the main methods applied to date, and consider the strategies for addressing the expected limitations described above. While placing his/her research within the methodological context of a particular topic, the LR will justify the methodology of the study and substantiate the student’s interpretations.
9. Ideas and theories in the field are related to research methodologies
The audience expects the writer to analyze and synthesize methodological approaches in the field. The findings should be explained according to the strengths and limitations of previous research methods, and students must avoid interpretations that are not supported by the analyzed literature. This criterion translates to the student’s comprehension of the applicability and types of answers provided by different research methodologies, even those using a quantitative or qualitative research approach.
Fourth category: Significance
10. the scholarly significance of the research problem is rationalized.
The LR is an introductory section of a dissertation/thesis and will present the postgraduate student as a scholar in a particular field ( 11 ). Therefore, the LR should discuss how the research problem is currently addressed in the discipline being investigated or in different disciplines, depending on the scope of the LR. The LR explains the academic paradigms in the topic of interest ( 13 ) and methods to advance the field from these starting points. However, an excess number of personal citations—whether referencing the student’s research or studies by his/her research team—may reflect a narrow literature search and a lack of comprehensive synthesis of ideas and arguments.
11. The practical significance of the research problem is rationalized
The practical significance indicates a student’s comprehensive understanding of research terminology (e.g., risk versus associated factor), methodology (e.g., efficacy versus effectiveness) and plausible interpretations in the context of the field. Notably, the academic argument about a topic may not always reflect the debate in real life terms. For example, using a quantitative approach in epidemiology, statistically significant differences between groups do not explain all of the factors involved in a particular problem ( 21 ). Therefore, excessive faith in p -values may reflect lower levels of critical evaluation of the context and implications of a research problem by the student.
Fifth category: Rhetoric
12. the lr was written with a coherent, clear structure that supported the review.
This category strictly relates to the language domain: the text should be coherent and presented in a logical sequence, regardless of which organizational ( 18 ) approach is chosen. The beginning of each section/subsection should state what themes will be addressed, paragraphs should be carefully linked to each other ( 10 ), and the first sentence of each paragraph should generally summarize the content. Additionally, the student’s statements are clear, sound, and linked to other scholars’ works, and precise and concise language that follows standardized writing conventions (e.g., in terms of active/passive voice and verb tenses) is used. Attention to grammar, such as orthography and punctuation, indicates prudence and supports a robust dissertation/thesis. Ultimately, all of these strategies provide fluency and consistency for the text.
Although the scoring rubric was initially proposed for postgraduate programs in education research, we are convinced that this checklist is a valuable tool for all academic areas. It enables the monitoring of students’ learning curves and a concentrated effort on any criteria that are not yet achieved. For institutions, the checklist is a guide to support supervisors’ feedback, improve students’ writing skills, and highlight the learning goals of each program. These criteria do not form a linear sequence, but ideally, all twelve achievements should be perceived in the LR.
A single correct method to classify, evaluate and guide the elaboration of an LR has not been established. In this essay, we have suggested directions for planning, structuring and critically evaluating an LR. The planning of the scope of an LR and approaches to complete it is a valuable effort, and the five steps represent a rational starting point. An institutional environment devoted to active learning will support students in continuously reflecting on LRs, which will form a dialogue between the writer and the current literature in a particular field ( 13 ).
The completion of an LR is a challenging and necessary process for understanding one’s own field of expertise. Knowledge is always transitory, but our responsibility as scholars is to provide a critical contribution to our field, allowing others to think through our work. Good researchers are grounded in sophisticated LRs, which reveal a writer’s training and long-lasting academic skills. We recommend using the LR checklist as a tool for strengthening the skills necessary for critical academic writing.
Leite DFB has initially conceived the idea and has written the first draft of this review. Padilha MAS and Cecatti JG have supervised data interpretation and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors have read the draft and agreed with this submission. Authors are responsible for all aspects of this academic piece.
We are grateful to all of the professors of the ‘Getting Started with Graduate Research and Generic Skills’ module at University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, for suggesting and supporting this article. Funding: DFBL has granted scholarship from Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) to take part of her Ph.D. studies in Ireland (process number 88881.134512/2016-01). There is no participation from sponsors on authors’ decision to write or to submit this manuscript.
No potential conflict of interest was reported.
1 The questions posed in systematic reviews usually follow the ‘PICOS’ acronym: Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes, Study design.
