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Research Gap – Types, Examples and How to Identify

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Research Gap

Research Gap

Definition:

Research gap refers to an area or topic within a field of study that has not yet been extensively researched or is yet to be explored. It is a question, problem or issue that has not been addressed or resolved by previous research.

How to Identify Research Gap

Identifying a research gap is an essential step in conducting research that adds value and contributes to the existing body of knowledge. Research gap requires critical thinking, creativity, and a thorough understanding of the existing literature . It is an iterative process that may require revisiting and refining your research questions and ideas multiple times.

Here are some steps that can help you identify a research gap:

  • Review existing literature: Conduct a thorough review of the existing literature in your research area. This will help you identify what has already been studied and what gaps still exist.
  • Identify a research problem: Identify a specific research problem or question that you want to address.
  • Analyze existing research: Analyze the existing research related to your research problem. This will help you identify areas that have not been studied, inconsistencies in the findings, or limitations of the previous research.
  • Brainstorm potential research ideas : Based on your analysis, brainstorm potential research ideas that address the identified gaps.
  • Consult with experts: Consult with experts in your research area to get their opinions on potential research ideas and to identify any additional gaps that you may have missed.
  • Refine research questions: Refine your research questions and hypotheses based on the identified gaps and potential research ideas.
  • Develop a research proposal: Develop a research proposal that outlines your research questions, objectives, and methods to address the identified research gap.

Types of Research Gap

There are different types of research gaps that can be identified, and each type is associated with a specific situation or problem. Here are the main types of research gaps and their explanations:

Theoretical Gap

This type of research gap refers to a lack of theoretical understanding or knowledge in a particular area. It can occur when there is a discrepancy between existing theories and empirical evidence or when there is no theory that can explain a particular phenomenon. Identifying theoretical gaps can lead to the development of new theories or the refinement of existing ones.

Empirical Gap

An empirical gap occurs when there is a lack of empirical evidence or data in a particular area. It can happen when there is a lack of research on a specific topic or when existing research is inadequate or inconclusive. Identifying empirical gaps can lead to the development of new research studies to collect data or the refinement of existing research methods to improve the quality of data collected.

Methodological Gap

This type of research gap refers to a lack of appropriate research methods or techniques to answer a research question. It can occur when existing methods are inadequate, outdated, or inappropriate for the research question. Identifying methodological gaps can lead to the development of new research methods or the modification of existing ones to better address the research question.

Practical Gap

A practical gap occurs when there is a lack of practical applications or implementation of research findings. It can occur when research findings are not implemented due to financial, political, or social constraints. Identifying practical gaps can lead to the development of strategies for the effective implementation of research findings in practice.

Knowledge Gap

This type of research gap occurs when there is a lack of knowledge or information on a particular topic. It can happen when a new area of research is emerging, or when research is conducted in a different context or population. Identifying knowledge gaps can lead to the development of new research studies or the extension of existing research to fill the gap.

Examples of Research Gap

Here are some examples of research gaps that researchers might identify:

  • Theoretical Gap Example : In the field of psychology, there might be a theoretical gap related to the lack of understanding of the relationship between social media use and mental health. Although there is existing research on the topic, there might be a lack of consensus on the mechanisms that link social media use to mental health outcomes.
  • Empirical Gap Example : In the field of environmental science, there might be an empirical gap related to the lack of data on the long-term effects of climate change on biodiversity in specific regions. Although there might be some studies on the topic, there might be a lack of data on the long-term effects of climate change on specific species or ecosystems.
  • Methodological Gap Example : In the field of education, there might be a methodological gap related to the lack of appropriate research methods to assess the impact of online learning on student outcomes. Although there might be some studies on the topic, existing research methods might not be appropriate to assess the complex relationships between online learning and student outcomes.
  • Practical Gap Example: In the field of healthcare, there might be a practical gap related to the lack of effective strategies to implement evidence-based practices in clinical settings. Although there might be existing research on the effectiveness of certain practices, they might not be implemented in practice due to various barriers, such as financial constraints or lack of resources.
  • Knowledge Gap Example: In the field of anthropology, there might be a knowledge gap related to the lack of understanding of the cultural practices of indigenous communities in certain regions. Although there might be some research on the topic, there might be a lack of knowledge about specific cultural practices or beliefs that are unique to those communities.

Examples of Research Gap In Literature Review, Thesis, and Research Paper might be:

  • Literature review : A literature review on the topic of machine learning and healthcare might identify a research gap in the lack of studies that investigate the use of machine learning for early detection of rare diseases.
  • Thesis : A thesis on the topic of cybersecurity might identify a research gap in the lack of studies that investigate the effectiveness of artificial intelligence in detecting and preventing cyber attacks.
  • Research paper : A research paper on the topic of natural language processing might identify a research gap in the lack of studies that investigate the use of natural language processing techniques for sentiment analysis in non-English languages.

How to Write Research Gap

By following these steps, you can effectively write about research gaps in your paper and clearly articulate the contribution that your study will make to the existing body of knowledge.

Here are some steps to follow when writing about research gaps in your paper:

  • Identify the research question : Before writing about research gaps, you need to identify your research question or problem. This will help you to understand the scope of your research and identify areas where additional research is needed.
  • Review the literature: Conduct a thorough review of the literature related to your research question. This will help you to identify the current state of knowledge in the field and the gaps that exist.
  • Identify the research gap: Based on your review of the literature, identify the specific research gap that your study will address. This could be a theoretical, empirical, methodological, practical, or knowledge gap.
  • Provide evidence: Provide evidence to support your claim that the research gap exists. This could include a summary of the existing literature, a discussion of the limitations of previous studies, or an analysis of the current state of knowledge in the field.
  • Explain the importance: Explain why it is important to fill the research gap. This could include a discussion of the potential implications of filling the gap, the significance of the research for the field, or the potential benefits to society.
  • State your research objectives: State your research objectives, which should be aligned with the research gap you have identified. This will help you to clearly articulate the purpose of your study and how it will address the research gap.

Importance of Research Gap

The importance of research gaps can be summarized as follows:

  • Advancing knowledge: Identifying research gaps is crucial for advancing knowledge in a particular field. By identifying areas where additional research is needed, researchers can fill gaps in the existing body of knowledge and contribute to the development of new theories and practices.
  • Guiding research: Research gaps can guide researchers in designing studies that fill those gaps. By identifying research gaps, researchers can develop research questions and objectives that are aligned with the needs of the field and contribute to the development of new knowledge.
  • Enhancing research quality: By identifying research gaps, researchers can avoid duplicating previous research and instead focus on developing innovative research that fills gaps in the existing body of knowledge. This can lead to more impactful research and higher-quality research outputs.
  • Informing policy and practice: Research gaps can inform policy and practice by highlighting areas where additional research is needed to inform decision-making. By filling research gaps, researchers can provide evidence-based recommendations that have the potential to improve policy and practice in a particular field.

Applications of Research Gap

Here are some potential applications of research gap:

  • Informing research priorities: Research gaps can help guide research funding agencies and researchers to prioritize research areas that require more attention and resources.
  • Identifying practical implications: Identifying gaps in knowledge can help identify practical applications of research that are still unexplored or underdeveloped.
  • Stimulating innovation: Research gaps can encourage innovation and the development of new approaches or methodologies to address unexplored areas.
  • Improving policy-making: Research gaps can inform policy-making decisions by highlighting areas where more research is needed to make informed policy decisions.
  • Enhancing academic discourse: Research gaps can lead to new and constructive debates and discussions within academic communities, leading to more robust and comprehensive research.

Advantages of Research Gap

Here are some of the advantages of research gap:

  • Identifies new research opportunities: Identifying research gaps can help researchers identify areas that require further exploration, which can lead to new research opportunities.
  • Improves the quality of research: By identifying gaps in current research, researchers can focus their efforts on addressing unanswered questions, which can improve the overall quality of research.
  • Enhances the relevance of research: Research that addresses existing gaps can have significant implications for the development of theories, policies, and practices, and can therefore increase the relevance and impact of research.
  • Helps avoid duplication of effort: Identifying existing research can help researchers avoid duplicating efforts, saving time and resources.
  • Helps to refine research questions: Research gaps can help researchers refine their research questions, making them more focused and relevant to the needs of the field.
  • Promotes collaboration: By identifying areas of research that require further investigation, researchers can collaborate with others to conduct research that addresses these gaps, which can lead to more comprehensive and impactful research outcomes.

Disadvantages of Research Gap

While research gaps can be advantageous, there are also some potential disadvantages that should be considered:

  • Difficulty in identifying gaps: Identifying gaps in existing research can be challenging, particularly in fields where there is a large volume of research or where research findings are scattered across different disciplines.
  • Lack of funding: Addressing research gaps may require significant resources, and researchers may struggle to secure funding for their work if it is perceived as too risky or uncertain.
  • Time-consuming: Conducting research to address gaps can be time-consuming, particularly if the research involves collecting new data or developing new methods.
  • Risk of oversimplification: Addressing research gaps may require researchers to simplify complex problems, which can lead to oversimplification and a failure to capture the complexity of the issues.
  • Bias : Identifying research gaps can be influenced by researchers’ personal biases or perspectives, which can lead to a skewed understanding of the field.
  • Potential for disagreement: Identifying research gaps can be subjective, and different researchers may have different views on what constitutes a gap in the field, leading to disagreements and debate.

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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research gap example format

How To Find A Research Gap, Quickly

A step-by-step guide for new researchers

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | April 2023

If you’ve got a dissertation, thesis or research project coming up, one of the first (and most important) things you’ll need to do is find a suitable research gap . In this post, we’ll share a straightforward process to help you uncover high-quality, original research gaps in a very time-efficient manner.

Overview: Finding Research Gaps

  • What exactly is a research gap?
  • Research gap vs research topic
  • How to find potential research gaps
  • How to evaluate research gaps (and topics)
  • Key takeaways

What is a research gap?

As a starting point, it’s useful to first define what we mean by research gap, to ensure we’re all on the same page. The term “research gap” gets thrown around quite loosely by students and academics alike, so let’s clear that up.

Simply put, a research gap is any space where there’s a lack of solid, agreed-upon research regarding a specific topic, issue or phenomenon. In other words, there’s a lack of established knowledge and, consequently, a need for further research.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example to illustrate a research gap.

Within the existing research regarding factors affect job satisfaction , there may be a wealth of established and agreed-upon empirical work within a US and UK context , but very little research within Eastern nations such as Japan or Korea . Given that these nations have distinctly different national cultures and workforce compositions compared to the West, it’s plausible that the factors that contribute toward job satisfaction may also be different. Therefore, a research gap emerges for studies that explore this matter.

This example is purely hypothetical (and there’s probably plenty of research covering this already), but it illustrates the core point that a research gap reflects a lack of firmly established knowledge regarding a specific matter . Given this lack, an opportunity exists for researchers (like you) to go on and fill the gap.

So, it’s the same as a research topic?

Not quite – but they are connected. A research gap refers to an area where there’s a lack of settled research , whereas a research topic outlines the focus of a specific study . Despite being different things, these two are related because research gaps are the birthplace of research topics. In other words, by identifying a clear research gap, you have a foundation from which you can build a research topic for your specific study. Your study is unlikely to resolve the entire research gap on it’s own, but it will contribute towards it .

If you’d like to learn more, we’ve got a comprehensive post that covers research gaps (including the different types of research gaps), as well as an explainer video below.

How to find a research gap

Now that we’ve defined what a research gap is, it’s time to get down to the process of finding potential research gaps that you can use as a basis for potential research topics. Importantly, it’s worth noting that this is just one way (of many) to find a research gap (and consequently a topic). We’re not proposing that it’s the only way or best way, but it’s certainly a relatively quick way to identify opportunities.

Step 1: Identify your broad area of interest

The very first step to finding a research gap is to decide on your general area of interest . For example, if you were undertaking a dissertation as part of an MBA degree, you may decide that you’re interested in corporate reputation, HR strategy, or leadership styles. As you can see, these are broad categories – there’s no need to get super specific just yet. Of course, if there is something very specific that you’re interested in, that’s great – but don’t feel pressured to narrow it down too much right now.

Equally important is to make sure that this area of interest is allowed by your university or whichever institution you’ll be proposing your research to. This might sound dead obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many times we’ve seen students run down a path with great excitement, only to later learn that their university wants a very specific area of focus in terms of topic (and their area of interest doesn’t qualify).

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Step 2: Do an initial literature scan

Once you’ve pinned down your broad area (or areas) of interest, the next step is to head over to Google Scholar to undertake an initial literature scan . If you’re not familiar with this tool, Google Scholar is a great starting point for finding academic literature on pretty much any topic, as it uses Google’s powerful search capabilities to hunt down relevant academic literature. It’s certainly not the be-all and end-all of literature search tools, but it’s a useful starting point .

Within Google Scholar, you’ll want to do a few searches using keywords that are relevant to your area of interest. Sticking with our earlier example, we could use the key phrase “job satisfaction”, or we may want to get a little more specific – perhaps “job satisfaction for millennials” or “job satisfaction in Japan”.

It’s always a good idea to play around with as many keywords/phrases as you can think up.  Take an iterative approach here and see which keywords yield the most relevant results for you. Keep each search open in a new tab, as this will help keep things organised for the next steps.

Once you’ve searched for a few different keywords/phrases, you’ll need to do some refining for each of the searches you undertook. Specifically, you’ll need to filter the results down to the most recent papers . You can do this by selecting the time period in the top left corner (see the example below).

using google scholar to find a research gap

Filtering to the current year is typically a good choice (especially for fast-moving research areas), but in some cases, you may need to filter to the last two years . If you’re undertaking this task in January or February, for example, you’ll likely need to select a two-year period.

Need a helping hand?

research gap example format

Step 3: Review and shortlist articles that interest you

Once you’ve run a few searches using different keywords and phrases, you’ll need to scan through the results to see what looks most relevant and interesting to you. At this stage, you can just look at the titles and abstracts (the description provided by Google Scholar) – don’t worry about reading the actual article just yet.

Next, select 5 – 10 articles that interest you and open them up. Here, we’re making the assumption that your university has provided you with access to a decent range of academic databases. In some cases, Google Scholar will link you directly to a PDF of the article, but in most cases, you’ll need paid access. If you don’t have this (for example, if you’re still applying to a university), you can look at two options:

Open-access articles – these are free articles which you can access without any journal subscription. A quick Google search (the regular Google) will help you find open-access journals in your area of interest, but you can also have a look at DOAJ and Elsevier Open Access.

DeepDyve – this is a monthly subscription service that allows you to get access to a broad range of journals. At the time of shooting this video, their monthly subscription is around $50 and they do offer a free trial, which may be sufficient for your project.

Step 4: Skim-read your article shortlist

Now, it’s time to dig into your article shortlist and do some reading. But don’t worry, you don’t need to read the articles from start to finish – you just need to focus on a few key sections.

Specifically, you’ll need to pay attention to the following:

  • The abstract (which you’ve probably already read a portion of in Google Scholar)
  • The introduction – this will give you a bit more detail about the context and background of the study, as well as what the researchers were trying to achieve (their research aims)
  • The discussion or conclusion – this will tell you what the researchers found

By skimming through these three sections for each journal article on your shortlist, you’ll gain a reasonable idea of what each study was about, without having to dig into the painful details. Generally, these sections are usually quite short, so it shouldn’t take you too long.

Step 5: Go “FRIN hunting”

This is where the magic happens. Within each of the articles on your shortlist, you’ll want to search for a few very specific phrases , namely:

  • Future research
  • Further research
  • Research opportunities
  • Research directions

All of these terms are commonly found in what we call the “FRIN” section . FRIN stands for “further research is needed”. The FRIN is where the researchers explain what other researchers could do to build on their study, or just on the research area in general. In other words, the FRIN section is where you can find fresh opportunities for novel research . Most empirical studies will either have a dedicated FRIN section or paragraph, or they’ll allude to the FRIN toward the very end of the article. You’ll need to do a little scanning, but it’s usually pretty easy to spot.

It’s worth mentioning that naturally, the FRIN doesn’t hand you a list of research gaps on a platter. It’s not a silver bullet for finding research gaps – but it’s the closest thing to it. Realistically, the FRIN section helps you shortcut the gap-hunting process  by highlighting novel research avenues that are worth exploring.

This probably sounds a little conceptual, so let’s have a look at a few examples:

The impact of overeducation on job outcomes: Evidence from Saudi Arabia (Alzubaidi, 2020)

If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, you’ll see there’s a dedicated section called “Limitations and directions for future research”. Here they talk about the limitations of the study and provide suggestions about how future researchers could improve upon their work and overcome the limitations.

