Library Research News

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

SUNDigital photographs as research tools

A picture says a thousand words, but how do you use these thousand words as a primary resource for research? Using photographs to conduct research requires a lot more than a quick glance and triggers an investigation on its own.

Photographs are visual representations of the memory of lives, landscapes, events, buildings, or objects within a specific time. The use of photographs can inspire a research topic, support it and serve as the primary source of your research.

Special Collections hold a variety of photo collections that can be accessed, by searching the finding aids on SUNDigital.  The photographs collections on SUNDigital range from 1900 to more recent and include photographs relating to the Anglo-Boer War, the Stellenbosch University and Victoria College history, photos from individual collections, and political events.  We have many more photos to access in specific individual collections.

The authenticity and integrity of the sources are essential, and the photographs must be interpreted and contextualised. Challenges when using photographs are mostly quality of photographs, limited information, copyright, and ethical use.

Here are some questions to ask when interrogating your primary resource:

  • What is the event or context of when this photo was taken?
  • Why was the photo taken and who is the audience (Is it for artistic, documentary, journalism, or marketing purposes)?
  • What do you already know about the photo? (Such as an indication of the photographer, location, date or any other captions or descriptions associated with the photo, its subject matter and whether the individuals are identified or not and its background).
  • Was the photo edited, cropped, or colorised? Did this editing change anything?

Herewith a few examples:

Prisoners of war on Burt’s Island, 1900 – WJ Leyds Collection

Brick-making – Walton Collection

Voter Education Poll 26 June 1990 (?) – IDASA Collection

Author: Marieta Buys

New staff: Research Data Services and Scholarly Communications

We are thrilled to inform you that we have new additions to the Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service’s research support services.

 Welcome to  Xabiso Xesi: Manager Research Data Services

Xabiso Xesi

Xabiso Xesi joined the Library as the Manager of Research Data Services on 1 February 2024. Before joining us, Xabiso served as a Digital Scholarship Specialist at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Libraries. However, he is no stranger to SU having previously worked as an Information Systems Coordinator at the University’s Division for Research Management. He brings extensive expertise in research data management, scholarly communication and information systems management which was gained during his time at the CPUT and SU. Armed with a Postgraduate Diploma in Knowledge and Information Systems Management from Stellenbosch University and a BCom Honours in Information Systems, he is completing an MPhil in Digital Curation at the University of Cape Town.

Researchers can consult with Xabiso on research data matters such as creating DMP plans, preserving research data, research data policies, tools for sharing research data and data citation.

He can be contacted at or 021 808 9489.

Welcome to Sakhile Mngomezulu: Manager Scholarly Communications and Open Access

Sakhile Mngomezulu

Sakhile Mngomezulu joined the Library as the Manager: Scholarly Communications and Open Access on 1 February 2024. Previously, he served as Senior Librarian: Institutional Repository and Systems Support at North-West University following a role as Librarian: Scholarly Communications at the same institution. Sakhile also worked as an Information Specialist at the Varsity College IIE and at the Management College of Southern Africa. He holds a Bachelor of Information Studies degree from the University of Limpopo and a Master of Information Science Degree from the University of South Africa. He is presently enrolled for a Ph.D. in Information Science at the University of South Africa.

Researchers can consult Sakhile with queries related to advice on open access publishing options including transformational agreements, open access initiatives, and publishers and consortia relationship management.

He can be contacted at or 021 808 9907.

Author: Dr Siviwe Bangani

Save the Date: Library Research Week 2024

Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service’s Library Research Week will take place during the week of 13 to 17 May 2024. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on the programme and the range of exciting topics that we will cover this year. In line with one of Stellenbosch University’s core values, the theme for Library Research Week 2024 is Let’s achieve excellence in research. So, save the date and be ready for what will be an innovative and relevant learning experience that we believe will help you excel in your research!

Library induction for new staff and postgraduate students

If you are new to Stellenbosch University, but you are a postgraduate student or a new staff member, it can be daunting to have to discover all the services and facilities available to you and, especially, how to access them. As part of the Library and Information Service’s #SmartResearcher training series, we offer a Library induction that specifically caters to postgraduate students and academic staff. This three-hour session will introduce you to all of the services and facilities that the Stellenbosch University Library has to offer. You will learn how to find your faculty librarian, how to navigate the library’s website, how to access library guides that are important to your research area and how to contact the library for assistance.

You will also be introduced to Research Impact services, Research Data Services, Open Access publication, the Carnegie Research Commons, the Makerspace and our institutional repositories.

Below are the dates available in the first semester:

Both sessions will be presented in hybrid format, so you can choose to attend in person or online.

Remember, we are here to help you excel in whatever you aim to achieve!

Migrating from Mendely to EndNote

January has come and gone and we at the library are in full swing getting ready for the academic year. Part of that preparation involves preparing our clients for the use of the newly acquired EndNote 21 reference management software. For new clients, or for those who are embarking on a new degree, journal article or research paper, switching from Mendeley to EndNote will be fairly easy. However, if you are mid-way through writing up your degree or other academic work, then it can become more complicated to switch to an entirely new programme.