2 In 1988, Cooper proposed a taxonomy that aims to facilitate students’ and institutions’ understanding of literature reviews. Six characteristics with specific categories are briefly described: Focus: research outcomes, research methodologies, theories, or practices and applications; Goals: integration (generalization, conflict resolution, and linguistic bridge-building), criticism, or identification of central issues; Perspective: neutral representation or espousal of a position; Coverage: exhaustive, exhaustive with selective citations, representative, central or pivotal; Organization: historical, conceptual, or methodological; and Audience: specialized scholars, general scholars, practitioners or policymakers, or the general public.
Thesis Writing for Master's and Ph.D. Program pp 11–17 Cite as
Objectives of Writing Thesis
- Meena A. Pangarkar 3 ,
- Nitin V. Pangarkar 4 &
- Anand V. Pangarkar 5
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Pangarkar, M.A., Pangarkar, N.V., Pangarkar, A.V. (2018). Objectives of Writing Thesis. In: Parija, S., Kate, V. (eds) Thesis Writing for Master's and Ph.D. Program. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-0890-1_2
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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion
Published on September 6, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on July 18, 2023.
The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation . It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question .
In it, you should:
- Clearly state the answer to your main research question
- Summarize and reflect on your research process
- Make recommendations for future work on your thesis or dissertation topic
- Show what new knowledge you have contributed to your field
- Wrap up your thesis or dissertation
Table of contents
Discussion vs. conclusion, how long should your conclusion be, step 1: answer your research question, step 2: summarize and reflect on your research, step 3: make future recommendations, step 4: emphasize your contributions to your field, step 5: wrap up your thesis or dissertation, full conclusion example, conclusion checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about conclusion sections.
While your conclusion contains similar elements to your discussion section , they are not the same thing.
Your conclusion should be shorter and more general than your discussion. Instead of repeating literature from your literature review , discussing specific research results , or interpreting your data in detail, concentrate on making broad statements that sum up the most important insights of your research.
As a rule of thumb, your conclusion should not introduce new data, interpretations, or arguments.
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Depending on whether you are writing a thesis or dissertation, your length will vary. Generally, a conclusion should make up around 5–7% of your overall word count.
An empirical scientific study will often have a short conclusion, concisely stating the main findings and recommendations for future research. A humanities dissertation topic or systematic review , on the other hand, might require more space to conclude its analysis, tying all the previous sections together in an overall argument.
Your conclusion should begin with the main question that your thesis or dissertation aimed to address. This is your final chance to show that you’ve done what you set out to do, so make sure to formulate a clear, concise answer.
- Don’t repeat a list of all the results that you already discussed
- Do synthesize them into a final takeaway that the reader will remember.
An empirical thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:
A case study –based thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:
In the second example, the research aim is not directly restated, but rather added implicitly to the statement. To avoid repeating yourself, it is helpful to reformulate your aims and questions into an overall statement of what you did and how you did it.
Your conclusion is an opportunity to remind your reader why you took the approach you did, what you expected to find, and how well the results matched your expectations.
To avoid repetition , consider writing more reflectively here, rather than just writing a summary of each preceding section. Consider mentioning the effectiveness of your methodology , or perhaps any new questions or unexpected insights that arose in the process.
You can also mention any limitations of your research, but only if you haven’t already included these in the discussion. Don’t dwell on them at length, though—focus on the positives of your work.
- While x limits the generalizability of the results, this approach provides new insight into y .
- This research clearly illustrates x , but it also raises the question of y .
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You may already have made a few recommendations for future research in your discussion section, but the conclusion is a good place to elaborate and look ahead, considering the implications of your findings in both theoretical and practical terms.
- Based on these conclusions, practitioners should consider …
- To better understand the implications of these results, future studies could address …
- Further research is needed to determine the causes of/effects of/relationship between …
When making recommendations for further research, be sure not to undermine your own work. Relatedly, while future studies might confirm, build on, or enrich your conclusions, they shouldn’t be required for your argument to feel complete. Your work should stand alone on its own merits.
Just as you should avoid too much self-criticism, you should also avoid exaggerating the applicability of your research. If you’re making recommendations for policy, business, or other practical implementations, it’s generally best to frame them as “shoulds” rather than “musts.” All in all, the purpose of academic research is to inform, explain, and explore—not to demand.
Make sure your reader is left with a strong impression of what your research has contributed to the state of your field.
