Home » Research Gap – Types, Examples and How to Identify
Research Gap – Types, Examples and How to Identify
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Research gap refers to an area or topic within a field of study that has not yet been extensively researched or is yet to be explored. It is a question, problem or issue that has not been addressed or resolved by previous research.
How to Identify Research Gap
Identifying a research gap is an essential step in conducting research that adds value and contributes to the existing body of knowledge. Research gap requires critical thinking, creativity, and a thorough understanding of the existing literature . It is an iterative process that may require revisiting and refining your research questions and ideas multiple times.
Here are some steps that can help you identify a research gap:
- Review existing literature: Conduct a thorough review of the existing literature in your research area. This will help you identify what has already been studied and what gaps still exist.
- Identify a research problem: Identify a specific research problem or question that you want to address.
- Analyze existing research: Analyze the existing research related to your research problem. This will help you identify areas that have not been studied, inconsistencies in the findings, or limitations of the previous research.
- Brainstorm potential research ideas : Based on your analysis, brainstorm potential research ideas that address the identified gaps.
- Consult with experts: Consult with experts in your research area to get their opinions on potential research ideas and to identify any additional gaps that you may have missed.
- Refine research questions: Refine your research questions and hypotheses based on the identified gaps and potential research ideas.
- Develop a research proposal: Develop a research proposal that outlines your research questions, objectives, and methods to address the identified research gap.
Types of Research Gap
There are different types of research gaps that can be identified, and each type is associated with a specific situation or problem. Here are the main types of research gaps and their explanations:
This type of research gap refers to a lack of theoretical understanding or knowledge in a particular area. It can occur when there is a discrepancy between existing theories and empirical evidence or when there is no theory that can explain a particular phenomenon. Identifying theoretical gaps can lead to the development of new theories or the refinement of existing ones.
An empirical gap occurs when there is a lack of empirical evidence or data in a particular area. It can happen when there is a lack of research on a specific topic or when existing research is inadequate or inconclusive. Identifying empirical gaps can lead to the development of new research studies to collect data or the refinement of existing research methods to improve the quality of data collected.
This type of research gap refers to a lack of appropriate research methods or techniques to answer a research question. It can occur when existing methods are inadequate, outdated, or inappropriate for the research question. Identifying methodological gaps can lead to the development of new research methods or the modification of existing ones to better address the research question.
A practical gap occurs when there is a lack of practical applications or implementation of research findings. It can occur when research findings are not implemented due to financial, political, or social constraints. Identifying practical gaps can lead to the development of strategies for the effective implementation of research findings in practice.
This type of research gap occurs when there is a lack of knowledge or information on a particular topic. It can happen when a new area of research is emerging, or when research is conducted in a different context or population. Identifying knowledge gaps can lead to the development of new research studies or the extension of existing research to fill the gap.
Examples of Research Gap
Here are some examples of research gaps that researchers might identify:
- Theoretical Gap Example : In the field of psychology, there might be a theoretical gap related to the lack of understanding of the relationship between social media use and mental health. Although there is existing research on the topic, there might be a lack of consensus on the mechanisms that link social media use to mental health outcomes.
- Empirical Gap Example : In the field of environmental science, there might be an empirical gap related to the lack of data on the long-term effects of climate change on biodiversity in specific regions. Although there might be some studies on the topic, there might be a lack of data on the long-term effects of climate change on specific species or ecosystems.
- Methodological Gap Example : In the field of education, there might be a methodological gap related to the lack of appropriate research methods to assess the impact of online learning on student outcomes. Although there might be some studies on the topic, existing research methods might not be appropriate to assess the complex relationships between online learning and student outcomes.
- Practical Gap Example: In the field of healthcare, there might be a practical gap related to the lack of effective strategies to implement evidence-based practices in clinical settings. Although there might be existing research on the effectiveness of certain practices, they might not be implemented in practice due to various barriers, such as financial constraints or lack of resources.
- Knowledge Gap Example: In the field of anthropology, there might be a knowledge gap related to the lack of understanding of the cultural practices of indigenous communities in certain regions. Although there might be some research on the topic, there might be a lack of knowledge about specific cultural practices or beliefs that are unique to those communities.
