It is important to know just what an assumption is when it is applied to research in general and your dissertation in particular. In the Dictionary of Statistics and Methodology, W.Paul Vogt defines an assumption as “(a) A statement that is presumed to be true, often only temporarily or for a specific purpose, such as building a theory; (b) The conditions under which statistical techniques yield valid results.”
For assumptions – examples: If you are writing a qualitative dissertation, such as case study, ethnography, grounded theory, narrative research, or phenomenology, here are some common assumptions to consider:
1. The participants will answer the interview questions in an honest and candid manner.
2. The inclusion criteria of the sample are appropriate and therefore, assures that the participants have all experienced the same or similar phenomenon of the study.
3. Participants have a sincere interest in participating in your research and do not any other motives, such as getting a better grade in a course if they are college students or impressing their job supervisor because they agreed to be in your study.
There may be other assumptions that are unique to your research design.

What are research limitations? Carol M. Roberts in her book, The Dissertation Journey offers some examples of limitations when she states, “Limitations are usually areas over which you have no control. Some typical limitations are sample size, methodology constraints, length of the study, and response rate.”
For limitations – examples:
1. There may be unknown conditions or factors at the facility where the participants reside, work, or study that could bias the responses of the participants.
2. If you are collecting data from the elderly, if is possible that some of their recollections of events, situations, and feelings could be questionable.
3. The number of participants or subjects is enough from which to adequately draw conclusions. In qualitative methods, you will want the numbers of participants to reach a level at which saturation of the data is achieved – no new data or meaning units are being discovered.
I suggest you define and cite two or three sources regarding assumptions and limitations before including the specific ones relevant to your study. You want your Chairperson to know the literature you consulted in understanding your specific assumptions and limitations.

Suggested citation for this article:
Wargo, W.G. (2015). Identifying Assumptions and Limitations for Your Dissertation. Menifee , CA : Academic Information Center .