State the study delimitations and limitations

Important achievements in life are always surrounded by difficulties. As you progress in your research, you are expected to face lots of them? It is important to state them in your research? How to state them? Where? And are they the same as delimitations?


State the study delimitations and limitations

Delimitations and limitations clarify the boundaries, exceptions, and reservations inherent in every study. The two concepts are different in that:

  • Delimitations aim to narrow the scope of a study. For example, the scope may focus on specific variables, specific participants, specific sites, or narrowed to one type of research design (e.g., ethnography or experimental research).
  • Limitations, however, aim to identify potential weaknesses of the study. For example, all statistical procedures and research strategies, such as surveys or grounded theory studies have limitations. In introductory discussions about these strategies, authors typically mention both their strengths and their weaknesses.

Where do delimitations and limitations placed?

In proposals, authors may include them in a separate section. They also may separate them into two subsections, one on delimitations and the other on limitations. Doctoral and master’s committees vary in the extent to which they require these sections to be included in proposals.

However, in journal articles, researchers incorporate delimitations into the methodology section, and they write limitations into the final section of their studies.

Examples of delimitations and limitations

A delimitation

Initially, this study will confine itself to interviewing and observing the psychiatric staff nurse in a Midwest private psychiatric hospital.

A limitation

The purposive sampling procedure decreases the generalizability of findings. This study will not be generalizable to all areas of nursing.

A limitation:

In this qualitative study, the findings could be subject to other interpretations.



Creswell, J.W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

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