What Is The Meaning of Scope and Delimitation in Studies?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:46:46 PM ET
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More often than not, research students and sometimes professional researchers get confused over the differences between scope and delimitation. Each research is defined according to several hypotheses that start with the study of a particular enigma and ends with specific recommendations (limits of the study). Read through this guide and discover how to easily differentiate the two and write a clear-cut thesis or research paper.

Scope of a Study

Scope refers to the depth at which the research area will be explored. Facts and theories about the subject are included in this area. For instance, one might decide to carry out a study of the impact of mobile devices on the behavior patterns of elementary school kids. However, it's infeasible to cover all aspects of the selected subject. If so, the scope will have to be restricted to a specific section of the target population over a specified duration. 

In the above-cited study, a group of 25 kids in grades 3 to 5 at one particular school would be an ideal coverage to study their behavior patterns for five months. These would form the delimitations of the research.

Delimitation of a Study

Delimitation parameters or characteristics that limit the scope and outline the boundaries of the study. These parameters include sample size, time, and geographic area. Additionally, the researcher is free to decide which research tools and methodologies to use as well as particular theories that apply to the data. Delimitations like insufficient time and financial resources might be imposed to allow further analysis or investigations. 

Here, researchers are tasked with the responsibility of explaining why specific exclusions and choices were made and how they might affect the outcome of the research. In the example mentioned above, the researcher might explain why a sample group of 25 children was chosen together with children from grades 3 to 5 and not the rest of the grades.


According to research guides from the University of Southern California, limitations are the constraints on the concept of any data collected, applications to practice, and utility of findings that weren't accounted for beforehand. These affect the methods used to set internal and external validity. In this case, the researcher might discover that several children from grades 3 and 5 couldn't make it to school on the research day due to torrential downpour. 

In qualitative research, some limitations might mean that the results of the larger population can't be generalized. This is particularly true when the definition of the population is broad, for example, middle-aged men. 

Summarizing the Research

When writing the paper, the researcher should ensure that any delimitation factor is noted down at the introduction, discussion, and conclusion sections. He or she should clarify why the study included and excluded some delimitations. Additionally, the researcher can state further how the study's results relate to the more far-flung population while incorporating the delimitating factors. 

The effects of delimitation factors on external validity is a suitable place to start when discussing the limitations of any study and the assumptions used. According to Informedia Services (IMS), assumptions are accepted as actual findings by researchers who read dissertations or thesis. Some calculations, assumptions, and selections can be made when the researcher is considering proper and realistic designs for their presentations.