2.2 Identifying Knowledge Gap

The first and foremost step in conducting research is identifying previously unexplored research areas. Choosing an unexplored area in your area of clinical practice or research field will increase the value of your research and your chances of getting the work published. It would be devastating to complete a research project and be unable to publish the study findings because another researcher has already published something similar or be unable to see it applied to practice because some elements are not authentic/realistic and it is not relevant to practice settings. It is therefore important to identify knowledge gaps i.e., problems that have not been addressed before in your field of study or clinical practice, before you embark on choosing a research topic/question.

You may ask the question How do I select a research topic/question? Experienced researchers often have a clear idea of ​​what research topic/question they want to pursue. However, novice researchers, often find it difficult to identify original and innovative research topics. Three major ways of identifying existing research gaps in your field of study include seeking (1) guidance from experienced researchers or clinical practitioners, (2) inspiration from published literature and (3) databases for relevant articles.

  1. Guidance from experienced researchers or clinical practitioners: You can discuss questions and issues in your field with experienced researchers or clinical practitioners to seek advice and generate research ideas. Articulating your ideas and knowing what experts are thinking and working on can help you identify areas of your research or identify flaws in your approach.
  2. Inspiration from published literature: Read extensively on your topic of interest by consulting relevant and current books and articles. Not only will this help you understand the depth of research that researchers in your field are doing, but it will also give you the opportunity to ask questions that may lead to identifying research gaps.
  3. Search databases for relevant articles: You can utilise research databases to analyse research trends in your field. Most of the databases, such as Scopus and Web of Science, cover scholarly literature from almost any discipline and are freely available and easily accessible.


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An Introduction to Research Methods for Undergraduate Health Profession Students Copyright © 2023 by Faith Alele and Bunmi Malau-Aduli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.