Research Gap in Ph.D work
There is a word in English called ‘search’. Literally it means to find something that is available somewhere. For example, our mother is searching an English-made spoon in the kitchen. She can search because she has a strong belief that there is such a spoon in the kitchen. Without that belief, such searching is called a useless exercise/ activities. What more if she is searching the spoon in the dead of the night.
Then in the university , if you notice, there is a small group of students who are said tobe engaged in doing research. It is formed from 2 key words called “re” which refers to repeating something that someone has done so far and the other word is SEARCH. To seek more truth about some theories, findings etc etc. Of course they do the research with the guidance of their learned supervisors. To put something nice, they do the research with some kind of grants/ scholarship from their government. These grants will cover their monthly living allowance, attending conference(s), publish papers etc etc. After completion of their study ( search and research) then their output would somehow contribute to the body of knowledge of the society.
As such .. to cut time, I would like to suggest any individual to create this template and put it at the door of your room ( hostel or office). From my experience, I put this template on top of the ceiling in my hostel next to the portrait of Margaret Thatcher , the Prime Minister of England in the 1970’s. I did this in order to remind me .. where I am now as far as the research life is concerned.
The template will comprised of four columns ( you can type using Excel Microsoft Please)
1. Objective - objective of your search/ research
2. Problem Statement – what are the issues so far that are already being addressed by the world scholars , society etc etc.
3. Method - what experiment , what method are you going to use to solve the above objective
4. Contribution - Yes , your expected contribution at the end of the day . Yes at the end of your wild or intellectual searching/ researching.
Will that help my readers?
With that template , you would plan your 3 – 4 years research with a Gantt Chart. It comprises of important mile stones like
a) Year 1 - First 4 months - what is your objective(s)?
b) Next 4 months - have you found any research gap? Are you anywhere there yet?
c) Next 4 months – are you not going to write a paper for a conference. At least your idea is examined by other scholars within your research area other than your main supervisor.
d) Year 2 - Next 12 months ahead - Your Experiment? Any guts doing that ? just do it , you mean?
e) Year 3 - Next 6 months after that - You plan to start writing your thesis. wRite a paragraph, a chapter a day. Rewrite. Rewrite. Let your close friends reading it. Get comments?
f) Next 6 months - Thesis plus 2 or 3 journal writings from your research findings / results. I pray your writings are accepted for publication ISI Index, Scorpus Index etc etc. Impact factor?
g) Year 4 - Next 2- 6 months – defending your thesis please?
h) Next 6 months - rewrite few paragraphs after Viva hopefully, resubmit. Pass!
Like that I think …
All in all .. you are threading a well planned journey in doing your search, research and addressing the research gap in your specific field of interest.
What is a research gap? It is a small hole within 2 worlds . First is what the others have done so far , the second world is you have identified correctly their weaknesses/ limitations. The gap is ‘.. your plan to address that shortcomings i.e., what method are you thinking to solve that limitation’. We can identify this somehow by readingg any abstract of writings in a journal.. where the second line has the keyword called ‘However..’.
2) Some research failed. They failed because they did not plan their activities very well. Some .. having a nice life reading 9999 books and journals under the sky in their first year without writing down the summary of the readings and linking them to their PhD objective. Some read like a fan of a football club like Manchester City! yoU forgot 1 thing ...they do not go for examination called viva , you know? Some students read those journals while shaking their feet in the air on their wonderful bed. He..he.. they do that ..without a solid plan what to do within this 3 years. Bad Luck mate!
To those out there .. don’t worry ..be happy ..if you have that template and Ghantt Chart .. I would pen off this writings with .. Good Luck then.
Wallahu aklam bis sawabbb. ( God knows best).
Sazali Khalid Ph.D UTHM