Examples of Research Gap In Literature Review, Thesis, and Research Paper might be:
- Literature review : A literature review on the topic of machine learning and healthcare might identify a research gap in the lack of studies that investigate the use of machine learning for early detection of rare diseases.
- Thesis : A thesis on the topic of cybersecurity might identify a research gap in the lack of studies that investigate the effectiveness of artificial intelligence in detecting and preventing cyber attacks.
- Research paper : A research paper on the topic of natural language processing might identify a research gap in the lack of studies that investigate the use of natural language processing techniques for sentiment analysis in non-English languages.
How to Write Research Gap
By following these steps, you can effectively write about research gaps in your paper and clearly articulate the contribution that your study will make to the existing body of knowledge.
Here are some steps to follow when writing about research gaps in your paper:
- Identify the research question : Before writing about research gaps, you need to identify your research question or problem. This will help you to understand the scope of your research and identify areas where additional research is needed.
- Review the literature: Conduct a thorough review of the literature related to your research question. This will help you to identify the current state of knowledge in the field and the gaps that exist.
- Identify the research gap: Based on your review of the literature, identify the specific research gap that your study will address. This could be a theoretical, empirical, methodological, practical, or knowledge gap.
- Provide evidence: Provide evidence to support your claim that the research gap exists. This could include a summary of the existing literature, a discussion of the limitations of previous studies, or an analysis of the current state of knowledge in the field.
- Explain the importance: Explain why it is important to fill the research gap. This could include a discussion of the potential implications of filling the gap, the significance of the research for the field, or the potential benefits to society.
- State your research objectives: State your research objectives, which should be aligned with the research gap you have identified. This will help you to clearly articulate the purpose of your study and how it will address the research gap.
Importance of Research Gap
The importance of research gaps can be summarized as follows:
- Advancing knowledge: Identifying research gaps is crucial for advancing knowledge in a particular field. By identifying areas where additional research is needed, researchers can fill gaps in the existing body of knowledge and contribute to the development of new theories and practices.
- Guiding research: Research gaps can guide researchers in designing studies that fill those gaps. By identifying research gaps, researchers can develop research questions and objectives that are aligned with the needs of the field and contribute to the development of new knowledge.
- Enhancing research quality: By identifying research gaps, researchers can avoid duplicating previous research and instead focus on developing innovative research that fills gaps in the existing body of knowledge. This can lead to more impactful research and higher-quality research outputs.
- Informing policy and practice: Research gaps can inform policy and practice by highlighting areas where additional research is needed to inform decision-making. By filling research gaps, researchers can provide evidence-based recommendations that have the potential to improve policy and practice in a particular field.
Applications of Research Gap
Here are some potential applications of research gap:
- Informing research priorities: Research gaps can help guide research funding agencies and researchers to prioritize research areas that require more attention and resources.
- Identifying practical implications: Identifying gaps in knowledge can help identify practical applications of research that are still unexplored or underdeveloped.
- Stimulating innovation: Research gaps can encourage innovation and the development of new approaches or methodologies to address unexplored areas.
- Improving policy-making: Research gaps can inform policy-making decisions by highlighting areas where more research is needed to make informed policy decisions.
- Enhancing academic discourse: Research gaps can lead to new and constructive debates and discussions within academic communities, leading to more robust and comprehensive research.
Advantages of Research Gap
Here are some of the advantages of research gap:
- Identifies new research opportunities: Identifying research gaps can help researchers identify areas that require further exploration, which can lead to new research opportunities.
- Improves the quality of research: By identifying gaps in current research, researchers can focus their efforts on addressing unanswered questions, which can improve the overall quality of research.
- Enhances the relevance of research: Research that addresses existing gaps can have significant implications for the development of theories, policies, and practices, and can therefore increase the relevance and impact of research.
- Helps avoid duplication of effort: Identifying existing research can help researchers avoid duplicating efforts, saving time and resources.
- Helps to refine research questions: Research gaps can help researchers refine their research questions, making them more focused and relevant to the needs of the field.
- Promotes collaboration: By identifying areas of research that require further investigation, researchers can collaborate with others to conduct research that addresses these gaps, which can lead to more comprehensive and impactful research outcomes.
