Library Research News

Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service - News from research support services

Discover the treasures of our library guides

Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service’s faculty librarians create subject guides for each department (linked from the library website as Library Guides) as a self-help access point for library resources.

The library offers a diversity of guides: subject-focused guides, services in the library such as the Makerspace and specific skills needed such as referencing and research data support. The subject-focused guides are created by the faculty librarians who can assist you with all the steps of the research process. These guides also form a point of contact, where you can find your specific faculty librarian’s email address, and telephone number. You can also make an online appointment while visiting the guide.

Features of Library guides:

  • Identify appropriate databases for specific departments to support assignments as well as literature and systematic reviews.
  • Allow students to focus on relevant information and eliminates the less relevant.
  • Provide tips on finding, using and organizing information in a scholarly way.
  • Allow for 24/7 library and information support.
  • It is updated continuously.
  • Library Guides are integrated with information and other literacy classes.
  • Communication technology is integrated into library guides so that it is easy for students and researchers to get support as often and conveniently as needed.

The usage statistics of the Library Guides show they are seen as an asset by our clients, as illustrated by the following sample of statistics as on 24 April 2023 (number of views from January 2023). We have a total of 117 guides, with 170 714 views during the first 4 months of 2023. See a breakdown below of the Top 10 guides according to the number of views.

Enquiries: Contact your faculty librarian.

References all over the place? Try ReciteWorks!

ReciteWorks is a program that checks a document’s in-text citations and references. It looks for referencing discrepancies in a document and then highlights them, also offering potential solutions. It makes sure you haven’t left out any references or citations and that you’ve been consistent with authors and dates. It will also point out certain stylistic issues with APA or Harvard referencing style, like missing commas, placement of parentheses, etc.

Once you have uploaded your document, Recite will give you a summary broken down in three sections, 1. in-text citations, 2. the reference list and the annotated paper.

Recite highlights in red any faulty in-text citations and references and provides you with a summary list of both:

In-text citations:

Reference list:

It then also highlights all the detected in-text citations and references in the annotated article. Green means that the in-text citation is fine, orange means there is a possible match with a reference, but there is an error and red means there is a detectable issue and/or that the reference does not have a matching citation and vice versa.


Free access allows for 2 uploads per day and the first 2500 words and 50 references get checked.

If you need more than the free offer, please note that Stellenbosch University does not subscribe to ReciteWorks, so you will have to purchase one of the pricing plans that can be viewed here.

Let Library Research Week 2023 power-up your research pathway!

The annual Library Research Week will take place during the week of 15 – 19 May 2023.​ Research Week 2023 will be launched on the 15th of May 2023. This year’s theme is Power-up your research pathway and there will be several webinars based on the themes Switching on for the research pathway, Connecting to the research pathway, (Em) powering through your research pathway and Energising your inner power. We hope you will join us and find value in the interesting and important research-related topics that we will cover.

To register for these webinars, click on one of the links below to view the available sessions:

15 May – Programme Launch

16 May – Switching on for the research pathway

17 May – Connecting to the research pathway

18 May – (Em) powering through your research pathway

19 May – Energising your inner power

Each day will cover theme-specific aspects related to the research process. These webinars will be presented by Library staff, experts from other SUN divisions and vendors from well-known research databases.

Enquiries: Kirchner van Deventer | E-mail ​| Tel: (021) 808 2623 or Siviwe Bangani | E-mail | Tel: (021) 808 4641



Register for the launch of Library Research Week!

To get this year’s Library Research Week underway, we will host a panel discussion for the launch event. The topic to be discussed is A saviour or monster in our midst? AI in higher education.

The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) especially the latest tool, ChatGPT, has created a lot of buzz in various fields, and higher education is no exception. As universities continue to adopt AI technologies to improve research, teaching, student learning and administrative processes, there are growing concerns about the potential risks and ethical implications of these technologies.

​In this panel discussion, experts will explore the question: “Is AI a saviour or monster in our midst?” The panel will examine the benefits and drawbacks of AI in higher education and its impact on students, faculty, and society at large.