Some strategies to achieve this include:
- Returning to your problem statement to explain how your research helps solve the problem
- Referring back to the literature review and showing how you have addressed a gap in knowledge
- Discussing how your findings confirm or challenge an existing theory or assumption
Again, avoid simply repeating what you’ve already covered in the discussion in your conclusion. Instead, pick out the most important points and sum them up succinctly, situating your project in a broader context.
The end is near! Once you’ve finished writing your conclusion, it’s time to wrap up your thesis or dissertation with a few final steps:
- It’s a good idea to write your abstract next, while the research is still fresh in your mind.
- Next, make sure your reference list is complete and correctly formatted. To speed up the process, you can use our free APA citation generator .
- Once you’ve added any appendices , you can create a table of contents and title page .
- Finally, read through the whole document again to make sure your thesis is clearly written and free from language errors. You can proofread it yourself , ask a friend, or consider Scribbr’s proofreading and editing service .
Here is an example of how you can write your conclusion section. Notice how it includes everything mentioned above:
The current research aimed to identify acoustic speech characteristics which mark the beginning of an exacerbation in COPD patients.
The central questions for this research were as follows: 1. Which acoustic measures extracted from read speech differ between COPD speakers in stable condition and healthy speakers? 2. In what ways does the speech of COPD patients during an exacerbation differ from speech of COPD patients during stable periods?
All recordings were aligned using a script. Subsequently, they were manually annotated to indicate respiratory actions such as inhaling and exhaling. The recordings of 9 stable COPD patients reading aloud were then compared with the recordings of 5 healthy control subjects reading aloud. The results showed a significant effect of condition on the number of in- and exhalations per syllable, the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable, and the ratio of voiced and silence intervals. The number of in- and exhalations per syllable and the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable were higher for COPD patients than for healthy controls, which confirmed both hypotheses.
However, the higher ratio of voiced and silence intervals for COPD patients compared to healthy controls was not in line with the hypotheses. This unpredicted result might have been caused by the different reading materials or recording procedures for both groups, or by a difference in reading skills. Moreover, there was a trend regarding the effect of condition on the number of syllables per breath group. The number of syllables per breath group was higher for healthy controls than for COPD patients, which was in line with the hypothesis. There was no effect of condition on pitch, intensity, center of gravity, pitch variability, speaking rate, or articulation rate.
This research has shown that the speech of COPD patients in exacerbation differs from the speech of COPD patients in stable condition. This might have potential for the detection of exacerbations. However, sustained vowels rarely occur in spontaneous speech. Therefore, the last two outcome measures might have greater potential for the detection of beginning exacerbations, but further research on the different outcome measures and their potential for the detection of exacerbations is needed due to the limitations of the current study.
I have clearly and concisely answered the main research question .
I have summarized my overall argument or key takeaways.
I have mentioned any important limitations of the research.
I have given relevant recommendations .
I have clearly explained what my research has contributed to my field.
I have not introduced any new data or arguments.
You've written a great conclusion! Use the other checklists to further improve your dissertation.
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In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.
The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.
While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations 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 discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.
For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:
- A restatement of your research question
- A summary of your key arguments and/or results
- A short discussion of the implications of your research
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George, T. & McCombes, S. (2023, July 18). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion. Scribbr. Retrieved November 21, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/write-conclusion/
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How Can You Write Research Objectives for Your Dissertation?
Briefly, research objectives are all about what you intend to achieve in your project. Therefore, they are expected to list every stage of the research and cover which methods they have used to gather data, establish their focal point, and advance their conclusions.
What do research objectives cover?
Suppose you wish to define what your research aims to achieve and elaborate on why you conduct it. In that case, your research objectives address these issues. On top of that, they epitomize the approach and aim of your project and help you concentrate on your study. The usual place for research objectives is the introduction of your dissertation or research article. They must cover the extent and profundity of your research, align with your research design, and state how your study will complement existing knowledge.
What do we mean by research objectives?
Briefly, research objectives are all about what you intend to achieve in your project. Therefore, they are expected to list every stage of the research and cover which methods they have used to gather data, establish their focal point, and advance their conclusions. One should remember that research objectives may change as the research develops. Nonetheless, they must align with the research conducted and the subject of the study.
What do we mean by research aim?