Disadvantages of Research Gap
While research gaps can be advantageous, there are also some potential disadvantages that should be considered:
- Difficulty in identifying gaps: Identifying gaps in existing research can be challenging, particularly in fields where there is a large volume of research or where research findings are scattered across different disciplines.
- Lack of funding: Addressing research gaps may require significant resources, and researchers may struggle to secure funding for their work if it is perceived as too risky or uncertain.
- Time-consuming: Conducting research to address gaps can be time-consuming, particularly if the research involves collecting new data or developing new methods.
- Risk of oversimplification: Addressing research gaps may require researchers to simplify complex problems, which can lead to oversimplification and a failure to capture the complexity of the issues.
- Bias : Identifying research gaps can be influenced by researchers’ personal biases or perspectives, which can lead to a skewed understanding of the field.
- Potential for disagreement: Identifying research gaps can be subjective, and different researchers may have different views on what constitutes a gap in the field, leading to disagreements and debate.
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How To Find A Research Gap, Quickly
A step-by-step guide for new researchers
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | April 2023
If you’ve got a dissertation, thesis or research project coming up, one of the first (and most important) things you’ll need to do is find a suitable research gap . In this post, we’ll share a straightforward process to help you uncover high-quality, original research gaps in a very time-efficient manner.
Overview: Finding Research Gaps
- What exactly is a research gap?
- Research gap vs research topic
- How to find potential research gaps
- How to evaluate research gaps (and topics)
- Key takeaways
What is a research gap?
As a starting point, it’s useful to first define what we mean by research gap, to ensure we’re all on the same page. The term “research gap” gets thrown around quite loosely by students and academics alike, so let’s clear that up.
Simply put, a research gap is any space where there’s a lack of solid, agreed-upon research regarding a specific topic, issue or phenomenon. In other words, there’s a lack of established knowledge and, consequently, a need for further research.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example to illustrate a research gap.
Within the existing research regarding factors affect job satisfaction , there may be a wealth of established and agreed-upon empirical work within a US and UK context , but very little research within Eastern nations such as Japan or Korea . Given that these nations have distinctly different national cultures and workforce compositions compared to the West, it’s plausible that the factors that contribute toward job satisfaction may also be different. Therefore, a research gap emerges for studies that explore this matter.
This example is purely hypothetical (and there’s probably plenty of research covering this already), but it illustrates the core point that a research gap reflects a lack of firmly established knowledge regarding a specific matter . Given this lack, an opportunity exists for researchers (like you) to go on and fill the gap.
So, it’s the same as a research topic?
Not quite – but they are connected. A research gap refers to an area where there’s a lack of settled research , whereas a research topic outlines the focus of a specific study . Despite being different things, these two are related because research gaps are the birthplace of research topics. In other words, by identifying a clear research gap, you have a foundation from which you can build a research topic for your specific study. Your study is unlikely to resolve the entire research gap on it’s own, but it will contribute towards it .
If you’d like to learn more, we’ve got a comprehensive post that covers research gaps (including the different types of research gaps), as well as an explainer video below.
How to find a research gap
Now that we’ve defined what a research gap is, it’s time to get down to the process of finding potential research gaps that you can use as a basis for potential research topics. Importantly, it’s worth noting that this is just one way (of many) to find a research gap (and consequently a topic). We’re not proposing that it’s the only way or best way, but it’s certainly a relatively quick way to identify opportunities.
Step 1: Identify your broad area of interest
The very first step to finding a research gap is to decide on your general area of interest . For example, if you were undertaking a dissertation as part of an MBA degree, you may decide that you’re interested in corporate reputation, HR strategy, or leadership styles. As you can see, these are broad categories – there’s no need to get super specific just yet. Of course, if there is something very specific that you’re interested in, that’s great – but don’t feel pressured to narrow it down too much right now.
Equally important is to make sure that this area of interest is allowed by your university or whichever institution you’ll be proposing your research to. This might sound dead obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many times we’ve seen students run down a path with great excitement, only to later learn that their university wants a very specific area of focus in terms of topic (and their area of interest doesn’t qualify).
