A scoping review describes methods used to identify, prioritize and display gaps in health research
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2019, 109, 99-110. 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2019.01.005
Background and Objectives Different methods to examine research gaps have been described, but there are still no standard methods for identifying, prioritizing, or reporting research gaps. This study aimed to describe the methods used to identify, prioritize, and display gaps in health research. Methods A scoping review using the Arksey and O'Malley methodological framework was carried out. We included all study types describing or reporting on methods to identify, prioritize, and display gaps or priorities in health research. Data synthesis is both quantitative and qualitative. Results Among 1,938 identified documents, 139 articles were selected for analysis; 90 (65%) aimed to identify gaps, 23 (17%) aimed to determine research priorities, and 26 (19%) had both aims. The most frequent methods in the review were aimed at gap identification and involved secondary research, which included knowledge synthesis (80/116 articles, 69%), specifically systematic reviews and scoping reviews (58/80, 73%). Among 49 studies aimed at research prioritization, the most frequent methods were both primary and secondary research, accounting for 24 (49%) reports. Finally, 52 (37%) articles described methods for displaying gaps and/or priorities in health research. Conclusion This study provides a mapping of different methods used to identify, prioritize, and display gaps or priorities in health research.