5 Guidelines to Follow When Writing Your Research Objectives
by Jen Todd
Clear, well thought out study objectives are critical to any market research project's success, no matter the size, scope, or cost.A well-written background and a clear set of business objectives establish your study's tone, pace, and direction and ultimately lead to better outcomes as you navigate the different research phases. Poorly written, vague objectives leave your study open to an unnecessarily lengthy questionnaire, scope creep, and worst of all, the danger of not addressing the most pressing business issues that need to be answered.
Here are five guidelines you should follow when writing your research objectives.
- Be clear and concise. Avoid wordiness. For example, phrases like "as per," "in accordance with," "during the course of," and "in terms of" can all be eliminated from your writing (and from your writing overall, not just from your objectives). Avoid broad-brush questions that are difficult to answer clearly. For example, instead of "Assess how to better serve our customers," (which is vague), try something specific like, “Understand current and former customers’ buying-process pain points.”
- Present your objectives in a logical sequence. It is always best to guide your reader through a logical sequence of steps. Start with the overarching objective and work your way down to the more specific objectives.
- Use action verbs. Good objectives "measure," "gauge,” "explore," and "understand" what is being studied.
- Make your objectives attainable. The objectives of the study must be achievable within the parameters of the research design and methodology. Avoid making them so lofty that the study is sure to fail to address the issue.
- Use phrasing and terms that make sense to your audience. Do not use acronyms or highly technical terms, especially with a non-technical audience.
Following these five simple guidelines will help you write good, solid objectives. Remember that these objectives should serve as the north star at every stage of the project. They guide the methodology decisions, the questionnaire or discussion guide, and the analysis and reporting. Well-written objectives will improve your marketing research project's outcome.
About the Author
Jen Todd (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Research Director at Decision Analyst. She may be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.
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