• Affiliate Program


  • 台灣 (TAIWAN)

Academic Editing Services

Admissions Editing Services

Business Editing Services

Writer Editing Services

Our Editors

Client reviews.

APA Citation Generator

MLA Citation Generator

Chicago Citation Generator

Vancouver Citation Generator

How to Present the Limitations of the Study Examples

essay limitations example

What are the limitations of a study?

The limitations of a study are its flaws or shortcomings. Study limitations can exist due to constraints on research design, methodology, materials, etc., and these factors may impact the findings of your study. However, researchers are often reluctant to discuss the limitations of their study in their papers, feeling that bringing up limitations may undermine its research value in the eyes of readers and reviewers.

In spite of the impact it might have (and perhaps because of it) you should clearly acknowledge any limitations in your research paper in order to show readers—whether journal editors, other researchers, or the general public—that you are aware of these limitations and to explain how they affect the conclusions that can be drawn from the research.

In this article, we provide some guidelines for writing about research limitations, show examples of some frequently seen study limitations, and recommend techniques for presenting this information. And after you have finished drafting and have received manuscript editing for your work, you still might want to follow this up with academic editing before submitting your work to your target journal.

Why do I need to include limitations of research in my paper?

Although limitations address the potential weaknesses of a study, writing about them toward the end of your paper actually strengthens your study by identifying any problems before other researchers or reviewers find them.

Furthermore, pointing out study limitations shows that you’ve considered the impact of research weakness thoroughly and have an in-depth understanding of your research topic. Since all studies face limitations, being honest and detailing these limitations will impress researchers and reviewers more than ignoring them.

essay limitations example

Where should I put the limitations of the study in my paper?

Some limitations might be evident to researchers before the start of the study, while others might become clear while you are conducting the research. Whether these limitations are anticipated or not, and whether they are due to research design or to methodology, they should be clearly identified and discussed in the discussion section —the final section of your paper. Most journals now require you to include a discussion of potential limitations of your work, and many journals now ask you to place this “limitations section” at the very end of your article. 

Some journals ask you to also discuss the strengths of your work in this section, and some allow you to freely choose where to include that information in your discussion section—make sure to always check the author instructions of your target journal before you finalize a manuscript and submit it for peer review .

Limitations of the Study Examples

There are several reasons why limitations of research might exist. The two main categories of limitations are those that result from the methodology and those that result from issues with the researcher(s).

Common Methodological Limitations of Studies

Limitations of research due to methodological problems can be addressed by clearly and directly identifying the potential problem and suggesting ways in which this could have been addressed—and SHOULD be addressed in future studies. The following are some major potential methodological issues that can impact the conclusions researchers can draw from the research.

Issues with research samples and selection

Sampling errors occur when a probability sampling method is used to select a sample, but that sample does not reflect the general population or appropriate population concerned. This results in limitations of your study known as “sample bias” or “selection bias.”

For example, if you conducted a survey to obtain your research results, your samples (participants) were asked to respond to the survey questions. However, you might have had limited ability to gain access to the appropriate type or geographic scope of participants. In this case, the people who responded to your survey questions may not truly be a random sample.

Insufficient sample size for statistical measurements

When conducting a study, it is important to have a sufficient sample size in order to draw valid conclusions. The larger the sample, the more precise your results will be. If your sample size is too small, it will be difficult to identify significant relationships in the data.

Normally, statistical tests require a larger sample size to ensure that the sample is considered representative of a population and that the statistical result can be generalized to a larger population. It is a good idea to understand how to choose an appropriate sample size before you conduct your research by using scientific calculation tools—in fact, many journals now require such estimation to be included in every manuscript that is sent out for review.

Lack of previous research studies on the topic

Citing and referencing prior research studies constitutes the basis of the literature review for your thesis or study, and these prior studies provide the theoretical foundations for the research question you are investigating. However, depending on the scope of your research topic, prior research studies that are relevant to your thesis might be limited.

When there is very little or no prior research on a specific topic, you may need to develop an entirely new research typology. In this case, discovering a limitation can be considered an important opportunity to identify literature gaps and to present the need for further development in the area of study.

Methods/instruments/techniques used to collect the data

After you complete your analysis of the research findings (in the discussion section), you might realize that the manner in which you have collected the data or the ways in which you have measured variables has limited your ability to conduct a thorough analysis of the results.

For example, you might realize that you should have addressed your survey questions from another viable perspective, or that you were not able to include an important question in the survey. In these cases, you should acknowledge the deficiency or deficiencies by stating a need for future researchers to revise their specific methods for collecting data that includes these missing elements.

Common Limitations of the Researcher(s)

Study limitations that arise from situations relating to the researcher or researchers (whether the direct fault of the individuals or not) should also be addressed and dealt with, and remedies to decrease these limitations—both hypothetically in your study, and practically in future studies—should be proposed.

Limited access to data

If your research involved surveying certain people or organizations, you might have faced the problem of having limited access to these respondents. Due to this limited access, you might need to redesign or restructure your research in a different way. In this case, explain the reasons for limited access and be sure that your finding is still reliable and valid despite this limitation.

Time constraints

Just as students have deadlines to turn in their class papers, academic researchers might also have to meet deadlines for submitting a manuscript to a journal or face other time constraints related to their research (e.g., participants are only available during a certain period; funding runs out; collaborators move to a new institution). The time available to study a research problem and to measure change over time might be constrained by such practical issues. If time constraints negatively impacted your study in any way, acknowledge this impact by mentioning a need for a future study (e.g., a longitudinal study) to answer this research problem.