Perceived organizational support and job satisfaction: a moderated mediation model of proactive personality and psychological empowerment (Maan et al, 2020)

In this article, within the limitations section, they provide a wonderfully systematic structure where they discuss each limitation, followed by a proposal as to how future studies can overcome the respective limitation. In doing so, they are providing very specific research opportunities for other researchers.

Medical professionals’ job satisfaction and telemedicine readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic: solutions to improve medical practice in Egypt (El-Mazahy et al, 2023)

In this article, they don’t have a dedicated section discussing the FRIN, but we can deduct it based on the limitations section. For example, they state that an evaluation of the knowledge about telemedicine and technology-related skills would have enabled studying their independent effect on the perception of telemedicine.

Follow this FRIN-seeking process for the articles you shortlisted and map out any potentially interesting research gaps . You may find that you need to look at a larger number of articles to find something interesting, or you might find that your area of interest shifts as you engage in the reading – this is perfectly natural. Take as much time as you need to develop a shortlist of potential research gaps that interest you.

Importantly, once you’ve developed a shortlist of potential research gaps, you need to return to Google Scholar to double-check that there aren’t fresh studies that have already addressed the gap. Remember, if you’re looking at papers from two years ago in a fast-moving field, someone else may have jumped on it . Nevertheless, there could still very well be a unique angle you could take – perhaps a contextual gap (e.g. a specific country, industry, etc.).

Ultimately, the need for originality will depend on your specific university’s requirements and the level of study. For example, if you’re doing an undergraduate research project, the originality requirements likely won’t be as gruelling as say a Masters or PhD project. So, make sure you have a clear understanding of what your university’s expectations are. A good way to do this is to look at past dissertations and theses for your specific programme. You can usually find these in the university library or by asking the faculty.

How to evaluate potential research gaps

Once you’ve developed a shortlist of potential research gaps (and resultant potential research topics) that interest you, you’ll need to systematically evaluate  them  to choose a winner. There are many factors to consider here, but some important ones include the following:

  • Originality and value – is the topic sufficiently novel and will addressing it create value?
  • Data access – will you be able to get access to the sample of interest?
  • Costs – will there be additional costs involved for data collection and/or analysis?
  • Timeframes – will you be able to collect and analyse the data within the timeframe required by your university?
  • Supervisor support – is there a suitable supervisor available to support your project from start to finish?

To help you evaluate your options systematically, we’ve got a topic evaluation worksheet that allows you to score each potential topic against a comprehensive set of criteria. You can access the worksheet completely free of charge here .

Research topic evaluator

Recap: Key Takeaways

We’ve covered quite a lot of ground in this post. Here are the key takeaways:

  • A research gap is any space where there’s a lack of solid, agreed-upon research regarding a specific topic/issue/phenomenon.
  • Unique research topics emerge from research gaps , so it’s essential to first identify high-quality research gaps before you attempt to define a topic.
  • To find potential research gaps, start by seeking out recent journal articles on Google Scholar and pay particular attention to the FRIN section to identify novel opportunities.
  • Once you have a shortlist of prospective research gaps and resultant topic ideas, evaluate them systematically using a comprehensive set of criteria.

If you’d like to get hands-on help finding a research gap and research topic, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the research journey, step by step.

research gap example format

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

Ramraj Shiwakoti

Very useful for me, but i am still confusing review of literature review, how to find out topic related previous research.

SHADRECK

Powerful notes! Thanks a lot.

Timothy Ezekiel Pam

This is helpful. Thanks a lot.

Yam Lal Bhoosal

Thank you very much for this. It is really a great opportunity for me to learn the research journey.

Vijaya Kumar

Very Useful

Nabulu Mara

It nice job

Friday Henry Malaya

You have sharpened my articulations of these components to the core. Thanks so much.

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Write Like a Scientist

A Guide to Scientific Communication

Gap Statements

  A gap is something that remains to be done or learned in an area of research; it’s a gap in the knowledge of the scientists in the field of research of your study. Every research project must, in some way, address a gap–that is, attempt to fill in some piece of information missing in the scientific literature. Otherwise, it is not novel research and is therefore not contributing to the overall goals of science.

Identify the gap.

  A gap statement is found in the Introduction section of a journal article or poster or in the Goals and Importance section of a research proposal and succinctly identifies for your audience the gap that you will attempt to address in your project.

A gap might be a lack of understanding about how well a particular instrument works in a certain situation. It could be introducing a new method that needs to be tested. Or it could be that you are studying a whole new organism, system, or part of a process. Your project may also address multiple gaps, in which case you should be sure to identify each of them clearly!

In a class, you might not always be studying something brand “new.” But, in most cases, you should still try to come up with something unique about your project, however small. Talk to your professor about what they expect for your gap statement if nothing seems to work.

:

“… The relationship between the four damping factors, i.e. internal friction, support loss, airflow force in free space, and squeeze force, has not yet been clarified, so it is not obvious which one is dominant in actual microsystems.”

Here, the authors signal to us that this is a gap because they use the words “has not yet been clarified.” Other phrases that might help you identify (or form!) a gap statement are:

  • …has/have not been… (studied/reported/elucidated)
  • …is required/needed…
  • …the key question is/remains…
  • …it is important to address…

Fill the gap.

  Once you identify the gap in the literature, you must tell your audience how you attempt to at least somewhat address in your project this lack of knowledge or understanding . In a journal article or poster, this is often done in a new paragraph and should be accomplished in one summary statement, such as:

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effects of lead on the hepatobiliary system, especially on the liver and on the gallbladder (adapted from Sipos et al. 2003 ).

You’ll often find that the first sentence of the last paragraph in a paper’s introduction will start somewhat like this, indicating the gap fill.  

Some phrases you can use to indicate your gap “fill:”

Remember–always keep your voice professional! Colloquial phrases such as “we looked into” or “we checked if” should be avoided when introducing your gap fill.

So let’s look at this idea in context by looking at some examples from a couple of types of papers. The gap statements are underlined; the fills are italicized.  

Adapted from :

Though ideally expected to be chemically very stable due to the poor reactivity of the basal aromatic plane from which SWNTs are built, the question of whether all the chemicals which are now currently proposed in the literature as purifying, suspending, or grafting agents for SWNTs actually have a limited effect on the SWNT integrity has to be addressed.

Adapted from :

Milly’s work recognized the importance of storage capacity of the root zone in controlling evapotranspiration and has the postential for assessing the catchment-scale response of vegetation changes. However, the practical application of this model is limited because of the complex numerical solutions required.

Adapted from :

A risk assessment of the potential impacts on health and environment that the production, use, and disposal of nanomaterials may engender requires information concerning both the potential for exposure to a given material and its (once exposed) potential impacts such as toxicity or mutagenicity.

In the second and third examples, the gap may be a little less obvious–it doesn’t use any phrases to signal to you that there’s something missing, such as “has not been clarified” or “have not been reported.” But because of the way the paragraph is laid out–following the conventions of our move structures–we can see that the underlined section of text is indeed the missing information in the literature that the group sought to address in their project.

[bg_faq_start]

In the following examples, identify the gap statement. Then, identify the fill. Notice if there are any specific words or phrases used to signal either of these moves.

1. Adapted from :

Paralytic shellfish poisoning occurs worldwide, and harmful algal blooms, including those responsible for PSP, appear to be increasing in frequency and intensity. PSP outbreaks in Portuguese waters have been associated with blooms of Gymnodinium caenatum in the late 1980s to early 1990s, then again after 2005. According to the national monitoring program in Portugal, G. catenatum were not reported along the Portuguese coast during the 10-year period from 1995 to 2005. The aims of this study were to fully characterize the toxin profile of G. catenatum strains isolated from the NW Portuguese coast before and after the 10-year absence of blooms to
determine changes and potential implications for the region. Hydrophilic interaction liquid
chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HILIC-MS/MS) was utilized to determine the presence of any known and emerging PSTs in sample extracts.

2. Adapted from :

The exchange process frequently observed in polypyrrane condensations is proposed to occur by the acid-catalyzed fragmentation of a polypyrrane into pyrrolic and azafulvene components.15 As illustrated in Scheme 2, recombination of and can form a new polypyrrane that cannot be formed by direct condensation of the dipyrromethane and aldehyde. Ultimately this process leads to the production of a scrambled mixture of porphyrins. The factors that promote the scrambling process in MacDonald-type 2 + 2 condensations are poorly understood, but suppression of scrambling is essential for preparing large quantities of pure trans-porphyrins. In this paper we describe a study of a wide range of reaction conditions for the 2 + 2 condensation that has led to refined synthetic procedures for the preparation of trans-porphyrins.

3. Adapted from :

In the present paper, we focus on laser wake field acceleration in a new, highly non-linear regime. It occurs for laser pulses shorter than λ(p) but for relativistic intensities high enough to break the plasma wave after the first oscillation. In the present relativistic regime, one should notice that the plama wave fronts are curved and first break new the wave axis and for lower values than the plane-wave limit. This has been studied in 2D geometry in [14-17]. Here, we present 3D PIC simulations of two representative cases. The case (I) is just marginally above and the case (II) is far above the breaking threshold.

[bg_faq_start]

Good gap and fill signaling phrases are italicized.

 

1. “The factors that promote the scrambling process in MacDonald-type 2 + 2 condensations ….”

“ a study of a wide range of reaction conditions for the 2 + 2 condensation that has led to refined synthetic procedures for the preparation of trans-porphyrins.”

 

2. This question is a little trickier! The authors use “In the present paper…,” then, “In the present regime…,” and finally, “Here…,” all of which sound like signaling words for filling the gap. But where is the gap? We have to look closely at what exactly is being said. It is true that the first statement appears to be somewhat of a gap fill, although they haven’t yet given us a gap statement. The authors go on to say “This has been studied in 2D geometry,” which brings us back to move 1(iii), identifying critical evidence from the literature.

Thus, the is not explicit. It is a combination of stating that this concept has been studied in 2D, followed by announcement that the authors will study it in 3D.
: “ 3D PIC simulations of two representative cases.”

Although the first sentence (“… we focus on laser wake field acceleration…”) could also be considered part of the fill, because it comes before the gap statement and is also less descriptive, it functions more as an introduction to these moves.

 

3. According to the national monitoring program in Portugal, G. catenatum along the Portuguese coast during the 10-year period from 1995 to 2005.”

to fully characterize the toxin profile of G. catenatum strains isolated from the NW Portuguese coast before and after the 10-year absence of blooms to
determine changes and potential implications for the region.”

 

[bg_faq_end]
[bg_faq_end]

[bg_faq_start]

Find 3-4 primary research articles (not reviews) from reputable journals in your field. Underline the gap statement and circle the gap fill. Remember that not all papers follow this exact move structure, so if you can’t seem to find either of these moves, you might have to look carefully at different parts of the introduction and ask yourself:

[bg_faq_end]

Enago Academy

Identifying Research Gaps to Pursue Innovative Research

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This article is an excerpt from a lecture given by my Ph.D. guide, a researcher in public health. She advised us on how to identify research gaps to pursue innovative research in our fields.

What is a Research Gap?

Today we are talking about the research gap: what is it, how to identify it, and how to make use of it so that you can pursue innovative research. Now, how many of you have ever felt you had discovered a new and exciting research question , only to find that it had already been written about? I have experienced this more times than I can count. Graduate studies come with pressure to add new knowledge to the field. We can contribute to the progress and knowledge of humanity. To do this, we need to first learn to identify research gaps in the existing literature.

A research gap is, simply, a topic or area for which missing or insufficient information limits the ability to reach a conclusion for a question. It should not be confused with a research question, however. For example, if we ask the research question of what the healthiest diet for humans is, we would find many studies and possible answers to this question. On the other hand, if we were to ask the research question of what are the effects of antidepressants on pregnant women, we would not find much-existing data. This is a research gap. When we identify a research gap, we identify a direction for potentially new and exciting research.

peer review

How to Identify Research Gap?

Considering the volume of existing research, identifying research gaps can seem overwhelming or even impossible. I don’t have time to read every paper published on public health. Similarly, you guys don’t have time to read every paper. So how can you identify a research gap?

There are different techniques in various disciplines, but we can reduce most of them down to a few steps, which are:

  • Identify your key motivating issue/question
  • Identify key terms associated with this issue
  • Review the literature, searching for these key terms and identifying relevant publications
  • Review the literature cited by the key publications which you located in the above step
  • Identify issues not addressed by  the literature relating to your critical  motivating issue

It is the last step which we all find the most challenging. It can be difficult to figure out what an article is  not  saying. I like to keep a list of notes of biased or inconsistent information. You could also track what authors write as “directions for future research,” which often can point us towards the existing gaps.

Different Types of Research Gaps

Identifying research gaps is an essential step in conducting research, as it helps researchers to refine their research questions and to focus their research efforts on areas where there is a need for more knowledge or understanding.

1. Knowledge gaps

These are gaps in knowledge or understanding of a subject, where more research is needed to fill the gaps. For example, there may be a lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind a particular disease or how a specific technology works.

2. Conceptual gaps

These are gaps in the conceptual framework or theoretical understanding of a subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to understand the relationship between two concepts or to refine a theoretical framework.

3. Methodological gaps

These are gaps in the methods used to study a particular subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to develop new research methods or to refine existing methods to address specific research questions.

4. Data gaps

These are gaps in the data available on a particular subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to collect data on a specific population or to develop new measures to collect data on a particular construct.

5. Practical gaps

These are gaps in the application of research findings to practical situations. For example, there may be a need for more research to understand how to implement evidence-based practices in real-world settings or to identify barriers to implementing such practices.

Examples of Research Gap

Limited understanding of the underlying mechanisms of a disease:.

Despite significant research on a particular disease, there may be a lack of understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the disease. For example, although much research has been done on Alzheimer’s disease, the exact mechanisms that lead to the disease are not yet fully understood.

Inconsistencies in the findings of previous research:

When previous research on a particular topic has inconsistent findings, there may be a need for further research to clarify or resolve these inconsistencies. For example, previous research on the effectiveness of a particular treatment for a medical condition may have produced inconsistent findings, indicating a need for further research to determine the true effectiveness of the treatment.

Limited research on emerging technologies:

As new technologies emerge, there may be limited research on their applications, benefits, and potential drawbacks. For example, with the increasing use of artificial intelligence in various industries, there is a need for further research on the ethical, legal, and social implications of AI.

How to Deal with Literature Gap?

Once you have identified the literature gaps, it is critical to prioritize. You may find many questions which remain to be answered in the literature. Often one question must be answered before the next can be addressed. In prioritizing the gaps, you have identified, you should consider your funding agency or stakeholders, the needs of the field, and the relevance of your questions to what is currently being studied. Also, consider your own resources and ability to conduct the research you’re considering. Once you have done this, you can narrow your search down to an appropriate question.

Tools to Help Your Search

There are thousands of new articles published every day, and staying up to date on the literature can be overwhelming. You should take advantage of the technology that is available. Some services include  PubCrawler ,  Feedly ,  Google Scholar , and PubMed updates. Stay up to date on social media forums where scholars share new discoveries, such as Twitter. Reference managers such as  Mendeley  can help you keep your references well-organized. I personally have had success using Google Scholar and PubMed to stay current on new developments and track which gaps remain in my personal areas of interest.

The most important thing I want to impress upon you today is that you will struggle to  choose a research topic  that is innovative and exciting if you don’t know the existing literature well. This is why identifying research gaps starts with an extensive and thorough  literature review . But give yourself some boundaries.  You don’t need to read every paper that has ever been written on a topic. You may find yourself thinking you’re on the right track and then suddenly coming across a paper that you had intended to write! It happens to everyone- it happens to me quite often. Don’t give up- keep reading and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Class dismissed!

How do you identify research gaps? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

A research gap can be identified by looking for a topic or area with missing or insufficient information that limits the ability to reach a conclusion for a question.

Identifying a research gap is important as it provides a direction for potentially new research or helps bridge the gap in existing literature.

Gap in research is a topic or area with missing or insufficient information. A research gap limits the ability to reach a conclusion for a question.

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Thank u for your suggestion.

Very useful tips specially for a beginner

Thank you. This is helpful. I find that I’m overwhelmed with literatures. As I read on a particular topic, and in a particular direction I find that other conflicting issues, topic a and ideas keep popping up, making me more confused.

I am very grateful for your advice. It’s just on point.

The clearest, exhaustive, and brief explanation I have ever read.

