Where can I get research papers

Find the most important research gap in 3 steps

30.11.2020

Anna Milena von Gersdorff is the online marketing expert who heads the GWriters blog as well as all publications, changes and special promotions on our website. In addition, she is responsible for all public relations and communication with our media partners.

At first glance, it sounds very simple: Find a research gap for a bachelor's, master's thesis or dissertation, determine research questions from this and then create a scientific paper. But what sounds so simple at first, is often not at all in practice. One quickly comes to the question: "How should I find a research gap?", "How do I know whether the research gap is scientifically founded?" Finally, the question arises as to what a scientific work to close such a gap can look like and how to best formulate the research gap. In this context, the question of what a research question is and how it can be designed must then also be answered. Feel free to use these tips, which are presented for you in this post, to articulate your own research gap.

The following questions should be answered in the following article:
• What is a research gap anyway?
• How can I find or identify a research gap?
• What could a research gap be?
• How can a research gap be exemplary?
• What does “relevance” mean in this context?
• Where can I find help?

What is a research gap?

To put it simply: A research gap always arises when aspects of the topic of your work have not yet been or insufficiently researched. Errors or inadequacies in previous research can also represent a research gap. This already shows why a research gap is important for a scientific work. By addressing a research gap, you show that you have dealt extensively with the current state of research on a topic. And: The research question then arises from the research gap. With the help of the answer to the research question, the research gap can be closed.

This results in the following triad of how to find a research gap in three steps.

It therefore only seems logical to write a scientific paper only if it,

  • there is a new research gap

  • this can be closed within the framework of the planned scientific work with the available funds or at least a contribution can be made to the closure.

But this is often not that easy, because there are no sources, access to databases or simply ideas where to look for it. Therefore, one sometimes tends to write a scientific paper on a more or less well-researched topic. At first glance, this seems easier, but at second glance, this path is not promising. Because the simple formula applies: the “better” the research gap, the more targeted discussion possible in the work with the topic.

But: how can a research gap be found?

The steps are:

  1. Research and recording of the current state of research

  2. Deriving the research gap

  3. Formulation of the research question

Step 1: Research on research topics

The path always leads you through research and recording of the current state of research. This means that you cannot avoid researching literature on a topic, analyzing and comparing it. The best way to do this is to create a simple Excel table. This can look like this:

Now you will say: “I can't possibly read all of the texts, then I can write the scientific paper right away!” Right! But you don't need that either. It is best to first collect the literature on your topic in German and English for an initial search in databases such as GoogleScholar, EBSCO, Science Direct and SpringerLink using relevant search terms.

SpringerLink is particularly suitable for German-language research and basic literature, while Science Direct is a particularly suitable platform for international (current) literature, as links to other databases are also possible here.

As a rule, you will receive the know-how on the search terms from your studies. For more information on how best to research literature, see Literature research for the current state of research. It is particularly important to only use reputable sources. Furthermore, the scientific sources must be up-to-date. The following applies: The more current the topic, the newer the sources for the state of research must be so that you can find a research gap. In general, the sources used - with the exception of standard or basic literature - should not be older than ten years.

Then read - mostly journal articles, empirical studies, white papers or proceedings - the "Abstract" and the "Conclusion". Here you can quickly see whether the document is relevant to your topic or not. If it is relevant, include it in the table. The column is particularly important to you "Restrictions". You fill this out in the next step. Most of the time, at the end of the work, authors already formulate what they could research, but also what they could not research and what could then also be the subject of further work - research gap.

Here is an example of "finding a research gap", like such a formulation by Restrictions or further research topics can look like:

Step 2: Deriving the research gap and Step 3: Formulating the research question

And this is exactly where you start now: You record these points after the initial research on the subject area and, as with the initial research, look in the databases to see whether there is any literature on these issues. And that's actually it: the more and the more often you do this, the sooner the research becomes more concentrated and at the end there is - quasi “automatically” - the research gap.

A nice example that describes both the procedure for identifying a research gap and the research gap itself can be found here: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-8349-3892-3_4

In the end, however, it always remains the same: Without knowledge of the current state of research, there is no research gap!

How can I now formulate a research gap? What would an example of a research topic be?

Step 3: Formulate research question: examples

A completely different example. Suppose you come to the result of your research that the social behavior among hamsters has been well researched. However, they do realize that there is still no research into how hamsters react when a family member is kept apart for a long time and then brought back into the family. Then this would be a research gap that then goes with the research question "What abnormalities do hamsters show after a long separation from the family of origin?" could be closed.

Now you will hardly write your work about hamsters ...

Hence another example from business administration: For example, customer loyalty effects have been researched relatively broadly. Little research has been done in this context, however, on how new media change customer loyalty. This is particularly due to the fact that new media were not yet up-to-date at the time when customer loyalty research was to be located. So you see: time can also help fill the research gap! The research question here could then be: "What effects does the use of new media have on the customer loyalty behavior of consumers?"

How can I formulate a research question?

Create a research question & hypotheses - that's how it works

What does this have to do with the topic of “relevance”?

For now you are happy to have found a research gap and to have formulated a research question. We're almost through now, but now comes the subject "Relevance". That means you have to show why closing the research gap could be relevant for science and practice. In the scientific work itself, it must then be deduced whether an aspect that has not yet been examined can have a connection with the postulated results. This is where hypotheses come into play. For more information on this and how to form hypotheses and work with them, see: Hypothesis research question

Find a good research gap step by step!

A possible checklist for a good research gap could look like this:

  1. Coordinate subject area

  2. Research relevant keywords / search terms in German and English

  3. Search in databases (especially GoogleScholar, EBSCO, ScienceDirect and SpringerLink) for relevant literature

  4. Identification of relevant literature based on "abstract" and "conclusion"

  5. Inclusion of this literature in the table including the "restrictions"

  6. If necessary, repeat steps 3 to 5

  7. Deriving the research gap

  8. Formulation of the research question

If you follow these steps consistently, then the quality of your scientific work can increase significantly.

I dont get any further! Where can I find help?

The ghostwriters from GWriters can help in all departments to create a template for your personal use. The ghostwriters know the guidelines and formal requirements for identifying a research gap and have a look at the current state of research. In this way, they can not only be of assistance in formulating templates, but also in researching research ideas. They also know which different requirements have to be met for the respective subject areas.

But even if you are further and need editing or proofreading, the ghostwriters from GWriters are happy to support you.

Depending on the subject, GWriters can then also provide you with the appropriate experts. Business administration, economics, medicine and law ghostwriters all have different skills and abilities that you can use in your projects.

Would you like to get an idea of ​​what such work can look like? Have a look at sample work from GWriters. Here you will find excerpts from work.

In summary: The most important prerequisites for a “good” research gap!

  1. Use current literature!

  2. Research the highest possible quality sources, especially English-language journal articles!

  3. Go back a maximum of 10 years in the literature!

  4. Prepare the results of your research in a structured way, e.g. in an Excel table! This also serves as a good basis for the subsequent preparation of the scientific work. Basically, you have already written the chapter "Research Status", which will later be part of your work.

  5. Go from “coarse” to “fine”. I.e. it is better to take in too much literature first and then gradually remove the literature that is not primarily relevant to the research question. The less literature you have or the more precisely the literature treats the research topic, the more precisely the research gap can be identified and processed.

  6. Finally, do the “relevance check”: Can the research gap be dealt with through the work and does that bring added value for research or corporate practice? You repeat this “relevance check” at the end after completing the work: “Have I achieved my goal in the work”? If not or only partially, then this is a topic for your "restrictions" and in turn you provide other students with a basis for further research and new research gaps!