One of the biggest challenges when conducting research is knowing when you have enough information to begin writing. Identifying information gaps in your research is an important step towards creating a comprehensive and well-supported project; by actively seeking out and addressing these gaps, you can ensure that your work is thorough, accurate, and informative.
How do we identify information gaps? Click through the dropdowns below for some top tips:
It can be useful to review material you’ve already found just in case you missed something relevant the first time around. Why not try skimming some of your best sources with your information gaps in mind?
Have you browsed the reference lists of particularly useful sources? You may want to consider locating and reading potentially valuable citations. Learn more about this technique on our page on Citation Searching.
Can’t find what you’re looking for using existing sources? It’s time to conduct some more literature searches. At this point, you’ll have probably already done a fair amount of research; you can utilise your previous search queries as a guide to what terminology, tools and techniques you should use.
Think about the specific gap you’re trying to fill. What keywords and alternative terms are likely to return relevant sources? Where are you likely to find the most appropriate sources? What techniques will make your search most effective? You may want to return to your original notes or concept map. Alternatively, you can return to the following guidance to help guide your thinking:
Believe it or not, research can become a form of procrastination.
At undergraduate level, you're never going to be able to scrutinise all the information available on a particular topic - you don't have the time or word count! Because of this, it's important that you're able to identify when to stop looking for information and start pulling it all together.
This can be a tricky question to answer. How do we distinguish between unnecessary additional information which won't benefit our argument and information gaps we need to resolve? It depends on your discipline, question, and the information you've already found!
Complete the quiz below to determine if you've met your information need.