A research gap is an area or topic for which insufficient or missing information limits ability for concluding a question. A research need is a gap limiting the ability of decision makers such as practitioners or policymakers from making accurate decisions.
A gap is also the missing pieces of information in the literature on an area of research or field due to lack of exploration or under exploration. All research projects should in some way address these gaps with an attempt of filling a piece Write my literature review of information that is not in the scientific literature. Research is not fresh if it does not contribute to overall scientific goals.
How to identify research gaps
Identification of a research gap can be in one of these sections:
- Introduction or poster of a journal article
- Goals and importance section of a research proposal
Identifying a specific research gap makes the audience to understand what your project will attempt to address.
The first step for identifying a research gap is conducting exhaustive literature. Read critically across the full breadth of literature when searching for relevant journal articles to identify these research gaps. You should do it to get an opening or space for contributing new research that adds something new to the field.
You should start by gathering a wide range of research articles on the topic. It is useful to find research that approaches your subject from various methods such as quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods. You can use online sources to learn about the best research methodology. A search technique known as nesting helps researchers to use relevant keywords for search and limit it to abstract of the articles for quick identification of research using different methods.
Where to identify research gaps
When you start gathering the literature, read everything critically to define what has been learned from the research and what it has not addressed. Give more attention to the discussion as well as future research sections of scholarly articles to understand the findings by the researchers and the areas they point out to be suitable for additional or future research.
Filling the gap
Identifying the research gap in the literature is not an end if it does not inform the audience how you are attempting to address the lack of understanding or knowledge in the research project. The author should identify the way of filling the methods in a new paragraph like in a journal poster or article, and it should fit one summary statement. An example of a summary statement is “the purpose of conducting this study is to determine if lead affects the hepatobiliary system especially the liver (adapted from Author et al. 2018).”
The common way of indicating a gap fill in a research paper will usually be in the first sentence of the last paragraph in the introduction.
Below are some examples of phrases that you use for indicating a gap fill.
“This paper reports that…”
The tone for introducing the gap fill should always be professional without colloquial phrases such as “I checked if” or “I look into.”