Q: Can I state more than one gap in the literature when I write the problem of the research?

1 Answer to this question

Firstly, I guess, by ‘writing the problem of the research,’ you mean ‘writing the problem statement.’ If so, let’s begin by a quick primer on the problem statement. The problem statement is a precise yet comprehensive expression of a research problem. It talks about the existing state regarding the problem, what the ideal or desired state should be, and what (remedy or solution) would help take things to the desired state. You may find out more about writing a problem statement here: The basics of writing a statement of the problem for your research proposal [This is also because I plan to use the example problem statement provided here.]

Coming to your query, yes, a literature search and review (especially a comprehensive one) typically uncovers a few gaps in existing studies. Now, if your paper is a literature review, you could indeed state more than one gap; in fact, you would need to state all the gaps. However, if your paper isn’t a literature review, but rather an original or primary research paper, while you can bring up the different gaps you came across, when writing the problem statement, you need to include only the relevant one(s). So, if only one gap is relevant for the problem statement, write only one; if multiple are relevant, include them all.

If you look at how the problem statement was arrived at in the resource provided above, you will see that while a couple of gaps were ‘a lack of knowledge of previous resource allocations and established practices’ and ‘inconsistency in allocating funds,’ the focus in the final problem statement was on the (in)consistency in fund allocation.

For more information on writing the problem statement, you may turn to the following resources:

All the best with writing the problem statement, and of course, the main paper!