limitations and delimitations in a research prepared : marzieh eftekhar --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Delimitations are defined as the term to identify boundaries. In this instance, the delimitations is social research refer to the various boundaries used in the study such as the participants, apparatus or instruments used, and the geographical placement. This delimitation refers to the number and type of participants used in the study whether they are subjects or observers. This is an important boundary because within social research the main objective is to discover various aspects regarding human interactions within certain cultures or areas. In some studies, researchers look at specific types of people in terms of their occupation or gender. To carry out research, a number of tools and instruments will be needed to record your findings or to generate them. For example, within social research the majority of time, questionnaires are used to make a number of distinctions. Questionnaires would be deemed as instruments in order to carry out the relevant research. When you consider what you need in order to complete the study, you must ensure that you think of absolutely everything. If you do not have the relevant instruments and equipment that your research will not work. With regards to most forms of research, a particular area will be used for study. When it comes to social study, researchers will aim to look at diverse cultures and communities so it is vital that they have a particular geographical area that they study. Deciding on an area of study can be difficult, especially when it comes to social research. For example, if someone is considering looking at behaviors in different cultures, it can be difficult to find the appropriate place because so many cultures merge together in today's society. What is delimitation within an experiment? Delimitations are boundaries that are set by the by the researcher in order to control the range of a study. They are created before any investigations are carried out, in order to reduce the amount of time spent in certain areas that may be seen to be unnecessary, and perhaps even unrelated, to the overall study. An example of this would be if a study was delimited to questioning people within a certain age group only, or to refrain from moving from within a certain area, whether it is a big region, such as a whole state, or a smaller one, such as a town or village within it. Why limitations and delimitations are considered Although thinking about the various limitations and delimitations that may occur within an experiment can be time consuming, it is necessary to the overall outcome of the experiment, and ensures that the proceeding can run ahead without any unforeseen stipulations, some of which could prove both costly and detrimental to the investigations being carried out. The delimitations of a study are those characteristics that limit the scope (define the boundaries) of the inquiry as determined by the conscious exclusionary and inclusionary decisions that were made throughout the development of the proposal. Among these are the choice of objectives and questions, variables of interest, alternative theoretical perspectives that could have been adopted, etc. The first limiting step was the choice of problem itself; implicit are other, related problems that could have been chosen but were rejected or screened off from view. Go back and review each of these decisions. You will want to prepare a statement of purpose or intent that clearly sets out what is meant to be accomplished by the study but that also includes a declaration of what the study does not intend to cover. In the latter case, your decisions for excluding certain territory should have been based on such criteria as "not interesting"; "not directly relevant"; too problematic because..."; "not feasible" and the like. Make this reasoning explicit. The limitations of the study are those characteristics of design or methodology that set parameters on the application or interpretation of the results of the study; that is, the constraints on generalizability and utility of findings that are the result of the devices of design or method that establish internal and external validity. The most obvious limitation would relate to the ability to draw descriptive or inferential conclusions from sample data about a larger group. For example, a study of alcohol consumption among native French, Italian, Russian and European Jewish males, based on data from a truly representative sample of these groups, would allow the researcher to make generalizations about the consumption behavior of all other native French, Italian, Russian and European Jewish males that were not included in the study, assuming the sample is large enough and randomly selected. If the study included a finding that differences in consumption across groups were strongly predicted by specific cultural values and beliefs, it might be legitimate for the researcher to speculate that similar findings would accrue from a study of other ethnic groups with similar cultural characteristics, such as Germans or Bulgarians, but such an inference would be purely speculative. The researcher, however, could not generalize the findings to next generation American Jews, French, Italians, or Russians of the male gender. Certainly, the researcher would be foolish to draw conclusions from the data about the drinking behavior of females of any nationality, or of native Japanese or Japanese-American males. Once a statement of limitations and delimitations has been prepared, the question about where in the proposal to place it arises. A logical place is near the end of the problem statment section, somewhere after the statement of purpose. Elsewhere in the proposal, the researcher may have repeated a general statement of purpose, "the purpose of this project is...", which presents another opportunity for including the limitations and delimitations of the study. Again, that may have been at the end of the problem statement, preceding a justification for selecting the problem in the first place. Another juncture may have occurred somewhere in the proximity of the section devoted to the conceptual framework (design of the study) or earlier in the procedures section as part of the outlining step suggested elsewhere in this guide (see procedures).