It’s normal to encounter limitations in research. However, you should focus on minimizing the limitations that you face throughout your research process. Additionally, acknowledge the limitations you encounter when conducting your research in the conclusion. And do that as honestly as possible.
Ideally, it’s better to highlight and acknowledge your study’s shortcomings instead of leaving them out. That’s because your assessor will most likely point out the limitations of your study. And when discussing your research limitations, don’t just list them with a short description. Instead, explain how the limitations affected the findings of your case study.
A study can have several limitations. However, you should discuss the limitations that relate to the research problems directly. For instance, if you have not highlighted secondary data meta-analysis as a research objective, don’t mention it as a research limitation. A limitation of a study should be anything you can’t control.
A study can’t be inclusive of every possible aspect or completely flawless. As such, including the limitations of a study is essential because it reflects transparency and honesty. It also shows that you understand your study topic.
Study limitations should appear in the discussion part of a research paper before the conclusion. However, don’t come up with an extensive elaboration of the limitation. Instead, keep the limitations crisp and short. Ideally, limitations in qualitative research explain the unanswered questions. It points out the issues that you didn’t address in your study. The following questions should be discussed when addressing the limitations of your study.
- Could another method or means of collecting data been more effective?
- Could you have used a different research design?
- Did the sample represent your target population?
Ideally, these questions can help you define limitations in research. They also show how these constraints can affect the outcome of a study. Acknowledging the limitations of your study and being self-critical creates the impression that you know what your research couldn’t cover. What’s more, you ensure that peer reviewers don’t point them out.
Common Limitations in Research
Some research study limitations become clear to the audiences even before they start reading the paper. However, some limitations become apparent after a person has read the whole document. Nevertheless, you should present the limitations of your study in the discussion section. This is the last and most logical part of the paper to present the limitations.
In most cases, researchers include limitations at the beginning of this section after highlighting the strong side of their study methodology. Discussing the limitations of a research study before analyzing the findings helps the readers to understand how to apply or qualify the findings in their future research.