Mind the Gap(s)

It is important to remember that a study’s gaps, flaws, and/or limitations do not necessarily mean the research is not reliable. In the academic world, primary research is usually affected by the resources available to the researchers while they are conducting the study. Also, if the study as a whole had been deemed unreliable or not credible, an academic journal would not have published the article. In other words, for a published article, experts in the field have reviewed the research and determined adds to the current academic conversation on the topic.

Still, it is vital that you learn to recognize how these gaps, flaws, and limitations can shape and affect the research results as well as provide opportunities for you to join this conversation. First, when you determine the goal or aim of a study, you might notice that the scholars have a very specific and limited goal; this goal may include examining the impact of one or two factors on a very specific population, such as collegiate softball players. The findings of such a study could not reliably be generalized beyond that population.

While this research is very valuable, it also presents you with a unique opportunity to test similar factors on another specific population. For example, you may decide to look at the same unique population but include additional factors that were not used in the original study. You may also decide to use the same factors as the original study but to test them on a different population, such as female high school varsity athletes.

Basically, it is imperative that you “Mind the Gap(s),” and learn to use them to your advantage as a researcher in your field.