How to Write Limitations in a Report

How to Write Limitations in a Report

Adding exceptions or limitations in a report prevents other people from criticizing research methods or results of conclusions. In a report, the researcher will acknowledge the limitations of his research method or other aspects of the report in relevant sections -- for example, limitations affecting the methods used will be included in the methodology section of the report. Some report formats specify limitations in another section of the report, such as only in the conclusion, but it is normally the researcher who decides where the limitations should be written.

Analyze the methods used in the study or report. Look at which methods were lacking ecological validity -- laboratory experiments used in a social report -- and methods that were limited by resources, time constraints, ethical approval or other factors. Consider how these limitations may affect the quality of the report and briefly include this information, although most criticisms of limitations and their effect on the report should be included in the report's conclusion. Write limitations of the method in the "methodology" section of the report, depending on the report format.

Look at results from the methods used -- what you found out from your research. The results may be in the form of statistical data if quantitative research was performed or as quotes and opinions if qualitative research methods were used. If some data collected contained abnormalities, you must refer back to the limitations written in the methodology to explain these anomalous results. Refer back to the limitations in the methodology and critically evaluate some results, such as stating that 70 percent of participants may not be an accurate representation of the entire population because only 15 participants were used in research due to time constraints. These limitations should be included in the "result analysis" section of the report.

Refer to limitations in the report's conclusion and highlight areas of improvement. For example, explain that the report was hindered due to lack of ethical approval again in the report conclusion and explain why the report would benefit from ethical approval. Include recommendations for the report, if the study should be performed again, and ensure that you cover all limitations mentioned in the methodology and result sections of the report. Recommendations for the report in this case are different from recommendations for your findings, such as suggesting more funding to public schools if an educational report showed high levels of illiteracy in some schools.

Rework the limitations in the report to follow the format desired. For example, some reports use a "validity and reliability" section to include scope and limitations of the report rather than highlighting and referring to limitations throughout the report. Include why the limitations degrade the quality of your report and that the limitations included can accurately account for anomalous results, insufficient conclusions or possible criticisms.

Victoria Gorski has been a freelance copywriter since 2005, producing articles for small businesses, newspapers and magazines, as well as creating marketing material. She also publishes material for literacy communities and regional newspapers, such as the "MEN" and "Bolton News." Gorski is pursuing a Master of Arts in creative writing and a postgraduate certificate in education.