One should differentiate between research objectives and research aims. Precisely, the research aim is more general than the research objectives. Therefore, the research aim is expected to include the primary purpose of the research. Its most probable location is at the end of the problem statement. Hence, it should come before the research objectives. Research objectives should be more explicit than the research aim. It means that they had better indicate the specific concentration and methodology of the project. Even though you must state one research aim, you will probably list several research objectives. Illustratively, your research aim may include investigating the economic impact of World Wars on the world economy. However, you may have several research objectives such as the effects of World War I on the world economy, impacts of World War II on the world economy, the influences of World War I in Asia, the consequences of World War II on Russia, and the devastating effect of World War I on the German economy.
Are research objectives critical?
The answer is affirmative. Research objectives are crucial because:
a) They build the extent and profundity of your research. It is critical because it prevents you from studying something irrelevant. It also secures the assessment ability of your research methodologies and conclusions.
b) They are the primary determinants of your study design. Thanks to research objectives, you may have a more precise idea of what fits bests in your research.
c) Last but not least, they disclose how your study fills the gap in or contributes to the existing knowledge. They enable you to demonstrate your understanding of au fait research, utilize or establish contemporary research methods and endeavor to add to recent discussions.
How to pen research aims and objectives?
After stating the research problem, you aim to achieve, the following step is deciding how to address it. Your research aims and objectives are there to help you out. It is better to follow the pursuing stages:
a) Your research aim is related to your research problem. Thus, it must be broad.
b) Dividing your research aim into meaningful parts will help address the research problem. Exceedingly relevant is to state the unique aspects of the problem you wish to explore and comprehend.
c) After establishing the research aim and objectives, what pursues is defining them explicitly and precisely to the readers.
Outlining your aims and objectives at the end of your problem statement is appropriate. Please formulate them as clear definitive statements and employ suitable verbs to precisely portray the research that you will conduct. You should also remember that your objectives must be specific, measurable, attainable, pertinent, and time conscious. It can only be possible if you employ appropriate methodologies, have relevant literature, elaborate on your results profoundly, and concentrate on what future research should cover. Only then can you have a unique, productive, and citable study.
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This article explains how to write research objectives for a dissertation or thesis. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.
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Choosing a topic for your dissertation or thesis at the end of your master's or doctoral study can become a daunting task. You must select a topic that you find interesting to work on. A dissertation/thesis is a crucial piece of work as it carries enormous credit points at the end of the master's study or postgraduate year. Therefore, you must choose the right and the most suitable topic. Here are some helpful tips for choosing a dissertation and thesis topic that suits you the most.
The dissertation writing process is a lengthy, extensive and multi-faceted undertaking spanning several months (or even years). It is an exacting exercise comprising several steps, each with its own requisites that scholars need to fulfill duly. Hence, regardless of how strategic and meticulous a scholar's dissertation writing approach is, there are bound to be certain inconsistencies - grammatical errors, incoherent phrasing, inappropriate synonyms, formatting errors, etc., - even in the final draft.
Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Therefore, your research methods form the most critical part of your research design. You must make two crucial decisions during your method planning.
In statistics, a population refers to the pool of individuals from which one can draw the statistical sample for a study. A population includes a complete set of individuals. That group can comprise a nation or people sharing common characteristics.
While researching a group of people, collecting data from every person in that group is virtually impossible. To counter this issue, you choose a sample. What is the difference between population and sample? What sampling methods should you use in your dissertation?
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How to write aims and objectives in a dissertation?
Aims and objectives are the foundation of any dissertation. Without it, it will collapse. Your research aims to explain, ‘What are you doing?’ It builds up your intentions and what you anticipate attaining. These are your aims. But many students fail to come up with clear aims to postulate which adversely affects their final grades. If you too are stuck in it, opt for online Dissertation Help UK .
What is included in the research aims?
Let’s find out what is included in the research aim of a dissertation.
- States the intentions you want to accomplish
- Your aims might revolve around the test model in a first-hand empirical background, develop a new theory completely, build a fresh statistics set, reproduce prevailing research, question present orthodoxy, and so on. Whatever they are, clearly express them and do so early. Definitely include them in your introduction and, if you’re smart, you’ll write them in your abstract.
- Adopting an unambiguous approach is the secret to success. The inaugural paragraphs should be conveyed in simple words, ‘the goal of this hypothesis is to…’
- The aim should be your statement of intent. They are potential to the reader that you are going to present some interesting facts and information. Hence it is a sort of assurance or guarantee. Maintaining the flow is the best way to make the whole section interesting.
If you’re stressed to evidently express your aims and objectives, then take the online dissertation topic help who will also provide you assistance with the aims and objectives.
What are research objectives and their features and components?
