How to identify the research gap?

If you are a Researcher, the first challenge is to identify an interesting and worthy research topic. Most researchers come up with a great research problem while others may struggle to get a worthy research problem, in such a case this is just for you. Research statement or a research topic is the first and most important step to initiate research work. The solution to this issue lies in the research gap. Identifying a research gap is a question or a problem on which enough existing research is not done or it is outdated and needs to be updated. For example: Impact on the psychology of corporate employees during and post-COVID 19. Another example may be the Impact of Television on the lives of the pre-internet era on the lives of children.

Research work always starts with a research proposal, and finding a valid research gap is the precursor to writing a research proposal. Thus a research gap is a topic or area for which missing or insufficient information limits the ability to conclude a question. A research need is defined as a gap that limits the ability of decision-makers (policy-makers, patients, practitioners) from making decisions. Research gap exists due to a question or a problem that has not been answered by any of the existing studies or research. Sometimes you’ll find a research gap if all the existing research is outdated and in need of new/updated research

There is a difference between a research gap and a research problem. “Research gap is the research problem discovered by you after a detailed literature review. The problem statement is a constructed sentence that is derived from a research gap and it describes your research problem which is usually a subset of your research problem.” Usually, the research gap is converted into a hypothesis in the process of research work by the researchers. 

You may put research gaps into seven different types: empirical gap, knowledge gap, evidence gap, theoretical gap, population gap, application or implementation gap, and methodology gap, 

There are 6 different ways to identify research topics for you. 

There could be many ways to search for research gaps, but the most probable six methods are as mentioned: 

  • Literature review: The old research literature gives an idea for gaps in the research report. It can be found under the topics like scope, limitations, suggestions that mentions the gaps left over by the earlier researcher.
  • In discussion with other research colleagues, research guides or advisors, you may get an inspirational research area that might be unexplored, thus the new research gap.
  • Several research areas can be found on digital platforms like social media, research-related websites, or even the magazines and journals give an idea that could be picked up or modified as per the scope and limitations for the new research gap.
  • A few commercial or social activity-based organisations focus a lot on problem-solving areas. They also keep writing and mentioning the social issues in their newsletters or they put it on their public domain. Such articles are excellent sources of real social issues on which a research gap could be identified.
  • The most cited research articles or research papers may give a clue on the inspiring and motivating research gaps for you. These help with the understanding of current topics among the other researchers and identify the gaps in their research work.
  • Asking proper questions to the theoretical areas, samples used for data collection, research methodology, objectives of the research, application of research findings and the conclusions of inspiring research work was done recently or very old research work can provide research gaps.

In nutshell, there can be many more ways to find the research gaps, but most favourite ones are mentioned above. 

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