Panel Speakers:

Mr. Wouter Klapwijk, Director: Information Technology Services, Library and Information Service, Stellenbosch University

Prof. Dion Forster, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University

Prof. Michael Daramola, Head of Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Pretoria

Mr. Lennox Olivier, Blended Learning Coordinator, Stellenbosch University​

Date and Time

15 May 2023 @ 15h30 – 16h30

Important: The panel discussion will be held in the Stellenbosch University Library auditorium. It will also be live streamed via YouTube and not MS Teams. Those who wish to attend online will be sent a YouTube link to the event on the day. Please ignore the Teams link you will receive in the automated email.



#SmartResearcher Webinars for May 2023

We are entering the final stretch of this semester’s #SmartResearcher webinar series and we hope to see you there!

These workshops are aimed at postgraduate students, emerging researchers and academic staff and the focus will be on the research process. The sessions vary in length depending on the subject matter, but cover a wide range of subjects related to the postgraduate research journey.

Data sharing and dissemination

The workshop is designed to illuminate the methods and platforms of data sharing and highlights various ways in which data can be shared and disseminated within acceptable ethical and legal considerations.

Date: 3 May 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Managing your unique author identity with ORCID

ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-driven effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers. This workshop will explain what ORCID is, how to register and populate your profiles.

Date: 9 May 2023 @ 11h00 – 12h00

Please book here

Mendeley for reference management

Managing your references can be a daunting task. This workshop will introduce you to Mendeley, a free tool focusing mainly on reference management. Mendeley offers various services, including reference management, organising and annotation of PDF documents and collaboration.

Date: 11 May 2023 @ 14h00 – 16h00

Please book here

Data Visualisation with Power BI

The workshop will be a hands-on introduction to Power BI, available for free through SU’s subscription to Microsoft 365.

Participants will learn the following:

·         How to install the desktop application and connect to Microsoft Excel

·         Start visualising data easily with an extensive library of data visualisations.

·         How to build reports and dashboards

Date: 18 May 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Maximise your research impact

This workshop will show how to improve your impact as a researcher.

Date: 23 May 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Making important decisions about publishing your research

This hands-on session covers important factors to help you decide where to publish your research. Making the right choices can increase readership and citations, diminish publication lag and ensure that your publication is eligible for government subsidy.

Date: 24 May 2023 @ 10h00 – 13h00

Please book here

The IDASA collection of SUNDigital Collections

IDASA stands for Institute for Democracy in South Africa and was formed in 1986 by Frederik van Zyl Slabbert and Alex Boraine. The institute was dissolved in 2013 and some of its documents and other material were donated to the Special Collections Manuscripts Section. In 2018 Special Collections started with the initiative of digitising the IDASA collection, starting with photographs. The collection consists of photographs, articles, correspondence, newspaper clippings, Dakar tape recordings, video interview recordings and voter education material, just to mention a few. A few of the IDASA materials were digitised and are hosted on SUNDigital Collections. This is a platform that showcases digital content from the Library and Information Service’s unique digital collections and repositories. IDASA is one of the few digital collections hosted on SUNDigital which are from our manuscript collections in Special Collections. More photographs are currently being digitised and will later be uploaded onto the platform. The reason why we put our collections on an open-access repository such as SUNDigital Collections is so that our clients will be able to access our collections without physically visiting our building and from the comfort of their own homes.

Below are images from the IDASA collection:

IDASA Citizen Leadership Course, Waterberg District

Photograph of Gay Rosenblum, Di Oliver, Richard Joseph from UNOMSA, Black Sash and the Carter Institute.

Author: Patricia Khati

Research data collection: a RDM service

Researchers often consider the full range of possibilities for collecting data and organising methods when conducting scientific research. These methods help determine the degree to which the nature of research data to be collected may be predetermined, the use of close-ended and open-ended questioning, and their focus on numeric and non-numeric data analysis. In research data management (RDM), researchers often begin by completing a data management plan, which outlines strategies and tactics they intend to adopt for collecting research data. This article is focused on the ‘data collection’ phase of the research data lifecycle and builds on the previous blog post titled ‘Research data management planning @SU’ which explains the significance of the RDM plan and further outlines the support services provided by the SU Library.

