A research gap is a question that has not been answered in a correct way in a field of study. Many of the scholars call them gaps in the existing research literature since they help people talk about some of the raised questions or questions that are yet to be answered in the existing research. Identifying research gaps in research papers often proves difficult to many students since the sole reasons because many of them do not think of it as a challenge and to how they can help contribute much of their information.
So, what are the steps in identifying some of the gaps in a research paper?
Whatever research one is doing needs to have a significance or contribution to the field. Your hypothesis needs to address a research gap which you identify in the literature, a research problem that has not been answered in your research area of interest. Doing this displays that one has developed the expertise in the body of knowledge in your chosen research area.
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The first step would be to focus on your research area which will require one to figure out what your area of curiosity as to which they will use and focus on that research area. People who do not narrow down their research area of interest often get confused and instead end up doing all the research without concentrating on an area. It later becomes overwhelming trying to locate every research gap you find since you are working with a huge set of factors.
Conducting an exploratory research on your set of ideas and other literature reviews will help one identify more specific issues and arguments in your research area and possible relationships between them. Reading many research books helps one understand the bigger picture hence provides a more detailed information about your research area, therefore, improving one’s study.
Reading a lot more of these articles that are related to your research is the next step so that one can become an expert in it. The articles one will use need to relate back to the research questions that one had formulated a while back in your research hypothesis. Looking at some of the journals and searching through databases keenly helps to easily point out to the writers in areas that need more examination or lack comprehensive information.
The third step would be to take out portions or areas to where the same questions formulated a while back continue to re-occur in whatever source of information you read be it an article or a dissertation which will be a great tool in helping you write your introductory thesis assisting you to avoid necessary plagiarism.
It is vital for the researcher to use all the available resources that he or she can lay hand to be it, tables, charts, pictures that will help in mapping out the literature. It is imperative for them to review each of your research questions to see if there are other researchers that have the same question and if they have possible answers to some of them.
Reading many of the systematic reviews posted by others help one to investigate deeper into the literature and examine the trends and changes in the specific field of study providing summaries of the literature which that save lots of time hence advantageous. Using content, citation and meta-analysis reports can be very enlightening and helpful which give the discoveries of the previous research conducted.
Many online databases help you follow the research trail by listing most of the articles that have since been done together with the current one you are reading. If all the above is conducted and yet you are unable to find any answers to most of your questions, then it will probably be that a research gap has been identified with which you can use in developing a hypothesis.
It is vital to seek assurances first from your research committee who will help by providing useful information to guide you.