While writing a research proposal, I am confused about the difference between research gap and research question. What I understand is you can first identify the research gap and then move find research question in that gap. Is it correct?

Also, What are the central research question and sub-questions?

  • In which field are you?
    – Orion
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 7:34
  • I am working on Object detection in remote sensing images so its computer science and Engineering Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 7:35
  • 3
    I think you're assuming more precision in these terms than they actually have. The phrase "research gap" sounds odd to my ears, but it might be used a gap in the world's knowledge, which might be resolved through (and is sufficiently interesting to deserve) research. The phrase "research question" is more familiar; it means a question whose answer is unknown to the world, but that might be answered through (and is sufficiently interesting to deserve) research. In short, these two phrases sound like synonyms to me.
    – JeffE
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 11:49
  • And how about central research question and sub- question Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 11:51
  • Usually, the thing you want to show in your research has multiple "parts", for example, an algorithm to do A, an algorithm to do B, and a data structure that binds the algorithms together. The sub-questions should be phrased in such way that each part addresses one sub-question. The central research question is then answered by the combination of all parts. Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


In short:

Research gap, I understand it as a field, subfield, mechanism, that has been under-researched and there is space for improvement.

For example, object detection using telepathy might be under-research, so there is a gap in the research of that specific field.

The research question seem to refer to a more specific hypothesis, which in cases, it can coincide with the gap. For example, can telepathy work to detect an object, or can telepathy work under these or those conditions. In my understanding the first could also be a gap, the latter is more of a question.

Then the main question could be, "can telepathy work", while the subquestions could be, "can telepathy work also while you sleepwalk", "can it work if you are drunk", "can it work if you are tired".

Just to avoid misunderstanding, I'm not from your field and I can only guess what you plan to work on. The maybe humorous answer does not intend to make fun of anything (I hope it's clear, otherwise I'm willing to retract it).

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