Conflicts arising from cultural bias and other personal issues

Researchers might hold biased views due to their cultural backgrounds or perspectives of certain phenomena, and this can affect a study’s legitimacy. Also, it is possible that researchers will have biases toward data and results that only support their hypotheses or arguments. In order to avoid these problems, the author(s) of a study should examine whether the way the research problem was stated and the data-gathering process was carried out appropriately.

Steps for Organizing Your Study Limitations Section

When you discuss the limitations of your study, don’t simply list and describe your limitations—explain how these limitations have influenced your research findings. There might be multiple limitations in your study, but you only need to point out and explain those that directly relate to and impact how you address your research questions.

We suggest that you divide your limitations section into three steps: (1) identify the study limitations; (2) explain how they impact your study in detail; and (3) propose a direction for future studies and present alternatives. By following this sequence when discussing your study’s limitations, you will be able to clearly demonstrate your study’s weakness without undermining the quality and integrity of your research.

Step 1. Identify the limitation(s) of the study

The first step is to identify the particular limitation(s) that affected your study. There are many possible limitations of research that can affect your study, but you don’t need to write a long review of all possible study limitations. A 200-500 word critique is an appropriate length for a research limitations section. In the beginning of this section, identify what limitations your study has faced and how important these limitations are.

You only need to identify limitations that had the greatest potential impact on: (1) the quality of your findings, and (2) your ability to answer your research question.

limitations of a study

Step 2. Explain these study limitations in detail

After identifying your research limitations, it’s time to explain the nature of the limitations and how they potentially impacted your study. For example, when you conduct quantitative research, a lack of probability sampling is an important issue that you should mention. On the other hand, when you conduct qualitative research, the inability to generalize the research findings could be an issue that deserves mention.

Explain the role these limitations played on the results and implications of the research and justify the choice you made in using this “limiting” methodology or other action in your research. Also, make sure that these limitations didn’t undermine the quality of your dissertation .

methodological limitation

Step 3. Propose a direction for future studies and present alternatives (optional)

After acknowledging the limitations of the research, you need to discuss some possible ways to overcome these limitations in future studies. One way to do this is to present alternative methodologies and ways to avoid issues with, or “fill in the gaps of” the limitations of this study you have presented.  Discuss both the pros and cons of these alternatives and clearly explain why researchers should choose these approaches.

Make sure you are current on approaches used by prior studies and the impacts they have had on their findings. Cite review articles or scientific bodies that have recommended these approaches and why. This might be evidence in support of the approach you chose, or it might be the reason you consider your choices to be included as limitations. This process can act as a justification for your approach and a defense of your decision to take it while acknowledging the feasibility of other approaches.

P hrases and Tips for Introducing Your Study Limitations in the Discussion Section

The following phrases are frequently used to introduce the limitations of the study:

For more articles on research writing and the journal submissions and publication process, visit Wordvice’s Academic Resources page.

And be sure to receive professional English editing and proofreading services , including paper editing services , for your journal manuscript before submitting it to journal editors.

Wordvice Resources

Proofreading & Editing Guide

Writing the Results Section for a Research Paper

How to Write a Literature Review

Research Writing Tips: How to Draft a Powerful Discussion Section

How to Captivate Journal Readers with a Strong Introduction

Tips That Will Make Your Abstract a Success!

APA In-Text Citation Guide for Research Writing

Additional Resources

Article References

Pearson-Stuttard, J., Kypridemos, C., Collins, B., Mozaffarian, D., Huang, Y., Bandosz, P.,…Micha, R. (2018). Estimating the health and economic effects of the proposed US Food and Drug Administration voluntary sodium reformulation: Microsimulation cost-effectiveness analysis. PLOS. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002551

Xu, W.L, Pedersen, N.L., Keller, L., Kalpouzos, G., Wang, H.X., Graff, C,. Fratiglioni, L. (2015). HHEX_23 AA Genotype Exacerbates Effect of Diabetes on Dementia and Alzheimer Disease: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study. PLOS. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001853

Academic Writing

Rhetorical functions in academic writing: discussing limitations, introduction.

All studies have limitations.

However, it is important that you restrict your discussion to limitations related to the research problem under investigation.

What were the limitations of your study? Think again about the process of your study, and, seeing it from a distance, discuss whether you think you have done it in the best way possible.  It is probable that during the time you spent on the study, you thought of better ways of doing it. It is important not to hide this.

The question you have to answer now is: what aspects of the research could have been done differently? Did you ask the right question? Did you use the best possible techniques to collect the data? Concentrate on what you think are the weakest points of your study, and address them. Don 't hide this: it contributes to your final interpretation of the results.

Possible Methodological Limitations

Possible Limitations of the Researcher

Research Limitations

Information about the limitations of your study are best placed the beginning of the discussion section of your paper. In this way, your reader will know and understand the limitations before reading the rest of your analysis of the findings. Understanding the limitations can lead to an acknowledgement of the need for further study. However, make sure you look toward the future, but do not end with it. It is important to emphasise what you found in your study, not what you have not found.

Discussion of the limitations of your study should not be hidden in the body of the discussion section unless a limitation is specific to something covered in that part of the paper. If this is the case, though, the limitation should be repeated at the conclusion of the section.

Then, conclude the general discussion with a strong paragraph stating the main point or points again, in somewhat different words than used before.

Discussing the Limitations

The primary limitation to the generalisation of these results is ... Many limitations exist in the current study beginning with ... One of the limitations of this study had to do with the ... The main limitations of the current study were ... The most obvious limitation in this research was the ... There are two major limitations in this study that could be addressed in future research. First, the study focused on  …. Second …. As with the majority of studies, the design of the current study is subject to limitations. This research though is subject to several limitations.   The study was further limited by the ... The research findings of this study were limited by ... The results of the present study are also limited due to the fact that ...   The nature of our sample makes it difficult to generalise results to ...

