Limitations of a study are crucial part of the study, call them characteristics of your study design, which impact the interpretation of the findings. They challenge generalizability and use of the findings as you had anticipated when selecting the research design. Understanding these limitations helps you to explain to the reader how they impacted the results and the conclusion, in line with your study design.
Is writing Limitations of Study Important?
While some researchers feel that highlighting the limitations in research undermine the value of their studies in the eyes of the reader, the reverse is indeed true. Here are some key reasons why writing limitations in your study important;
- It show that you understand the research problem well
When you finally present your research findings, the assessment committee expects to see professionally done work. Therefore, carefully presenting the limitations of research implies that you thought about the study problem, did ample review of the related literature, and analysed the selected methods.
- It helps you to answer the questions that your supervisor might ask
When lecturers mark students’ papers, one of the areas they check keenly is the limitations of the study. So, instead of waiting for your teacher to ask about research limitations, risking lower grades because you ignored the section, you should make sure to include them.
- Limitations of research studies offer you the chance to point at areas that need further studies
If the limitations you encountered during your study impacted the findings of the research, you could demonstrate how further studies might be crucial in giving answers to unanswered questions.
Areas to Consider when writing Limitation of a Study;
1. Methodological Related Limitations
- Sample Size
The number of units that you will use for study is determined by the type of research problem that you are addressing. If the sample is too small, you are likely to find it challenging to establish the relationships between the different variables. Note that if you are doing a qualitative study, the sample size will be less relevant, especially if it was explained well in the research problem.
- Lack of available or reliable data
If you do not have enough data or it is unreliable, there is a danger of your study’s scope being limited or failing to find meaningful relationship in your study. So, make sure to carefully describe these imitations, explaining why you think the data is unreliable or missing. This is also a perfect opportunity to call for further studies in order to fill the gap.
- Lack of prior research on the topic
When doing research, you are required to carry a comprehensive review of the available literature to lay a strong foundation for better understanding of the problem being investigated. Depending on the nature and the scope of the topic, it is not uncommon to find areas that are poorly studied. To avoid the problem, you should start by carefully assessing the availability of related studies. For example, you should check with different libraries to establish the availability of prior studies.
- Measuring the collected data
After interpreting the findings of the study, you might establish that the manner in which you gathered the data limited the ability to do a thorough analysis. For example, you might regret failing to add specific questions that could have helped address an issue that arose later in your research. So, acknowledge this challenge and point at the need for further studies to review the method of data collection.
2. Limitations of the Researcher
One of the common limitations in research is poor access to things such as documents, organizations or people. In such a situation, you should clearly state the reasons for getting denied access to the targeted source of information.
- Cultural related bias
Cultural bias is one of the common examples of limitations in research that can have significant implications on a study’s findings. Well, whether people are conscious or not, they always have some biases. In most cases, this is negative, though it is also possible to get positive biases. Be extra careful when proofreading your work to note cases of bias in the selected data, sample or other details. If the resources you are using have instances of bias, ensure to acknowledge and explain your effort to void it.
- Longitudinal Impacts
Unlike your teacher who can commit years to study a selected problem, the time frame for completing your assignment is likely to be limited. So, be sure to select a topic that does not need a lot of time to complete.
- Language barrier
If your study involves dealing with people using different languages, communication can be a major barrier. For example, if you are studying the effectiveness of a certain study model on students learning English as a second language, you are likely to experience language related challenges. So, make sure to acknowledge them.