Thanks for sharing

Thank you very much.The work is brief and understandable

Thank you it is very informative

research gap example format

Thanks for sharing this educative article

Thank you for such informative explanation.

Great job smart guy! Really outdid yourself!

Nice one! I thank you for this as it is just what I was looking for!😃🤟

Thank you so much for this. Much appreciated

Thank you so much.

Thankyou for ur briefing…its so helpful

Thank you so much .I’ved learn a lot from this.❤️

Very exciting and useful piece for researchers.

Your are awesome, it’s a great article.

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Research Process

  • Brainstorming
  • Explore Google This link opens in a new window
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  • Literature Gap and Future Research
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  • Finding Seminal Works
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Research Articles

These examples below illustrate how researchers from different disciplines identified gaps in existing literature. For additional examples, try a NavigatorSearch using this search string: ("Literature review") AND (gap*)

  • Addressing the Recent Developments and Potential Gaps in the Literature of Corporate Sustainability
  • Applications of Psychological Science to Teaching and Learning: Gaps in the Literature
  • Attitudes, Risk Factors, and Behaviours of Gambling Among Adolescents and Young People: A Literature Review and Gap Analysis
  • Do Psychological Diversity Climate, HRM Practices, and Personality Traits (Big Five) Influence Multicultural Workforce Job Satisfaction and Performance? Current Scenario, Literature Gap, and Future Research Directions
  • Entrepreneurship Education: A Systematic Literature Review and Identification of an Existing Gap in the Field
  • Evidence and Gaps in the Literature on HIV/STI Prevention Interventions Targeting Migrants in Receiving Countries: A Scoping Review
  • Homeless Indigenous Veterans and the Current Gaps in Knowledge: The State of the Literature
  • A Literature Review and Gap Analysis of Emerging Technologies and New Trends in Gambling
  • A Review of Higher Education Image and Reputation Literature: Knowledge Gaps and a Research Agenda
  • Trends and Gaps in Empirical Research on Open Educational Resources (OER): A Systematic Mapping of the Literature from 2015 to 2019
  • Where Should We Go From Here? Identified Gaps in the Literature in Psychosocial Interventions for Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Comorbid Anxiety

What is a ‘gap in the literature’?

The gap, also considered the missing piece or pieces in the research literature, is the area that has not yet been explored or is under-explored. This could be a population or sample (size, type, location, etc.), research method, data collection and/or analysis, or other research variables or conditions.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that just because you identify a gap in the research, it doesn't necessarily mean that your research question is worthy of exploration. You will want to make sure that your research will have valuable practical and/or theoretical implications. In other words, answering the research question could either improve existing practice and/or inform professional decision-making (Applied Degree), or it could revise, build upon, or create theoretical frameworks informing research design and practice (Ph.D Degree). See the Dissertation Center  for additional information about dissertation criteria at NU.

For a additional information on gap statements, see the following:

  • How to Find a Gap in the Literature
  • Write Like a Scientist: Gap Statements

How do you identify the gaps?

Conducting an exhaustive literature review is your first step. As you search for journal articles, you will need to read critically across the breadth of the literature to identify these gaps. You goal should be to find a ‘space’ or opening for contributing new research. The first step is gathering a broad range of research articles on your topic. You may want to look for research that approaches the topic from a variety of methods – qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. 

See the videos below for further instruction on identifying a gap in the literature.

Identifying a Gap in the Literature - Dr. Laurie Bedford

How Do You Identify Gaps in Literature? - SAGE Research Methods

Literature Gap & Future Research - Library Workshop

This workshop presents effective search techniques for identifying a gap in the literature and recommendations for future research.

Where can you locate research gaps?

As you begin to gather the literature, you will want to critically read for what has, and has not, been learned from the research. Use the Discussion and Future Research sections of the articles to understand what the researchers have found and where they point out future or additional research areas. This is similar to identifying a gap in the literature, however, future research statements come from a single study rather than an exhaustive search. You will want to check the literature to see if those research questions have already been answered.

Screenshot of an article PDF with the "Suggestions for Future Research and Conclusion" section highlighted.

Roadrunner Search

Identifying the gap in the research relies on an exhaustive review of the literature. Remember, researchers may not explicitly state that a gap in the literature exists; you may need to thoroughly review and assess the research to make that determination yourself.

However, there are techniques that you can use when searching in NavigatorSearch to help identify gaps in the literature. You may use search terms such as "literature gap " or "future research" "along with your subject keywords to pinpoint articles that include these types of statements.

Screenshot of the Roadrunner Advanced Search with an example search for "future research" or gap.

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How to Identify a Research Gap

How to Identify a Research Gap

  • 5-minute read
  • 10th January 2024

If you’ve been tasked with producing a thesis or dissertation, one of your first steps will be identifying a research gap. Although finding a research gap may sound daunting, don’t fret! In this post, we will define a research gap, discuss its importance, and offer a step-by-step guide that will provide you with the essential know-how to complete this critical step and move on to the rest of your research project.

What Is a Research Gap?

Simply put, a research gap is an area that hasn’t been explored in the existing literature. This could be an unexplored population, an untested method, or a condition that hasn’t been investigated yet. 

Why Is Identifying a Research Gap Important?

Identifying a research gap is a foundational step in the research process. It ensures that your research is significant and has the ability to advance knowledge within a specific area. It also helps you align your work with the current needs and challenges of your field. Identifying a research gap has many potential benefits.

1. Avoid Redundancy in Your Research

Understanding the existing literature helps researchers avoid duplication. This means you can steer clear of topics that have already been extensively studied. This ensures your work is novel and contributes something new to the field.

2. Guide the Research Design

Identifying a research gap helps shape your research design and questions. You can tailor your studies to specifically address the identified gap. This ensures that your work directly contributes to filling the void in knowledge.

3. Practical Applications

Research that addresses a gap is more likely to have practical applications and contributions. Whether in academia, industry, or policymaking, research that fills a gap in knowledge is often more applicable and can inform decision-making and practices in real-world contexts.

4. Field Advancements

Addressing a research gap can lead to advancements in the field . It may result in the development of new theories, methodologies, or technologies that push the boundaries of current understanding.

5. Strategic Research Planning

Identifying a research gap is crucial for strategic planning . It helps researchers and institutions prioritize areas that need attention so they can allocate resources effectively. This ensures that efforts are directed toward the most critical gaps in knowledge.

6. Academic and Professional Recognition

Researchers who successfully address significant research gaps often receive peer recognition within their academic and professional communities. This recognition can lead to opportunities for collaboration, funding, and career advancement.

How Do I Identify a Research Gap?

1. clearly define your research topic .

Begin by clearly defining your research topic. A well-scoped topic serves as the foundation for your studies. Make sure it’s not too broad or too narrow; striking the right balance will make it easier to identify gaps in existing literature.

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2. Conduct a Thorough Literature Review

A comprehensive literature review is a vital step in any research. Dive deep into the existing research related to your topic. Look for patterns, recurring themes, and consensus among scholars. Pay attention to areas where conflicting opinions or gaps in understanding emerge.

3. Evaluate Existing Studies

Critically evaluate the studies you encounter during your literature review. Assess the paradigms , methodologies, findings, and limitations of each. Note any discrepancies, unanswered questions, or areas where further investigation is warranted. These are potential indicators of research gaps.

4. Identify Unexplored Perspectives

Consider the perspectives presented in the existing literature. Are there alternative viewpoints or marginalized voices that haven’t been adequately explored? Identifying and incorporating diverse perspectives can often lead to uncharted territory and help you pinpoint a unique research gap.

Additional Tips

Stay up to date with emerging trends.

The field of research is dynamic, with new developments and emerging trends constantly shaping the landscape. Stay up to date with the latest publications, conferences, and discussions in your field and make sure to regularly check relevant academic search engines . Often, identifying a research gap involves being at the forefront of current debates and discussions.

Seek Guidance From Experts

Don’t hesitate to reach out to experts in your field for guidance. Attend conferences, workshops, or seminars where you can interact with seasoned researchers. Their insights and experience can provide valuable perspectives on potential research gaps that you may have overlooked. You can also seek advice from your academic advisor .

Use Research Tools and Analytics

Leverage tech tools to analyze patterns and trends in the existing literature. Tools like citation analysis, keyword mapping, and data visualization can help you identify gaps and areas with limited exploration.

Identifying a research gap is a skill that evolves with experience and dedication. By defining your research topic, meticulously navigating the existing literature, critically evaluating studies, and recognizing unexplored perspectives, you’ll be on your way to identifying a research gap that will serve as the foundation for your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

If you need any help with proofreading your research paper , we can help with our research paper editing services . You can even try a sample of our services for free . Good luck with all your research!

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Robinson KA, Saldanha IJ, Mckoy NA. Frameworks for Determining Research Gaps During Systematic Reviews [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2011 Jun. (Methods Future Research Needs Reports, No. 2.)

Cover of Frameworks for Determining Research Gaps During Systematic Reviews

Frameworks for Determining Research Gaps During Systematic Reviews [Internet].

Appendix f step 4: development of framework—instructions for research gaps abstraction worksheet.

A research gap is a topic or area for which missing or inadequate information limits the ability of reviewers to reach a conclusion on a given question. This worksheet is designed to facilitate the identification and organization of research gaps during evidence reviews sponsored by AHRQ . Our aim was to design a simple, user-friendly worksheet to help investigators record research gaps. We envision that investigators would fill out this worksheet soon after the data synthesis phase, while in the process of writing the results section of the evidence report.

To facilitate the aggregation of research gaps identified by different people, each person should put his/her name/initials and date of completion on the top right corner of the sheet. Each person should also write the worksheet page number and the key question number on the top right corner of the sheet. We encourage members to be consistent in how they choose to fill out this worksheet, both within themselves as well as with other members of the investigative team.

In the worksheet table, each row is one research gap and is numbered accordingly (“Serial Number”).

  • Reason(s) for Gaps

This column allows members to indicate why the research gap exists. The classification of the reasons for gaps are listed and coded in the legend of the gaps abstraction worksheet. Members should choose the most important reason(s) for the existence of the research gap. That reason selected should be the reason(s) that most precludes conclusions from being made. Put another way, members should consider what would be needed to allow for conclusions to be made. Members may choose to enter codes for more than one reason in this column, as appropriate. The specific reasons for gaps are listed in the footnote of the table and described below:

  • EPC SOE: Precision is a required domain.
  • GRADE : The GRADE Working Group advises decreasing the grade of the quality of the evidence if the data are “ imprecise or sparse”.

“How many studies have been conducted that address the key question(s)?”

“How large are the studies? (i.e., what is the precision of the evidence?) ”

  • EPC SOE: Risk of bias is a required domain. It incorporates the elements of study design and aggregate quality of the studies under consideration.
  • GRADE : Study quality and study design are key elements.

“To what extent are the existing studies of high quality? (i.e., what is the internal validity?)”

“Do the studies have the appropriate research design to answer the key question(s)?”

  • EPC SOE: Consistency is a required domain.
  • GRADE : Consistency is a key element.

“How consistent are the results of the studies?”

  • EPC SOE: Directness is a required domain. It also incorporates the element of surrogate versus clinical outcomes.
  • GRADE : Directness is a key element.

“To what extent are the results of the studies generalizable to the general US primary care population and situation? (i.e., what is the external validity?)”

  • Characterization of Research Gaps

To further characterize the research gaps we propose using the PICOS framework using the population (P), intervention (I), comparison (C), outcomes (O), and setting (S). Those elements which are inadequately addressed in the evidence base should be characterized. The other relevant elements will be apparent from the key question from which the research is derived. It follows that for research questions that do not relate to a specific key question, all available elements of the research gap should be characterized.

Population (P)

In this column, team members should be as specific as possible about the age, sex, race/ethnicity, clinical stage, etc. of the population that is not adequately represented in the evidence base. However, it should be recognized that research gaps often do not relate to any specific population but refer to the general population.

Intervention (I)

In this column, team members should specify the name of the intervention that is inadequately included in the evidence base (generic names of drugs and devices are preferred), the duration of the intervention, its dose, its frequency, who will administer it, etc. As with the population, it may not always be appropriate to specify great detail about the intervention.

Comparison (C)

In this column, team members should provide the same relevant details about the comparative intervention as for the intervention of interest – name of comparative intervention, its duration, its dose, its frequency, who will administer it, etc. If the comparison is “any other intervention,” this should be indicated. Similarly, if the comparison is “no intervention” or placebo, it should be specified as such. It should also be recognized that there may be instances where there is no specific comparison of interest.

Outcomes (O)

In this column, team members should specify the relevant outcomes of interest that are inadequately included in the evidence base. It may be appropriate to organize outcomes by type of outcomes or to only list the types of outcomes (e.g., maternal outcomes and fetal outcomes, liver outcomes, and renal outcomes). If appropriate, the timing of outcome assessments that are missing should be specified. If there are no specific outcomes of interest, this should be indicated.

Setting (S)

In this column, when appropriate, team members should specify the relevant settings for research gaps.

  • Special Considerations

Research gaps relating to the accuracy of diagnostic tests can be fit into the PICOS framework by considering the diagnostic test under investigation as the intervention (I) and the gold standard test as the comparison (C). Relevant outcomes (O) in this case could include sensitivity and specificity.

Research gaps relating to the benefit of one form (or frequency) of clinical assessment (e.g., monitoring) versus another can be fit into the PICOS framework by considering these clinical assessments as intervention (I) and comparison (C). The comparison in this case could include a standard form (or frequency) of clinical assessment or no clinical assessment. Relevant outcomes (O) could include clinical outcomes to assess the benefit of the clinical assessment(s).

Research gaps relating to screening tests can be fit into the PICOS framework by considering these tests as intervention (I) and comparison (C). Relevant outcomes (O) could include clinical outcomes to assess the benefit of the screening test(s).

Research gaps which are difficult to characterize into the PICOS framework should be abstracted in free text form. Interventions could potentially include a range of treatment options, order of treatment options, individualization of treatments, etc. These are often gaps for which it is difficult to identify a clear intervention or comparison of interest.

Examples of research questions derived from such research gap s are: “What are the optimal glucose thresholds for medication use in women with gestational diabetes?”; “In what order should patients with cystic fibrosis perform their airway clearance therapies?” and “How should physicians choose an airway clearance therapy for a given patient with cystic fibrosis?”

  • Cite this Page Robinson KA, Saldanha IJ, Mckoy NA. Frameworks for Determining Research Gaps During Systematic Reviews [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2011 Jun. (Methods Future Research Needs Reports, No. 2.) Appendix F, Step 4: Development of Framework—Instructions for Research Gaps Abstraction Worksheet.
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7 Types of Research Gaps in Literature Review | Examples

This article discusses the 7 types of research gaps with examples and the situation in which its application is required. In the end this article explains how you can write research gaps in your research thesis/ dissertation.

Research gaps should be organized and classified based on their usefulness.  As a result, researchers now have a fundamental framework for identifying them in the literature. Miles (2017) suggested a model which consists of seven research gaps.

Table of Contents

7 Types of Research Gaps

Evidence gap.

It arises when study data allow for conclusions in and of themselves, but are contradictory when considered from a more abstract perspective.

Knowledge Gap

The knowledge gap is a common gap in previous research. There are two conditions in which a knowledge void might exist.

✔ Knowledge Gap is known as Knowledge Void Gap

Practical-Knowledge Conflict Gap

Empirical gap.

The kind of gap that addresses gaps in previous research is an empirical gap.  This gap relates to study conclusions or claims that need to be assessed or experimentally confirmed.

Theoretical Gap

The type of gap known as a theoretical gap is one that deals with the gaps between theory and earlier research.

✔ Theoretical Gap is known as Theory Application Void Gap

Methodological Gap

✔ Methodological Gap is known as Methodology Void Gap.

Population Gap

Research gap types.

Evidence GapStudy results are incongruent and do not support conclusions in their own right if seen from a more abstract perspective,
Knowledge GapThe desired research results are not available.
Practical-Knowledge Conflict GapProfessional behavior or procedures differ from research conclusions or are not investigated by research.
Empirical Gapempirical testing of research conclusions or hypotheses is required.
Theoretical GapTo develop new insight, theory should be applied to specific research problems. A gap exists because there is a lack of theory.
Methodological GapIt is vital to use a variety of research methods to produce new insights or to prevent inconsistent results.
Population GapResearch pertaining to the population that is not sufficiently represented or under-researched in the evidence base or earlier research

Learn how to Identify Research Gap : Find Research Gap from Research Articles

Steps to Write Research Gaps in your Research

1-discuss some of the previous research.

