What are the potential worst limitations of your data collection approach?
Data collection is the procedure of collecting, measuring, and analyzing accurate insights for research using standard validated techniques.
Put simply, data collection is the process of gathering information for a specific purpose. It can be used to answer research questions, make informed business decisions, or improve products and services.
To collect data, we must first identify what information we need and how we will collect it. We can also evaluate a hypothesis based on collected data. In most cases, data collection is the primary and most important step for research. The approach to data collection is different for different fields of study, depending on the required information.
Data Collection Methods
There are many ways to collect information when doing research. The data collection methods that the researcher chooses will depend on the research question posed. Some data collection methods include surveys, interviews, tests, physiological evaluations, observations, reviews of existing records, and biological samples.
Main types of limitations
Some methodological limitations
- Sample size : Is the number of units of analysis you use in your study determined by the type of research problem you are investigating? Keep in mind that if your sample size is too small, it will be difficult to find meaningful relationships and generalizations from the data, since statistical tests typically require a larger sample size to ensure a representative distribution of the population. and be considered representative of the groups of people, objects, processes, etc., studied. Although, of course, sample size is less relevant in qualitative research.
- Lack of available and/or reliable data: Lack of data or reliable data is likely an aspect that may limit the scope of your analysis, the size of your sample, or may be a significant obstacle to finding a trend, generalization, or relationship. significant. You should not only describe these limitations, but also offer reasons why you believe the data is missing or unreliable, which will be very useful as an opportunity to describe future research needs.
- The lack of previous research studies on the topic : Referencing and criticizing previous research studies constitutes the basis of the bibliographic review and helps lay the foundation for understanding the research problem being investigated. Depending on the scope of your research topic, there may be little prior research on your topic. Of course, before assuming that this is true, the main international databases should be widely consulted. It is important to highlight that discovering a limitation of this type can serve as an opportunity to identify new gaps in the literature and consequently new research.
- Measure used to collect the data: Sometimes, after completing the interpretation of the results, you discover that the way you collected data inhibited your ability to conduct a thorough analysis of the results. For example, not including a specific question in a survey that, in retrospect, could have helped address a particular issue that arose later in the study.
- Self-reported data : Self-reported data is limited by the fact that it can rarely be independently verified. In other words, I am referring to the case where the researcher has to investigate what people think about a topic, whether in interviews, focus groups, or in questionnaires, at face value. These self-reported data may contain several potential sources of bias that you should be aware of and note as limitations. These biases can become evident if they are inconsistent with data from other sources. These are: 1) selective memory , that is, remembering or not remembering experiences or events that occurred at some point in the past; 2) “telescope” effect , where self-informants remember events that occurred once as if they occurred at another time; 3) attribution , which refers to the act of attributing positive events and outcomes to one’s own person, but attributing negative events and outcomes to external forces; and 4) exaggeration, the act of representing results or embellishing events as more significant than they really were (Price and Murnan, 2004).
Possible limitations of the researcher
- Access: If the study depends on having access to people, organizations or documents and, for any reason, access is denied or limited in some way, the reasons for this situation must be described.
- Longitudinal effects : The time available to investigate a problem and measure change or stability over time is in most cases very limited, for example, due to the expiration date of project assignments, these limitations are advisable that are expressed in the research report or in a scientific article.
- Cultural limitations and other types of bias: Bias is when a person, place or thing is seen or shown in an inaccurate way. The bias is generally negative, although one can have a positive bias as well, especially if that bias reflects your reliance on research that supports only your hypothesis. When revising your article, critically review the way you have stated a problem, selected the data to study, what you may have omitted, the way you have arranged procedures, events, people or places.
No one expects science to be perfect, especially not the first time, and even your colleagues can be very critical, but no one’s work is beyond limitations. Our knowledge base is based on discovering each piece of the puzzle, one at a time, and the limitations show us where we need to make greater efforts next time. From a peer review perspective, I do not believe that limitations are inherently bad, on the contrary, omitting them would leave hidden flaws that could be repeated, it is necessary to see them as an opportunity, even the limitations of your study can be the inspiration from another researcher.
Price, J.H. y Murnan, J. (2004). Research Limitations and the Necessity of Reporting Them. American Journal of Health Education, 35, 66-67.
What are the limitations of the research?
How can they affect the results of a scientific study of social reality?
Research limitations are aspects or conditions that are identified as possible obstacles to achieving the objectives of a research. Furthermore, such limitations restrict or condition the validity, applicability and generalization of the results of a study or investigation. They are aspects that the researcher recognizes and points out as factors that could have influenced the results or that limit the interpretation and extrapolation of the findings (Booth et al., 2008; Yin, 2017; Black, 1999; and, Leedy and Ormrod, 2016).
It is important to highlight limitations in a research report so that readers understand the restrictions inherent to the study and can interpret the results appropriately (American Psychological Association, 2020).
Let’s look at some of the limitations that are frequently mentioned in research reports. These are not the only ones, others can be identified; Here are some of the typical limitations associated with quantitative and qualitative approaches in research:
If the sample used in the research is small, the results may not be representative of the general population. This may limit the generalizability of the findings.
If the sample is not selected randomly or if it has specific characteristics, it may introduce bias into the results.
In studies involving surveys or questionnaires, missing or biased responses from participants can affect the validity of the results.
Assumptions of normality
In some statistical methods, data are assumed to follow a normal distribution. If this assumption is not met, there may be problems in data analysis.
For research that follows the quantitative approach, limited availability of funding or access to data may restrict the depth and breadth of the research. Qualitative data collection and analysis is often a time- and resource-intensive process, which can limit the amount of data that can be collected.
If the instruments used to collect data are not reliable or valid, the results may not accurately reflect the variables being studied.
If participants do not provide accurate or complete information, whether intentionally or unintentionally, this can bias the results.
The results of a study can be influenced by when it was conducted, as conditions can change over time.
In longitudinal research, it can be difficult to control for temporal effects, which can lead to misinterpretations of causal relationships.
Limitations on generalization
Some studies may be limited in terms of the applicability of the results to specific populations or particular situations.
Validity and reliability
Validity and reliability in qualitative research can be difficult to establish due to the subjective nature of the reality from which the data is obtained for analysis and interpretation.
In qualitative research, results focus on specific contexts and cannot always be widely generalized.
Researcher bias can influence the collection and analysis of qualitative data if the researcher is not aware of his or her own perspectives and biases.
Despite criteria of scientific rigor and transparency, the interpretation of qualitative data is subjective and depends on the perspective of the researcher, which can generate debates about objectivity.
Uncontrolled external factors
Factors outside the researcher’s control that may influence the results, such as unexpected events or changes in the environment.
In research involving human subjects, there may be ethical restrictions on the collection of certain types of data or the manipulation of variables (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979).
Pointing out limitations can be useful to guide future research and improvements in methodological design. It is important that researchers are aware of these limitations and address them appropriately in their research reports to ensure the transparency and validity of their studies.