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
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
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
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).