See: Writing Functions: Discussing ;  Writing Functions: Evaluating ;  Writing Functions: Reasons

English Editing Research Services

essay limitations example

How to Write about Research Limitations Without Reducing Your Impact

essay limitations example

Being open about what you could not do in your research is actually extremely positive, and it’s viewed favorably by editors and peer reviewers. Writing about your limitations without reducing your impact is a valuable skills that will help your reputation as a researcher.

Areas you might have “failed,” in other words, your limitations, include:

Your limitations don’t harm your work and reputation. Quite the opposite, they validate your work and increase your contribution to your field.

Limitations are quite easy to write about in a useful way that won’t reducing your impact. In fact, it’ll increase it.

Why are limitations so important?

Regrettably, the publish-or-perish mentality has created pressure to only come up with successful results. It’s also not too much to say that journals prefer positive studies – where the findings support the hypothesis.

But success alone is not science. Science is trial and error.

So it’s important to present a well-balanced, comprehensive description of your research. That includes your limitations. Accurately reporting your limitations will:

Adding clear discussion of any negative results and/or outcomes as well as your study limitations makes you much better able to provide your readers (including peer reviewers ) with:

These are good things. There’s even a journal for failure ! That’s how important it is in science.

Some authors find it hard to write about their study limitations, seeing it as an admission of failure. You can do it, and you don’t have to overdo it, either.

Know your limitations and you can anticipate and record them

Before you even start your study or collect your data, you’re often aware of certain limitations on what you want to test or what results you’ll get. These are three broad areas of limitations. But there are certainly more. We admit our own limitations here. 😉

Study design limitations

These might include the procedures, experiments, or reagents (or funding) you have available. As well as specific constraints on the study population. There may be ethical guidelines , and institutional or national policies, that limit what you can do.

These are very common limitations to medical research, for example. We refer to these kinds as study design limitations. Clinical trials, for instance, may have a restriction on interventions expected to have a positive effect. Or there may be restrictions on data collection based on the study population.

Impact limitations

Even if your study has a strong design and statistical foundation there might be a strong regional, national, or species-based focus. Or your work could be very population- or experimental-specific.

Your entire field of study, in fact, may only be conducive to incremental findings (e.g., particle physics or molecular biology).

These are inherent limits on impact in that they’re so specific. This limits the extendibility of the findings. It doesn’t however, limit the impact on a specific area or your field. Note the impact and push forward!

Statistical or data limitations

Perhaps the most common kind of limitation is statistical or data-based. This category is extremely common in experimental (e.g., chemistry) or field-based (e.g., ecology, population biology, qualitative clinical research) studies.

In many situations, testing hypotheses, you simply may not be able to collect as much data or as good quality data as you want to. Perhaps enrollment was more difficult than expected, under-powering your results.

Statistical limitations can also stem from study design, producing more serious issues in terms of interpreting findings. Seeking expert review from a statistician, such as by using Edanz scientific solutions , may be a good idea before starting your study design.

writing about research limitations – Edanz Learning Lab

Other limitations

The above three are often interconnected. And they’re certainly not comprehensive.

As mentioned up top, you may also be limited by the literature. By external confounders. By things you didn’t even see coming (like how long it took you to find 10 qualified respondents for a qualitative study).

How to describe your limitations

Once you’ve identified possible limitations in your work, you need to get to the real point of this post – describing them in your manuscript.

Use the perspective of limitations = contribution and impact to maximize your chances of acceptance.

Reviewers, editors, and readers expect you to present your work authoritatively. You’re the expert in the field, after all. This may make them critical. Embrace that. Counter their possibly negative interpretation by explaining each limitation, showing why the results are still important and useful.

Where to write your limitations

Limitations are usually listed at the end of your Discussion section, though they can also be added throughout. Especially for a long manuscript or for an essay or dissertation, the latter may be useful for the reader.

Writing on your limitations: Words and structure

Giving a specific number is useful for the reader and can guide your writing. But if it’s a longer list, no need to number them. For a short list, you can write them as:

But this gets tiring for more than three limitations (bad RX: reader experience).

So, for longer lists, add a bit of variety in the language to engage the reader. Like this:

An expert editor will be happy to help you make the English more natural and readable.

Structure for writing about a limitation

After your lead-in sentence, follow a pattern of writing on your findings and related limitation(s), giving a quick interpretation, back it with support (if needed), and offer the next steps.

This provides a complete package for the reader: what happened, what it means, why this is the case, and what is now needed.

In that way, you’ve admitted what may be lacking, but you’ve further established your authority. You’ve also provided a quick roadmap for your reader. That’s an impactful contribution!

Writing up a broader limitation

It might not always be logical or readable to give that much detail. As long as you fully describe and justify the limitation, you’ve done your job well.

Your study looked at a weight intervention over 6 months at primary healthcare clinics in Japan. The results were generally. But because you only looked at Japanese patients, these findings may not be extendible to patients of other cultures/nationalities, etc.

That’s not a failure at all. It’s a success. But it is a limitation. And other researchers can learn from it and build on it. Write it up in the limitations.

Finding: We found that, in the intervention group, BMI was reduced over 6 months.

Interpretation (and support): This suggests a regimen of routine testing and measurement followed by personalized health guidance from primary physicians had a positive effect on patients’ conditions.

Support: Yamazaki (2019) and Endo et al. (2020) found similar results in urban Japanese clinics and hospitals, respectively.