In fact, we strongly recommend that those who are already working on documents using Mendeley Cite (the MS Word add-on for Mendeley Reference Manager), should stick with Mendeley until they are finished with their current research. There is currently no way to convert a document formatted with Mendeley Cite to EndNote. If, however, you are still using the original version of Mendeley, called Mendeley Desktop, then it would be possible to convert your document. Along with the document conversion, you will also have to transfer your Mendeley references or library to EndNote. This is an easy process, but if you have multiple PDF articles attached to your references, then these will not be transferred along with the Mendeley records. To clarify everything that’s been said above, we recommend following the below steps in the order:

  1. Move all of your PDF articles to EndNote.
  2. It’s only then that you can convert your Mendeley library to an EndNote library.
    • Take note that if you have organised your Mendeley library into multiple folders, there is unfortunately no way to copy the folders to EndNote. You will either have to create new folders (called Groups in EndNote) in EndNote and export the contents of each folder separately.
  3. If you have a Word document (formatted with Mendeley Cite-o-matic), then you can convert it to an EndNote formatted document.
  4. If you are using the new version of Mendeley (Mendeley Reference Manager), then you won’t be able to convert your document.

Instructions on how to do all of the above are available on our EndNote Library Guide under the Moving your Mendeley Library to EndNote tab.

Remember, if you struggle at any stage with switching to EndNote, do not hesitate to contact Kirchner van Deventer and we will gladly assist you!

If you would like to schedule and appointment regarding EndNote, please fill out the form below:

Unpacking Open Access at Stellenbosch University

On 20 October 2010, Stellenbosch University (SU) became the first university in Africa to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. In signing the declaration, the then Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Russel Botman committed the university to “…firstly encourage… researchers to deposit their material in SUNScholar, our open access repository. And secondly, … to openly sharing our research output with the rest of the world”.  Open access (OA) refers to the practice of making research outputs immediately available online without any access restrictions.

OA is applicable to all research outputs including journal articles, conference papers and books. The OA vision was necessitated by several factors including the prohibitive costs of journal subscriptions and the need for universities to share information. In South Africa, OA can also serve to ensure equal access to information irrespective of a university’s financial status and background hence its support by the National Research Foundation (NRF). That way OA in South Africa also plays a social redress and justice role. The NRF mandates that all research outputs produced from research funded partially or in full by NRF be deposited to institutional repositories with an embargo period of no more than 12 months.

In this article, a month after the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Berlin Declaration by SU, we attempt to unpack OA as well as indicate how the Library supports the journey towards OA at SU. Firstly, however, it is important to provide a greater understanding of the types of OA as well as the benefits that the University can accrue from OA publishing.

What are some of the open access publishing models for researchers?

When librarians conduct OA webinars, they often encounter a question about one publishing model of open access or the other. OA has 6 models:

  • Gold open access – this is considered the golden standard of OA. Articles published in this format are made freely and permanently available online.
  • Green open access – final version of the accepted manuscript is deposited in an institutional repository with specific information about how the article may be used.
  • Diamond open access – this refers to journals that provide free access for authors to publish without a requirement to pay Article Processing Charges (APCs). These journals are supported by institutions and may be published through institutional repositories.
  • Hybrid open access – this is a type of open access where subscription journals offer open access option provided authors pays APCs.
  • Bronze open access – in this type, the article will be freely available, but the journal does not have open license which means they retain all the rights to the article including the possibility that they may decide to change it in future.
  • Black open access – this is an illegal open access model, where non-openly licensed articles are illegally and illicitly shared among researchers (e.g., Sci-Hub, ResearchGate etc.).

What are the benefits of OA publishing?

  • OA exposes your research to a wider audience, thereby making it more visible.
  • This visibility increases its impact in terms of reach and depth.
  • This increases the prospects of meeting potential collaborators nationally, internationally, interdisciplinary, intradisciplinary etc.
  • Ensures greater compliance with funder mandates.
  • May serve to decrease instances of academic dishonesty and fraud although the reverse may also be true.

How does the Library support open access publishing?

The Library supports open access in various ways.