Step 2: Do an initial literature scan
Once you’ve pinned down your broad area (or areas) of interest, the next step is to head over to Google Scholar to undertake an initial literature scan . If you’re not familiar with this tool, Google Scholar is a great starting point for finding academic literature on pretty much any topic, as it uses Google’s powerful search capabilities to hunt down relevant academic literature. It’s certainly not the be-all and end-all of literature search tools, but it’s a useful starting point .
Within Google Scholar, you’ll want to do a few searches using keywords that are relevant to your area of interest. Sticking with our earlier example, we could use the key phrase “job satisfaction”, or we may want to get a little more specific – perhaps “job satisfaction for millennials” or “job satisfaction in Japan”.
It’s always a good idea to play around with as many keywords/phrases as you can think up. Take an iterative approach here and see which keywords yield the most relevant results for you. Keep each search open in a new tab, as this will help keep things organised for the next steps.
Once you’ve searched for a few different keywords/phrases, you’ll need to do some refining for each of the searches you undertook. Specifically, you’ll need to filter the results down to the most recent papers . You can do this by selecting the time period in the top left corner (see the example below).
Filtering to the current year is typically a good choice (especially for fast-moving research areas), but in some cases, you may need to filter to the last two years . If you’re undertaking this task in January or February, for example, you’ll likely need to select a two-year period.
Need a helping hand?
Step 3: Review and shortlist articles that interest you
Once you’ve run a few searches using different keywords and phrases, you’ll need to scan through the results to see what looks most relevant and interesting to you. At this stage, you can just look at the titles and abstracts (the description provided by Google Scholar) – don’t worry about reading the actual article just yet.
Next, select 5 – 10 articles that interest you and open them up. Here, we’re making the assumption that your university has provided you with access to a decent range of academic databases. In some cases, Google Scholar will link you directly to a PDF of the article, but in most cases, you’ll need paid access. If you don’t have this (for example, if you’re still applying to a university), you can look at two options:
Open-access articles – these are free articles which you can access without any journal subscription. A quick Google search (the regular Google) will help you find open-access journals in your area of interest, but you can also have a look at DOAJ and Elsevier Open Access.
DeepDyve – this is a monthly subscription service that allows you to get access to a broad range of journals. At the time of shooting this video, their monthly subscription is around $50 and they do offer a free trial, which may be sufficient for your project.
Step 4: Skim-read your article shortlist
Now, it’s time to dig into your article shortlist and do some reading. But don’t worry, you don’t need to read the articles from start to finish – you just need to focus on a few key sections.
Specifically, you’ll need to pay attention to the following:
- The abstract (which you’ve probably already read a portion of in Google Scholar)
- The introduction – this will give you a bit more detail about the context and background of the study, as well as what the researchers were trying to achieve (their research aims)
- The discussion or conclusion – this will tell you what the researchers found
By skimming through these three sections for each journal article on your shortlist, you’ll gain a reasonable idea of what each study was about, without having to dig into the painful details. Generally, these sections are usually quite short, so it shouldn’t take you too long.
Step 5: Go “FRIN hunting”
This is where the magic happens. Within each of the articles on your shortlist, you’ll want to search for a few very specific phrases , namely:
- Future research
- Further research
- Research opportunities
- Research directions
All of these terms are commonly found in what we call the “FRIN” section . FRIN stands for “further research is needed”. The FRIN is where the researchers explain what other researchers could do to build on their study, or just on the research area in general. In other words, the FRIN section is where you can find fresh opportunities for novel research . Most empirical studies will either have a dedicated FRIN section or paragraph, or they’ll allude to the FRIN toward the very end of the article. You’ll need to do a little scanning, but it’s usually pretty easy to spot.
It’s worth mentioning that naturally, the FRIN doesn’t hand you a list of research gaps on a platter. It’s not a silver bullet for finding research gaps – but it’s the closest thing to it. Realistically, the FRIN section helps you shortcut the gap-hunting process by highlighting novel research avenues that are worth exploring.
This probably sounds a little conceptual, so let’s have a look at a few examples:
The impact of overeducation on job outcomes: Evidence from Saudi Arabia (Alzubaidi, 2020)
If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, you’ll see there’s a dedicated section called “Limitations and directions for future research”. Here they talk about the limitations of the study and provide suggestions about how future researchers could improve upon their work and overcome the limitations.
