How to Write Research Limitations (Constraints): A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Write Research Limitations (Constraints)

Your research paper is not complete without a section that talks about the constraints, limitations or shortcomings you had while carrying out your work. Usually your limitations should be included near the end of your discussion or as part of your conclusions chapter. This is to get the reader well informed about your work, no matter how superb your work is, it cannot be without some limitations, you must be able to get the reader of your paper into your world to understand what conditions affected your results and how you were able to handle those constraints so that your study still remain relevant. There may be a lot of factors that affected your work and caused limitations but you don’t necessarily have to state everything, you should state the limitations that impacted strongly on the quality of the results you were able to obtain and the limitations that impacted strongly on how well you were able to answer your research question. It is very important that you know how to structure and write this part of your work properly so that you don’t allow it to affect your paper in a negative sense. This article ‘how to write research limitations (constraints): a step-by-step guide’ will give you needed hints and guide on writing a good section on your research limitations.

Your research limitations can stem from your study design (as per your method or limitations having to do with the study population): As you know your method will be the determinant of the quality of the data you and results you will obtain. If you choose a method because of some opportunities it has for your work, if such method has significant limitations on your data or results somehow, you must be able to state it in your paper but still explain on what ground you think the method was still your preferred choice for your research.

Results (that is the impact on your results, how it affects the quality of your results)

Statistical data

Time: Since every project has a timeline, one of the likely limitations is going to be time. You may not be able to do as much as you ought or like to do if the time is not sufficient. You may just have to make do with what you can within the time frame you’ve got. You should be able to state how time affected your work, to what extent and the impact.

Money: Also, there could be financial constraints when you are carrying out your research work. You may need to use some equipment or things that will require probably a purchase but if it’s on the too high side, you may not be able to afford such, and this may lead to some limitations in your work, which you will have to state, especially if it impacts significantly on the quality of your work

These are some important areas in which your research work might encounter limitations, you must be able to know which factor accounts for limitation in your work and present it accordingly. When it comes to how to structure the section for writing your research limitations, you could follow this good format. There is no hard and fast rule as to how to present your work, but articulating and presenting the research limitations properly will impact positively on your reader’s perception of your work, and probably its relevance too.

Recognize the limitations and state them

You should ensure that you identify all the factors that have contributed to limitations in your work, specifically note them one by one. State the factors that significantly impacted on your work, the quality, your results. This does not have to be a very lengthy section of the limitations section. Identify all the significant constraints of the research study you did, how they impacted on your work.

Explain all the limitations and rationalise your choices

This is the part for you to explain what the nature of those limitations are, how the limitations affected your work, and why the choices you made in how you carried out your research work are justifiable. Justify your choices, let the reader know that you carried out your work in such a way that the limitations did not impact too significantly on the quality of your results in a negative sense. You should ensure that you explain the limitations well because these limitations are peculiar to your own research and it will be a good learning point for the reader or another researcher who may want to work in that area. This part of the write-up on limitations for your work should take more part. It should be explanatory and should also justify your choices in such a way that your research can still retain relevance and not lose appreciation.

Suggest possible solutions

This part of your write-up on limitations should not be too lengthy too. Here you should build on the things you’ve said before, suggest possible ways on how the limitations you mentioned can be overcome in further researches. For example if your study focused on a population, probably in a particular country, among a more general population of other countries, you could suggest ways in which the research can be useful in any possible way in other places considering the general population of other people.

The following are some hints to consider when writing about your research limitations:

Discuss each limitation in a very constructive tone

Be very careful when stating and explaining your research limitations, do not present the limitations in such a way that will make your work lose quality or make the reader think less of your research. Talk about each of the limitations in a most positive way possible. If you just go ahead and state all the limitations without justifying your choices in the research work, why your choices are the best you could have made and also to make clear that the limitations do not reduce your work’s quality in a significant measure, then you might be creating a perspective that’s not too good for your research paper.

Dissuade the reader’s negative impression

Write in such a way to dissuade the negative thoughts or impressions that the reader might have while reading about your research limitations. Do this by providing good explanation for your each limitation.

Summarise on a good note

After you must have stated your research limitations and explained them, you should try to conclude on a very positive not. In this part, you don’t need to talk about the limitations again. Rather you should focus on talking more about the relevance of your research work, and how useful it is.

Accept the limitations

Understand that there is almost no work that is beyond limitations. So limitations are a common thing which you should not try to hide when presenting your work. Presenting your research limitations intelligently could even go on to prove to the reader that you understand your work and could serve as the basis for further research.


You should also learn from the present research limitations in your work so that in further research you can do better. Improvement is key, and experience gained from previous works can well serve in further researches.

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