There have been various aspects of _______ that have been studied in the past, including (1) ( cite two to three articles ), (2) (cite two to three articles), and (3) (cite two to three articles).

2-Identify Important Gaps

In the perspective of ___________ , several of these unexplored________ seem significant and worthy of investigation. An investigation of these issues is important because ___________ . Additionally, the main subject of earlier empirical research has been ___________. On ___ ________ , very little research has been conducted.

3- Write Concluding Statement

Second, a population gap is evident after reviewing earlier research. A gap exists with _______ . In the earlier studies, this population group has received insufficient attention. Additionally, ____ ___ includes a number of unexplored dimensions that recently have drawn research interest from different fields. (cite two to three relevant articles).

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Please read through some of our other articles with examples and explanations if you’d like to learn more about research methodology.

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What is a Research Gap

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If you are a young researcher, or even still finishing your studies, you’ll probably notice that your academic environment revolves around certain research topics, probably linked to your department or to the interest of your mentor and direct colleagues. For example, if your department is currently doing research in nanotechnology applied to medicine, it is only natural that you feel compelled to follow this line of research. Hopefully, it’s something you feel familiar with and interested in – although you might take your own twists and turns along your career.

Many scientists end up continuing their academic legacy during their professional careers, writing about their own practical experiences in the field and adapting classic methodologies to a present context. However, each and every researcher dreams about being a pioneer in a subject one day, by discovering a topic that hasn’t been approached before by any other scientist. This is a research gap.

Research gaps are particularly useful for the advance of science, in general. Finding a research gap and having the means to develop a complete and sustained study on it can be very rewarding for the scientist (or team of scientists), not to mention how its new findings can positively impact our whole society.

How to Find a Gap in Research

How many times have you felt that you have finally formulated THAT new and exciting question, only to find out later that it had been addressed before? Probably more times than you can count.

There are some steps you can take to help identify research gaps, since it is impossible to go through all the information and research available nowadays:

  • Select a topic or question that motivates you: Research can take a long time and surely a large amount of physical, intellectual and emotional effort, therefore choose a topic that can keep you motivated throughout the process.
  • Find keywords and related terms to your selected topic: Besides synthesizing the topic to its essential core, this will help you in the next step.
  • Use the identified keywords to search literature: From your findings in the above step, identify relevant publications and cited literature in those publications.
  • Look for topics or issues that are missing or not addressed within (or related to) your main topic.
  • Read systematic reviews: These documents plunge deeply into scholarly literature and identify trends and paradigm shifts in fields of study. Sometimes they reveal areas or topics that need more attention from researchers and scientists.

How to find a Gap in Research

Keeping track of all the new literature being published every day is an impossible mission. Remember that there is technology to make your daily tasks easier, and reviewing literature can be one of them. Some online databases offer up-to-date publication lists with quite effective search features:

  • Elsevier’s Scope
  • Google Scholar

Of course, these tools may be more or less effective depending on knowledge fields. There might be even better ones for your specific topic of research; you can learn about them from more experienced colleagues or mentors.

Find out how FINER research framework can help you formulate your research question.

Literature Gap

The expression “literature gap” is used with the same intention as “research gap.” When there is a gap in the research itself, there will also naturally be a gap in the literature. Nevertheless, it is important to stress out the importance of language or text formulations that can help identify a research/literature gap or, on the other hand, making clear that a research gap is being addressed.

When looking for research gaps across publications you may have noticed sentences like:

…has/have not been… (studied/reported/elucidated) …is required/needed… …the key question is/remains… …it is important to address…

These expressions often indicate gaps; issues or topics related to the main question that still hasn’t been subject to a scientific study. Therefore, it is important to take notice of them: who knows if one of these sentences is hiding your way to fame.

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

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Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Although has been studied in detail, insufficient attention has been paid to . You will address a previously overlooked aspect of your topic.
The implications of study deserve to be explored further. You will build on something suggested by a previous study, exploring it in greater depth.
It is generally assumed that . However, this paper suggests that … You will depart from the consensus on your topic, establishing a new position.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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Last Updated: Jun 27, 2023 Views: 482769

What is a research gap.

A research gap is a question or a problem that has not been answered by any of the existing studies or research within your field. Sometimes, a research gap exists when there is a concept or new idea that hasn't been studied at all. Sometimes you'll find a research gap if all the existing research is outdated and in need of new/updated research (studies on Internet use in 2001, for example). Or, perhaps a specific population has not been well studied (perhaps there are plenty of studies on teenagers and video games, but not enough studies on toddlers and video games, for example). These are just a few examples, but any research gap you find is an area where more studies and more research need to be conducted. Please view this video clip from our Sage Research Methods database for more helpful information: How Do You Identify Gaps in Literature?

How do I find one?

It will take a lot of research and reading.  You'll need to be very familiar with all the studies that have already been done, and what those studies contributed to the overall body of knowledge about that topic. Make a list of any questions you have about your topic and then do some research to see if those questions have already been answered satisfactorily. If they haven't, perhaps you've discovered a gap!  Here are some strategies you can use to make the most of your time:

  • One useful trick is to look at the “suggestions for future research” or conclusion section of existing studies on your topic. Many times, the authors will identify areas where they think a research gap exists, and what studies they think need to be done in the future.
  • As you are researching, you will most likely come across citations for seminal works in your research field. These are the research studies that you see mentioned again and again in the literature.  In addition to finding those and reading them, you can use a database like Web of Science to follow the research trail and discover all the other articles that have cited these. See the FAQ: I found the perfect article for my paper. How do I find other articles and books that have cited it? on how to do this. One way to quickly track down these seminal works is to use a database like SAGE Navigator, a social sciences literature review tool. It is one of the products available via our SAGE Knowledge database.
  • In the PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES databases, you can select literature review, systematic review, and meta analysis under the Methodology section in the advanced search to quickly locate these. See the FAQ: Where can I find a qualitative or quantitative study? for more information on how to find the Methodology section in these two databases.
  • In CINAHL , you can select Systematic review under the Publication Type field in the advanced search. 
  • In Web of Science , check the box beside Review under the Document Type heading in the “Refine Results” sidebar to the right of the list of search hits.
  • If the database you are searching does not offer a way to filter your results by document type, publication type, or methodology in the advanced search, you can include these phrases (“literature reviews,” meta-analyses, or “systematic reviews”) in your search string.  For example, “video games” AND “literature reviews” could be a possible search that you could try.

Please give these suggestions a try and contact a librarian for additional assistance.

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How to identify research gaps and include them in your thesis?

A thesis is an investigation that adheres to the principles of academic writing . It is critically evaluated on its reliability and significance for the industry (Chandra, 2017). The thesis research provides new insights into academia by reviewing existing research.

In this process, it is essential to identify the research gap. Research gaps are the centre of any research, determining the areas which lack crucial information.

Research gaps also help to frame:

The purpose of identifying research gaps in a thesis

A research gap is a problem that has not been addressed or answered in previous studies in the form of books, journal articles or reports. For instance, presently, there is a lack of research on the long-term effects of the Covid-19 vaccine. This can be a research gap in many studies such as social sciences, biotechnology, and medicine. Such problems need citation analysis and systematic review (Tsoulfas, 2021). To formulate an information-driven thesis, it is important to recognize the area or the topic that is unexplored or has insufficient information. Often research gaps in a thesis are confused with research questions and problem statements. However, there are fundamental differences in these concepts. The sole purpose of a research gap is to summarise problems with outdated or primitive studies. It is a part of the thesis introduction chapter and can range from 200 to 1000 words in length.

Research gaps

How to devote a section for research gaps in a thesis?

The first step in preparing the research gaps section is to outline the general state of knowledge and research in the field of study. This step helps in building the outline for the aspects that could be relevant to the research field.

The second step involves a thorough reading of earlier research and publication on the topic. For this, the researcher can refer to journal articles, library books, or reports. This step also involves consulting your supervisor.

Further, as per the reviewed articles, a viewpoint about the given topic must be framed by listing all relevant information.

Lastly, the need or significance of addressing the listed gaps should be presented.

Start the research gaps in a thesis with a summary of existing research findings. It does not need a detailed elaboration of the situation. For instance, statistics can be skipped. Similarly, you do not need to explain concepts or theories in this section. Next, state the limitations or lacuna in the area of research. This section needs more elaboration like who, what, when, where, why and how should be discussed. Each gap must be stated separately. For instance, consider these 3 gaps:

  • there is a lack of research in your country’s context,
  • there is a lack of empirical evidence and,
  • there is a lack of consensus,

each should be explained separately. It should be structured in the form of citations wherever necessary. The writing pattern should move from generic to specific thus targeting the research problem for the thesis.

Points to avoid

  • Too much description and analysis of the previously done studies must be avoided to keep the thesis research gap indicative and emblematic.
  • Avoid giving too much statistical information.
  • Avoid not reading enough. Identifying a research gap needs thorough reading, not skimping through facts.
  • Avoid failing to accurately identify the need for further study and the lack of a persuasive framework for the identification of the research gap.
  • Avoid not using enough citations for supporting the identified lacuna.
  • Avoid not stating the significance of the identified gaps.

An example of research gaps in a thesis

Case topic: Impact of transformative heritage destinations on changing personal values of tourists

Travel behaviour today has shifted from global consumerism to a more meaningful and personalized experience. This has amplified the demand for heritage tourism, i.e. the movement of a person to places of cultural attraction away from their normal residential place to gain new experiences and information for satisfying cultural needs (G Richards, 2003; Rosenfeld, 2008). Tourists are also seeking transformative travel experiences which lead to positive changes in their values and attitudes. PineII & Gilmore (1999) have identified that heritage tourism is responding towards fulfilling the transformation needs of tourists. However, the lack of empirical evidence on the contribution of transformative heritage tourism in changing the personal values of tourists is restricting the formulation of strategies that can boost its growth.

Moreover, researchers have determined that authenticity, awareness, nostalgia, and satisfaction have a relationship with transformative effects and heritage tourism. Therefore, these factors may be interlinked. But despite this, not many academic studies have focused on addressing these tourist factors’ impact on the linkage between heritage tourism and transformative effect. This is another critical research gap.

  • Chandra. (2017). How to Write a Thesis : A Working Guide . Retrieved from https://www.student.uwa.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1919239/How-to-write-a-thesis-A-working-guide.pdf
  • Oulu. (2012). GUIDELINES FOR WRITING A THESIS . Retrieved from https://www.oulu.fi/sites/default/files/content/Guidelines.pdf
  • Pubrica. (2021). Framework for the Identirication Of the Research Gap. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from Pubrica website: http://pubrica.com/academy/uncategorized/a-framework-for-the-identification-of-the-research-gap/
  • Tsoulfas, G. (2021). The Importance of Research. Journal of the American College of Surgeons , 232 (5), 680–681. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2021.02.003
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Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations  from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).

I am a master's in Economics from Amity University. Having a keen interest in Econometrics and data analysis, I was a part of the Innovation Project of Daulat Ram College, Delhi University. My core expertise and interest are in environment-related issues. Apart from academics, I love music and exploring new places.

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FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Samples & Templates in MS Word | PDF

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The process of conducting a research gap analysis sample typically involves existing literature review samples , case study sample, and research papers in a particular field. Researchers will look for patterns and identify areas where there is a lack of research or where previous studies have not provided enough information. This allows them to identify areas where new research framework sample could contribute to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in that field.

Research Gap Analysis

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Research Gap Analysis is a process in which researchers identify the existing gaps or limitations in a particular field of study or area of research. The purpose of conducting a research gap analysis is to identify opportunity problem statement for new research or to find areas that have not been adequately explored.

A research gap analysis can be conducted in various ways, including qualitative research proposal and quantitative problem statement , and may involve interview analysis report , survey samples, and focus groups. The results of a research gap analysis can be used by researchers to identify new research questions, hypotheses, and objectives, and to prioritize areas for future research. To conduct a research gap analysis, you can follow these steps:

Define the research area you want to study and the scope of your analysis. This will help you determine which literature and studies to include in your analysis. Conduct an extensive review of the existing literature and studies in your research area. This includes reviewing articles, conference papers, books, and any other relevant sources.

As you review the literature, look for patterns and themes in the research that has been conducted. Make a note of what has been studied, what methods were used, and what the results were.

Based on your literature review, identify areas where there is a lack of research or where previous studies have not provided enough information. These areas represent potential gaps in the literature. Evaluate the significance of the gap in terms of its potential impact on the field of study and the potential for new research to advance knowledge in the area.

Based on the gaps you have identified, develop research questions that aim to address those gaps. These research questions should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the research area.

A research gap analysis helps researchers identify areas where more research is needed in order to improve understanding and advance knowledge in a particular field. By identifying areas where there is a lack of research or where previous studies have not provided enough information, researchers can develop new research questions, hypotheses, and objectives, and prioritize areas for future research.

The frequency of conducting a research gap analysis depends on the pace of research and advancement in the field.

The purpose of conducting a research gap analysis is to identify areas where there is a lack of research or where previous studies have not provided enough information. This allows researchers to identify opportunities for new research that can contribute to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in a particular field.

Overall, the goal of a research gap analysis is to identify areas where more research is needed in order to improve understanding and advance knowledge in a particular field.

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How to Write an Abstract in Research Papers (with Examples)

How to write an abstract

An abstract in research papers is a keyword-rich summary usually not exceeding 200-350 words. It can be considered the “face” of research papers because it creates an initial impression on the readers. While searching databases (such as PubMed) for research papers, a title is usually the first selection criterion for readers. If the title matches their search criteria, then the readers read the abstract, which sets the tone of the paper. Titles and abstracts are often the only freely available parts of research papers on journal websites. The pdf versions of full articles need to be purchased. Journal reviewers are often provided with only the title and abstract before they agree to review the complete paper. [ 1]  

Abstracts in research papers provide readers with a quick insight into what the paper is about to help them decide whether they want to read it further or not. Abstracts are the main selling points of articles and therefore should be carefully drafted, accurately highlighting the important aspects. [ 2]  

This article will help you identify the important components and provide tips on how to write an abstract in research papers effectively

What is an Abstract?  

An abstract in research papers can be defined as a synopsis of the paper. It should be clear, direct, self-contained, specific, unbiased, and concise. These summaries are published along with the complete research paper and are also submitted to conferences for consideration for presentation.  

Abstracts are of four types and journals can follow any of these formats: [ 2]  

  • Structured  
  • Unstructured  
  • Descriptive  
  • Informative  

Structured abstracts are used by most journals because they are more organized and have clear sections, usually including introduction/background; objective; design, settings, and participants (or materials and methods); outcomes and measures; results; and conclusion. These headings may differ based on the journal or the type of paper. Clinical trial abstracts should include the essential items mentioned in the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials) guidelines.  

research gap example format

Figure 1. Structured abstract example [3] 

Unstructured abstracts are common in social science, humanities, and physical science journals. They usually have one paragraph and no specific structure or subheadings. These abstracts are commonly used for research papers that don’t report original work and therefore have a more flexible and narrative style.  

research gap example format

Figure 2. Unstructured abstract example [3] 

Descriptive abstracts are short (75–150 words) and provide an outline with only the most important points of research papers. They are used for shorter articles such as case reports, reviews, and opinions where space is at a premium, and rarely for original investigations. These abstracts don’t present the results but mainly list the topics covered.  

Here’s a sample abstract . [ 4]  

“Design of a Radio-Based System for Distribution Automation”  

A new survey by the Maryland Public Utilities Commission suggests that utilities have not effectively explained to consumers the benefits of smart meters. The two-year study of 86,000 consumers concludes that the long-term benefits of smart meters will not be realized until consumers understand the benefits of shifting some of their power usage to off-peak hours in response to the data they receive from their meters. The study presents recommendations for utilities and municipal governments to improve customer understanding of how to use the smart meters effectively.  

Keywords: smart meters, distribution systems, load, customer attitudes, power consumption, utilities  

Informative abstracts (structured or unstructured) give a complete detailed summary, including the main results, of the research paper and may or may not have subsections.   

research gap example format

Figure 3. Informative abstract example [5] 

Purpose of Abstracts in Research    

Abstracts in research have two main purposes—selection and indexing. [ 6,7]  

  • Selection : Abstracts allow interested readers to quickly decide the relevance of a paper to gauge if they should read it completely.   
  • Indexing : Most academic journal databases accessed through libraries enable you to search abstracts, allowing for quick retrieval of relevant articles and avoiding unnecessary search results. Therefore, abstracts must necessarily include the keywords that researchers may use to search for articles.  

