Understanding Delimitation in Research Papers

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In research, there are many variables that are out of the study’s control. Delimitation is a process that gives researchers control to limit the scope of the data included in their investigation.

What Are Variables in Research?

Variables are an important part of any research. These are the different aspects of a study that change and can influence results. Variables can be anything from different weather conditions, such as rain when collecting data to the number of participants in the study. Other examples include size, gender, color and time. The most common types of variables in research are independent and dependent.

An independent variable is one aspect of the data the researcher can control. Although it is a form of data manipulation, it helps focus the research and reduce confusion. For instance, a study about weight gain over 40 only uses data from participants in good health. On the other hand, a dependent variable is the findings of weight gain for people with different health conditions after age 40. Control can come from direct change or the variable changing on its own.

The Difference Between Limitation and Delimitation in Research

Limitations are the variables in a study that the researcher can’t control and will affect the outcome of any findings. This can include physical differences in the variables, such as the number of patients taking a medicine that experience a specific side effect, or issues with methodology if the researcher can’t complete a step because of monetary or time constraints. In both these examples, nothing can be done to change the influence of these factors. When preparing a final report, all known limitations, no matter how minor, should be included. In qualitative research, limitations can prevent researchers from applying results to a large sample of the population. If possible, the study should note any potential problems these limitations may cause.

Delimitations are the exact opposite of limitations. These are the variables that are left out on purpose by the researcher. This includes limiting the number of results, excluding resources and only using specific research procedures to gather data to reach a particular objective. Examples of delimitation are using only results from one country or age group or removing data obtained during different weather conditions.

Identifying Delimitation of Research in a Study

Just like researchers need to report any limitations and the possible complications that may result from it in their findings, the same information must be included even for some minor variable changes. Although this information must be clear with the reader, it’s also important to not overwhelm them with a large list of limitations and delimitations. If there is a significant amount, it may be necessary to complete one or more other studies to confirm any results. This is particularly important for different methodological procedures. Most studies only use one research method to collect data. If the study uses observational research, it should disclose any restrictions in the number and type of locations, time of observation and reason for the differences. Failure to notify readers of this information can decrease and even invalidate the integrity of the research.