What is the difference between aim, goal and objective?

In most templates and call texts these words are used for almost the same thing. It is about what you will achieve in your project. The different funding bodies use different terms and sometimes the translated texts between Norwegian and English may add to the confusion.

The overall idea of your project is most often referred to as:

  • Idea
  • Concept
  • Vision

This is kind of the global thing that can be said in one or two sentences. It may be what you say it in the “first sentence” of your text.

In the next level you refine the idea and the describe your

  • Objectives
  • Goals
  • Aims

Objectives often work as the most precise. Preferably use objectives to describe the project achievements. In the text you may use both goals and objectives.

BUT the goals and the objectives should be the same. DO NOT have one set of objectives and another set of goals.  

When you refer to your goals or objectives in the text you must refer to the same.

You may aim at something. However in most texts aim makes what your project is all about less precise. So avoid using aim for you goals or achievements. Use aim as little as possible. Dot not use aim as the same as goals and objectives.


If your complete project is about testing a hypothesis you may use hypothesis in the overall objectives. Otherwise hypothesis is in most cases best used where you do the work i.e. in the Work Packages. If you use hypothesis it should preferably be in the context of something that can be verified or falsified.


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