Literature reviews

Present it correctly

The short passage below is an example of what you might expect from a literature review. There is no fixed format and you may need to modify your style according to the type of material you are presenting.

However, the essay approach here allows more flexibility for making comparisons. It highlights specific areas of interest and draws attention to areas of concern, instead of a book by book listing.

Specimen Review:

In considering the independent nature of cats, Williams (1983) in a study conducted in Southern Australia found evidence to suggest that not all of the feline species exhibited this trait. Similar findings were reported from studies in Sumatra by Dr. Kifzal Eppah (1987), Westcott (1988) and later by Prof. Edward Clarke (1991) working in the department of Zoology at Koopora University, New Zealand. However, what is noticeable here is that all these studies were carried out in the southern hemisphere, whereas results from studies conducted in North America and Europe produced a very different set of results.

Whittaker (1984) in Seattle and Osman (1984) in Copenhagen conducted parallel studies on twenty-five species of cat using a series of commonly developed tests; the results of which show a remarkable degree of correlation, which tends to reinforce the belief that cats do indeed exhibit a degree of independence far greater than most other species. This is in itself not very surprising given that they started from the premise that similar conditions should produce similar results. The problem with this approach is that it tends to create a ‘self fulfilling prophesy’ and material drawn from these studies must be treated with a degree of circumspection.

All these studies, with the exception of Dr. Eppah’s CLAW project, were carried out in laboratory conditions. In contrast, Dr. Eppah chose to study domestic cats in their natural setting (owners homes) which makes the closeness of his results with those of Williams, Westcott and Clarke all the more remarkable.

There seems to be little written on the effect of climatic differences encountered in these studies and although the majority of them were carried out in laboratory conditions there is no mention of climate control. This is one area that this paper will address.

For a longer and more detailed example of a literature review:

See pages 33-38 of Doing Your Research Project by Judith Bell (1993) Open University Press, ISBN 0-335-19094-4. Use the link below to find it:

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