What is the difference between research question and research objective?

In my opinion, every research question can be paraphrased as a research objective and vice versa. Am I right?

  • The question is what will be answered, the objectives might be what could follow from the answers (which justifies the need to answer the question).
    – user2768
    Nov 30, 2017 at 12:31
  • 1
    Welcome to Academia SE. You’ll probably get a more helpful answer if you specify why you wish to know this.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 30, 2017 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Although the specific formal definition can be field specific, Farrugia et al do a nice job of laying out "research questions", "hypotheses", and "objectives" in their open access article (linked above). Note their article targets medical researchers, but applies to other fields as well.

To summarize/highlight their definitions:

  • Research questions "arise out of a perceived knowledge deficit within a subject area or field of study." These may be answered either using literature reviews or primary research.
  • Research hypothesis are the formal ideas one seeks to test. (The linked article focuses on null hypothesis test, Chamberlin (reprinted in Science 1965, first published in Science in the late-1800s)) does a better job of explaining hypotheses. Chamberlin advocates for multiple working hypotheses where you have multiple competing ideas.,
  • Research objectives "should be coupled with the hypothesis of the study". These are what the study specifically seeks to do. (e.g., what is to be measured to test a hypothesis?).
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    One may add that there's not always a specific formal definition, simply because it's not necessary to have one. Science primarily seeks to advance knowledge, and the meta-terminology for describing a knowledge advancement can vary. Nov 30, 2017 at 17:14

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