The objectives of a dissertation revolve around, ‘How are you executing the study or investigation?’ It comprises a series of goals or stages that you will adopt to achieve your aims. It can be anything from surveys to data collection to interviews. It’s all about being SMART.
- Specific : Present facts in an accurate and lucid method about what you are going to do.
- Measurable : How will you gauge that you have reached your aim?
- Achievable : The objectives must be practicable and realistic
- Realistic : identify the time and source restrictions in a PhD degree program
- Time : Decide at what time each objective requires to be accomplished.
It’s best to opt for an online dissertation to help in the UK, for designing research objectives because they have a comprehensive idea about what to include. They have the knowledge, expertise and experience to come up with flawless ones.
Difference between research aims and objectives
While many students fail to spot the difference between the two, you should know that the aims of research highlight what you expect to attain. The objectives feature ways you are going to accomplish your aims.
Aims are declarations of intent. They are generally composed in expansive terms. They give elucidations of what you hope to reach the conclusion of the project. Objectives, on the other hand, should be precise declarations that delineate gaugeable results, e.g. what stages will be taken to attain the chosen result.
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Graduate admissions information
We’re glad to see you’re interested in pursuing an M.S. or Ph.D. in the Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno!
Here you will find general information on how to apply to the various programs, as well as a few tips for putting together a successful application. Please read through this information carefully, and don’t hesitate to reach out to our graduate program directors for more information.
Admissions by degree program
Mining engineering, m.s..
Admissions cycles: Fall, spring Application deadlines: Feb. 1 , Sept. 15 Assistantship types available: Contact the department Graduate Director: Raj R. Kallu
A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university is required in order to be accepted as a graduate student. For full graduate standing, at least 30 credits of undergraduate work in mining engineering or related sciences must have been completed.
In addition, students must meet the following requirements:
- Hold a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 for four years of undergraduate work.
- Earn acceptable scores on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE test, and present letters of recommendation from former instructors indicating capability for advanced course work and research.
- International students are required to meet the English test requirements (TOEFL/IELTS/PTE). Refer to UNR Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) webpage for specific English requirements.
Prospective graduate students should send all their application material directly to the Graduate School. The department does not accept any application material directly from the prospective students.
The department offers several graduate fellowships i.e. Research Assistantships (RA) and Teaching Assistantships. Requests for teaching assistantships should be submitted to the department prior to March 15, but all applications will be considered regardless of date of submission. Requests for research assistantships must be submitted directly to the corresponding professors in the department.
M.S. in mining engineering options
Students must choose between the following two options (Plan A or Plan B):
Plan A: thesis option
This plan requires students to write and successfully defend a thesis. General university requirements for graduating with Plan A:
- Students must complete at least 30 credits of acceptable graduate courses.
- Students must complete 6 thesis credits (MINE 797)
- Student must complete 12 non-thesis credits at the 700 level.
- Student must complete at least 21 credits through on-campus courses at the university. For transfer credits, please consult the Graduate Director.
Plan B: non-thesis option
This plan requires students to pass a written comprehensive examination (MINE 795 – 1 credit) given by the department covering recommended core courses. The candidate will have the option to choose four courses out of total six courses listed under recommended core courses. Students must earn a passing grade/satisfactory grade on each of those four subject areas with only two attempts allowed. Students who do not pass the exam after two attempts will be dismissed from the graduate program. Requirements for graduating with Plan B are:
- Students must complete at least 32 credits of acceptable graduate courses.
- Students must complete at least 18 credits of 700 level courses.
- Students must complete at least 23 credits through on-campus courses at the university. For transfer credits, please consult the Graduate Director.
- Students must complete 1 credit comprehensive exam course (MINE 795).
Other program requirements
The following deficiencies to be made up by students with B.S. degrees other than mining engineering:
- pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, or satisfactorily complete (i.e., with a cumulative B average) a minimum of 12 credits of basic engineering courses to have a reasonable chance of passing the FE (e.g. this requirement can be met by taking courses such as Statics, Dynamics, Strength of Materials, Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Electricity).
- have an adequate preparation in geology, i.e. a minimum of 6 credits in geology, taken from GEOL 211, GEOL 332, GEOL 385, or equivalent.
- have basic mining knowledge, e.g., a course in mining methods or broad varied industrial mining experience, and, prior to or as part of the graduate program, no fewer than 6 credits of mining engineering classes.
- Students who have completed some or all of the recommended core courses as upperclassmen during their bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno may be exempted from some or all of the core course requirements. The program director/graduate committee must then approve any such changes in writing.
