Research Limitations vs. Research Delimitations - A Practical Guide for Researchers

Research Limitations
So, you have decided to run a research study? Before making any attempt to run a research study, you must grasp the idea of fundamental principles that make research acceptable or not for publishing. By saying this, we mean you should have an idea of the research limitations and delimitations. In the broader view, limitations and delimitations are the potential weaknesses of a research study. However, both these terms are different.

As you are here reading this article, it means you do not have an idea of the differences that exist between them. In today’s post, we will explore the differences between research limitations and research delimitations. Before going into the discussion of differences, let’s define them briefly.

What Are The Research Limitations?

Research limitations are weaknesses of a research study that are often caused by factors that are out of the control of the researcher. These factors may include time, funding limitations, equipment, or not finding the right respondents for the study. These weaknesses can also emerge from the research design itself. For example, if you are conducting a correlational research study, you cannot infer the causal relationship between the variables. Simply put, these limitations highlight the shortcomings of a research study caused by uncontrollable variables.

What Are The Research Delimitations?

Research delimitations are similar to limitations to the extent that they also “limit” the study. However, the focus of these limitations is entirely different from those discussed above. The research delimitations are the weaknesses of a research study caused by factors that a researcher can control. These limitations normally refer to the research aims, the scope of the research study, and the research questions. In simple words, delimitations are not as much as “why I did this” but rather, “why did I not do it like this.”

Differences Between Research Limitations And Research Delimitations

After reading the information above, you now have got a good idea of the definitions of research delimitations and limitations. Now, let’s get back to the main topic of today’s discussion, which is “research limitations vs. research delimitations.” Hence, a brief description of all the differences is as follows:

1. The Difference In The Control

The first and most important difference that lies between research limitations and delimitations is the difference in control. Limitations are weaknesses that are outside the control of the researcher. It means such limitations creep into the study through faulty equipment or using a research design that is not appropriate for the study. On the other hand, research delimitations are weaknesses that can be controlled by the researcher. The researcher decides what to include in the study and what to exclude.

2. The Difference In The Location

An obvious difference exists in the location of both weaknesses. Being uncontrollable, the research limitations mostly come in chapter 5 of a dissertation and chapter 3 of a dissertation proposal. In contrast, the research delimitations come in chapter 1, where the research aims, scope, and questions are listed. It is where you discuss what you will include in the study and what you will not.

3. The Difference In Influence

The 3rd difference lies in the influence of both types of limitations on a research study. As research limitations are weaknesses out of your control, they hit the reliability and validity of your research very hard. As these weaknesses cannot be controlled by the researcher, he cannot undo the damage once done. In the meantime, the influence of the research delimitations is positive. By stating what to include and what to exclude in the study, you actually make the study more concise and to the point.

Common Reasons for Research Limitations

After discussing the differences, you have got a good idea of how both weaknesses are different from each other. Now, let’s look at the common reasons for research limitations.
  • Issues with the research sample characteristics and selection
  • Not enough samples to conduct an effective research study
  • Lack of previous studies on the chosen topic, i.e., lack of literature
  • Not choosing the right research design required by the research study and the topic


Conclusively, research limitations and research delimitations are two different kinds of weaknesses of a research study. The former affects the reliability and validity of the research, and the latter makes the research narrower and more focused on the topic. The major differences between them are listed above, along with the reasons too. Hence, read each and every line written above and perform your research study accordingly. If you are still facing issues in differentiating the both when conducting your research study, getting research paper help service can be a good choice to consider.

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