Schottler Consulting Social and Market Research Knowledge Centre

How do I write clear social or market research objectives?

Having clear and succinct research objectives is critical to ensuring a successful social or market research project. This is particularly important, if you are commissioning research, as a well-disciplined research consultant will often refer to your research objectives when preparing a research report. Unclear objectives may lead to your social or market research questions not being adequately answered.  



Tips for success in writing clear social or market research objectives


The following are recommended by Schottler Consulting Pty Ltd to ensure that research objectives are clear and produce exactly the information your company or organisation needs.

1. Write down the overall outcome of the research and then identify the specific criteria that would indicate that your organisation is meeting this objective.

For instance, conducting research to improve 'organisational performance' is probably too generic, although could indeed be your overall research outcome.


However, specific objectives may be to increase sales by 10% or to increase customer satisfaction with the timeliness of service delivery by 10%. A further objective may be to identify what factors would trigger your target audience to change their behaviour (e.g., to cut down on cigarettes, to do more exercise).

2. Ask yourself can you measure your research objectives?

A good research objective should be both clear and measurable. If you cannot measure your objectives, it is likely that they are not as clearly worded as they should be.


3. Identify any objectives that may be 'out of scope' for your research. This can be particularly helpful when preparing research briefs for consultants, as it provides clear guidance on the issues that are of lower priority to the organisation.


Out of scope objectives may be large topics that are too difficult to cover in your research project, things that you already know or topics that have already been researched. 

4. Consider how many research objectives you have written down. If you have too many, you may be trying to write the discussion guide!


Where possible, try to condense your research objectives into a small number to give focus to the research! 


5. If you have a large list of research objectives, consider whether it is appropriate to limit the scope of the first study to a smaller set of objectives. Then you may want to commission a further study down the track.



6. Consider which objectives are achievable with your research budget. If unsure, try to think of the maximum number of topics you could cover in a short survey or interview.


If topics are too diverse, you may be best to reduce the topics for the first project and then consider others in a later project.    ​​

7. If you would still like to retain all research objectives, consider listing the top priority objectives as 'primary research objectives' and the others as 'secondary research objectives'. This provides a clear focus to the research company that your main goal is to cover the primary objectives.    ​​