Perceived organizational support and job satisfaction: a moderated mediation model of proactive personality and psychological empowerment (Maan et al, 2020)
In this article, within the limitations section, they provide a wonderfully systematic structure where they discuss each limitation, followed by a proposal as to how future studies can overcome the respective limitation. In doing so, they are providing very specific research opportunities for other researchers.
Medical professionals’ job satisfaction and telemedicine readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic: solutions to improve medical practice in Egypt (El-Mazahy et al, 2023)
In this article, they don’t have a dedicated section discussing the FRIN, but we can deduct it based on the limitations section. For example, they state that an evaluation of the knowledge about telemedicine and technology-related skills would have enabled studying their independent effect on the perception of telemedicine.
Follow this FRIN-seeking process for the articles you shortlisted and map out any potentially interesting research gaps . You may find that you need to look at a larger number of articles to find something interesting, or you might find that your area of interest shifts as you engage in the reading – this is perfectly natural. Take as much time as you need to develop a shortlist of potential research gaps that interest you.
Importantly, once you’ve developed a shortlist of potential research gaps, you need to return to Google Scholar to double-check that there aren’t fresh studies that have already addressed the gap. Remember, if you’re looking at papers from two years ago in a fast-moving field, someone else may have jumped on it . Nevertheless, there could still very well be a unique angle you could take – perhaps a contextual gap (e.g. a specific country, industry, etc.).
Ultimately, the need for originality will depend on your specific university’s requirements and the level of study. For example, if you’re doing an undergraduate research project, the originality requirements likely won’t be as gruelling as say a Masters or PhD project. So, make sure you have a clear understanding of what your university’s expectations are. A good way to do this is to look at past dissertations and theses for your specific programme. You can usually find these in the university library or by asking the faculty.
How to evaluate potential research gaps
Once you’ve developed a shortlist of potential research gaps (and resultant potential research topics) that interest you, you’ll need to systematically evaluate them to choose a winner. There are many factors to consider here, but some important ones include the following:
- Originality and value – is the topic sufficiently novel and will addressing it create value?
- Data access – will you be able to get access to the sample of interest?
- Costs – will there be additional costs involved for data collection and/or analysis?
- Timeframes – will you be able to collect and analyse the data within the timeframe required by your university?
- Supervisor support – is there a suitable supervisor available to support your project from start to finish?
To help you evaluate your options systematically, we’ve got a topic evaluation worksheet that allows you to score each potential topic against a comprehensive set of criteria. You can access the worksheet completely free of charge here .
Recap: Key Takeaways
We’ve covered quite a lot of ground in this post. Here are the key takeaways:
- A research gap is any space where there’s a lack of solid, agreed-upon research regarding a specific topic/issue/phenomenon.
- Unique research topics emerge from research gaps , so it’s essential to first identify high-quality research gaps before you attempt to define a topic.
- To find potential research gaps, start by seeking out recent journal articles on Google Scholar and pay particular attention to the FRIN section to identify novel opportunities.
- Once you have a shortlist of prospective research gaps and resultant topic ideas, evaluate them systematically using a comprehensive set of criteria.
If you’d like to get hands-on help finding a research gap and research topic, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the research journey, step by step.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Very useful for me, but i am still confusing review of literature review, how to find out topic related previous research.
Powerful notes! Thanks a lot.
This is helpful. Thanks a lot.
Thank you very much for this. It is really a great opportunity for me to learn the research journey.
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- Research Process
What is a Research Gap
- 3 minute read
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If you are a young researcher, or even still finishing your studies, you’ll probably notice that your academic environment revolves around certain research topics, probably linked to your department or to the interest of your mentor and direct colleagues. For example, if your department is currently doing research in nanotechnology applied to medicine, it is only natural that you feel compelled to follow this line of research. Hopefully, it’s something you feel familiar with and interested in – although you might take your own twists and turns along your career.
Many scientists end up continuing their academic legacy during their professional careers, writing about their own practical experiences in the field and adapting classic methodologies to a present context. However, each and every researcher dreams about being a pioneer in a subject one day, by discovering a topic that hasn’t been approached before by any other scientist. This is a research gap.