Thus, a well-written, keyword-rich abstract can p ique readers’ interest and curiosity and help them decide whether they want to read the complete paper. It can also direct readers to articles of potential clinical and research interest during an online search.  

research gap example format

Contents of Abstracts in Research  

Abstracts in research papers summarize the main points of an article and are broadly categorized into four or five sections. Here are some details on how to write an abstract .   

Introduction/Background and/or Objectives  

This section should provide the following information:  

  • What is already known about the subject?  
  • What is not known about the subject or what does the study aim to investigate?  

The hypothesis or research question and objectives should be mentioned here. The Background sets the context for the rest of the paper and its length should be short so that the word count could be saved for the Results or other information directly pertaining to the study. The objective should be written in present or past simple tense.  

Examples:  

The antidepressant efficacy of desvenlafaxine (DV) has been established in 8-week, randomized controlled trials. The present study examined the continued efficacy of DV across 6 months of maintenance treatment . [ 1]  

Objective: To describe gastric and breast cancer risk estimates for individuals with CDH1 variants.  

Design, Setting, and Participants (or Materials and Methods)  

This section should provide information on the processes used and should be written in past simple tense because the process is already completed.  

A few important questions to be answered include:  

  • What was the research design and setting?  
  • What was the sample size and how were the participants sampled?  
  • What treatments did the participants receive?  
  • What were the data collection and data analysis dates?  
  • What was the primary outcome measure?  

Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated for each cancer type and used to calculate cumulative risks and risks per decade of life up to age 80 years.  

research gap example format

This section, written in either present or past simple tense, should be the longest and should describe the main findings of the study. Here’s an example of how descriptive the sentences should be:  

Avoid: Response rates differed significantly between diabetic and nondiabetic patients.  

Better: The response rate was higher in nondiabetic than in diabetic patients (49% vs 30%, respectively; P<0.01).  

This section should include the following information:  

  • Total number of patients (included, excluded [exclusion criteria])  
  • Primary and secondary outcomes, expressed in words, and supported by numerical data  
  • Data on adverse outcomes  

Example: [ 8]  

In total, 10.9% of students were reported to have favorable study skills. The minimum score was found for preparation for examination domain. Also, a significantly positive correlation was observed between students’ study skills and their Grade Point Average (GPA) of previous term (P=0.001, r=0.269) and satisfaction with study skills (P=0.001, r=0.493).  

Conclusions  

Here, authors should mention the importance of their findings and also the practical and theoretical implications, which would benefit readers referring to this paper for their own research. Present simple tense should be used here.  

Examples: [ 1,8]  

The 9.3% prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorders in students at an arts university is substantially higher than general population estimates. These findings strengthen the oft-expressed hypothesis linking creativity with affective psychopathology.  

The findings indicated that students’ study skills need to be improved. Given the significant relationship between study skills and GPA, as an index of academic achievement, and satisfaction, it is necessary to promote the students’ study skills. These skills are suggested to be reinforced, with more emphasis on weaker domains.  

research gap example format

When to Write an Abstract  

In addition to knowing how to write an abstract , you should also know when to write an abstract . It’s best to write abstracts once the paper is completed because this would make it easier for authors to extract relevant parts from every section.  

Abstracts are usually required for: [ 7]    

  • submitting articles to journals  
  • applying for research grants   
  • writing book proposals  
  • completing and submitting dissertations  
  • submitting proposals for conference papers  

Mostly, the author of the entire work writes the abstract (the first author, in works with multiple authors). However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work.   

How to Write an Abstract (Step-by-Step Process)  

Here are some key steps on how to write an abstract in research papers: [ 9]  

  • Write the abstract after you’ve finished writing your paper.  
  • Select the major objectives/hypotheses and conclusions from your Introduction and Conclusion sections.  
  • Select key sentences from your Methods section.  
  • Identify the major results from the Results section.  
  • Paraphrase or re-write the sentences selected in steps 2, 3, and 4 in your own words into one or two paragraphs in the following sequence: Introduction/Objective, Methods, Results, and Conclusions. The headings may differ among journals, but the content remains the same.  
  • Ensure that this draft does not contain: a.   new information that is not present in the paper b.   undefined abbreviations c.   a discussion of previous literature or reference citations d.   unnecessary details about the methods used  
  • Remove all extra information and connect your sentences to ensure that the information flows well, preferably in the following order: purpose; basic study design, methodology and techniques used; major findings; summary of your interpretations, conclusions, and implications. Use section headings for structured abstracts.  
  • Ensure consistency between the information presented in the abstract and the paper.  
  • Check to see if the final abstract meets the guidelines of the target journal (word limit, type of abstract, recommended subheadings, etc.) and if all the required information has been included.  

Choosing Keywords for Abstracts  

Keywords [ 2] are the important and repeatedly used words and phrases in research papers and can help indexers and search engines find papers relevant to your requirements. Easy retrieval would help in reaching a wider audience and eventually gain more citations. In the fields of medicine and health, keywords should preferably be chosen from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) list of the US National Library of Medicine because they are used for indexing. These keywords need to be different from the words in the main title (automatically used for indexing) but can be variants of the terms/phrases used in the title, abstract, and the main text. Keywords should represent the content of your manuscript and be specific to your subject area.  

Basic tips for authors [ 10,11]  

  • Read through your paper and highlight key terms or phrases that are most relevant and frequently used in your field, to ensure familiarity.  
  • Several journals provide instructions about the length (eg, 3 words in a keyword) and maximum number of keywords allowed and other related rules. Create a list of keywords based on these instructions and include specific phrases containing 2 to 4 words. A longer string of words would yield generic results irrelevant to your field.  
  • Use abbreviations, acronyms, and initializations if these would be more familiar.  
  • Search with your keywords to ensure the results fit with your article and assess how helpful they would be to readers.  
  • Narrow down your keywords to about five to ten, to ensure accuracy.  
  • Finalize your list based on the maximum number allowed.  

  Few examples: [ 12]  

     
Direct observation of nonlinear optics in an isolated carbon nanotube  molecule, optics, lasers, energy lifetime  single-molecule interaction, Kerr effect, carbon nanotube, energy level 
Region-specific neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration  neuron, brain, regional-specific neuronal degeneration, signaling  neurodegenerative diseases; CA1 region, hippocampal; okadaic acid; neurotoxins; MAP kinase signaling system; cell death 
Increases in levels of sediment transport at former glacial-interglacial transitions  climate change, erosion, plant effects  quaternary climate change, soil erosion, bioturbation 

Important Tips for Writing an Abstract  

Here are a few tips on how to write an abstract to ensure that your abstract is complete, concise, and accurate. [ 1,2]  

  • Write the abstract last.  
  • Follow journal-specific formatting guidelines or Instructions to Authors strictly to ensure acceptance for publication.  
  • Proofread the final draft meticulously to avoid grammatical or typographical errors.  
  • Ensure that the terms or data mentioned in the abstract are consistent with the main text.  
  • Include appropriate keywords at the end.

Do not include:  

  • New information  
  • Text citations to references  
  • Citations to tables and figures  
  • Generic statements  
  • Abbreviations unless necessary, like a trial or study name  

research gap example format

Key Takeaways    

Here’s a quick snapshot of all the important aspects of how to write an abstract . [2]

  • An abstract in research is a summary of the paper and describes only the main aspects. Typically, abstracts are about 200-350 words long.  
  • Abstracts are of four types—structured, unstructured, descriptive, and informative.  
  • Abstracts should be simple, clear, concise, independent, and unbiased (present both favorable and adverse outcomes).  
  • They should adhere to the prescribed journal format, including word limits, section headings, number of keywords, fonts used, etc.  
  • The terminology should be consistent with the main text.   
  • Although the section heading names may differ for journals, every abstract should include a background and objective, analysis methods, primary results, and conclusions.  
  • Nonstandard abbreviations, references, and URLs shouldn’t be included.  
  • Only relevant and specific keywords should be used to ensure focused searches and higher citation frequency.  
  • Abstracts should be written last after completing the main paper.  

Frequently Asked Questions   

Q1. Do all journals have different guidelines for abstracts?  

A1. Yes, all journals have their own specific guidelines for writing abstracts; a few examples are given in the following table. [ 6,13,14,15]  

   
American Psychological Association           
American Society for Microbiology     
The Lancet     
Journal of the American Medical Association               

Q2. What are the common mistakes to avoid when writing an abstract?  

A2. Listed below are a few mistakes that authors may make inadvertently while writing abstracts.  

  • Copying sentences from the paper verbatim  

An abstract is a summary, which should be created by paraphrasing your own work or writing in your own words. Extracting sentences from every section and combining them into one paragraph cannot be considered summarizing.  

  • Not adhering to the formatting guidelines  

Journals have special instructions for writing abstracts, such as word limits and section headings. These should be followed strictly to avoid rejections.  

  • Not including the right amount of details in every section  

Both too little and too much information could discourage readers. For instance, if the Background has very little information, the readers may not get sufficient context to appreciate your research. Similarly, incomplete information in the Methods and a text-heavy Results section without supporting numerical data may affect the credibility of your research.  

  • Including citations, standard abbreviations, and detailed measurements  

Typically, abstracts shouldn’t include these elements—citations, URLs, and abbreviations. Only nonstandard abbreviations are allowed or those that would be more familiar to readers than the expansions.  

  • Including new information  

Abstracts should strictly include only the same information mentioned in the main text. Any new information should first be added to the text and then to the abstract only if necessary or if permitted by the word limit.  

  • Not including keywords  

Keywords are essential for indexing and searching and should be included to increase the frequency of retrieval and citation.  

Q3. What is the difference between abstracts in research papers and conference abstracts? [16]  

A3. The table summarizes the main differences between research and conference abstracts.  

     
Context  Concise summary of ongoing or completed research presented at conferences  Summary of full research paper published in a journal 
Length  Shorter (150-250 words)   Longer (150-350 words) 
Audience  Diverse conference attendees (both experts & people with general interest)  People or other researchers specifically interested in the subject 
Focus  Intended to quickly attract interest; provides just enough information to highlight the significance, objectives, and impact; may briefly state methods and results  Deeper insight into the study; more detailed sections on methodology, results, and broader implications 
Publication venue  Not published independently but included in conference schedules, booklets, etc.  Published with the full research paper in academic journals, conference proceedings, research databases, etc. 
Citations  Allowed  Not allowed 

  Thus, abstracts are essential “trailers” that can market your research to a wide audience. The better and more complete the abstract the more are the chances of your paper being read and cited. By following our checklist and ensuring that all key elements are included, you can create a well-structured abstract that summarizes your paper accurately.  

References  

  • Andrade C. How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation. Indian J Psychiatry . 2011; 53(2):172-175. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136027/  
  • Tullu MS. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key. 2019; 13(Suppl 1): S12-S17. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6398294/  
  • Zawia J. Writing an Academic Paper? Get to know Abstracts vs. Structured Abstracts. Medium. Published October 16, 2023. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://medium.com/@jamala.zawia/writing-an-academic-paper-get-to-know-abstracts-vs-structured-abstracts-11ed86888367  
  • Markel M and Selber S. Technical Communication, 12 th edition. 2018; pp. 482. Bedford/St Martin’s.  
  • Abstracts. Arkansas State University. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.astate.edu/a/global-initiatives/online/a-state-online-services/online-writing-center/resources/How%20to%20Write%20an%20Abstract1.pdf  
  • AMA Manual of Style. 11 th edition. Oxford University Press.  
  • Writing an Abstract. The University of Melbourne. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://services.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/471274/Writing_an_Abstract_Update_051112.pdf  
  • 10 Good Abstract Examples that will Kickstart Your Brain. Kibin Essay Writing Blog. Published April 5, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.kibin.com/essay-writing-blog/10-good-abstract-examples/  
  • A 10-step guide to make your research paper abstract more effective. Editage Insights. Published October 16, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.editage.com/insights/a-10-step-guide-to-make-your-research-paper-abstract-more-effective  
  • Using keywords to write your title and abstract. Taylor & Francis Author Services. Accessed June 15, 2024. https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/publishing-your-research/writing-your-paper/using-keywords-to-write-title-and-abstract/  
  • How to choose and use keywords in research papers. Paperpal by Editage blog. Published March 10, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://paperpal.com/blog/researcher-resources/phd-pointers/how-to-choose-and-use-keywords-in-research-papers  
  • Title, abstract and keywords. Springer. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.springer.com/it/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/writing-a-journal-manuscript/title-abstract-and-keywords/10285522  
  • Abstract and keywords guide. APA Style, 7 th edition. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/abstract-keywords-guide.pdf  
  • Abstract guidelines. American Society for Microbiology. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://asm.org/events/asm-microbe/present/abstract-guidelines  
  • Guidelines for conference abstracts. The Lancet. Accessed June 16, 2024. https://www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/pdfs/Abstract_Guidelines_2013.pdf  
  • Is a conference abstract the same as a paper abstract? Global Conference Alliance, Inc. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://globalconference.ca/is-a-conference-abstract-the-same-as-a-paper-abstract/  

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Analysis template bundle, free 10+ research gap analysis templates in pdf | ms word, 1. research gap analysis template, 2. environmental research gap analysis, 3. radicalisation research gap analysis, 4. zero net energy buildings research gap analysis, 5. research literature gap analysis, 6. customer satisfaction research gap analysis, 7. canadian honey bee health gap analysis, 8. research gap analysis report, 9. animal welfare research gap analysis, 10. data research gap analysis, 11. market research gap analysis, 5 step to conduct the research gap analysis, who does the research gap analysis, why is it important to do the research gap analysis, how does the research gap analysis functions, why do you need the research gap analysis, analysis templates.

The Research Gap Analysis is finding out the responses of the unsolved questions and the problems in the research work. It is the work of the researcher to do the study on the subject matter and then find the unsolved answers that are not being answered by anyone prior to that research work. Otherwise, the work will not not be considered as the research work. The gap analysis is the responsibility of the researcher before he starts to find sources for its study.

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How to answer “why are you interested in this role” in 2024.

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The key to answer "Why do you want this job?" is to research the role and highlight unique angles ... [+] that are not typical of the job

You've been practicing for weeks.

You've (finally) figured out how to answer all the tough interview questions you know you're likely to be asked for your dream remote job.

But for some reason, you can never quite get past this question: "Why are you interested in this job/position/role?"

In theory, it's a ridiculously easy question to answer. Because why on earth would the hiring manager ask you that question when you are clearly motivated for the job? Surely, you wouldn't apply unless it was something you were interested in, right?

And at the end of the day, especially if you've been out of work for months or even years, why else would you want a job except to get back on your feet again? The answer to "Why are you interested in this role?" may seem fairly obvious—but you're wrong.

Applying for a job because you are in it mainly for the salary, because it's work-from-home, or applying because you like the idea of the prestige associated with the role itself or the employer, are not sufficient enough motivations to ensure wholehearted commitment to your job—and these will certainly not pass as good enough reasons for the hiring manager to take you seriously and hire you.

You need to provide the talent acquisition team and hiring manager with something more tangible and meaningful to persuade them that you are committed to the job as a career, a stepping stone, and not just something to make money and survive. Otherwise, any wise employer knows that without the right motivations, an employee will quickly lose interest and either job hop or prove unreliable and distracted when on the job.

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Employers may ask the same thing in different ways. For instance, they may rephrase this question as, "What made you apply for this position?" or "What interests you most about this role?"

These are all fundamentally the same, and employers ask this to gauge several key insights about you, including:

  • Your motivation, passion, and enthusiasm for the role
  • Would your expectations align with the reality of the position and where the company is headed?
  • Do your skills and experience perfectly match with the role?
  • Are your personal and career goals aligned with the job? Do you even have any career goals, for that matter?
  • Are you committed to adding vale to the organization?
  • Do you understand the role you have applied for and what it entails? Have you read the job advert thoroughly?

Employers want to ascertain that you understand the role and its requirements, and have the right ... [+] expectations

How To Answer "Why Are You Interested In This Position?" Effectively

To satisfy each of the points above effectively, here are some steps you should consider that will help you formulate a compelling answer for your remote job interview:

1. Research The Role

This is the most obvious step you should take, but you should remember that this research extends beyond the role itself (as the job title might vary in meaning depending on the company you work for). You should research the company and the specific project, department, team, or program your role is being recruited to fill. This enables you to have a thorough grasp of the position and understand if it is what you initially expected.

