Within the context of research (e.g., research proposal), what makes the Aims and Objectives different to one another?
I am looking for a clear and simple answer. When I look around I often end up more confused.
This shows up generally in the English language, I've seen the exact same discussion in writing constitutions for not for profits, and similar answer applies.
Consider the context of a military plan:
Your aim is "What do we overall want" -- the what, your objective is "What will do to achieve it" -- the how. Once all your objectives are complete, then you should have thus completed the aim. Objectives are also "whats" and so can be the "aims" for subobjectives. Eg
So for a research proposal: say you are in the area of Sports science/mechanical engineering, working on bicycle design.
There is no simple answer. From what I can tell, these terms were developed by bean counters with the typical description being that the aims are the what and the objectives are the how. The bean counters then talk about smart objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.
The quote I like best is from NIH NIAID:
start thinking about your planned experiments by first drafting objectives, known in NIH lingo as Specific Aims.
Includes the specific objectives of the research proposed (e.g., to test a stated hypothesis, create a novel design, solve a specific problem, challenge an existing paradigm or clinical practice, address a critical barrier to progress in the field, or develop new technology).
I hae always thought the description of the specific objectives sound like aims to me since I feel like they describe what is going to be done (test a stated hypothesis) and not how it is going to be done.
The key thing, regardless of the terminology is that grant reviewers nowadays want to know both what you are going to do and how you are going to go about it.