Ah, the academics, they just can’t see eye to eye about the meaning of words.

Take goal, purpose and objective as an example. They often use them interchangeably.

Rather than to claim that I know the meaning of the words, I will just explain how I will use them in this post.

The goal is what you hope to achieve with your research.

The purpose is the reason why you want to achieve the goal.

You can develop objectives from both the goal and the purpose for your research.

What’s more, you can break objectives down even further into questions that you can use in a questionnaire or interview, should you plan on sending out questionnaires or hold interviews to gather data for your research.

The goal of your research

You need to explain what you hope to achieve with your research.

Try to stick to one goal only.

The more goals you have, the wider will your scope be and the more difficult it will become to come to valid conclusions and proposals.

The purpose of the research

The sponsor of your research will expect some value for their money. They will, therefore, provide you with the purpose of your research.

Sponsors can be industrialists, but they can also be taxpayers, communities, government, parents.

You can, of course, be your own sponsor”.

A professor can also suggest a research topic.

Typical purposes for research can be to add economic value, improved quality of life and improved professionalism.

As I already said, the purposes can be broken down further into objectives.

  • Added economic value can be achieved through improved production processes, more efficient work, higher productivity, etc.
  • Improved quality of life can be broken down into higher income, improved well-being, better health care, safety, social justice, the arts, leisure time utilization, freedom to interact in an enlightened, informed, responsible and constructive manner, etc.
  • Improved professionalism can be the availability of good quality learning institutions, improve skills, more research, etc.

It would be a good idea to consider the level of social, economic, technological, legislative and natural environmental development of your country or community when choosing a purpose for your research.

The reason for this is not just to be noble and kind to others.

Taking the external environment into consideration is in the interest of your own business. It has emotional, marketing, security and financial value, so do it.

For example, in a country with a high unemployment rate, research that would promote education, job creation and employment should be promoted.

Strategically speaking society should not only focus on solving current and short-term problems, but also position themselves, through research, to seize growth opportunities and to prepare for possible future threats.

Some radical comments on the purpose of research

  1. Intellectual research for its own sake does not exist. Time and energy spent on research are never wasted. What may be regarded as worthless knowledge now might turn out to be valuable in the future.
  2. Always see if you can gain practical value from your research. In my opinion universities focus too much on developing new theoretical knowledge rather than to solve real-life challenges. In this respect universities and the industry should co-operate.
  3. A research report that is not shared with others has no value.


In summary, you will need to formulate a goal, a purpose and some objectives for your research.

Sponsors of your research will often insist on the achievement of a goal that they can benefit from.

Also consider adding value to the community at large.

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