2. Highlight Unique Angles Of The Role

The next step is to highlight unique aspects of the role that appeal to you the most. This demonstrates that you have undertaken due diligence to research the job, and shows them that you are keen and committed to the role. For example, if you were being hired to work as a program manager, you could talk about the specific program that you know you will be managing, and how excited you are about the program and its objectives, especially if it is something that resonates with you personally.

You should also make reference to how you are well positioned to contribute in the company within this role, based on your unique background and career achievements.

3. Align Answer With Yours And The Company's Goals

Finally, you need to ensure that your answer makes strong reference to how this particular position is part of your career plan and will help you achieve your long-term career goals. This is especially necessary if you are making a career pivot, as employers will likely be extremely curious as to why you are completely switching roles and applying for a job that has no relation to anything you've done previously.

You should also consider the company's vision and mission statement, and ensure your overall answer conveys the value you aim to provide to their organization in helping them achieve their business goals.

Sample Answer For "Why Are You Interested In This Position?"

So, a sample answer for a program manager at a healthcare organization would be:

"I am excited about this program manager role at [company name] because it aligns perfectly with skills and personal career goals to [career goal in X number of years]. Throughout my career so far, I have been deeply passionate about driving strategic initiatives and overseeing complex community health projects from inception to successful completion. This role as a [name of role and team name] provides the ideal platform for me to leverage my experience in project management, team leadership, and process optimization.

Your career goals, and their alignment with the company's goals and values, play a major role in ... [+] determining if the job is a right fit

"One of the aspects that drew me to [company name] is your commitment to innovation and excellence within the industry. [Go into further detail, briefly, about a specific project they completed recently that resonates with your personal values and professional aspirations].

"In my previous position at [previous company], [relate how your background is perfectly suited to the requirements of the role].

"I am also particularly interested in the opportunity to work at [company name] because of your strong emphasis on professional development and employee growth. I am eager to bring my expertise to your team and continue to grow as a program manager in such a supportive environment, while being a part of a company that is leading the way in [specific industry]."

Structuring your answer in this way perfectly highlights to the interviewer just why your motivations, skills, and experience, make you a strong fit for the position.

Rachel Wells

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This paper is in the following e-collection/theme issue:

Published on 9.7.2024 in Vol 26 (2024)

Determining an Appropriate Sample Size for Qualitative Interviews to Achieve True and Near Code Saturation: Secondary Analysis of Data

Authors of this article:

Author Orcid Image

Original Paper

  • Claudia M Squire, MS   ; 
  • Kristen C Giombi, PhD   ; 
  • Douglas J Rupert, MPH   ; 
  • Jacqueline Amoozegar, MSPH   ; 
  • Peyton Williams, MPH  

RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, United States

Corresponding Author:

Claudia M Squire, MS

RTI International

3040 East Cornwallis Road

Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709-2194

United States

Phone: 1 9195416613

Email: [email protected]

Background: In-depth interviews are a common method of qualitative data collection, providing rich data on individuals’ perceptions and behaviors that would be challenging to collect with quantitative methods. Researchers typically need to decide on sample size a priori. Although studies have assessed when saturation has been achieved, there is no agreement on the minimum number of interviews needed to achieve saturation. To date, most research on saturation has been based on in-person data collection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, web-based data collection became increasingly common, as traditional in-person data collection was possible. Researchers continue to use web-based data collection methods post the COVID-19 emergency, making it important to assess whether findings around saturation differ for in-person versus web-based interviews.

Objective: We aimed to identify the number of web-based interviews needed to achieve true code saturation or near code saturation.

Methods: The analyses for this study were based on data from 5 Food and Drug Administration–funded studies conducted through web-based platforms with patients with underlying medical conditions or with health care providers who provide primary or specialty care to patients. We extracted code- and interview-specific data and examined the data summaries to determine when true saturation or near saturation was reached.

Results: The sample size used in the 5 studies ranged from 30 to 70 interviews. True saturation was reached after 91% to 100% (n=30-67) of planned interviews, whereas near saturation was reached after 33% to 60% (n=15-23) of planned interviews. Studies that relied heavily on deductive coding and studies that had a more structured interview guide reached both true saturation and near saturation sooner. We also examined the types of codes applied after near saturation had been reached. In 4 of the 5 studies, most of these codes represented previously established core concepts or themes. Codes representing newly identified concepts, other or miscellaneous responses (eg, “in general”), uncertainty or confusion (eg, “don’t know”), or categorization for analysis (eg, correct as compared with incorrect) were less commonly applied after near saturation had been reached.

Conclusions: This study provides support that near saturation may be a sufficient measure to target and that conducting additional interviews after that point may result in diminishing returns. Factors to consider in determining how many interviews to conduct include the structure and type of questions included in the interview guide, the coding structure, and the population under study. Studies with less structured interview guides, studies that rely heavily on inductive coding and analytic techniques, and studies that include populations that may be less knowledgeable about the topics discussed may require a larger sample size to reach an acceptable level of saturation. Our findings also build on previous studies looking at saturation for in-person data collection conducted at a small number of sites.

Introduction

In-depth interviews are commonly used to collect qualitative data for a wide variety of research purposes across many subject matter areas. These types of interviews are an ideal approach for examining individuals’ perceptions and behaviors at a level of depth, complexity, and richness that would be challenging to achieve with quantitative data collection methods. Typically, trained interviewers conduct interviews using a guide designed to address the study’s key research aims by asking a series of questions and probes ordered by topic. These interview guides can range from highly structured to completely unstructured (eg, loosely organized conversations). Following the completion of data collection, interview notes and transcripts generated from audio recordings of the interviews are analyzed to assess for patterns in responses among the interviewees or subsets of the participants [ 1 , 2 ].

During the COVID-19 pandemic, web-based data collection became increasingly common, as traditional in-person data collection was not possible, and researchers continue to use web-based data collection methods post the COVID-19 emergency, citing advantages such as accessing marginalized populations, achieving greater geographic diversity, being able to offer a more flexible schedule, and saving on travel expenses [ 3 ]. Potential concerns about web-based data collection, such as the inability to build rapport and data richness, have been largely unfounded [ 3 , 4 ].

While we do not expect web-based data collection to supplant in-person research, it continues to show signs of growth. To date, much of the research on qualitative methods has focused on in-person data collection. Consequently, it will be important to conduct research to determine if previous widely accepted findings hold true for web-based data collection.

Researchers typically make a priori decisions about the number of interviews to conduct with the aim of balancing the need for sufficient data with resource limitations and respondent burden. The concept of saturation is frequently used to justify the study’s rigor with respect to the selected sample size. To provide empirically based recommendations on adequate minimum sample sizes, researchers have conducted studies to assess when saturation occurs. However, multiple types of saturation exist—such as theoretical, thematic, code, and meaning—and within each type of saturation, the definitions and measurement approaches used by investigators vary substantially, as does the level of detail researchers report in publications about their methods for achieving and assessing saturation [ 5 ].

This study aimed to examine the number of interviews needed to obtain code saturation for 5 recently conducted studies funded by the Food and Drug Administration [ 6 ] involving web-based interviews. Specifically, how many web-based interviews are needed to obtain true code saturation (ie, the use of 100% of all codes applied in the study) and how many web-based interviews are needed to achieve near code saturation (ie, the use of 90% of all codes applied in the study)?

Literature Review

Multiple authors have defined saturation as the point during data collection and analysis, at which no new additional data are found that reveal a new conceptual category [ 7 - 13 ] or theme related to the research question—an indicator that further data collection is redundant [ 11 ]. Additionally, Coenen et al [ 14 ] specified that no new second-level themes are revealed in 2 consecutive focus groups or interviews.

Other authors have distinguished between various types of saturation. One of the most common types of saturation mentioned in the literature is theoretical saturation, which emerges from grounded theory and occurs when the concepts of a theory are fully reflected in the data and no new insights, themes, or issues are identified from the data [ 5 , 11 , 12 , 15 - 18 ]. Hennink et al [ 17 ] expanded this definition, adding that all relevant conceptual categories should have been identified, thus emphasizing the importance of sample adequacy over sample size. Guest et al [ 15 ] operationalized the concept of theoretical saturation as the point in data collection and analysis when new information produces little or no change to the codebook, and van Rijnsoever [ 19 ] operationalized it as being when all the codes have been observed once in the sample.

Some authors have defined theoretical saturation, thematic saturation, and data saturation as the same concept [ 16 , 18 ], whereas others have defined these terms differently [ 12 , 20 ]. For example, some authors have defined thematic saturation as the point where no new codes or themes are emerging from the data [ 12 , 21 ]. For thematic saturation to be achieved, data should be collected until nothing new is generated [ 20 , 22 ]. Data saturation has been defined as the level to which new data are repetitive of the data that have been collected [ 12 , 23 , 24 ].

Furthermore, Hennink et al [ 17 ] distinguished between code saturation and meaning saturation. Code saturation is based on primary or parent codes and relates to the quantity of the data (“hearing it all”). Meaning saturation is based on sub or child codes and relates to the quality or richness of the data (“understanding it all”). Constantinou et al [ 7 ] made the point that it is the categorization of the raw data, rather than the data, that are saturated.

The literature reflects multiple methods that have been used to determine saturation [ 7 - 10 , 13 - 18 , 21 , 25 ]. Sim et al [ 26 ] discussed the four general approaches that have been used to determine sample size for qualitative research: (1) rules of thumb, based on a combination of methodological considerations and past experience; (2) conceptual models, based on specific characteristics of the proposed study; (3) numerical guidelines derived from the empirical investigation; and (4) statistical approaches, based on the probability of obtaining a sufficient sample size.

For example, Galvin [ 9 ] used a statistical approach based on binomial logic to establish the relationship between identifying a theme in a particular sample and within the larger population; for example, number of chances of detecting a theme if that theme exists within number of the population. Using the probability equation, the researcher can determine the number of interviews needed for a stated level of confidence that all relevant themes held by a certain proportion of the population will occur within the interview sample. This method assumes the researcher knows in advance the emergent themes from the study and at what rate they may occur.

Constantinou et al [ 7 ] used the comparative method for themes saturation, which relies on both a deductive and an inductive approach to generate codes (keywords extracted from the participants’ words) and themes (codes that fall into similar categories). Themes are compared across interviews, and theme saturation is reached when the next interview does not produce any new themes. The sequence of interviews is reordered multiple times to check for order-induced error. When exploring the various methods for determining saturation, researchers reached different conclusions on when saturation was achieved (findings on saturation by other authors are present in Multimedia Appendix 1 ) [ 7 - 10 , 13 - 17 , 21 , 25 , 27 , 28 ].

Most studies assessing saturation focused on in-person data collection or did not specify the data collection method. Given recent increases in web-based data collection, studies assessing saturation for web-based interviews are critical to ensure that recommendations regarding sample size are tailored to the mode of data collection [ 4 ]. While there is evidence to suggest that the content of data coded from in-person as compared with web-based interviews is conceptually similar [ 29 ], this is a relatively new area of exploration. Rapport may be higher with in-person as compared with web-based interviews [ 30 ], which may impact the amount and type of content generated. Additionally, participants in web-based data collection studies are more geographically diverse and may be more likely to be non-White, less educated, and less healthy than participants in in-person data collection studies [ 31 ].

Study Design

This study was based on analyses from data collected for 5 Food and Drug Administration–funded studies conducted using web-based platforms, such as Zoom (Zoom Video Communications) and Adobe Connect (Adobe Systems), and focused on patients with underlying medical conditions or on health care providers who provide primary or specialty care to patients. All platforms used for these interviews offered audio and video components and allowed for the sharing of stimuli on screen. A brief description of each study is provided in Table 1 . Each study’s data had been coded and stored using NVivo software (version 11; QSR International).

Study nameSample size, nGeneral eligibility criteriaPrimary objectivesSummary of topicsLength of interview (minutes)Number of interview questionsRegions and states covered
Study A30Patients diagnosed with a condition treated by biologic medications (eg, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes)Obtain feedback on multimedia educational materials about biosimilar biologic medications 90
Study B48Patients diagnosed with vulvovaginal atrophy or type 2 diabetesExplore how patients use boxed warnings when making decisions about prescription drugs and how well the warnings meet patients’ information needs 30
Study C70Primary care physicians or specialists who write at least 50 prescriptions per weekAssess how primary care physicians and specialists access, understand, and use prescription drug labeling information, including information on labels for drugs that have multiple indications. 60
Study D35Patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetesUnderstand how patients weigh the potential benefits against possible risks and side effects, dosage and administration characteristics, and costs when selecting treatments for chronic health conditions. 60
Study E35Patients diagnosed with psoriasisUnderstand how patients weigh the potential benefits against possible risks and side effects, dosage and administration characteristics, and costs when selecting treatments for chronic health conditions. 60

Ethical Considerations

This project was determined to not research with human participants by Research Triangle Institute’s institutional review board (STUDY00021985). The original 5 studies that this project is based on were reviewed by Research Triangle Institute’s institutional review board and were determined to be exempt under category 2ii. Participants in these studies were provided information about measures used to protect their privacy and the confidentiality of their data in the study’s consent forms. All participants were provided compensation for their time (the amount and type varied by study).

Data Preparation and Analysis

We established and applied a systematic approach to analyze all 5 study data sets. Our analytic approach was organized into 2 stages—data preparation and data analysis.

Data Preparation

First, because previous interviews sometimes influence moderator probes—for example, the moderator asks a follow-up question based on something they heard in a previous interview—we sorted interviews from each study by interview order. We then extracted code- and interview-specific data from the NVivo databases—including transcript name, code name, number of files coded, number of associated parent and child codes, and number of coding references—and compiled these data in an Excel (Microsoft Corp) file. We then updated the Excel file with important code and interview characteristics, including the order in which interviews were conducted, whether each code was directly (ie, child codes) or indirectly (ie, parent codes) applied to transcripts (in a tiered coding scheme, direct codes are those that have no child codes, whereas indirect codes function as “parents” that have additional codes nested beneath them), and the point at which each code was first applied to an interview. Finally, we created pivot tables within each Excel file to compile the data.

Data Analysis

Once the data were compiled, the data summaries were examined to determine when true saturation and near saturation occurred during data collection. True saturation was defined as 100% of all applied codes being used; near saturation was defined as 90% of all applied codes being used. We calculated saturation separately for each study’s data set, and we calculated saturation separately for all codes (ie, parent and child codes) as compared with direct codes (ie, child codes only). True saturation and near saturation points were identified by calculating the cumulative percentage of new codes for each interview, flagging when 100% and 90% of applied codes had been used.

True and Near Saturation

The number of web-based interviews used across the 5 studies ranged from 30 to 70 ( Table 2 ). True saturation (100% use of all applied codes) was reached in the final or near final interview ( Figure 1 ), suggesting that, even with a large sample size, additional interviews are likely to continue uncovering a small number of new codes or findings.

StudyTotal interviews, nCoding: total codes in codebook, nTrue saturation: interviews needed, n (%)Near saturation: interviews needed, n (%)
Study A3065730 (100)18 (60)
Study B4831347 (98)21 (44)
Study C7036267 (96)23 (33)
Study D3520533 (94)15 (43)
Study E3520032 (91)15 (43)

research gap example format

Across all studies, near saturation (90% use of all applied codes) was reached near—and often before—the midpoint of data collection. In other words, only a small number of new codes or findings were uncovered once the first half of the sample had been interviewed. In terms of absolute numbers, the point at which near saturation was reached occurred between 33% and 60% (n=15-23) of planned interviews ( Table 2 ). Despite the participants being more geographically, and possibly demographically, diverse compared with typical in-person participants, our findings were similar to previous studies on saturation [ 10 , 15 , 17 ].

We examined the types of codes applied after near saturation had been reached. In 4 of the 5 studies, most of these codes (n=8-33, 57%-62%) represented previously established core concepts or themes, such as a trusted source of information, a behavioral intention, or a recommended change to educational material. Codes representing newly identified concepts (n=2-8, 10%-15%), other miscellaneous responses (eg, “in general”; n=6-9, 13%-41%), uncertainty or confusion (eg, “don’t know”; n=0-6, 0%-11%), or categorization for analysis (eg, “correct as compared with incorrect”; n=0-3, 0%-4%) were less commonly applied after near saturation had been reached.

The overwhelming majority of codes applied after near saturation (n=9-41, 73%-82%) had already been established in study codebooks before analysis. Only a small number of codes applied after this point (n=4-20, 18%-27%) were conceptually distinct enough to merit updating the study codebooks by including them. Likewise, most of the codes used after near saturation (n=11-35, 44%-64%) were applied to only a single interview. Far fewer codes were applied to 2 interviews (n=0-13, 0%-27%), 3 interviews (n=0-6, 0%-21%), or 4 or more interviews (n=0-12, 0%-21%).

