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Literature Reviews in Education

Themes and Gaps

Identifying the themes and gaps in the research helps you understand the scholarly conversation around your research topic. This is the purpose of the literature review. Here are some questions to help you examine your articles for themes and gaps. 

  • What trends do you see in the use of theories, models of understanding, or methodology? How has this changed over time? 
  • What are the recurring questions or ideas that you see in the articles? 
  • What are the studies or theories that changed the way scholars understand the topic? 
  • What are major debates or contradictions? Where do your sources disagree? 
  • What are the gaps? What is missing? What do we not yet understand? Are there new questions to ask? 

Hint! The gaps are important because that is were you'll find room for your research to fit into the conversation.