Limitation and how to use it: While these are useful findings, they are limited by only including Japanese populations. This does not ensure these interventions would be as effective in other nations or cultures. Similar interventions, adapted to the local healthcare and cultural conditions, would help to further clarify the methods.

Now you’ve stated the value of your finding, the limitation, and what to do with it. Nice impact!

Dealing with breakthroughs and niche-type limitations

Another hurdle you may hit is when your results are particularly novel or you’re publishing in a little-researched field. Those are limitations that need to be stated. In this case, you can support your findings by reinforcing the novelty of your results.

When breaking new ground, there are probably still many gaps in the knowledge base that need to be filled. A good follow-up statement for this type of limitation is to describe what, based on these results, the next steps would be to build a stronger overall evidence base.

wirting abour your limitations

Dealing with critical flaws

It’s possible that your study will have a fairly “critical” flaw (usually in the study design) that decreases confidence in your findings.

Other experts will likely notice this (in peer review or perhaps on a preprint server, they should notice it), so it’s best to explain why this error or flaw occurred.

You can still explain why the study is worth repeating or how you plan to retest the phenomenon. But you may need to temper your publication goals if you still plan to publish your work.

Curb your enthusiasm: Manage expectations

No one expects science to be perfect the first time and while your peers can be highly critical, no one’s work is beyond limitations. This is important to keep in mind.

Edanz experts can help by giving you an Expert Scientific Review and seeking out your limitations.

Our knowledge base is built on uncovering each piece of the puzzle, one at a time, and limitations show us where new efforts need to be made. Much like peer review , don’t think of limitations as being inherently bad, but more as an opportunity for a new challenge.

Ultimately, your limitations may be someone else’s inspirations. Include them in your submission when you get published in the journal of your choice .

All research faces problems: Being honest impresses people much more than ignoring your limitations.

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Home — Essay Samples — Life — Limitations

essay limitations example

Essays on Limitations

Limitations and impacts of ecological indicators, limitations in lean start-up and possible solutions to them, review of the obstacles and challenges faced by entrepreneur, the challenges in the theory of direct impact of ec law, challenges faced by man as depicted in mark shelley's frankenstein, apron by leona gom: the idea of circumstantial constraints, a study of limitation of women in the society as depicted in kate chopin's awakening, limitations in product development and possible solutions, limitations in last mile e-commerce delivery, feeling stressed about your essay.

Get professional help in 5 minutes


Top 10 Similar Topics

We use cookies to personalyze your web-site experience. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .

We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

essay limitations example

Enago Academy

Writing Limitations of Research Study — 4 Reasons Why It Is Important!

' src=

It is not unusual for researchers to come across the term limitations of research during their academic paper writing. More often this is interpreted as something terrible. However, when it comes to research study, limitations can help structure the research study better. Therefore, do not underestimate significance of limitations of research study.

Allow us to take you through the context of how to evaluate the limits of your research and conclude an impactful relevance to your results.

Table of Contents

What Are the Limitations of a Research Study?

Every research has its limit and these limitations arise due to restrictions in methodology or research design.  This could impact your entire research or the research paper you wish to publish. Unfortunately, most researchers choose not to discuss their limitations of research fearing it will affect the value of their article in the eyes of readers.

However, it is very important to discuss your study limitations and show it to your target audience (other researchers, journal editors, peer reviewers etc.). It is very important that you provide an explanation of how your research limitations may affect the conclusions and opinions drawn from your research. Moreover, when as an author you state the limitations of research, it shows that you have investigated all the weaknesses of your study and have a deep understanding of the subject. Being honest could impress your readers and mark your study as a sincere effort in research.

peer review

Why and Where Should You Include the Research Limitations?

The main goal of your research is to address your research objectives. Conduct experiments, get results and explain those results, and finally justify your research question . It is best to mention the limitations of research in the discussion paragraph of your research article.

At the very beginning of this paragraph, immediately after highlighting the strengths of the research methodology, you should write down your limitations. You can discuss specific points from your research limitations as suggestions for further research in the conclusion of your thesis.

1. Common Limitations of the Researchers

Limitations that are related to the researcher must be mentioned. This will help you gain transparency with your readers. Furthermore, you could provide suggestions on decreasing these limitations in you and your future studies.

2. Limited Access to Information

Your work may involve some institutions and individuals in research, and sometimes you may have problems accessing these institutions. Therefore, you need to redesign and rewrite your work. You must explain your readers the reason for limited access.

3. Limited Time

All researchers are bound by their deadlines when it comes to completing their studies. Sometimes, time constraints can affect your research negatively. However, the best practice is to acknowledge it and mention a requirement for future study to solve the research problem in a better way.

4. Conflict over Biased Views and Personal Issues

Biased views can affect the research. In fact, researchers end up choosing only those results and data that support their main argument, keeping aside the other loose ends of the research.

Types of Limitations of Research

Before beginning your research study, know that there are certain limitations to what you are testing or possible research results. There are different types that researchers may encounter, and they all have unique characteristics, such as:

1. Research Design Limitations

Certain restrictions on your research or available procedures may affect your final results or research outputs. You may have formulated research goals and objectives too broadly. However, this can help you understand how you can narrow down the formulation of research goals and objectives, thereby increasing the focus of your study.

2. Impact Limitations

Even if your research has excellent statistics and a strong design, it can suffer from the influence of the following factors:

3. Data or statistical limitations

In some cases, it is impossible to collect sufficient data for research or very difficult to get access to the data. This could lead to incomplete conclusion to your study. Moreover, this insufficiency in data could be the outcome of your study design. The unclear, shabby research outline could produce more problems in interpreting your findings.

