Friday, 26 August 2016

What are Assumptions, Limiters and Delimiters?

My students often struggle with the difference between assumptions, limitations, and delimitations. So I decided to turn to some business research dictionaries and encyclopaedias in order to get a definition for each of these research aspects.

That was a bonus, as I ran into an excellent resource from Oxford Reference, called "A Dictionary of Business Research Methods". Unfortunately, while this lists almost everything else, it does not contain 'limitations' or 'delimitations' in a business research context (it does have legal definitions).

I gave up on hard copies, encyclopaedias and dictionaries, and went online, reverting to a normal Google search. 

The resulting definitions are, for undergraduate business research general methodology purposes:
  • Assumptions are things that are accepted as 'true' by other scholars, given, eg, your population, statistical tests, research design, or other delimitations.
  • Limiters are potential research weaknesses that are mostly out of your control, impacting the interpretation of your research findings, because of, eg, research design, statistical constraints, access to audiences or data, etc.
  • Delimiters are the scope that you set on your research project so it is not too large to complete; eg, why you chose your aims, operationalisation, target populations, etc.
However, when writing or conclusions chapter, limiters and delimiters and assumptions need a little more focus, and that will be grist to the mill for another article.