What are Gaps within the Literature?

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I’m certain you’re aware of the phrase “hole.” Folks may take a “hole yr” of their training, perhaps between highschool and school or between school and graduate faculty. A niche yr is actually a flowery approach of claiming you might be doing one thing else and pausing your training.

There could be a niche between a window and a wall, which implies that there’s house between the 2 objects, and perhaps a draft or a leak relying on the climate.

We’d take into account a extra summary definition of a niche, such because the hole between expectations and actuality, which may produce social unrest, based on one in style idea. The hole between our personal private expectations and actuality can form the best way we make sense of {our relationships} and achievements.

If a niche is a break, or house between factor 1 and factor 2, what’s a niche within the literature?

I get this query fairly a bit from college students, particularly when they’re tasked with discovering mentioned gaps and aren’t precisely certain the place to start. Merely put, a “hole within the literature” describes one thing lacking inside a physique of analysis revealed on a selected matter. (Literature refers to scholarly work revealed in journal articles, books, and authorities experiences on a topic.)

Discovering gaps within the literature requires us to do three issues:

  1. Seek for revealed scholarly work on our particular analysis query.
  2. As soon as we discover books and articles, determine classes of earlier research (extra on this in a future submit).
  3. Primarily based on these classes of research, decide what may nonetheless be lacking, or at the very least what has not been studied as totally.

Let’s consider this when it comes to one thing that we will all simply perceive: dessert. Think about that there’s analysis on a number of classes of desserts; some research deal with ice lotions, some deal with desserts, others on cookies, and nonetheless others on pies and donuts. (Whenever you seek for scholarly work, you’ll need create your personal classes based mostly on different researchers’ findings. I’ll focus on this extra in a future submit.)

Maybe you have an interest in qualitative research of ice cream (I take into account this to be considered one of my life-long pursuits). Possibly there are a lot of revealed research about sure flavors however not others. There’s ample analysis, say, in types of chocolate ice cream, however only a few on rarer flavors, reminiscent of elderberry or huckleberry.

Voila, you could have found a niche within the literature! It’s so simple as that. You may spotlight this hole as a part of the rationale that your research of huckleberry ice cream sandwiches is vital to conduct to fill a niche inside the literature on ice cream.

However generally if one thing is lacking within the literature it isn’t essentially a niche. Let’s say you wished to review popsicles, and in your evaluate of the analysis on ice cream you discover no research on popsicles. Have you ever found a niche?

This may work provided that you might make a convincing case that popsicles are a sort of ice cream and due to this fact belong on this class.

Generally we’re wanting within the incorrect place for earlier analysis on our matter. This occurs pretty typically with college students who’re new to sociology, particularly if their analysis query just isn’t sociological. They may see that there’s little or no in earlier analysis as a result of it’s an space of research lined in a distinct self-discipline.

Think about if whereas literature on a lot of completely different ice lotions exist, in your search you discover nothing on lecithin, an emulsifier that could be a widespread ingredient in ice cream. Hopefully you might be pondering that we’re straying off-topic from the qualitative expertise of consuming ice cream, except you wished to check the expertise of consuming ice cream with and with out lecithin.

But when inside the subject of “dessert research” there are not any comparisons between components, you’ll have the burden of arguing why this ought to be a part of the bigger scholarly dialog about ice cream. If ingredient comparisons are a well-established a part of one other scholarly subject, you should have a more durable time making the case.

Again to sociology (however we’ll take our desserts with us). Let’s say that you’re serious about finding out using meals in cultural practices, a topic that  clearly will be linked with many research in anthropology and faith. To determine gaps within the sociological literature, you would wish to make the case that your matter is linked to current research and theoretical discussions inside sociology.

You might join your research with analysis on meals and financial inequality, as a number of sociologists have finished. For instance, sociologist Priya Fielding-Singh discovered her analysis that meals has “symbolic worth” which shapes variations in diets based mostly on socio-economic standing. Likewise, Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott discovered of their analysis that consuming processed meals, quite than dwelling cooked is linked to socio-economic standing. As this NPR story on their research highlights, not everybody has the time and sources (reminiscent of gear and kitchen devices) to organize meals from scratch.

Are you able to join your meals research to those or others, even when your matter is comparatively distinctive? In that case, you could have discovered a niche and linked it to the prevailing literature. Congratulations!

Coming quickly: how do you categorize the prevailing literature? How do you write concerning the current literature in relation to your personal analysis?

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