Topic 0007: Matrix Method for Literature Review – Approaches to Identify Research Gaps and Generate RQ

Matrix method enables you to quickly compare and contrast articles in order to determine the scope of research across time. The good about matrix method can help you easily spot the differences, similarity and GAP between past study.

What is GAP?

Research gap is a research question or problem which has not been answered /discovered /explored or at all in a given field of study. The research gap was identified based on the ideal and current situation that give you direction of the study. It shows you have a deep understanding of the status of the body of knowledge in your chosen field; and finally it shows that you have conducted a research which fulfills that gap in the literature.


Below is the table explain how the matrix method work to identify the GAP.

Author (Abrami, P., & Barrett, 2005)
Journal Abrami, P., & Barrett, H. (2005). Directions for research and development on electronic portfolios. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 31(3), 1–15
RO/RQ Combine research evidence on portfolio use with practical feedback
Methods Qualitative – Document Analysis
Findings Difficulties in judging, using scoring rubrics and templates, the quantity and quality of virtual evidence.
Current Situation Traditional method consists a persistent problem as found in this article
Ideal Situation e-Portfolio in education tends to focus on three aspects: design, assessment, and specific implementation.
Gap Accountability in assisting data to avoid low reliability and potential bias of scores. To overcome this problem, rubrics should be used in the assessments of the students’ works. The result of the assessment can offer teachers vital information for diagnosing students’ strengths and weaknesses to help them improve their performance. (self-reference)

Table 1. A Proposed Table of Matrix Method for Literature Review by Syamsul Nor Azlan (2013)

  1. The easiest way would to read specific parts of the articles in your field of study. Of course, there may be hundreds of articles in your field, but you have to find the most suitable ones by measuring their value and finding out how influential they are. After finding the most suitable articles (there are tools which can help you in this regard, but we are not discussing them here) you should examine the parts which include “introduction” section, which always has a sentence or two about the reasons why that research is done; “conclusion” section and of course “suggestions for future research” section in which the author of the article, having examined the literature and conducted a research himself, would point his readers to areas which lack investigation or need closer examination.
  2. One other approach is to read systematic reviews. These papers delve deep into the literature and examine the trends and changes in a discipline or specific field of study and provide summaries of the literature which can in some cases save a lot of research time. Moreover, content analysis reports, citation analysis reports and meta-analysis reports can be very illuminating and helpful, especially the later which reports the findings of the previous researches.
  3. Another approach is to visit the website of the most prominent and influential journals in your field of study. These journals often have a “Key Concepts” section which aims to assist the journal’s audience to develop an appreciation of central ideas in that field and to approach the content of articles from a perspective which is informed by the present debate on aspects of both theory and practice. Key Concepts are usually very short articles, and each one is dedicated to one specific topic. They are often written by well-known scholars who are expert in that field of study or topic. There is also a reference section in “Key Concept” papers which introduces the most important papers or books written about that topic.

Now the above mentioned were some general and rather simple approaches to finding gaps, research questions and topics. There are also tools and more sophisticated approaches which can save you research time.

  1. Google Scholar
  2. Library Database (Ebscohost, Springer, Academic Premier, Science Direct, Procedia etc)
  3. Mendeley as a Literature Managing System
  4. Atlas. Ti as a Analysis, Managing System

 “Don’t try to take on too ambitious projects at first”.

LR Questions.jpeg

LR 1 Mind Map.jpeg

References :

  1. Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. (2011). GENERATING RESEARCH QUESTIONS THROUGH PROBLEMATIZATION. Academy of Management Review. doi:10.5465/AMR.2011.59330882

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