How to Correctly Structure Your Research Limitations?

There are strict guidelines for narrowing down research questions, wherein you could justify and explain potential weaknesses of your academic paper. You could go through these basic steps to get a well-structured clarity of research limitations:

In this section, your readers will see that you are aware of the potential weaknesses in your business, understand them and offer effective solutions, and it will positively strengthen your article as you clarify all limitations of research to your target audience.

Know that you cannot be perfect and there is no individual without flaws. You could use the limitations of research as a great opportunity to take on a new challenge and improve the future of research. In a typical academic paper, research limitations may relate to:

1. Formulating your goals and objectives

If you formulate goals and objectives too broadly, your work will have some shortcomings. In this case, specify effective methods or ways to narrow down the formula of goals and aim to increase your level of study focus.

2. Application of your data collection methods in research

If you do not have experience in primary data collection, there is a risk that there will be flaws in the implementation of your methods. It is necessary to accept this, and learn and educate yourself to understand data collection methods.

3. Sample sizes

This depends on the nature of problem you choose. Sample size is of a greater importance in quantitative studies as opposed to qualitative ones. If your sample size is too small, statistical tests cannot identify significant relationships or connections within a given data set.

You could point out that other researchers should base the same study on a larger sample size to get more accurate results.

4. The absence of previous studies in the field you have chosen

Writing a literature review is an important step in any scientific study because it helps researchers determine the scope of current work in the chosen field. It is a major foundation for any researcher who must use them to achieve a set of specific goals or objectives.

However, if you are focused on the most current and evolving research problem or a very narrow research problem, there may be very little prior research on your topic. For example, if you chose to explore the role of Bitcoin as the currency of the future, you may not find tons of scientific papers addressing the research problem as Bitcoins are only a new phenomenon.

It is important that you learn to identify research limitations examples at each step. Whatever field you choose, feel free to add the shortcoming of your work. This is mainly because you do not have many years of experience writing scientific papers or completing complex work. Therefore, the depth and scope of your discussions may be compromised at different levels compared to academics with a lot of expertise. Include specific points from limitations of research. Use them as suggestions for the future.

Have you ever faced a challenge of writing the limitations of research study in your paper? How did you overcome it? What ways did you follow? Were they beneficial? Let us know in the comments below!

' src=

Excellent article ,,,it has helped me big

Rate this article Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

essay limitations example

Enago Academy's Most Popular

research problem statement

Research Problem Statement — Find out how to write an impactful one!

What Is a Research Problem Statement? A research problem statement is a clear, concise, and…


2022 in a Nutshell — Reminiscing the year when opportunities were seized and feats were achieved!

It’s beginning to look a lot like success! Some of the greatest opportunities to research…

A Comprehensive Series on Clinical Research Writing: Part I — Protocol Writing

Importance of research protocol How to structure a research protocol Common pitfalls to avoid

essay limitations example

What Makes a Thesis Statement Spectacular? — 5 things to know

What Is a Thesis Statement? A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that states the…

research impact

How to Increase the Visibility of Your Research Paper With the Help of SEO

While there is no single, agreed-upon rubric for ranking research papers, various SEO strategies can…

How to Develop a Good Research Question? — Types & Examples

5 Effective Ways to Avoid Ghostwriting for Busy Researchers

Top 5 Key Differences Between Methods and Methodology

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

We hate spam too. We promise to protect your privacy and never spam you.

I am looking for Editing/ Proofreading services for my manuscript Tentative date of next journal submission:

essay limitations example

For what are you most likely to depend on AI-assistance?

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

The limitations of the study are those characteristics of design or methodology that impacted or influenced the interpretation of the findings from your research. Study limitations are the constraints placed on the ability to generalize from the results, to further describe applications to practice, and/or related to the utility of findings that are the result of the ways in which you initially chose to design the study or the method used to establish internal and external validity or the result of unanticipated challenges that emerged during the study.

Price, James H. and Judy Murnan. “Research Limitations and the Necessity of Reporting Them.” American Journal of Health Education 35 (2004): 66-67; Theofanidis, Dimitrios and Antigoni Fountouki. "Limitations and Delimitations in the Research Process." Perioperative Nursing 7 (September-December 2018): 155-163. .

Importance of...

Always acknowledge a study's limitations. It is far better that you identify and acknowledge your study’s limitations than to have them pointed out by your professor and have your grade lowered because you appeared to have ignored them.

Keep in mind that acknowledgment of a study's limitations is an opportunity to make suggestions for further research. If you do connect your study's limitations to suggestions for further research, be sure to explain the ways in which these unanswered questions may become more focused because of your study.

Acknowledgment of a study's limitations also provides you with opportunities to demonstrate that you have thought critically about the research problem, understood the relevant literature published about it, and correctly assessed the methods chosen for studying the problem. A key objective of the research process is not only discovering new knowledge but also to confront assumptions and explore what we don't know.

Claiming limitations is a subjective process because you must evaluate the impact of those limitations . Don't just list key weaknesses and the magnitude of a study's limitations. To do so diminishes the validity of your research because it leaves the reader wondering whether, or in what ways, limitation(s) in your study may have impacted the results and conclusions. Limitations require a critical, overall appraisal and interpretation of their impact. You should answer the question: do these problems with errors, methods, validity, etc. eventually matter and, if so, to what extent?

Price, James H. and Judy Murnan. “Research Limitations and the Necessity of Reporting Them.” American Journal of Health Education 35 (2004): 66-67; Structure: How to Structure the Research Limitations Section of Your Dissertation. Dissertations and Theses: An Online Textbook. Laerd.com.

