You will begin to hear and use the term “research gap” or “gap in the literature
You will begin to hear and use the term “research gap” or “gap in the literature” or “gap in the knowledge base” or “gap in practice” on your doctoral journey. Like many terms, its common use might make it seem simple or straightforward. However, “identifying the gap” takes critical evaluation and a comfort level with research articles that comes with time and practice. This term starts with the empirical research process, a systematic way of collecting data that is based on observation. In other words, knowledge is based on observing a phenomenon that is measured. In the research that you read, you will find data collection referred to as quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods (a combination of quantitative or qualitative methods). Once the data is collected, researchers will analyze it using statistical analyses if it is a quantitative study, or they will use content analysis for qualitative studies. The findings of these empirical studies are then published, which we call empirical literature. The empirical research process is cyclical, as researchers will explore the existing empirical literature to locate a gap. Once a gap in knowledge or practice is identified, data is collected to further address the research questions that were posed to address the gap. This gap is either a practice gap for DSW students or the knowledge gap for PhD Social Work students. In this Toolkit, you focus on how researchers articulate the gap, noting also how this gap connects to the problem statement. To Prepare You will use the DSW capstone or the PhD Social Work dissertation that you found in Week 2. For DSW, review the Problem Statement in Section 1. Observe the narrative in the problem statement and how the Walden DSW alumni articulated their practice gap. For PhD Social Work, review the Problem Statement in Chapter 1. Observe the narrative in the problem statement and how the Walden PhD Social Work alumni articulated the knowledge gap. By Day 7 In 3–4 sentences, describe how empirical research helps to fill a gap in knowledge generally. In 4–5 sentences, evaluate how the problem statement you reviewed used empirical literature to identify the gap. Be specific by using illustrations from the problem statement you reviewed.

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