Limitations and avenues for future research
Table of content
Your research has limitations, and it is always wise to start by acknowledging them before developing the different limitations of your work. This could be done by introducing a short sentence, such as "This research has several limitations that require explanation", "Our research has several limitations that should be highlighted and call for further research", or "This research has several limitations that can be considered for further research".
Avenues for future research can either be integrated into the research limitations section or a separate section. However, I recommend integrating it in the limitation section. You will need to propose around four to six suggestions for future research.
How to suggest future research based on limitations?
Addressing limitations of your research
Your research will not be free from limitations. These may relate to the formulation of research aim and objectives, application of data collection method, sample size, the scope of discussions, analysis etc. You can propose future research suggestions that address the limitations of your study.
"It is important to emphasize that caution needs to be taken when generalizing these results to the broader populations. Since the data are collected only in France, generalizability to other culturally different environments where cultural heritage and traditional values differ may be limited”
“The participant sample is comprised solely of students. Future research could consider a more diversified respondent sample to improve the external validity of our study results"
"Real-life behavior may differ from the statements reported in the questionnaires; this discrepancy is all the more possible in the absence of a real-life web browsing situation, which is the case in this experiment. Future research could collect actual behaviors, for instance by tracking clicks on the ads"
"Participants were placed in a situation of decontextualized exposure of a real platform, limiting the external validity of our results. Although this procedure has the advantage of making our results less contingent on the platforms and their specificities, the absence of context may have induced an exacerbated perception of intrusion, which would explain the negative effects of personalization. Future experiments could expose participants to an advertisement on an imitation of a platform"
"This study is cross-sectional and does not reflect the dynamic nature of the relationship phenomena that occur between a consumer and a brand over time. Future research could use an experimental design to establish causality between variables"
Exploring new or other constructs
Your research could not have investigated every concept and mechanism explaining the relationships between variables. Thus, the idea is to acknowledge important mediating and/or moderating variables absent from the model. It is essential to explain why such variables are critical from a theoretical standpoint and encourage future research to integrate such concepts into their models.
"Perceptions of privacy intrusion or privacy concerns are two variables that would have been worth exploring in this research. Our study does not show that personalization generates a perception of intrusion, as the theoretical argumentation and post‐hoc qualitative study suggest. Moreover, previous studies have shown that recipients who are less concerned about their privacy are more convinced by recruitment advertisements when personalized. One avenue of research to be encouraged would be to investigate the extent to which personalization induces psychological reactance when recipients deal more thoroughly with advertisements recommending irrelevant jobs. Recipients exposed to advertisements tend to process these advertisements in greater depth when personalized, but they may react negatively when they are forced to deal with advertisements with irrelevant offersPerceptions of privacy intrusion or privacy concerns are two variables that would have been worth exploring in this research. Our study does not show that personalization generates a perception of intrusion, as the theoretical argumentation and post‐hoc qualitative study suggest. Moreover, previous studies have shown that recipients who are less concerned about their privacy are more convinced by recruitment advertisements when personalized. One avenue of research to be encouraged would be to investigate the extent to which personalization induces psychological reactance when recipients deal more thoroughly with advertisements recommending irrelevant jobs. Recipients exposed to advertisements tend to process these advertisements in greater depth when personalized, but they may react negatively when they are forced to deal with advertisements with irrelevant offers"
Building upon the findings of your research
These may relate to findings of your study that you did not anticipate. Moreover, you may suggest future research to address unanswered aspects of your research problem.
"To avoid influences of consumers’ established brand knowledge, the brand stimuli were unknown to the participants. However, consumers’ evaluations may vary according to consumers’ prior experiences or familiarity with the brand. Therefore, future research should investigate whether the results also hold true for known brands that have established a strong brand image in consumers’ minds and whether results differ depending on these brand images"
Constructing the same research in a new context, location, or culture
You have most likely addressed your research problem within a specific context, location, or cultural setting. Accordingly, you can propose future studies addressing the same research problem in different settings, contexts, locations, or cultures.
"The nature of collecting data using convenience samples of alumni databases in four countries implies that results must be interpreted with caution owing to a possible sample selection bias. Future research should focus on testing the external validity of these findings by replicating this study in other wine producing/consuming countries, and other food and hospitality sectors"
Re-assessing and expanding the theory, framework, or model you have addressed in your research
Future studies can address the effects of specific events, the emergence of a new theory or evidence, or other recent phenomena on your research problem.
"Future research is also required to illuminate the intersection between marketplace metacognition, persuasion knowledge, and behaviorally targeted ads. As discussed, some level of marketplace metacognition is required for a behaviorally targeted ad to serve as a social label. However, if a consumer concludes that marketers are purposefully using behaviorally targeted ads as implied social labels to change their self-perceptions, the consumer could react against the attempt, minimizing its effectiveness. Exploring whether implied social labels from marketers induce the same level of persuasion knowledge as explicit social labels from marketers could be worthwhile"
Few other tips about the limitations
Avoid presenting too many limitations
In any case, you want to have a too-long list of limitations because it would mean that your study was definitely not well executed. Besides, the reviewers will highlight some other limitations of your research, so your initial list will surely increase.
Do not put yourself down
You want to show that you care to reduce methodological issues during the procedure. Therefore, it is always important to emphasize what you did great before mentioning the limitation.
The studies have been conducted in a context that may affect the ecological validity of the results. We have tried to make the stimulus material realistic and have asked respondents to imagine that this was their personal Facebook page. To ensure internal validity of the study, we only used two posts: a mock profile picture update and the actual advertisement. However, the personalization was very overt [... ]. Even though this not uncommon, personalization techniques are often more covert […].