Research data collection can be grouped into two main techniques, namely, documentation and data organisation. Documentation can be understood as the process of writing up descriptive information about research data during the data collection process with the aim of ensuring that research data can easily be understood by other researchers and future-self. Data organisation on the other hand explains how research data will be kept in order using appropriate organisational systems and file naming conventions. At a basic level this entails creating folders for digital files, copying and pasting, and moving everything around with the click of a computer mouse. For developing a more advanced organisational system, the SU library may provide such support on request to help researchers design an organisational system that works for a group or individual researchers. Documentation may be created in various formats, however, all formats should always remain consistent in terms of the descriptive contents. This entails that all documentation regardless of the format needs to have basic information about the research data that enable correct interpretation and reuse by other researchers and future-self.

Documentation can include anything from using lab notebooks, field notes, metadata, protocols, as well as other useful documentation formats such as README.txt files, codebooks, data dictionaries, and/or templates. Researchers from Stellenbosch University (SU) come from various educational backgrounds making it somewhat difficult to develop a single format or approach for documenting research data. To address this, the SU library often encourages researchers to ensure that their documentation includes adequate information on their data detailing ‘what’ type of data was collected, ‘how’ was it collected, ‘why’ was it collected, ‘when’ was data collected, ‘where’ was data collected, and ‘who’ collected the data. Given that RDM services at SU are still in a developmental phase, the SU Library does provide support for all previously mentioned documentation formats with README.txt files being the preferred documentation method.

Author: Sizwe Ngcobo

Update on open access (OA) publishing options at SU

It is a great pleasure to update you on the new OA publishing agreements signed with publishers. In the past two years, the Library and Information Service has signed agreements with a number of publishers that offer discounts on article processing charges (APCs) or, in some cases, allow authors to publish OA without paying (APCs). In 2023, over 4 400 hybrid journals and 550 fully OA journals have been added to the list of journals where SU authors can publish fully OA without APCs, bringing the total to more than 7 300 hybrid journals opened up as a result of transformational agreements.  What this means is that in 2023, South African authors can now publish fully OA without APCs in more than half of all subscription journals that member institutions subscribe to!

We would like to encourage researchers to use these publishing options to enhance the visibility of SU research as well as to raise the research profile of the University.

The Library has signed new OA (Read and Publish) agreements with the following publishers for 2023 – 2025:

American Chemical Society (ACS)

This is a three-year read and publish agreement (2023-2025) for the ACS All Publications package. The agreement includes continued read access to over 75 journals in the ACS All Publications package as well as unlimited open access publishing in the ACS hybrid journals.

There is no limit on the number of articles that can be published open access in the ACS hybrid journals. For gold open access journals (the ACS Au journals), a flat $3 000 article processing charge (APC) applies. The exception is ACS Omega, for which the APC is already heavily discounted.

IOP Science Extra

 Read access is provided to over 70 scholarly journals, including the renowned Journal of Physics series, back to 1874. Publishing is unlimited in IOP’s hybrid and gold OA journals. However, there are a few titles where the IOP is contractually prevented from offering open access publishing.

Oxford Journals

The Oxford Journals collection features 376 scholarly and authoritative journals published in collaboration with several professional societies.  Current subscriptions include access back to 1996. Publishing is unlimited in all eligible hybrid journals and a 10% discount on article processing charges in Gold Open Access journals.


This is a three-year (2023-2025) read and publish agreement with Elsevier for the ScienceDirect Freedom Collection. The offer includes capped hybrid OA publishing without article processing charges (APCs). The article entitlement for the above in 2023 is 2221 nationwide. The agreement also includes a 15% discount on Gold Open Access titles.

Also included is a developmental programme to support growth and development in the South African research community. You can read about the agreement here:


This is a three-year transformational read and publish agreement (2023-2025) for the Springer Compact collection, which includes all hybrid and closed journals in Springer, Adis, Palgrave and Nature Academic journals. No APCs are payable for publishing in these titles. Fully open access Springer Nature journals, including BioMed Central (BMC) journals and Nature Research Journals, are excluded from this agreement. However, submissions under the University’s affiliation will grant researchers a 15% discount on the APCs for BMC, Springer Open and Palgrave Macmillan Open titles.