Research gaps are particularly useful for the advance of science, in general. Finding a research gap and having the means to develop a complete and sustained study on it can be very rewarding for the scientist (or team of scientists), not to mention how its new findings can positively impact our whole society.
How to Find a Gap in Research
How many times have you felt that you have finally formulated THAT new and exciting question, only to find out later that it had been addressed before? Probably more times than you can count.
There are some steps you can take to help identify research gaps, since it is impossible to go through all the information and research available nowadays:
- Select a topic or question that motivates you: Research can take a long time and surely a large amount of physical, intellectual and emotional effort, therefore choose a topic that can keep you motivated throughout the process.
- Find keywords and related terms to your selected topic: Besides synthesizing the topic to its essential core, this will help you in the next step.
- Use the identified keywords to search literature: From your findings in the above step, identify relevant publications and cited literature in those publications.
- Look for topics or issues that are missing or not addressed within (or related to) your main topic.
- Read systematic reviews: These documents plunge deeply into scholarly literature and identify trends and paradigm shifts in fields of study. Sometimes they reveal areas or topics that need more attention from researchers and scientists.
Keeping track of all the new literature being published every day is an impossible mission. Remember that there is technology to make your daily tasks easier, and reviewing literature can be one of them. Some online databases offer up-to-date publication lists with quite effective search features:
- Elsevier’s Scope
- Google Scholar
Of course, these tools may be more or less effective depending on knowledge fields. There might be even better ones for your specific topic of research; you can learn about them from more experienced colleagues or mentors.
Find out how FINER research framework can help you formulate your research question.
The expression “literature gap” is used with the same intention as “research gap.” When there is a gap in the research itself, there will also naturally be a gap in the literature. Nevertheless, it is important to stress out the importance of language or text formulations that can help identify a research/literature gap or, on the other hand, making clear that a research gap is being addressed.
When looking for research gaps across publications you may have noticed sentences like:
…has/have not been… (studied/reported/elucidated) …is required/needed… …the key question is/remains… …it is important to address…
These expressions often indicate gaps; issues or topics related to the main question that still hasn’t been subject to a scientific study. Therefore, it is important to take notice of them: who knows if one of these sentences is hiding your way to fame.
Language Editing Services by Elsevier Author Services:
- Manuscript Review
Systematic Review VS Meta-Analysis
Literature Review in Research Writing
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Identifying Research Gaps to Pursue Innovative Research
This article is an excerpt from a lecture given by my Ph.D. guide, a researcher in public health. She advised us on how to identify research gaps to pursue innovative research in our fields.
What is a Research Gap?
Today we are talking about the research gap: what is it, how to identify it, and how to make use of it so that you can pursue innovative research. Now, how many of you have ever felt you had discovered a new and exciting research question , only to find that it had already been written about? I have experienced this more times than I can count. Graduate studies come with pressure to add new knowledge to the field. We can contribute to the progress and knowledge of humanity. To do this, we need to first learn to identify research gaps in the existing literature.
A research gap is, simply, a topic or area for which missing or insufficient information limits the ability to reach a conclusion for a question. It should not be confused with a research question, however. For example, if we ask the research question of what the healthiest diet for humans is, we would find many studies and possible answers to this question. On the other hand, if we were to ask the research question of what are the effects of antidepressants on pregnant women, we would not find much-existing data. This is a research gap. When we identify a research gap, we identify a direction for potentially new and exciting research.
How to Identify Research Gap?
Considering the volume of existing research, identifying research gaps can seem overwhelming or even impossible. I don’t have time to read every paper published on public health. Similarly, you guys don’t have time to read every paper. So how can you identify a research gap?
There are different techniques in various disciplines, but we can reduce most of them down to a few steps, which are:
- Identify your key motivating issue/question
- Identify key terms associated with this issue
- Review the literature, searching for these key terms and identifying relevant publications
- Review the literature cited by the key publications which you located in the above step
- Identify issues not addressed by the literature relating to your critical motivating issue
It is the last step which we all find the most challenging. It can be difficult to figure out what an article is not saying. I like to keep a list of notes of biased or inconsistent information. You could also track what authors write as “directions for future research,” which often can point us towards the existing gaps.