Descriptions of Possible Limitations

All studies have limitations . However, it is important that you restrict your discussion to limitations related to the research problem under investigation. For example, if a meta-analysis of existing literature is not a stated purpose of your research, it should not be discussed as a limitation. Do not apologize for not addressing issues that you did not promise to investigate in the introduction of your paper.

Here are examples of limitations related to methodology and the research process you may need to describe and discuss how they possibly impacted your results. Note that descriptions of limitations should be stated in the past tense because they were discovered after you completed your research.

Possible Methodological Limitations

Possible Limitations of the Researcher

Aguinis, Hermam and Jeffrey R. Edwards. “Methodological Wishes for the Next Decade and How to Make Wishes Come True.” Journal of Management Studies 51 (January 2014): 143-174; Brutus, Stéphane et al. "Self-Reported Limitations and Future Directions in Scholarly Reports: Analysis and Recommendations." Journal of Management 39 (January 2013): 48-75; Senunyeme, Emmanuel K. Business Research Methods. Powerpoint Presentation. Regent University of Science and Technology; ter Riet, Gerben et al. “All That Glitters Isn't Gold: A Survey on Acknowledgment of Limitations in Biomedical Studies.” PLOS One 8 (November 2013): 1-6.

Structure and Writing Style

Information about the limitations of your study are generally placed either at the beginning of the discussion section of your paper so the reader knows and understands the limitations before reading the rest of your analysis of the findings, or, the limitations are outlined at the conclusion of the discussion section as an acknowledgement of the need for further study. Statements about a study's limitations should not be buried in the body [middle] of the discussion section unless a limitation is specific to something covered in that part of the paper. If this is the case, though, the limitation should be reiterated at the conclusion of the section.

If you determine that your study is seriously flawed due to important limitations , such as, an inability to acquire critical data, consider reframing it as an exploratory study intended to lay the groundwork for a more complete research study in the future. Be sure, though, to specifically explain the ways that these flaws can be successfully overcome in a new study.

But, do not use this as an excuse for not developing a thorough research paper! Review the tab in this guide for developing a research topic . If serious limitations exist, it generally indicates a likelihood that your research problem is too narrowly defined or that the issue or event under study is too recent and, thus, very little research has been written about it. If serious limitations do emerge, consult with your professor about possible ways to overcome them or how to revise your study.

When discussing the limitations of your research, be sure to:

Remember that the method you chose may be the source of a significant limitation that has emerged during your interpretation of the results [for example, you didn't interview a group of people that you later wish you had]. If this is the case, don't panic. Acknowledge it, and explain how applying a different or more robust methodology might address the research problem more effectively in a future study. A underlying goal of scholarly research is not only to show what works, but to demonstrate what doesn't work or what needs further clarification.

Aguinis, Hermam and Jeffrey R. Edwards. “Methodological Wishes for the Next Decade and How to Make Wishes Come True.” Journal of Management Studies 51 (January 2014): 143-174; Brutus, Stéphane et al. "Self-Reported Limitations and Future Directions in Scholarly Reports: Analysis and Recommendations." Journal of Management 39 (January 2013): 48-75; Ioannidis, John P.A. "Limitations are not Properly Acknowledged in the Scientific Literature." Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 60 (2007): 324-329; Pasek, Josh. Writing the Empirical Social Science Research Paper: A Guide for the Perplexed. January 24, 2012. Academia.edu; Structure: How to Structure the Research Limitations Section of Your Dissertation. Dissertations and Theses: An Online Textbook. Laerd.com; What Is an Academic Paper? Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College; Writing the Experimental Report: Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.

Writing Tip

Don't Inflate the Importance of Your Findings!

After all the hard work and long hours devoted to writing your research paper, it is easy to get carried away with attributing unwarranted importance to what you’ve done. We all want our academic work to be viewed as excellent and worthy of a good grade, but it is important that you understand and openly acknowledge the limitations of your study. Inflating the importance of your study's findings could be perceived by your readers as an attempt hide its flaws or encourage a biased interpretation of the results. A small measure of humility goes a long way!

Another Writing Tip

Negative Results are Not a Limitation!

Negative evidence refers to findings that unexpectedly challenge rather than support your hypothesis. If you didn't get the results you anticipated, it may mean your hypothesis was incorrect and needs to be reformulated. Or, perhaps you have stumbled onto something unexpected that warrants further study. Moreover, the absence of an effect may be very telling in many situations, particularly in experimental research designs. In any case, your results may very well be of importance to others even though they did not support your hypothesis. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that results contrary to what you expected is a limitation to your study. If you carried out the research well, they are simply your results and only require additional interpretation.

Lewis, George H. and Jonathan F. Lewis. “The Dog in the Night-Time: Negative Evidence in Social Research.” The British Journal of Sociology 31 (December 1980): 544-558.

Yet Another Writing Tip

Sample Size Limitations in Qualitative Research

Sample sizes are typically smaller in qualitative research because, as the study goes on, acquiring more data does not necessarily lead to more information. This is because one occurrence of a piece of data, or a code, is all that is necessary to ensure that it becomes part of the analysis framework. However, it remains true that sample sizes that are too small cannot adequately support claims of having achieved valid conclusions and sample sizes that are too large do not permit the deep, naturalistic, and inductive analysis that defines qualitative inquiry. Determining adequate sample size in qualitative research is ultimately a matter of judgment and experience in evaluating the quality of the information collected against the uses to which it will be applied and the particular research method and purposeful sampling strategy employed. If the sample size is found to be a limitation, it may reflect your judgment about the methodological technique chosen [e.g., single life history study versus focus group interviews] rather than the number of respondents used.

