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Limitation of the Study – USC LibraiesDefinitionThe limitations of the study are those characteristics of design or methodology that impacted orinfluenced the interpretation of the findings from your research. They are the constraints ongeneralizability, applications to practice, and/or utility of findings that are the result of the waysin which you initially chose to design the study or the method used to establish internal andexternal validity or the result of unanticipated challenges that emerged during the study.Price, James H. and Judy Murnan. “Research Limitations and the Necessity of Reporting Them.” American Journal of HealthEducation 35 (2004): 66-67.Importance of...Always acknowledge a study's limitations. It is far better that you identify and acknowledge yourstudy’s limitations than to have them pointed out by your professor and be graded downbecause you appear to have ignored them.Keep in mind that acknowledgement of a study's limitations is an opportunity to makesuggestions for further research. If you do connect your study's limitations to suggestions forfurther research, be sure to explain the ways in which these unanswered questions may becomemore focused because of your study.Acknowledgement of a study's limitations also provides you with an opportunity todemonstrate that you have thought critically about the research problem, understood therelevant literature published about it, and correctly assessed the methods chosen for studyingthe problem. A key objective of the research process is not only discovering new knowledge butto also confront assumptions and explore what we don't know.Claiming limitations is a subjective process because you must evaluate the impact of thoselimitations. Don't just list key weaknesses and the magnitude of a study's limitations. To do sodiminish the validity of your research because it leaves the reader wondering whether, or inwhat ways, limitation(s) in your study may have impacted the results and conclusions.Limitations require a critical, overall appraisal and interpretation of their impact. You shouldanswer the question: do these problems with errors, methods, validity, etc. eventually matterand, if so, to what extent?Price, James H. and Judy Murnan. “Research Limitations and the Necessity of Reporting Them.” American Journal of HealthEducation 35 (2004): 66-67; Structure: How to Structure the Research Limitations Section of Your Dissertation. Dissertations andTheses: An Online Textbook. Laerd.com.1
Descriptions of Possible LimitationsAll studies have limitations. However, it is important that you restrict your discussion tolimitations related to the research problem under investigation. For example, if a meta-analysisof existing literature is not a stated purpose of your research, it should not be discussed as alimitation. Do not apologize for not addressing issues that you did not promise to investigate inthe introduction of your paper.