Understanding Research Novelty and Research Gaps – Exploring the unknown

In academic research, the concepts of research novelty and research gaps stand as two pivotal pillars dictating the success and significance of a study. Understanding these concepts is fundamental to encapsulate different facets of the research process, determining the originality and necessity of a study.

What Is Research Novelty

Novelty in research can be described as the uniqueness or originality of the idea. It brings freshness in scholarly endeavours by exploring topics, questions, and/or problems that have not been extensively investigated before. The relevance of novelty lies in introducing new ideas, concepts, methodologies or insights, which offer new perspectives to the existing body of knowledge. Demonstrating research novelty not only poses to be a gateway to publishing in prestigious journals but also helps in gaining recognition. Furthermore, it prevents redundancy, ensuring researchers don’t tread already explored paths.

6 Strategies to Find Research Novelty

Researchers seeking novelty often engage in innovative experiments, employ new approaches, propose unique hypotheses or delve into unexplored territories within their field of study. Ensuring research novelty can be challenging as bringing novelty requires objective evaluation of the presented ideas or findings when compared to existing knowledge.

Some strategies to find and ensure novelty in research are as follows:

1. Conducting an Extensive Literature Review 

Analysing existing literature uncovers gaps in knowledge, guiding the formulation of new questions or hypotheses, thereby ensuring novelty.

2. Comparing with Previous Studies

Contrasting research findings with previous studies helps determine the originality and significance of the current research.

3. Staying Updated with the Latest Developments

Subscribing to reputable journals in the field helps researchers track and align with developments, maintaining novelty in their work.

4. Assessing Contribution to the Field

Evaluating how much the research contributes to advancing knowledge is a key indicator of its novelty and value.

5. Considering Alternative Methodologies

Introducing novelty can involve exploring new methodologies or tweaking research questions to offer fresh perspectives.

6. Seeking Peer Support

Engaging with mentors, peers and scholarly groups to receive feedback and guidance on introducing novelty into research efforts.

What Are Research Gaps

Research gaps denote identifying gaps or deficiencies within the current literature that necessitate further exploration. These gaps serve acts as the rationale or motivation for a study, thus highlighting its necessity.

How to Identify Research Gaps

Identifying research gaps primarily occurs during the literature review process. Researchers meticulously analyse existing works to determine what aspects remain unexplored or demand further investigation.

Here are some tips to identify research gaps.

1. Review Existing Studies

Thoroughly understand the contributions of previous studies and create a list of your unresolved questions. If your questions remain unanswered in the existing literature, it may indicate a potential research gap.

2. Explore Suggestions for Future Research

Analyse the conclusion or "suggestions for future research" sections of existing studies to identify areas where further research is needed.

3. Trace Seminal Works

Identify influential studies cited repeatedly in the literature to uncover related research.

4. Utilise Literature Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Comprehensive papers like meta-analyses, literature reviews, and systematic reviews offer an overview of existing research, trends, and changes over time in a field.

By using these techniques, researchers can identify areas where further studies are necessary. 

Difference Between Research Gap and Research Novelty

While research novelty focuses on introducing unique elements, research gaps identify the areas that demand attention due to their inadequacy in current literature. Here are some differences between research novelty and research gaps.

Research Novelty

Research Gaps

Focuses on originality and introducing fresh perspectives

Focuses unanswered questions within the existing body of knowledge    

Aims to explore new ideas/ methodologies

Aims to identify areas needing further investigation

Offers fresh perspectives, builds on existing work and pushes the boundaries of knowledge

Offer rationale for a new research study, justifying its significance and relevance

Critical for publication in reputable journals and avoiding repetition of existing work 

Essential to justify the need for a new study, indicating the necessity to fill gaps in knowledge     

Involves conducting innovative experiments and proposing unique hypotheses

Highlights areas lacking comprehensive coverage or unaddressed research inquiries  

Focuses on the difference between existing research and the new research's originality.

Focuses on the deficiency or inadequacy in current literature, indicating the need for additional research

Emphasise the creation of something new or different from what already exists, bringing originality to the academic domain

Establishes the necessity for further study and contributes to the progression of the field by filling existing knowledge gaps

Example: Introducing a new method for cancer diagnosis that has not been explored before

Example: Identifying a lack of research on the a gene expression in certain type of cancer


Understanding research novelty and research gaps are indispensable for any researcher striving to make a meaningful contribution to their field. They drive the development and progression of knowledge. 

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