Study B was an outlier in terms of codes applied after near saturation. This study had fewer codes representing core established concepts (n=8, 28%) and more codes representing newly identified concepts (n=7, 24%) or providing categorization for analysis (n=3, 10%) than other studies. The study also had a much higher proportion of new codes (n=20, 69%) that were added to the study codebook during analysis. These differences may be because the study sampled 2 populations with very different medical conditions (ie, type 2 diabetes as compared with vulvovaginal atrophy), leading to a broader range of applied codes.

In examining the relationship between the number of codes in the codebook for each study, the study with the most codes (study A: 657 codes) required the largest number of interviews to reach both true saturation and near saturation. However, this pattern did not hold true for the remainder of the studies. The study with the next highest number of codes (study C: 362 codes) was third to reach true saturation and last to reach near saturation.

Parent and Child Codes

All 5 study codebooks included both parent (ie, top-level codes) and child codes (ie, subcodes). We examined saturation using two analytic lenses—(1) all codes (parent and child) and (2) parent codes only—to determine if there were differences in when saturation was reached. We found no differences in when true saturation was reached. However, near saturation was reached slightly later (ie, after an additional 3 to 4 interviews) when examining only parent codes ( Figure 2 ).

research gap example format

Differences by Study

In total, 3 of the studies had codebooks that consisted almost entirely of deductive (ie, concept-driven) codes, whereas the codebooks in the remaining 2 studies contained a mix of both deductive and inductive (ie, data-driven) codes. Although the results were largely consistent across the 5 studies, as expected, the studies that relied heavily on deductive coding reached both true saturation and near saturation sooner. This finding suggests that studies using more inductive coding and analytic techniques may require slightly larger sample sizes to reach saturation.

Structure of an Interview Guide

Although all the studies used a semistructured interview guide, the level of structure varied across studies. The 3 studies (ie, studies C, D, and E) that had a more structured interview guide (eg, questions for which participants were asked their preference among discrete choices or the range of likely answers was limited) reached both true saturation and near saturation sooner. In fact, the study with the most structured guide reached near saturation the soonest, although it fell in the middle for true saturation. This finding suggests that studies using a less structured interview guide may need to conduct more interviews to reach an acceptable level of saturation.

Principal Findings

Although true saturation was not reached until the final interview or close to the final interview, near saturation was reached much sooner, ranging from just below to just above the midpoint of data collection, with most of the studies falling just below the midpoint. Although additional interviews conducted after near saturation may result in new information, our findings suggest there may be diminishing returns relative to the resources expended. We have identified several study characteristics that researchers can consider when making decisions on sample size for web-based interviews.

Although our findings were mostly consistent across the 5 studies we examined, near saturation was reached sooner on the studies that consisted of largely deductive codes compared with those that had a greater number of inductive codes. Consequently, researchers should consider their analytic approach when determining sample size. Studies that intend for the coding scheme to be iterative throughout the coding process may want to err on the side of having a slightly higher sample size than if the codebook is expected to consist largely of deductive codes tied to the interview guide.

These studies ranged in length from 30 to 90 minutes, and a majority (n=3) lasted 60 minutes. Although the 90-minute study reached both true saturation and near saturation at the latest point, the shortest interview (at 30 minutes) required the second-highest number of interviews to reach both saturation points. Although the length of the interview may be a minor consideration, the level of structure of the interview guide and the types of codes used seem to be larger drivers.

Our findings point to the need for a slightly higher number of interviews to reach an acceptable level of saturation—categorized by us as near code saturation—than what has been found in other studies. For example, Guest et al [ 15 ] found that 6 interviews were enough to get high-level themes, reaching a plateau at 10 to 12 interviews. Similarly, Young and Casey [ 27 ] found that near code saturation was reached at 6 to 9 interviews.

Our findings also build on previous studies looking at saturation for in-person data collection conducted at a small number of sites. Data from our studies included participants from all US Census Bureau regions, which provides support that these findings may be more generalizable than previous studies.

Limitations

Our study had several limitations. First, our analysis was conducted on a sample of 5 studies that had similarities. All the studies were related to the medical field, and our study populations (patients with an identified medical condition and health care providers) were knowledgeable about the topics discussed. Second, all the studies were conducted using semistructured interview guides that leaned toward being more structured (ie, interviewers largely stuck to scripted probes as compared with guides that allow for unscripted follow-up probes and unstructured conversations). Additionally, all the studies used a similar approach to coding by using a mix of both deductive and inductive codes (though to varying extents). Consequently, studies with a less structured approach to both the interview and coding process may yield different results. Finally, all our studies are broadly classified as social science research. The findings for other fields of inquiry, such as economic or medical studies, may differ.

Conclusions

Saturation is an important consideration in planning and conducting qualitative research, yet, there is no definitive guidance on how to define and measure saturation, particularly for web-based data collection, which allows for data to be collected from a more geographically diverse sample. Our study provides support that near saturation may be a sufficient measure to target and that conducting additional interviews after that point may result in diminishing returns. Factors to consider in determining how many interviews to conduct include the structure and type of questions included in the interview guide, the coding structure, and the population being studied. Studies with less structured interview guides, studies that rely heavily on inductive coding and analytic techniques, and studies that include populations that may be less knowledgeable about the topics discussed may require a larger sample size to reach an acceptable level of saturation. Rather than trying to reach a consensus on the number of interviews needed to achieve saturation in qualitative research overall, we recommend that future research should explore saturation within different types of studies, such as different fields of inquiry, subject matter, and populations being studied. Creating a robust body of knowledge in this area will allow researchers to identify the guidance that best meets the needs of their work.

Acknowledgments

Research Triangle Institute–affiliated authors received support for the development of this manuscript from the RTI Fellow’s program under RTI Fellow, Leila Kahwati, MPH, MD. All studies included in the analyses were funded by the Food and Drug Administration. The authors would like to thank the following Food and Drug Administration staff for their contribution to this research: Kit Aikin, Kevin Betts, Amie O’Donoghue, and Helen Sullivan.

Data Availability

The data sets analyzed during this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

Achieving saturation in interviews: saturation type, methods for achieving saturation, and findings by other authors.

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Edited by A Mavragani; submitted 22.09.23; peer-reviewed by K Kelly, G Guest; comments to author 24.10.23; revised version received 30.01.24; accepted 09.05.24; published 09.07.24.

©Claudia M Squire, Kristen C Giombi, Douglas J Rupert, Jacqueline Amoozegar, Peyton Williams. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 09.07.2024.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (ISSN 1438-8871), is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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Why Cross-Functional Collaboration Stalls, and How to Fix It

  • Sharon Cantor Ceurvorst,
  • Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone,
  • Aparajita Mazumdar,

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Research shows that 78% of leaders report “collaboration drag” — too many meetings, too much peer feedback, and too much time spent getting buy-in from stakeholders.

Gartner research shows 78% of organizational leaders report experiencing “collaboration drag” — too many meetings, too much peer feedback, unclear decision-making authority, and too much time spent getting buy-in from stakeholders. This problem is compounded by the fact that companies are running as many as five types of complex initiatives at the same time — each of which could involve five to eight corporate functions and 20 to 35 team members. The sheer breadth of resource commitments across such a range of initiatives creates a basic, pervasive background complexity. To better equip teams to meet the demands of this complexity, Gartner recommends the following strategies: 1) Extend executive alignment practices down to tactical levels; 2) Develop employee strategic and interpersonal skills; and 3) Look for collaboration drag within functions or teams.

Corporate growth is the ultimate team sport, relying on multiple functions’ data, technology, and expertise. This is especially true as technology innovation and AI introduce new revenue streams and business models, which require significant cross-functional collaboration to get off the ground.

  • SC Sharon Cantor Ceurvorst is vice president of research in the Gartner marketing practice , finding new ways of solving B2B and B2C strategic marketing challenges. She sets annual research agendas and harnesses the collective expertise of marketing analysts and research methodologists to generate actionable insights.
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Medical terms in lay language.

Please use these descriptions in place of medical jargon in consent documents, recruitment materials and other study documents. Note: These terms are not the only acceptable plain language alternatives for these vocabulary words.

This glossary of terms is derived from a list copyrighted by the University of Kentucky, Office of Research Integrity (1990).

For clinical research-specific definitions, see also the Clinical Research Glossary developed by the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials (MRCT) Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard  and the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) .

Alternative Lay Language for Medical Terms for use in Informed Consent Documents

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I  J  K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W  X  Y  Z

ABDOMEN/ABDOMINAL body cavity below diaphragm that contains stomach, intestines, liver and other organs ABSORB take up fluids, take in ACIDOSIS condition when blood contains more acid than normal ACUITY clearness, keenness, esp. of vision and airways ACUTE new, recent, sudden, urgent ADENOPATHY swollen lymph nodes (glands) ADJUVANT helpful, assisting, aiding, supportive ADJUVANT TREATMENT added treatment (usually to a standard treatment) ANTIBIOTIC drug that kills bacteria and other germs ANTIMICROBIAL drug that kills bacteria and other germs ANTIRETROVIRAL drug that works against the growth of certain viruses ADVERSE EFFECT side effect, bad reaction, unwanted response ALLERGIC REACTION rash, hives, swelling, trouble breathing AMBULATE/AMBULATION/AMBULATORY walk, able to walk ANAPHYLAXIS serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction ANEMIA decreased red blood cells; low red cell blood count ANESTHETIC a drug or agent used to decrease the feeling of pain, or eliminate the feeling of pain by putting you to sleep ANGINA pain resulting from not enough blood flowing to the heart ANGINA PECTORIS pain resulting from not enough blood flowing to the heart ANOREXIA disorder in which person will not eat; lack of appetite ANTECUBITAL related to the inner side of the forearm ANTIBODY protein made in the body in response to foreign substance ANTICONVULSANT drug used to prevent seizures ANTILIPEMIC a drug that lowers fat levels in the blood ANTITUSSIVE a drug used to relieve coughing ARRHYTHMIA abnormal heartbeat; any change from the normal heartbeat ASPIRATION fluid entering the lungs, such as after vomiting ASSAY lab test ASSESS to learn about, measure, evaluate, look at ASTHMA lung disease associated with tightening of air passages, making breathing difficult ASYMPTOMATIC without symptoms AXILLA armpit

BENIGN not malignant, without serious consequences BID twice a day BINDING/BOUND carried by, to make stick together, transported BIOAVAILABILITY the extent to which a drug or other substance becomes available to the body BLOOD PROFILE series of blood tests BOLUS a large amount given all at once BONE MASS the amount of calcium and other minerals in a given amount of bone BRADYARRHYTHMIAS slow, irregular heartbeats BRADYCARDIA slow heartbeat BRONCHOSPASM breathing distress caused by narrowing of the airways

CARCINOGENIC cancer-causing CARCINOMA type of cancer CARDIAC related to the heart CARDIOVERSION return to normal heartbeat by electric shock CATHETER a tube for withdrawing or giving fluids CATHETER a tube placed near the spinal cord and used for anesthesia (indwelling epidural) during surgery CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS) brain and spinal cord CEREBRAL TRAUMA damage to the brain CESSATION stopping CHD coronary heart disease CHEMOTHERAPY treatment of disease, usually cancer, by chemical agents CHRONIC continuing for a long time, ongoing CLINICAL pertaining to medical care CLINICAL TRIAL an experiment involving human subjects COMA unconscious state COMPLETE RESPONSE total disappearance of disease CONGENITAL present before birth CONJUNCTIVITIS redness and irritation of the thin membrane that covers the eye CONSOLIDATION PHASE treatment phase intended to make a remission permanent (follows induction phase) CONTROLLED TRIAL research study in which the experimental treatment or procedure is compared to a standard (control) treatment or procedure COOPERATIVE GROUP association of multiple institutions to perform clinical trials CORONARY related to the blood vessels that supply the heart, or to the heart itself CT SCAN (CAT) computerized series of x-rays (computerized tomography) CULTURE test for infection, or for organisms that could cause infection CUMULATIVE added together from the beginning CUTANEOUS relating to the skin CVA stroke (cerebrovascular accident)

DERMATOLOGIC pertaining to the skin DIASTOLIC lower number in a blood pressure reading DISTAL toward the end, away from the center of the body DIURETIC "water pill" or drug that causes increase in urination DOPPLER device using sound waves to diagnose or test DOUBLE BLIND study in which neither investigators nor subjects know what drug or treatment the subject is receiving DYSFUNCTION state of improper function DYSPLASIA abnormal cells

ECHOCARDIOGRAM sound wave test of the heart EDEMA excess fluid collecting in tissue EEG electric brain wave tracing (electroencephalogram) EFFICACY effectiveness ELECTROCARDIOGRAM electrical tracing of the heartbeat (ECG or EKG) ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE an imbalance of minerals in the blood EMESIS vomiting EMPIRIC based on experience ENDOSCOPIC EXAMINATION viewing an  internal part of the body with a lighted tube  ENTERAL by way of the intestines EPIDURAL outside the spinal cord ERADICATE get rid of (such as disease) Page 2 of 7 EVALUATED, ASSESSED examined for a medical condition EXPEDITED REVIEW rapid review of a protocol by the IRB Chair without full committee approval, permitted with certain low-risk research studies EXTERNAL outside the body EXTRAVASATE to leak outside of a planned area, such as out of a blood vessel

FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the branch of federal government that approves new drugs FIBROUS having many fibers, such as scar tissue FIBRILLATION irregular beat of the heart or other muscle

GENERAL ANESTHESIA pain prevention by giving drugs to cause loss of consciousness, as during surgery GESTATIONAL pertaining to pregnancy

HEMATOCRIT amount of red blood cells in the blood HEMATOMA a bruise, a black and blue mark HEMODYNAMIC MEASURING blood flow HEMOLYSIS breakdown in red blood cells HEPARIN LOCK needle placed in the arm with blood thinner to keep the blood from clotting HEPATOMA cancer or tumor of the liver HERITABLE DISEASE can be transmitted to one’s offspring, resulting in damage to future children HISTOPATHOLOGIC pertaining to the disease status of body tissues or cells HOLTER MONITOR a portable machine for recording heart beats HYPERCALCEMIA high blood calcium level HYPERKALEMIA high blood potassium level HYPERNATREMIA high blood sodium level HYPERTENSION high blood pressure HYPOCALCEMIA low blood calcium level HYPOKALEMIA low blood potassium level HYPONATREMIA low blood sodium level HYPOTENSION low blood pressure HYPOXEMIA a decrease of oxygen in the blood HYPOXIA a decrease of oxygen reaching body tissues HYSTERECTOMY surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries (female sex glands), or both uterus and ovaries

IATROGENIC caused by a physician or by treatment IDE investigational device exemption, the license to test an unapproved new medical device IDIOPATHIC of unknown cause IMMUNITY defense against, protection from IMMUNOGLOBIN a protein that makes antibodies IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE drug which works against the body's immune (protective) response, often used in transplantation and diseases caused by immune system malfunction IMMUNOTHERAPY giving of drugs to help the body's immune (protective) system; usually used to destroy cancer cells IMPAIRED FUNCTION abnormal function IMPLANTED placed in the body IND investigational new drug, the license to test an unapproved new drug INDUCTION PHASE beginning phase or stage of a treatment INDURATION hardening INDWELLING remaining in a given location, such as a catheter INFARCT death of tissue due to lack of blood supply INFECTIOUS DISEASE transmitted from one person to the next INFLAMMATION swelling that is generally painful, red, and warm INFUSION slow injection of a substance into the body, usually into the blood by means of a catheter INGESTION eating; taking by mouth INTERFERON drug which acts against viruses; antiviral agent INTERMITTENT occurring (regularly or irregularly) between two time points; repeatedly stopping, then starting again INTERNAL within the body INTERIOR inside of the body INTRAMUSCULAR into the muscle; within the muscle INTRAPERITONEAL into the abdominal cavity INTRATHECAL into the spinal fluid INTRAVENOUS (IV) through the vein INTRAVESICAL in the bladder INTUBATE the placement of a tube into the airway INVASIVE PROCEDURE puncturing, opening, or cutting the skin INVESTIGATIONAL NEW DRUG (IND) a new drug that has not been approved by the FDA INVESTIGATIONAL METHOD a treatment method which has not been proven to be beneficial or has not been accepted as standard care ISCHEMIA decreased oxygen in a tissue (usually because of decreased blood flow)