- *Any student wishing to change recommended core courses must petition the program director/graduate committee of the Department of Mining & Metallurgical Engineering in writing. The program director/graduate committee must then approve any such changes in writing.
- The program director/graduate committee has to approve in writing any changes in the requirements for the comprehensive exam topics for any graduate student.
- Graduate students with the help of their advisor must form a graduate committee and submit his/her initial program of study for approval before the start of their second year as a graduate student in the Mining and Metallurgical Engineering Department.
Metallurgical Engineering, M.S.
Admissions cycles: Fall, spring Application deadlines: Feb. 1 , Sept. 15 Assistantship types available: Contact the department Graduate Director: Carl Nesbitt
The department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering offers graduate programs leading to the degree of Master of Science in Metallurgical Engineering with only thesis option. The students can elect to pursue in one of the following specialization fields, such as, physical metallurgy, extractive metallurgy, and Mineral Processing.
A B.S. in an engineering discipline is recommended. Applicants without an undergraduate engineering degree are required to pass of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam as part of the Master’s degree. This may necessitate taking basic undergraduate engineering courses that do not carry graduate credit.
For general admission requirements, visit the Graduate School webpage for admission requirements by student type . The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. The deadline for completed applications (online) for fall semester is March 15; for spring semester, the deadline is September 15.
Program objectives and student learning outcomes
The program aims to provide students with a strong foundation in extractive metallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and hydrometallurgy, as well as in more specialized areas of metallurgical engineering. Students completing the program will have worked on a basic or applied research project that has an impact on metallurgical engineering practice, and will have successfully communicated their results through written and oral presentations.
Mineral Resource Engineering, Ph.D.
Admissions cycles: Fall, spring Application deadlines: Feb. 1 , Sept. 15 Assistantship types available: Contact the department Graduate Director: Javad Sattarvand
This program comprises faculty and resources from the University's Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering and the Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering. It offers a broad range of possible dissertation research topics, including soil and rock slope stability, rock mechanics, geologic fracture mechanics, volcano hazards, urban geo-engineering, aerospace remote sensing, pure and applied geomathematics/geostatistics, mine ventilation, materials handling, and surface and underground mine design.
Possible fields of specialization for students include:
- Applied geophysics
- Geologic hazards
- Mine ventilation
- Open-pit and underground stability
- Planetary geology
- Remote sensing
- Rock mechanics
- Rock slope instability processes
- Rock mass characterization and design
- Structural analysis
- Structural geology
- Waste containment
The University is also home to the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, which uses a statewide network of seismographic stations to investigate the sizes, frequency and distribution of earthquakes in the region. To learn more about the University's earth science research, visit the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering research page.
In terms of careers, there is no shortage of possible endeavors geological engineers may pursue, including:
- Mine development and planning
- Oil and gas production
- Groundwater studies
- Highway construction
- Railway construction
- Dam construction and irrigation projects
- Residential or commercial structures
- Landfill management
How do I apply?
Applicants must meet the University's Graduate School admission requirements and submit their application through the Graduate School. For entry into the geo-engineering Ph.D. program, the department requires a combined GRE score of 1,200 or higher for the verbal and quantitative sections and an undergraduate degree in any branch of the geological sciences, physical sciences, or engineering. To attain full graduate student standing in the program, at least 30 credits of undergraduate work in geology or related fields must be completed.
Prospective students must submit the following when applying:
- Copy of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores - sent directly to the University Graduate School, with unofficial copies sent separately to the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering
- Three letters of recommendation certifying ability to perform graduate-level work at the Ph.D. level - sent directly to the department
- A two-page personal statement of interest stating why the University of Nevada, Reno is their school of choice, why they wish to pursue the desired degree, and what specialties and/or faculty the applicant is interested in - sent directly to the department
- Copies of GRE scores, transcripts and TOEFL scores (if applicable) - sent directly to the department
The admissions committee gives comparable weight to each item in the application package, so applicants will not be denied admission based solely on their GPA or GRE scores. Applicants should contact prospective faculty advisors to discuss their interests prior to applying. Applicants are also encouraged to visit the University to see the department and meet with their prospective faculty adviser.
Completed applications and all materials must be received by the department no later than:
- Feb. 1 for fall semester admission
- Sept. 15 for spring semester admission
To ensure full consideration, GRE scores and official transcripts should arrive at the University Graduate School well before these deadlines.