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By choosing to focus your research on a particular problem or question, you are necessarily choosing not to examine other problems or questions.Remember: You can’t answer all possible questions with one project.Furthermore, you probably won’t be talking to elementary school teachers who have not yet had the experience of implementing the curriculum in question.
Of course, your choice of research design is within your control; however, the limitations of the design refer to those aspects that may restrict your ability to answer the questions you might like to answer.
Limitations can get in the way of your being able to answer certain questions or draw certain types of inferences from your findings.
Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge them upfront and make note of how they restrict the conclusions you’ll be able to draw from your study.
Frequently, limitations can get in the way of our ability to generalize our findings to the larger populations or to draw causal conclusions, so be sure to consider these issues when you’re thinking about the potential limitations of your study. If you try to do so, your project is bound to get huge and unwieldy, and it will become a lot more difficult to interpret your results or come to meaningful conclusions with so many moving parts.
If you are working on a thesis, dissertation, or other formal research project, chances are your advisor or committee will ask you to address the delimitations of your study.
When faced with this request, many students respond with a puzzled look and then go on to address what are actually the study’s limitations.
(i.e., as you’re designing the study) about where you’re going to draw the boundaries of your project. Like limitations, delimitations are a part of every research project, and this is not a bad thing. You have to draw the line somewhere, and the delimitations are where you choose to draw these lines.
One of the clearest examples of a delimitation that applies to almost every research project is participant exclusion criteria.
If you’re wondering what the difference between these two terms is, don’t worry—you’re not alone!
In a previous article , we covered what goes into the limitations, delimitations, and assumptions sections of your thesis or dissertation.