For a full title list of SANLiC Read and Publish agreements, please click the link below:

For more information about the publishers and to view titles eligible for OA publishing, please visit

Summary of read and publish agreements to date:

Agreements Agreement status Journal count Duration
ACM Open In effect 55 2021-2023 (3-year)
Cambridge University Press In effect 403 2021-2024 (4-year)
The Royal Society of Chemistry In effect 10 2021-2023 (3-year)
Wiley In effect 1 681 2022-2025 (4-year)
Sage Premier In effect 1 116 2022-2024 (3-year)
Emerald e-journals In effect 310 2022-2024 (3-year)
American Chemical Society In effect 63 2023-2025 (3-year)
IOPscience extra Concluded and signed 102 2023-2025 (3-year)
Oxford journals online Concluded and signed 390 2023-2025 (3-year)
ScienceDirect Concluded and signed 1 820 2023-2025 (3-year)
Springer Concluded and signed 2 070 2023-2025 (3-year)

Enquiries about OA agreements may be directed to the Manager: E-resources, Caretha Nel, at or 021 808 4433.

#SmartResearcher webinars in April 2023


These workshops are aimed at postgraduate students, emerging researchers and academic staff and the focus will be on the research process. The sessions vary in length depending on the subject matter, but cover a wide range of subjects related to the postgraduate research journey.

How to conduct a literature review

In this webinar, participants will learn what a literature review is and the different types of literature reviews. They will learn best practices for conducting a literature review by working with their topic, structuring the literature review and how to critically analyse literature.

Date: 12 April 2023 @ 11:00 – 13:00

Please book here

Principles of Data Visualisation

This workshop will cover the key principles to keep in mind when you are planning your visualisations, from choosing the best visualisation type for your data to the effective use of colour, narrative, etc.

Date: 13 April 2023 @ 11:00 – 12:30

Please book here

Mendeley for reference management

Managing your references can be a daunting task. This workshop will introduce you to Mendeley, a free tool focusing mainly on reference management. Mendeley offers various services, including reference management, organising and annotation of PDF documents and collaboration.

Date: 18 April 2023 @ 11:00 – 13:00

Please book here

Enhancing the visibility of your research output through self-archiving

Stellenbosch University’s institutional policy on the self-archiving of research output is curated by the Library and Information Service. Complying with this policy, which asks researchers to deposit copies of their research output in SUNScholar, our institutional repository, can greatly increase the visibility and impact of research output. This workshop will teach participants more about the policy and how to comply with the policy in order to improve access to and visibility of their research outputs.

Date: 19 April 2023 @ 11:00

Please book here

Introduction to Tableau Public and RawGraphs for data visualisation

This workshop will be an introductory course to visualise your data with Tableau Public and RAWGraphs. Both are free tools and fairly user friendly.

Date: 20 April 2023 @ 11:00 – 13:00

Please book here

Virtual Meeting Rooms now available at SU Library

The Library is excited to announce the opening of two Virtual Meeting Rooms in Stellenbosch University Library!

​The two Virtual Meeting Rooms are located in the Learning Commons (next to the ramp on the upper level of the SU Library) and the Research Commons, which is on the lower level of the Library next to the staircase. While the Virtual Meeting Room in the Learning Commons is available for booking by all clients irrespective of year level, the one in the Research Commons is restricted to master’s and doctoral students as well as researchers and academic staff.

Pictures showing a Virtual Meeting Room, a seminar room in the RC and a discussion room in the LC

The rooms be booked on our online bookings page.

To accommodate as many clients as possible, the rooms will be bookable up to a maximum of two hours per client a day. Clients are to bring their own devices to attend or facilitate meetings and own headphones are a requirement. Please note that the rooms are only available for bookings by individuals, not groups. For groups, clients can continue making use of the Seminar Rooms in the Research Commons and Discussion Rooms in the Learning Commons per the normal booking procedure.

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