How to Write Research Limitations: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Write Research Limitations

Imagine a situation whereby, you are finishing your project, and your supervisor suggests that the research limitations be specified at the end of the work. At first, you must think: “but why should I write about something that could depreciate my work and make me lose my grade?”

The limitations of the research do not have this objective; on the contrary, they can show your academic maturity in recognizing which were the points that could have been better explored. However, not knowing how to conduct this part of your work correctly can make the supervisor have a negative image concerning your project.

After developing a research that is worth the undergraduate or graduate degree, you need to understand the limitations of the research work and present them to the examination board. When writing the limitations, address everything that the study left to be desired.

The researcher must keep in mind that his study will not be able to answer all the questions, no matter how much his work presents a lot of data and analysis. It is essential to be aware that the investigation opens up new perspectives for the future, as it is difficult for a subject to be exhausted. But do you know how to address the limitations of research work?

Many students tend to feel that presenting the limits of research makes work weaker. However, approaching this section shows maturity for the academic universe.

What are the limitations of research?

Expressing the limitations of a study means defining the limits of the research. In this way, you can increase the credibility and validity of the results obtained. Many authors explain that the limitation clarifies the characteristics of the studied sample and those of the assessed phenomenon. It also serves to highlight the methodology and tools used to assemble the theoretical part and achieve the results.

According to the APA (American Psychological Association) manual, recognizing limitations is a way to instigate the debate about real possibilities and to fight generalizations.

The academic community considers the limitations of the research to be very important, but many works are published without this element. It is the author’s responsibility to present this information, but it is up to the examiner to discuss a few lines about the limitations.

What to write in the limitations of the research?

You are not going to talk about the flaws in your work, but rather highlight everything that the survey “left to be desired” after it was completed. Limitations must be written clearly and objectively, emphasizing new study possibilities.

In the section about the limitations of the study, you can address the following information:

  • Present the differences between the target population and the sample involved.
  • Discuss characteristics of circumstances that were not considered in the investigation.
  • Talk about the measures that could be used;
  • Application location and time;
  • Possible elements that interfered with the responses;
  • The absence of studies on the subject.

The limitations of the work go into the final stage of the research project. It is important to address them when writing the final remarks, in the form of a topic or flowing text.

Where to write limitations

The limitations of the research should be part of its conclusion and recommendations for future work. The two may or may not be related. Some of the ideas may come to light from the limitations of the research.

Justifications for the limitations

Some plausible justifications for the limitations are:

  • The time available was not enough. This is an acceptable limitation for a particular point in your work as long as your time has been well spent in other areas.
  • Lack of resources in the educational institution. If your university has not provided you with all the equipment or means needed for more comprehensive research, this is an acceptable justification for your limitations. However, the researcher’s responsibility is to make sure that his research is viable with the resources available even when choosing the topic.

How to write research limitations

Still, have questions about how to write research limitations? Then look at five important approaches:

1. Achievement of objectives

Have you missed a specific research objective? Reserve a few lines to explain the reasons. This type of situation frequently happens among academics; after all, the study can change course.

2. Different results

After following all the research steps, you found results that were different than expected, and some hypotheses were not validated. No problem, it is part of the academic environment. Write about it in the research limits section. This situation is very frequent in the case of qualitative research.

3. Deadlines

Specify the time of data collection and the time when it was necessary to stop to make the report. In some cases, the student is faced with a lack of time and is unable to complete any part. There is no problem in pointing out that the results could be better if the deadline were longer.

4. Population and sample

Another important step when writing research limitation is establishing the accuracy of the population being researched and sample size. Was part of the sample missing, or was the selection not as good as expected? Make this clear in the research limits.

5. Research application

When you do research, you expect the relevance of the work to contribute to a particular area. When completing the research, the scope is not always expected; that is, the application becomes more reduced.

Important tips to consider when writing research limitation

It is important to point out that you can create an exclusive section for your research limitation or embed them in your conclusion in a flowing manner. 

Talk only about the essential limitations

You should not create a list of topics that could be improved in the research. This would discredit your entire project. Instead, identify up to 3 limitations that were very influential in your work and explain about them.

Be quick and drive to the point

Tell us what the limitation is, why it occurred, and the consequences for your research.

Writing more than that is unnecessary. Research limitations are a small part of the conclusion, so be quick and get to the point.

Sincerity above all

Under no circumstances should you make up any lies or try to disguise the limits of research. This will prove that you are not prepared! So be sincere and true. The space for the limits of the research serves precisely to recognize what could be better or different.

Explain the reason for the limitation

The reader will certainly be able to identify the reason why such a limitation existed at work. You need to get it right. Talking about a limiting factor and missing the reason will give the impression that you are “outside” your project.

Make suggestions for future research

A great way to reverse the points that could be better explored is by suggesting paths for future research or other researchers interested in this topic. Perhaps your research failed in some respect or did not achieve the expected results; however, in some way, it will serve so that future studies on the subject may have different directions.

The possibilities here are endless; think of it this way: If you were to start this research today, with current knowledge, what would you do differently?


Highlighting your research work limitations is an excellent style of having a robust discussion on what you did and how those limitations affected the results and conclusions of your research. From the study above, it is evident that pinpointing research limitations helps to improve the quality of research work, so we urge you to learn from the wrong steps you might have taken to improve your research work.

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