Literature Gap: What It Means And How To Find It

Literature Gap

The literature gap is also known as the missing piece in the research literature. It is the part of literature that is less explored or not explored at all.

The unexplored part could be a sample or population, data measurement, research techniques, or other research conditions. In this post you will know each and everything about literature gap.

However, you need to understand that discovering a literature gap doesn’t imply that a research question must be explored. Instead, you need to ensure that your research will have tangible theoretical or practical implications. That is, providing answers to the research question may help enhance existing practice or help you make better decisions as a professional.

It could also help you to rely on, revise and design theoretical frameworks for better research practice and design.

Finding a Gap in Literature: The Process

When you hear about “discovering a gap in the literature,” you may not understand what it really means.

The primary reason is that it is a commonly used phrase, and people do not pay much attention to its meaning or how it’s being used. Some people even use it without considering if it’s useful or makes any sense.

However, if you’re thinking of finding a gap in literature at the beginning of your research, you should rethink.

This is partly because finding a gap in literature means you’re exploring a new field that hasn’t been explored before, but this isn’t enough.

You need to ensure that the field is in line with the developed research ideas. So, why not watch out for an edge instead of looking for a gap in the literature?

You should treat it as a way of discovering an edge to work on by using existing research and further enhancing it. You can also answer any unanswered questions and take the project in new directions.

How Do You Discover an Edge?

To discover an edge, you should begin by simply finding an interesting paper, reading it, and thinking of how best to improve upon it.

Most of the ideas you may have in mind may not be implementable, but they may be a starting point. So, it’s best to develop different ideas and enhance them rather than keep searching for a gap.

In the beginning, you may not get the best ideas from the articles you read. You may even find some articles uninteresting, and they may seem not to be a good edge for your to build upon. But when you eventually find a likely edge to work on, you can start by testing and refining it to find out if your edge is viable.

How to Find the Gaps

Now that you have an edge to build upon, you must conduct a thorough literature review. Use journal articles as your major sources and read the literature deeply to discover the gaps. As you read, your primary focus should be finding a gap where you can contribute and begin new research.

Then, get enough research articles on the research topic. To make things easier, go for research that you can easily approach with quantitative, qualitative, or other different research techniques.

Where to Find the Gaps

After getting all your research in place, you should start by identifying what has been discovered or what has not been found through research.

You can start by checking out the findings and future research areas from the Discussion and Future Research chapter of the articles. It’s just like finding a gap in the literature, but future research results are often a result of one study instead of a large and different search. So, you must find out if the questions you asked have been answered.

So, ask concrete questions on your topic by using the where, who, what, how, and when variables. Also, discover the conditions of variables, analysis techniques, setting, and results. With this, you can find the unexplored parts of the study and use it as a likely start for your research and a way of improving the topic.

Then, use Venn diagrams, charts, or other tools to identify the research you get from academic articles. Using this method can help you create a more meaningful organization of all the information you’ve gathered so far. It would also help you identify areas that are missing in the research if any.

To make literature gap searches easier and faster, you need to use some specific methods. You can start by using search terms like “future research,” “literature gap,” or any other keywords to identify articles that have the exact words you’re searching for.

Always have it in mind that researchers do not have to directly state that a literature gap is present in research. It’s totally left to you to decide by thoroughly reviewing and assessing the research.

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