Limitation in Research Methods: Social Sciences and Worldview

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Limitation in research methods refers to the variables or influences the researcher can’t control. These uncontrollable variables often mean a lack of adequate information on the given research subject.

Research Methods and Design

When conducting any form of research, there are multiple things that can determine the design of a specific research project. The research question, the ethics involved in the research, the methodology of the project and the budget the researcher has available are all major parts of how a research project is designed and carried out.

There are two types of research methods: qualitative and quantitative. Both research methods involve gathering information on a subject. Qualitative research is used most often in the social sciences to study people, behavior, language and culture. Quantitative research methods are used in scientific research and in some disciplines, such as economics. This kind of research involves quantifying or measuring the subject or data relating to the subject.

Limitation in Research Methods

All research has some limitations because there are always certain variables that the researcher is unable to control. Sometimes these limitations are more or less significant, depending on the type of research and the subject of the research. Some possible occurrences of limitation in research methods include a lack of available or reliable data, lack of prior research on the subject, the sample size available or the measure used to collect the data.

While limitations in research methods can cause problems in the research, most often the research project can continue despite the limitations present. There are instances wherein limitations can render a certain research project unusable or unreliable, particularly when there isn’t enough information or variables to obtain an accurate interpretation of the data being researched. Often in qualitative research, certain limitations stop the findings from being applied to the larger population, making the research findings unusable or unable to be used for larger control groups.

In additions to limitation in research methods, there can also be limitations of the researcher conducting the study. True, accurate research is meant to be unbiased to offer an accurate representation of a certain group or groups of data. When a researcher has a bias that would skew an interpretation of the research, it is considered a researcher limitation. Lack of proper access to information, experiences and familiarity with the subject matter can all be researcher limitations that can affect a research project or method.

Types of Research Studies

In addition to the different methods of research, there are varying research studies. Any research method or study can have limitations to some extent. Limitations will vary depending on the type of research study and what is being studied.

Many research studies fall into one of a few common categories. Correlation research examines the covariation of multiple variables, such as the covariation of heart disease among those diagnosed as obese. True experiments are defined as studies wherein all variables are attempted to be controlled, aside from the variable that is the focus of the study. These studies are often laboratory studies and include traditional control group studies and double-blind studies.

Quasi-experiments are another type of research study similar to true experiments. The major difference between true and quasi-experiments is that quasi-experiment research uses groups that are naturally formed, rather than bringing groups together for the purpose of the research study.