Gaps in the Literature
Gaps in the Literature are missing pieces or insufficient information in the research literature. These are areas that have scope for further research because they are unexplored, under-explored, or outdated.
Gaps could be:
- population or sample: size, type, location etc…
- research methods: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed
- data collection or analysis
- research variables or conditions
Search research databases such as Scopus, ProQuest Central, and PubMed (MEDLINE). Find recommended databases for your subject area in the Research by Subject guide for your course or program. Conduct an extensive literature search to find a broad range of research articles on a topic.
If you do not find articles in your literature search, this may indicate a gap.
If you do find articles, the goal is to find a gap for contributing new research. Authors signal that there is a gap using words such as:
- has not been clarified, studied, reported, or elucidated
- further research is required or needed
- is not well reported
- suggestions for further research
- key question is or remains
- it is important to address
- poorly understood or known
- lack of studies.
See example abstracts in CSE format highlighting places in the text where gaps in the literature are indicated.
Identifying Research Gaps YouTube video from UCLA Library
Questions & Help
If you have questions on this, or another, topic, contact a librarian for help!