Boddy, Clive Roland. "Sample Size for Qualitative Research." Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal 19 (2016): 426-432; Huberman, A. Michael and Matthew B. Miles. "Data Management and Analysis Methods." In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994), pp. 428-444; Blaikie, Norman. "Confounding Issues Related to Determining Sample Size in Qualitative Research." International Journal of Social Research Methodology 21 (2018): 635-641; Oppong, Steward Harrison. "The Problem of Sampling in qualitative Research." Asian Journal of Management Sciences and Education 2 (2013): 202-210.

Sacred Heart University Library

Organizing Academic Research Papers: Purpose of Guide

Purpose of guide.

This guide is intended to help you organize and write a quality academic research paper. Also included are recommendations regarding how to manage specific course assignments. Note that, if you have specific questions about how to write a research paper, you should always seek advice from your professor before you begin. Specific requirements stated by your professor will always supersede instructions provided in these general guidelines.

Thanks to Dr. Robert V. Labaree of the Von KleinSmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs, University of Southern California Libraries , for sharing the content of this guide.

Additional Help

Jandrisevits Learning Center (JLC)

The JLC is SHU’s central academic support service and is open to all SHU students. Our mission is to provide academic support to strengthen student learning and empower every student to develop as self-directed learners. JLC tutors see each student as a holistic learner, paying attention to the importance of cognition as well as to the emotional aspects of learning.

Academic Support Services include 1-on-1 tutoring with Professional and Peer tutors; group study sessions for particular courses by Classroom Learning Assistants (CLAs); monthly workshops on specific academic and life skills; specialized Learning Labs in math, critical reading and writing, accounting, and math; and online writing support (OWL).

More resources from SHU

Research Support

Using the Library

User Information

My Accounts

Sacred Heart University



Don’t Worry! And Write the LIMITATIONS of Your Research!

Do you know someone who thinks they are simply perfect and has no faults? (Well, I know a few and some even become presidents of extremely important countries).

Well, as shocking and disappointing as it may seem to some people: no one is perfect! Some are too tall, some too short, some enjoy country music (nothing personal), some add water to their fine whiskey (honestly, why?) and some do not drink coffee.

The conclusion is: we all have some negative sides! And research is no different!

And what is considered a limitation of a study?

A limitation is any aspect that hinders a study and its findings.

Does it mean that if my study has limitations it is useless?  NO!!!!!!!!!!!

Very often researchers (students or well established researchers) have concerns about clearly describing the limitations of their studies. Why? Because there is sometimes a misconception that if your research limitations are too clear, readers will undermine the relevance of your work. For example, you might be afraid others will think:

“Why are these findings relevant if there are so many limitations to the study?”

All right, first let us make some things clear here:

In other words, clearly describing the limitations of your study should only strengthen your work!

ALSO CHECK :  Read our “STEP BY STEP Thesis Guide” with Many More Tips!

Video Content: Research Limitations 

In case you are enjoying the article, do not forget to watch the video with further support on how to deal with your research limitations.

Examples of Research Limitations

Ok, you got it so far that no one is perfect, that some weird people become presidents and that research limitations should be included in your work.

I guess the next question would be: which limitations should I mention?

Look, it is extremely difficult to describe all possible types of research limitations. It will vary greatly depending on the type and nature of the study.

However, here are some examples:

Where Should Research Limitations be Included in the Thesis?

Once you are done thinking and considering the limitations of your work, a simple question may arise: Where in my thesis should I include such limitations?

Please note: there is no specific format to this and it may vary from supervisor to supervisor, and sometimes certain universities may have their own guidelines. But USUALLY, the limitations are the VERY LAST section of your thesis, and they appear after the MANAGERIAL RECOMMENDATIONS .

And why? Because as mentioned above, the limitations may be due to any section of your work. For example:

For this reason, it doesn’t really make much sense to have it in any other section of your work but the very END .

Got it? Great! Now go ahead and be honest with the limitations of your work! Reviewers will be positively impressed!

Download the Article

Did you like the article and would like to have it with you? Simple!

DOWNLOAD : LiveInnovation.org - Writing Research Limitations.pdf

Final Thoughts

Please note: All the suggestions here are personal, according to my own supervision style. Feel absolutely free to discuss them with your supervisor or other academics. Each one tends to have their own style and expectations.

Hope these tips have been useful for you and wish you all the best!

essay limitations example


essay limitations example

SOUNDS LIKE A THESIS is now available on Spotify!

essay limitations example

Download Our e-Book: “Sounds Like A Thesis”

essay limitations example

SPSS Tutorial Series on YouTube: Learn Quickly and Easily

Privacy overview.

This is an necessary category.

This is an non-necessary category.

Academic Writing Tips: What Are Study Limitations?

Academic Writing Tips: What Are Study Limitations?

An important part of writing up research is to consider whether your study has any limitations. But what are study limitations? And why are they important? In this post, we explain what you need to know.

What Are Study Limitations?

The term “study limitations” refers to anything that may affect the reliability or generalizability of the results in a study or experiment.

This could relate to the design of the research (e.g., your methods or research approach). Or it could be an issue with how the study was carried out (e.g., running out of time and resources before the study is over).

In either case, it’s important to note limitations when writing up your study. Typically, this will be as part of the discussion and analysis . However, different schools may have different guidelines on this, so make sure to check your style guide for advice on where to discuss study limitations.

Why Write About Study Limitations?

It may seem counterintuitive to include limitations when writing up your research, especially if something went wrong. But there are several good reasons to mention study limitations, including:

In addition, most of the time your professor will spot any problems with your study regardless of whether you mention them. Thus, it’s much better to embrace limitations and make them part of your analysis.

