Literature Reviews

It is very difficult to write a literature review unless you've seen one before. This example is taken from an MSc project and illustrates style of writing you can use.

The following example literature review shows excerpts from a review of learning styles and learning behaviours between European, Asian and American students.


The review has noted that although the research studied so far applies Kolb’s (1984) model of Learning Style Inventory, they draw different conclusions. For example, Chinese learners are characterised as: assimilators in Auyeung and Sands (1996), accommodators and convergers by Lam (1998) and as both convergers and accommodators by Hanisch (2003). Similar difference arise when American and Indian learning preferences are reviewed: Barmeyer (2000) views Indians as divergers, while Jaju, Kwak and Zinkhan (2002) view Americans as both convergers and divergers.

Therefore there is little clear evidence about the learning styles of the groups. The template of Western ‘inspired’ learning styles, American style learning and the accompanying behavioural traits, do not relate to with non-Western cultures (Janes et al, 2004).

A second section explores the key concepts of groups and sub-groups in greater detail, focusing upon the dynamics between airline pilots. Here the review suggests that literature outside the aviation field can be applied to the aviation scenario – remember, that literature outside your own field can provide an important part of any review.

The subgroups within societies

Members of a collectivist society are likely to form more rigid subgroups or in-groups along class, gender or ethnic lines. However an individualist society will not experience the same degree of sub-group formation. Research by Earley (1997) suggests the retention of face and group harmony in collectivist societies is paramount.

When these aspects are viewed from the aviation stand point, the safety of passengers is related to the influence of the power distance and collectivism. The research implies pilots and co-pilots in collectivist societies operate in strict hierarchies. In a cockpit, a co-pilot is less likely to correct errors made by the pilot. Redding and Ogilvie (1984) and Ramsden (1985) make the observation about power distance affecting flight safety in their research. Similarly, Helmreich and Merritt (1998) make a convincing case for including the culture factor in aviation safety research.

The following section shows how to quote and reference a piece of text. Always reference text and never copy and paste in text and forget to reference it as this may lead to charge of plagiarism.

Conflict within cultures

The attitude to conflict differs between Western and Eastern cultures. The Western perspective is:

“Confrontations and conflicts should be avoided because it will impact negatively on the learning experience” (Hofstede, 2001).”

This statement is based upon a Western viewpoint, yet the opposite can be true in Asian cultures. In collectivist cultures where the student is part of an in-group, any punishment will impact on the in-group as a whole. So Hofstede (2001) suggest that shaming by invoking group honour is a useful way of positively adjusting the behaviour of an individual.


We aim to show examples of other literature reviews as well. If you wish to share yours, then please comment below.


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