What Are The Limitations Of Research Methodology?


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Joe Gilbert answered
Well this really depends on the research methods used as each type has its own limitations as well as strengths. The best way to answer this is to give the individual limitations of a number of different methods. There are two umbrella terms which can be used to categorize all types of social research; quantitative and qualitative. These both have their own general limitations, but rather than detail these limitations, I will give information on the individual methods' limitations.

Questionnaires - These can be both quantitative and qualitative methods depending on whether open (qual) or closed (quant) questions are asked. The main limitations are:

- Answers tend to be limited in information which can result in low validity
- Limited depth in answers
- Questionnaires sent out in the post may not be returned, so possibly a small and unrepresentative sample
- Questions may not be fully understood by those answering them
- Complex questions are difficult to use as answers will get to complicated and answerers may not understand

Interviews - These tend to result in qualitative data as interviewees are free to answer however they so wish, with words. This will usually be transcribed and does not tend to form numbers. The main limitations of interviews are:

- They are very time consuming
- Questions need to be pre-planned so that all participants are asked the same questions
- Having the interviewer present may influence the answers given
- Often the samples are too small to be representative
- Such detailed, quantitative data can be difficult to analyze and interpret

These examples give you some general ideas about limitations of both qualitative and quantitative research methods; some of these can be transferred across to other methods. Once you understand general limitations it is also easy to work out your own.

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