Identify a research gap

A research gap is a problem, a question, or an aspect of a phenomenon that has not been answered by existing research. A research gap makes research publishable because it is not only duplicating existing research. By addressing a research gap, research becomes original and unique. However, to find a research gap, one needs to have a deep understanding of the existing knowledge of the phenomenon.

A research gap may exist when a concept or new idea has not been studied. It is also possible to find a research gap if all the existing research is outdated and needs updated research. Alternatively, a specific population that has not been studied or the comparison between populations may constitute research gaps. Previous research did not identify all possible mechanisms, and investigating new mediators or moderators within a phenomenon is also a promising research gap. To sum up, a research gap is any problem where more studies and research need to be conducted.

How to find a research gap?

Identifying a research gap takes a lot of research and reading. You need to be very familiar with all the published research on the topic and understand how these studies contributed to the overall body of knowledge.

One trick is to make a list of questions about the topic and see if they have already been answered satisfactorily. If they have not, perhaps you have discovered a gap. Another helpful trick is to look at the "suggestions for future research" or conclusion section of existing studies on your topic. The authors often identified areas where they think a research gap exists and what studies they think need to be done in the future.

Watch this video from Scribbr for some helpful strategies you can use to identify a research gap.