It is important for researchers to determine the research gap we are addressing. It sets the urgency of the conduct of the study, as well as gives direction to our academic journey. In this article, I have listed down the types of research gaps that Miles (2017) proposes, which emerged from a compendium of literature he collated from various authors.
As researchers, we always start with our thesis statement. It is an unproved statement put forward as a premise in an argument and if this statement is a contradiction to a literature cited, then an evidence gap can be the target.
It is hoped by researchers to always add to the growing body of knowledge and when your readings do not satisfy the desired research findings, considering the nature and context of your study, then this knowledge gap can be addressed.
We always contextualize the application of the findings into our setting, into our practice, into our field and if the literature deviate from your context, then it can be that you are addressing an action-knowledge conflict gap.
Each research method requires different nature of the data to be collected and interpreted as well as analysis or data treatment procedures. If the present readings employed a specific methodology and you argue that another approach may give off more substantial recommendations or offer a different lens to investigate the phenomenon at hand, then you are addressing a method and research design gap.
Some models and theories may emerge as a result of a conduct of one research and in order to verify the results, empirical methods need to be applied. Some phenomena have realities with no strong base of evidence of their existence, thus to fill in the empirical gaps, you can highlight this as the urgency in pursuing the objectives of your study.
Some phenomena or relationship of variables cannot find any theoretical anchorage, thus, a researcher is challenged to perform the 7-stages of conducting a grounded theory qualitative method. By doing this, you are actually addressing a theoretical gap.
Expanding the target respondents and participants is not always about achieving data saturation, it can also be about addressing the population gap in the literatures you have cited. It means widening the scope of the study, adjusting the set inclusion criteria, for better interpretation of results and expanding also more the target beneficiaries.
There you have it! Instead of repeatedly saying that “you have not come across any duplicates in your study, you may want to incorporate these terms that mirror the specific type that you are addressing.
Enjoy doing research!