When we discuss a “research gap,” we are building off of ideas expressed by John Swales and his study of the rhetorical moves that are common in the introductory section of academic articles. Swales found that writers often attempt to “create a research space” (CARS) at the beginning of their papers, meaning that they identify needs for further research, or different research, or different analyses for a particular topic. In other words, they identify some sort of gap in the scholarship on a given topic. Identifying that gap justifies the need for the new research or analysis that the author wants to fill with his or her own work.
A Guide to Rhetoric, Genre, and Success in First-Year Writing by Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.