What’s the Gap?
There are several jobs of the literature review of your dissertation. The first is to show that there is a need for your study, therefore it is justified. Another important job is to identify what literature has not been done on the topic or in other words, what is still not fully understood. You need to have read A LOT of research to figure this out. You will not cite everything you read, but ALL of your reading is what helps you to be able to stand up in the end, and declare the gap.
You have a gap if the research related to the level 1 topic heading:
- has not been studied with a certain population
- has been studied in some content areas but not “yours”
- has been primarily studied using a single methodology
- there is research on two sides of an issue and more research is still needed to help further understanding
- includes poor quality research (usually research design or implementation)
- is built on an incorrect assumption
- consistently uses the same conceptual framework and therefore lacks multiple views of the issues (you will propose an innovative way)
But what if you didn’t find a gap for a certain level 1 heading? That’s fine! In that case you will review the consensus on the topic and how reliable that consensus is.
While you are likely to be discussing the gap and consensus as it comes up in the body paragraphs of the level 1 writing, I am suggesting that you dedicate one full paragraph at the end of each APA level 1 heading of your literature review to stand up on a rock, fist pump in the air, and boldly identify and declare the gap!
Last Paragraph in Each Lit Review APA Level 1 Heading
Let’s talk about the last paragraph of an APA Level 1 Heading in your literature review. This paragraph is not really a summary of what was in the section; rather, it is a well thought out synthesis of the topic and related to your proposed study. Note: This applies only to the literature review, section of chapter 2, not all sections in chapters 1-3.
The purposes of this paragraph may differ slightly depending on what you’ve found in the literature, but may include any or all of the following: