In the field of social sciences, the word pilot study is used in two different ways. Another way of explaining this pilot study is that they are called feasibility studies. They are in fact the small scale versions which are a preparation of the major study. At the same time, they are the test run of a particular research instrument. A main advantage of conducting a pilot research is that it serves as an advance warning regarding where there is a possibility of the research project to fail, where there are chances of research protocols would not be followed. There are a lot of significant reasons for undertaking the pilot study. There are more reasons that would be very convincing; it may help you to convince the funding bodies.
Pilot studies can be based on both qualitative and quantitative methods and a lot of large scale studies do employ pilot studies before proceeding forward with the main survey. Often the researchers do begin with the qualitative study and take up an analysis in a more unexplored topic. The outcome of the design is used further create a design of the quantitative phase of the study. In the first phase of the pilot study, often in-depth studies or focus groups are used and they help to establish the issues that are of concern for large scale survey. At the next stage, the researcher goes ahead with wording and ordering the questionnaire and designs the range of the multiple choice questions.
Pilot studies help to try and identify the potential practical problems that is to be followed in the procedure for research. Pilot study tries to administer the questionnaire on a small group of population which is either similar to or is a part of the target population.
There are certain problems in pilot studies and it does have its own set of limitations. One of the major limitations is that there is a possibility of making inaccurate predictions or assumptions. This can also lead to a lot of problems that are related to funding.. Completing a successful pilot study does not conclude or guarantee in any ways that the final study would be sure shot success. This largely happens because pilot studies do not have any statistical foundation and are the outcome of a result based on study on small number of population.