But what exactly counts as a limitation? Typically, they come in two broad types: methodological limitations and researcher limitations.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Methodological Limitations

Methodological limitations are to do with the way a study was designed and carried out. Some examples include:

There are other methodological limitations you may encounter depending on what you’re studying. But, in all cases, it is important to think about your methods and how they may affect your results.

Researcher Limitations

These are factors to do with the attitudes, capabilities, and situation of the researcher. Examples of this type of limitation include:

As above, the key here is thinking about how these limitations may affect your results. If you do this, you can then factor any limitations into your analysis and discussion when writing up your study.

Expert Academic Proofreading

In conclusion, remember that study limitations occur in all research. This isn’t something to worry about or try and hide. However, you should:

To ensure your academic writing is clear and consistent, moreover, why not make use of our expert proofreaders ? Sign up for a free trial today.

Share this article:

Post A New Comment

Instant Quote

Need more help perfecting your writing proofed has the perfect editor.

You can also upload a document to get an instant quote

Drag & drop your file

or browse your computer

Browse from your device

Drop your file here!

Your file is being uploaded!

3-minute read

Grammar Tips: Proper Nouns

Is it a person, place, or thing? Oh my! In this article, we’re talking about...

7-minute read

Grammar Tips: Plural Nouns

If someone asked you what a noun is, you’d probably say it’s a person, place,...

2-minute read

A Simple Guide to Definite Articles

If you’re unsure what a definite article is, you’ve come to the right place! Knowing...

5-minute read

Study Tips: The Pomodoro Technique

Introduction Do you struggle to stay focused while studying? The Pomodoro (meaning tomato in Italian)...

How to Cite a Code of Ethics in Harvard Referencing

Most businesses and professions have their own code of ethics, so you’re likely to encounter...

8-minute read

Punctuation Tips: Parenthesis

Whether you’re writing an essay, email, or cover letter, you’ll likely use parentheses. Maybe you...

Logo Harvard University

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.

logo Pro-Academic-Writers.com

What are the limitations in research?

Types of limitations in research, best tips on organizing study limitations, to conclude.

All of us encountered the term limitations in research at least once in academic paper writing . Usually, we interpret it as something bad. However, when it comes to your studies, restraints can actually become a positive thing. We have written an article about limitations in research which would explain not only what the limitations are, but also how to use them in your study.    

Limitations in research are restrictions and constraints which have been put on your methodology of study and exploration process in general. Unfortunately, many researchers don’t work with restraints and ignore them. They do so because they feel like if they do actually determine some of the limitations, their work will not be valued as much. Limitations depend on the different types of research design . Of course, this is not the true cause. Every study should have its limits. If you want your work to be accurate, the research limitations section should be a must-have for your study. The truth is that each study has its flaws and negative sides, but this fact does not ultimately make writing your case study worse. Here are the key rules you should follow:

Here are some tips on how to organize a discussion about research limitations for your studies.

Limitations are a great way to have an open discussion about what did you discover and how your findings were influenced by these limits. Negative sides of your study can actually help you make your research better. Learn from the mistakes, and do your best to improve your work. In case you need some extra help with your papers you can always ask professionals to take care of it.


  1. 😎 Limitations of the study thesis sample. How to structure the Research Limitations section of

    essay limitations example

  2. Federal Employee Probationary Employee Rights

    essay limitations example

  3. How to get help online writing an essay

    essay limitations example

  4. 😍 Example of recommendation for future study. Letter of Recommendation For Further Studies by

    essay limitations example

  5. Thesis Limitation Of The Study Sample

    essay limitations example

  6. 😀 Scope and limitation sample in thesis. Sample Scope and Delimitation. 2019-01-09

    essay limitations example



  2. Part A: ChatGPT- Genie' Capabilities

  3. essay info

  4. Home Gardening Initiative in Carlisle

  5. How To Write A Research Paper: Conclusion (Step-By-Step Tutorial)

  6. Topic to Essay


  1. How to Present the Limitations of the Study Examples

    Common Methodological Limitations of Studies · Issues with research samples and selection · Insufficient sample size for statistical measurements.

  2. 46 Discussing Limitations

    Discussion of the limitations of your study should not be hidden in the body of the discussion section unless a limitation is specific to something covered in

  3. How to Write about Research Limitations Without Reducing Your

    Limitations are usually listed at the end of your Discussion section, though they can also be added throughout. Especially for a long manuscript or for an essay

  4. ≡Essays on Limitations. Free Examples of Research ...

    Absolutely FREE essays on Limitations. All examples of topics, summaries were provided by straight-A students. ✍ Get an idea for your paper.

  5. How to write Limitations of Research

    Moreover, when as an author you state the limitations of research, it shows that you have investigated all the weaknesses of your study and have

  6. Limitations of the Study

    Descriptions of Possible Limitations · Sample size -- the number of the units of analysis you use in your study is dictated by the type of research problem you

  7. Organizing Academic Research Papers: Limitations of the Study

    Descriptions of Possible Limitations · Sample size -- the number of the units of analysis you use in your study is dictated by the type of

  8. Don't Worry! And Write the LIMITATIONS of Your Research!

    Examples of Research Limitations · Sample Size. Often studies wish to understand a specific topic (e.g. Brazilian consumers' perceptions towards

  9. Academic Writing Tips: What Are Study Limitations?

    Methodological limitations are to do with the way a study was designed and carried out. Some examples include: ... There are other methodological

  10. Limitations in Research: Writing about Your Study Limitations

    Types of limitations in research · Sample size/sample bias. For example, let's say 100 hundred people should participate in your survey. · Access to data. You