What Are Limitations in Research and How to Write Them

What are limitations in research? Every student attempting to write a research paper has asked this question at one point or the other. If you’ve asked this question before, you’re in the right place.

Limitations in research refer to the constraints on a work as regards its applicability. The limitations of research work are usually derived from the methodology used. You must point out the limitations in your work before your supervisor does.

Pointing out the possible limitations of a study reveals that you have done adequate research. It also shows that you have critically thought about your research problems and understood the reviewed literature. The limitations in a study open up areas for further research.

There are different types of limitation in research. The limitation could be based on methodology, and it could also be based on the researcher.

Common limitations in research you should know

Limitations in research are common and are nothing to be ashamed of. There are many examples of limitations in research. Some limitations in research are discussed below:

Sample size

The number of samples you are analyzing for your research could be a limitation. Sometimes, the sample size is too small to generalize findings. This should be highlighted clearly when writing your research study limitation.

Insufficient data

The limitation of the study, at times, is the fact that there is no sufficient data to back up your claim. The inability to get data will force you to narrow down the scope of your research. When stating this limitation, ensure you suggest reasons for insufficient data. Make your limitation useful by linking it to areas of further research.

Insufficient literature to review

This is another limitation of the study. Sometimes, not much has been done on an aspect. This could make it difficult to get literature to review for your work. However, before you decide this is the case, consult the librarian in your school or locality.

Ask around from those who are academically inclined to ensure you have left no stone unturned in searching for literature. You can only state that there is little literature when you have done an extensive search with few results. Remember to use this limitation to open up a research path for future researchers.

Method of data collection

Sometimes after you have finished your research, you find that you could have collected your data better. Acknowledge this limitation in your writing and state the need for revising the data collection method.


Whether you are conducting interviews, questionnaires, or focus groups, self-report should never be generalized. This is because it cannot be verified independently. A lot of factors could limit self-report. The respondent could exaggerate facts or switch the time of events. This limitation should be highlighted so that it does not become something that will make you lose marks.

Access to data

If you have issues accessing data for your research, you should state it in your work. You should also give possible reasons for this limitation and suggest how it can be handled in the future.

How to write limitations of report for your research

The limitations of a study should be written at the beginning of the discussion or the end. It should not be written within the body or the discussion as it could easily get lost. When writing the limitation of your study, point it out objectively but do not be apologetic about it. Describe the limitation in clear terms.

Objectively point out the impacts of the limitation on your research. In addition, state the reason for the limitation and why it could not be overcome in the research. Finally, use the research limitation to suggest possible areas of further study.


Every academic paper has a limitation. Having a limitation does not mean that your paper is not good enough. However, it should also not be an excuse for writing a mediocre research paper. Make sure you do everything you can to write a good paper. Limitations should be things you genuinely cannot overcome in writing your academic paper.

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