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Research Gap Identification

Finding the Best Gap in the Literature

Finding a the Best Gap is Crucial to Completing a Dissertation!




   Dissertation Help  >  What is a research GAP?


The only way to acquire the comprehensive knowledge needed to formulate a dissertation topic and research design is to read all of the current scholarly works related to your study. You must find and demonstrate, through the literature, a "gap" in the scholarly research which you can fill with your own study.

Why is a Research Gap Important?

The research base of your dissertation rests on two separate but interdependent types of literature: theoretical and empirical. The "gap" is most easily identified by deep and wide-ranging familiarity with what specialists in your field are publishing in the peer-reviewed journals about your topic. As a dissertation writer, your first steps are to choose a topic which is relevant to your area of specialization, which interests you, and for which you have a readily available population to study. The ONLY way to decide if you should pursue this topic is by determining IF and HOW it can fill a gap in the current scholarly discourse. The ONLY way to do this is through identifying the relevant literature, and reading it thoroughly.

How do I Find a Research Gap?

You already know the most prominent and respected journals in your field. Do a five year search for your topic, download the full text of all of the articles, and read them with particular attention to the section on "Suggestions for future research".

Read carefully and make notes about how each article relates to your potential dissertation variables, the method and results of the study being reported, the theoretical perspective of the author(s), what things you feel were overlooked, and how it might be useful to cite in your own dissertation.

What if I don't Yet Have a Dissertation Topic?

Reading scholarly documents can reveal potential dissertation topic ideas. Reviewing completed dissertations, technical articles, and conference presentations by noted scholars is also useful because often these works list suggestions for future research. Many have a paragraph at the end describing things such as:.

  • Other areas that still need research
  • Limitations of the study, describing omissions of specific factors, revealing a "gap" that your own dissertation might fill

It is important that you describe the gap in Chapter 1, as part of the rationale for choosing your specific Research Questions and Research Design. Your Chapter 2 Literature Review should contain specific citations to studies which have suggested a need for further dissertation research.

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