LAPAROTOMY surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdominal wall to enable a doctor to look at the organs inside LESION wound or injury; a diseased patch of skin LETHARGY sleepiness, tiredness LEUKOPENIA low white blood cell count LIPID fat LIPID CONTENT fat content in the blood LIPID PROFILE (PANEL) fat and cholesterol levels in the blood LOCAL ANESTHESIA creation of insensitivity to pain in a small, local area of the body, usually by injection of numbing drugs LOCALIZED restricted to one area, limited to one area LUMEN the cavity of an organ or tube (e.g., blood vessel) LYMPHANGIOGRAPHY an x-ray of the lymph nodes or tissues after injecting dye into lymph vessels (e.g., in feet) LYMPHOCYTE a type of white blood cell important in immunity (protection) against infection LYMPHOMA a cancer of the lymph nodes (or tissues)

MALAISE a vague feeling of bodily discomfort, feeling badly MALFUNCTION condition in which something is not functioning properly MALIGNANCY cancer or other progressively enlarging and spreading tumor, usually fatal if not successfully treated MEDULLABLASTOMA a type of brain tumor MEGALOBLASTOSIS change in red blood cells METABOLIZE process of breaking down substances in the cells to obtain energy METASTASIS spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another METRONIDAZOLE drug used to treat infections caused by parasites (invading organisms that take up living in the body) or other causes of anaerobic infection (not requiring oxygen to survive) MI myocardial infarction, heart attack MINIMAL slight MINIMIZE reduce as much as possible Page 4 of 7 MONITOR check on; keep track of; watch carefully MOBILITY ease of movement MORBIDITY undesired result or complication MORTALITY death MOTILITY the ability to move MRI magnetic resonance imaging, diagnostic pictures of the inside of the body, created using magnetic rather than x-ray energy MUCOSA, MUCOUS MEMBRANE moist lining of digestive, respiratory, reproductive, and urinary tracts MYALGIA muscle aches MYOCARDIAL pertaining to the heart muscle MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION heart attack

NASOGASTRIC TUBE placed in the nose, reaching to the stomach NCI the National Cancer Institute NECROSIS death of tissue NEOPLASIA/NEOPLASM tumor, may be benign or malignant NEUROBLASTOMA a cancer of nerve tissue NEUROLOGICAL pertaining to the nervous system NEUTROPENIA decrease in the main part of the white blood cells NIH the National Institutes of Health NONINVASIVE not breaking, cutting, or entering the skin NOSOCOMIAL acquired in the hospital

OCCLUSION closing; blockage; obstruction ONCOLOGY the study of tumors or cancer OPHTHALMIC pertaining to the eye OPTIMAL best, most favorable or desirable ORAL ADMINISTRATION by mouth ORTHOPEDIC pertaining to the bones OSTEOPETROSIS rare bone disorder characterized by dense bone OSTEOPOROSIS softening of the bones OVARIES female sex glands

PARENTERAL given by injection PATENCY condition of being open PATHOGENESIS development of a disease or unhealthy condition PERCUTANEOUS through the skin PERIPHERAL not central PER OS (PO) by mouth PHARMACOKINETICS the study of the way the body absorbs, distributes, and gets rid of a drug PHASE I first phase of study of a new drug in humans to determine action, safety, and proper dosing PHASE II second phase of study of a new drug in humans, intended to gather information about safety and effectiveness of the drug for certain uses PHASE III large-scale studies to confirm and expand information on safety and effectiveness of new drug for certain uses, and to study common side effects PHASE IV studies done after the drug is approved by the FDA, especially to compare it to standard care or to try it for new uses PHLEBITIS irritation or inflammation of the vein PLACEBO an inactive substance; a pill/liquid that contains no medicine PLACEBO EFFECT improvement seen with giving subjects a placebo, though it contains no active drug/treatment PLATELETS small particles in the blood that help with clotting POTENTIAL possible POTENTIATE increase or multiply the effect of a drug or toxin (poison) by giving another drug or toxin at the same time (sometimes an unintentional result) POTENTIATOR an agent that helps another agent work better PRENATAL before birth PROPHYLAXIS a drug given to prevent disease or infection PER OS (PO) by mouth PRN as needed PROGNOSIS outlook, probable outcomes PRONE lying on the stomach PROSPECTIVE STUDY following patients forward in time PROSTHESIS artificial part, most often limbs, such as arms or legs PROTOCOL plan of study PROXIMAL closer to the center of the body, away from the end PULMONARY pertaining to the lungs

QD every day; daily QID four times a day

RADIATION THERAPY x-ray or cobalt treatment RANDOM by chance (like the flip of a coin) RANDOMIZATION chance selection RBC red blood cell RECOMBINANT formation of new combinations of genes RECONSTITUTION putting back together the original parts or elements RECUR happen again REFRACTORY not responding to treatment REGENERATION re-growth of a structure or of lost tissue REGIMEN pattern of giving treatment RELAPSE the return of a disease REMISSION disappearance of evidence of cancer or other disease RENAL pertaining to the kidneys REPLICABLE possible to duplicate RESECT remove or cut out surgically RETROSPECTIVE STUDY looking back over past experience

SARCOMA a type of cancer SEDATIVE a drug to calm or make less anxious SEMINOMA a type of testicular cancer (found in the male sex glands) SEQUENTIALLY in a row, in order SOMNOLENCE sleepiness SPIROMETER an instrument to measure the amount of air taken into and exhaled from the lungs STAGING an evaluation of the extent of the disease STANDARD OF CARE a treatment plan that the majority of the medical community would accept as appropriate STENOSIS narrowing of a duct, tube, or one of the blood vessels in the heart STOMATITIS mouth sores, inflammation of the mouth STRATIFY arrange in groups for analysis of results (e.g., stratify by age, sex, etc.) STUPOR stunned state in which it is difficult to get a response or the attention of the subject SUBCLAVIAN under the collarbone SUBCUTANEOUS under the skin SUPINE lying on the back SUPPORTIVE CARE general medical care aimed at symptoms, not intended to improve or cure underlying disease SYMPTOMATIC having symptoms SYNDROME a condition characterized by a set of symptoms SYSTOLIC top number in blood pressure; pressure during active contraction of the heart

TERATOGENIC capable of causing malformations in a fetus (developing baby still inside the mother’s body) TESTES/TESTICLES male sex glands THROMBOSIS clotting THROMBUS blood clot TID three times a day TITRATION a method for deciding on the strength of a drug or solution; gradually increasing the dose T-LYMPHOCYTES type of white blood cells TOPICAL on the surface TOPICAL ANESTHETIC applied to a certain area of the skin and reducing pain only in the area to which applied TOXICITY side effects or undesirable effects of a drug or treatment TRANSDERMAL through the skin TRANSIENTLY temporarily TRAUMA injury; wound TREADMILL walking machine used to test heart function

UPTAKE absorbing and taking in of a substance by living tissue

VALVULOPLASTY plastic repair of a valve, especially a heart valve VARICES enlarged veins VASOSPASM narrowing of the blood vessels VECTOR a carrier that can transmit disease-causing microorganisms (germs and viruses) VENIPUNCTURE needle stick, blood draw, entering the skin with a needle VERTICAL TRANSMISSION spread of disease

WBC white blood cell

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Harmonizing traditional knowledge with environmental preservation: sustainable strategies for the conservation of indigenous medicinal plants (imps) and their implications for economic well-being.

research gap example format

1. Introduction

2. methodology, 2.1. description of the study, 2.2. data-collection methods and sampling techniques, 2.3. data analysis, analytical tool, 3. findings and discussion, 3.1. socio-economic characteristics of smallholder farmers in the amatole district, 3.2. the benefits of having indigenous medicinal plants in our communities, 4. constraints faced by smallholder farmers in the use of indigenous medicinal plants, 5. examination of used conservation strategies on rural indigenous medicinal plants, 6. impact of conservation and sustainable use of indigenous medicinal plants on economic well-being of smallholder farmers, 7. implications for food security and nutrition, 8. conclusions, author contributions, institutional review board statement, informed consent statement, data availability statement, acknowledgments, conflicts of interest.

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Click here to enlarge figure

CharacteristicsMedicinal Plant Participants (n = 125)Non-Medicinal Plant Participants (n = 25)Overall (n = 150)
-Test
Gender (female)0.590.740.670.002 **
Access to credit (No)0.300.280.290.018 **
Marital Status (Married)0.680.660.670.028 **
Extension Visits (5 times)0.570.580.560.013 **
Age0.560.320.440.002 ***
Educational level7.412.810.60.023 **
Household size6.005.005.620.016 **
Farm size (Ha)0.920.980.950.034 **
Farming experiences (year)16.444.3610.420.127
Benefits of Having Medicinal PlantsMean
Household consumption0.76
Livestock health0.69
Cultural rituals0.57
Local sales0.53
Traditional healing0.42
Conservation StrategiesFrequencyMean
In Situ ConservationProtect areas620.41
On-farm conservation390.26
Ex Situ ConservationBotanical Gardens00
Gene Banks00
Production processGood Agricultural Practises (GAP)60.04
Output VariableKernel Matching Method
ATTStandard Errorp-Value
Economic well-being (income generation)6824.6415912.560.001 **
ATTStandard errorp-value
Economic well-being (income generation)7672.6916472.6910.003 ***
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Share and Cite

Mbelebele, Z.; Mdoda, L.; Ntlanga, S.S.; Nontu, Y.; Gidi, L.S. Harmonizing Traditional Knowledge with Environmental Preservation: Sustainable Strategies for the Conservation of Indigenous Medicinal Plants (IMPs) and Their Implications for Economic Well-Being. Sustainability 2024 , 16 , 5841. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16145841

Mbelebele Z, Mdoda L, Ntlanga SS, Nontu Y, Gidi LS. Harmonizing Traditional Knowledge with Environmental Preservation: Sustainable Strategies for the Conservation of Indigenous Medicinal Plants (IMPs) and Their Implications for Economic Well-Being. Sustainability . 2024; 16(14):5841. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16145841

Mbelebele, Zusiphe, Lelethu Mdoda, Sesethu Samuel Ntlanga, Yanga Nontu, and Lungile Sivuyile Gidi. 2024. "Harmonizing Traditional Knowledge with Environmental Preservation: Sustainable Strategies for the Conservation of Indigenous Medicinal Plants (IMPs) and Their Implications for Economic Well-Being" Sustainability 16, no. 14: 5841. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16145841

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IMAGES

  1. FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Templates in PDF

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    research gap example format

  3. FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Templates in PDF

    research gap example format

  4. FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Templates in PDF

    research gap example format

  5. FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Samples & Templates in MS Word

    research gap example format

  6. Example Of Research Gap / Examples of research gaps identified during

    research gap example format

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COMMENTS

  1. What Is A Research Gap (With Examples)

    1. The Classic Literature Gap. First up is the classic literature gap. This type of research gap emerges when there's a new concept or phenomenon that hasn't been studied much, or at all. For example, when a social media platform is launched, there's an opportunity to explore its impacts on users, how it could be leveraged for marketing, its impact on society, and so on.

  2. Research Gap

    Here are some examples of research gaps that researchers might identify: Theoretical Gap Example: In the field of psychology, there might be a theoretical gap related to the lack of understanding of the relationship between social media use and mental health. Although there is existing research on the topic, there might be a lack of consensus ...

  3. How To Find A Research Gap (Tutorial + Examples)

    Step 1: Identify your broad area of interest. The very first step to finding a research gap is to decide on your general area of interest. For example, if you were undertaking a dissertation as part of an MBA degree, you may decide that you're interested in corporate reputation, HR strategy, or leadership styles.

  4. Gap Statements

    A gap is something that remains to be done or learned in an area of research; it's a gap in the knowledge of the scientists in the field of research of your study. Every research project must, in some way, address a gap-that is, attempt to fill in some piece of information missing in the scientific literature. ... An example gap from Hosaka ...

  5. HOW TO WRITE THE RESEARCH GAP: WITH EXAMPLES

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  6. Research Gap 101: What Is A Research Gap & How To Find One (With Examples)

    Learn what a research gap is, the different types of research gaps (including examples), and how to find a research gap for your dissertation, thesis or rese...

  7. What Is A Research Gap

    These are gaps in the conceptual framework or theoretical understanding of a subject. For example, there may be a need for more research to understand the relationship between two concepts or to refine a theoretical framework. 3. Methodological gaps. These are gaps in the methods used to study a particular subject.

  8. How do I write about gaps in research?

    Answer: Before writing about gaps in research, you first need to identify them. Identifying research gaps is often the starting point of research. You identify potential research gaps by going through existing literature in the area you are studying. From the various gaps you identify, you decide to explore one in greater detail in your research.

  9. Literature Gap and Future Research

    What is a 'gap in the literature'? The gap, also considered the missing piece or pieces in the research literature, is the area that has not yet been explored or is under-explored. This could be a population or sample (size, type, location, etc.), research method, data collection and/or analysis, or other research variables or conditions.

  10. How to Identify a Research Gap

    1. Avoid Redundancy in Your Research. Understanding the existing literature helps researchers avoid duplication. This means you can steer clear of topics that have already been extensively studied. This ensures your work is novel and contributes something new to the field. 2. Guide the Research Design. Identifying a research gap helps shape ...

  11. Step 4: Development of Framework—Instructions for Research Gaps

    A research gap is a topic or area for which missing or inadequate information limits the ability of reviewers to reach a conclusion on a given question. This worksheet is designed to facilitate the identification and organization of research gaps during evidence reviews sponsored by AHRQ. Our aim was to design a simple, user-friendly worksheet to help investigators record research gaps.

  12. (PDF) Problem statement and Research Gap

    Research Gap: is the An Issue, a problem that needs to be discuss, ... i.e. population/sample size/data/def theories/model approach/method variables.

  13. What Is A Research Gap? (With Tips + Examples)

    This type of gap occurs when certain populations are underrepresented in research. It can involve demographics like age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. Example: Lack of research on the mental health of older adults living in rural areas. Geographical Gap.

  14. 7 Types of Research Gaps in Literature Review

    Population Gap. A common gap discovered by researchers is a population gap. There are always populations that are underserved and understudied. This gap is the type of population-related research Population such as gender, race and age that is either not well represented in the evidence base or is under-researched.

  15. How to Define a Research Problem

    How to Define a Research Problem | Ideas & Examples. Published on November 2, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on May 31, 2023. A research problem is a specific issue or gap in existing knowledge that you aim to address in your research. You may choose to look for practical problems aimed at contributing to change, or theoretical problems aimed at expanding knowledge.

  16. What is Research Gap and how to identify research gap

    Though there is no well-defined process to find a gap in existing knowledge, your curiosity, creativity, imagination, and judgment can help you identify it. Here are 6 tips to identify research gaps: 1. Look for inspiration in published literature. Read books and articles on the topics that you like the most.

  17. What is a Research Gap

    Literature Gap. The expression "literature gap" is used with the same intention as "research gap.". When there is a gap in the research itself, there will also naturally be a gap in the literature. Nevertheless, it is important to stress out the importance of language or text formulations that can help identify a research/literature gap ...

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  19. FAQ: What is a research gap and how do I find one?

    A research gap is a question or a problem that has not been answered by any of the existing studies or research within your field. Sometimes, a research gap exists when there is a concept or new idea that hasn't been studied at all. Sometimes you'll find a research gap if all the existing research is outdated and in need of new/updated research ...

  20. How to identify research gaps and include them in your thesis?

    Each gap must be stated separately. For instance, consider these 3 gaps: there is a lack of research in your country's context, there is a lack of empirical evidence and, there is a lack of consensus, each should be explained separately. It should be structured in the form of citations wherever necessary.

  21. FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Samples & Templates in MS Word

    The process of conducting a research gap analysis sample typically involves existing literature review samples, case study sample, and research papers in a particular field. Researchers will look for patterns and identify areas where there is a lack of research or where previous studies have not provided enough information.

  22. How to Write an Abstract in Research Papers (with Examples)

    An abstract in research papers is a keyword-rich summary usually not exceeding 200-350 words. It can be considered the "face" of research papers because it creates an initial impression on the readers. While searching databases (such as PubMed) for research papers, a title is usually the first selection criterion for readers.

  23. FREE 10+ Research Gap Analysis Templates in PDF

    The Research Gap Analysis is finding out the responses of the unsolved questions and the problems in the research work. It is the work of the researcher to do the study on the subject matter and then find the unsolved answers that are not being answered by anyone prior to that research work. Otherwise, the work will not not be considered as the reserach work. The gap analysis is the ...

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