Different Types of Research Gaps
Identifying research gaps is an essential step in conducting research, as it helps researchers to refine their research questions and to focus their research efforts on areas where there is a need for more knowledge or understanding.
1. Knowledge gaps
These are gaps in knowledge or understanding of a subject, where more research is needed to fill the gaps. For example, there may be a lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind a particular disease or how a specific technology works.
2. Conceptual gaps
These are gaps in the conceptual framework or theoretical understanding of a subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to understand the relationship between two concepts or to refine a theoretical framework.
3. Methodological gaps
These are gaps in the methods used to study a particular subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to develop new research methods or to refine existing methods to address specific research questions.
4. Data gaps
These are gaps in the data available on a particular subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to collect data on a specific population or to develop new measures to collect data on a particular construct.
5. Practical gaps
These are gaps in the application of research findings to practical situations. For example, there may be a need for more research to understand how to implement evidence-based practices in real-world settings or to identify barriers to implementing such practices.
Examples of Research Gap
Limited understanding of the underlying mechanisms of a disease:.
Despite significant research on a particular disease, there may be a lack of understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the disease. For example, although much research has been done on Alzheimer’s disease, the exact mechanisms that lead to the disease are not yet fully understood.
Inconsistencies in the findings of previous research:
When previous research on a particular topic has inconsistent findings, there may be a need for further research to clarify or resolve these inconsistencies. For example, previous research on the effectiveness of a particular treatment for a medical condition may have produced inconsistent findings, indicating a need for further research to determine the true effectiveness of the treatment.
Limited research on emerging technologies:
As new technologies emerge, there may be limited research on their applications, benefits, and potential drawbacks. For example, with the increasing use of artificial intelligence in various industries, there is a need for further research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of AI.
How to Deal with Literature Gap?
Once you have identified the literature gaps, it is critical to prioritize. You may find many questions which remain to be answered in the literature. Often one question must be answered before the next can be addressed. In prioritizing the gaps, you have identified, you should consider your funding agency or stakeholders, the needs of the field, and the relevance of your questions to what is currently being studied. Also, consider your own resources and ability to conduct the research you’re considering. Once you have done this, you can narrow your search down to an appropriate question.
Tools to Help Your Search
There are thousands of new articles published every day, and staying up to date on the literature can be overwhelming. You should take advantage of the technology that is available. Some services include PubCrawler , Feedly , Google Scholar , and PubMed updates. Stay up to date on social media forums where scholars share new discoveries, such as Twitter. Reference managers such as Mendeley can help you keep your references well-organized. I personally have had success using Google Scholar and PubMed to stay current on new developments and track which gaps remain in my personal areas of interest.
The most important thing I want to impress upon you today is that you will struggle to choose a research topic that is innovative and exciting if you don’t know the existing literature well. This is why identifying research gaps starts with an extensive and thorough literature review . But give yourself some boundaries. You don’t need to read every paper that has ever been written on a topic. You may find yourself thinking you’re on the right track and then suddenly coming across a paper that you had intended to write! It happens to everyone- it happens to me quite often. Don’t give up- keep reading and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
How do you identify research gaps? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Frequently Asked Questions
A research gap can be identified by looking for a topic or area with missing or insufficient information that limits the ability to reach a conclusion for a question.
Identifying a research gap is important as it provides a direction for potentially new research or helps bridge the gap in existing literature.
Gap in research is a topic or area with missing or insufficient information. A research gap limits the ability to reach a conclusion for a question.
Thank u for your suggestion.
Very useful tips specially for a beginner
Thank you. This is helpful. I find that I’m overwhelmed with literatures. As I read on a particular topic, and in a particular direction I find that other conflicting issues, topic a and ideas keep popping up, making me more confused.
I am very grateful for your advice. It’s just on point.
The clearest, exhaustive, and brief explanation I have ever read.
Thanks for sharing
Thank you very much.The work is brief and understandable
Thank you it is very informative
Thanks for sharing this educative article
Thank you for such informative explanation.
Great job smart guy! Really outdid yourself!
Nice one! I thank you for this as it is just what I was looking for!😃🤟
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