  • Advocacy for OA – The Library is a staunch advocate of OA institutionally, nationally and internationally. OA is often one of the topics in our Library Research Week programme and it is included in our researcher empowerment programme, #SmartResearcher Workshops. Each year, the Library celebrates OA Week by hosting webinars and other events on open access. Our Senior Director, Ms Ellen Tise is a sought after speaker in national and international conferences on OA topics. The Library also hosts a LibGuide dedicated to open access resources at as well as an open access page at
  •  Hosting institutional repositories – The Library hosts a number of OA repositories.
    SUNScholar is a leading digital archive for the preservation and promotion of the research output of Stellenbosch University. The repository is meant to curate, preserve and facilitate the sharing of research outputs associated with SU.  It is a primary storage of all SU Theses and Dissertations. The repository also hosts OA journals, manuscripts, articles, conference papers etc. According to the NRF OA Statement referred to in the introduction, it is critical that not only research output be deposited in institutional repositories but also datasets used in research.
    SUNScholarData is an institutional research data repository which is used for the registration, archival storage, sharing and dissemination of research data produced or collected in relation to research conducted under the auspices of Stellenbosch University.
    Another repository of Stellenbosch University that seeks to showcase the University’s digital content from the Library’s unique digital collections and repositories is SUNDigital Collections. Collections in this repository include music, images, South African literature, finding aids for manuscript collections, African and Southern African archives and African and Southern African history.
  •  Negotiating transformational agreements – As part of the South African National Library and Information Consortium (SANLiC), the Library negotiates and promotes transformational agreements with publishers. These agreements are described as contracts negotiated between institutions and publishers that transform the business model underlying scholarly publishing towards a fully open access model. The full list of publishers with transformational agreements with South African university libraries can be found at:


Since the signing of the Berlin Declaration on OA by Stellenbosch University in 2010, great strides have been made towards OA. Open access has served to increase the global reach of the research completed at SU benefiting researchers and communities alike. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that most if not all of the university’s research is openly accessible. This goes a long way towards ensuring equal access by reducing the gap between the information poor and information rich. In addition, the University is yet to find ways of evaluating the impact of OA as well as rewarding open science and scholarship. Therefore, it is critical that open access is considered in rewarding scholarship and innovation to encourage researchers to publish in open access journals.

Author: Dr Siviwe Bangani

SUNDigital: Historical Stellenbosch University student publications

When researching social history, one of the interesting resources will be newspapers or magazines.  In the case of Stellenbosch University, the student publications are some of the most interesting and entertaining research material.  The philosophy, interest and reasoning of the students open a new window into social and cultural history. The publications we hold start from 1885 and focus on campus life, sport, politics, art and literature and other entertainment.

One of the earliest student publications in our collection is the Stellenbosch College Ramkie dating back to 1885.  Volume II no. 8 of 11 March 1885 starts with the words:

 “The voice of reason readily commands the ear of the student.”

These are handwritten documents, not always easily readable and only four pages long.  With the papers as brittle and damaged as it is, digitisation is a wonderful way of preserving them.  When scanning and uploading the documents to SUNDigital, the authenticity of the publications becomes more visible.

The Stellenbosch College Times followed the Ramkie and was published between August 1885 and September 1886 and the short-lived The Victorian in 1888. The digitisation of the printed Stellenbosch Students Annual  1892- 1897 and the Stellenbosch Students’ Quarterly, Vol 1-23  (1898 – 1920) is still ongoing.

“Die Matie” was the official student newspaper of Stellenbosch University since 1 August 1941. This collection spans editions up to October 2011.

The need to communicate with Alumni and Donors became more and more apparent. The “Die Stellenbosse Oudstudent was published until 1947 and in 1957 Matieland was established.  Matieland 1957-2020 is available on the University Archive web-page.

You can visit Special Collections or the University Archive and make an appointment to consult more of these sources and photo collections.

Author: Marieta Buys


Do you want to analyse your research towards the SDGs?

The Library can assist researchers in analysing their research and publications towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The easiest way will be with the assistance of the “Analyse results” option in Web of Science. You can find the results with a click of a button:

  • Do an author search in the database Web of Science
  • Click on the list of publications indexed by Web of Science
  • Click on Analyse results
  • A long list of analyses is available from the drop-down button
  • Choose Sustainable Development Goals at the bottom of the list
  • You can view the results in a TreeMap chart, Bar chart or table and you can download the visualisations.
  • There is also an option to download the results and visualise it in any other way.

SDG TreeMap chart in Web of Science

The Library can also assist you with the following methods:

  •  A Researcher Impact Report where a wide range of metrics is provided, including your contribution towards the different SDGs. This information will be sourced either from Web of Science or SciVal, depending on which database indexes your publications the best.

SDG section of a PowerBi report (Researcher Impact Report)

  • You are welcome to request only the SDG information if you are not interested in the other metrics.
  • A SciVal report per SDG is also available for the whole institution which could be analysed by author. The limitation is that the analyses will only be for a maximum of 10 years and will therefore not give a complete picture of a researcher’s research output if it exceeds the 10-year period.

Enquiries: Marié Roux

Research data collection tools: An RDM perspective

Data collection is an instrumental part of scientific research. Data collection is a systematic method of obtaining, observing, measuring, and analysing accurate information to support research findings. Collecting data is not limited to a single research field, and all researchers may from time to time collect data personally (primary data) and or use data that was collected by fellow researchers (secondary data) for a different research purpose. While research techniques and goals may vary, the general data collection methods used in the process are essentially the same. In other words, there are specific standards that need to be strictly followed and implemented to make sure that data is collected accurately. However, collecting accurate data is not enough if it will not be stored and secured safely. As way of ensuring good research data management (RDM) practice within Stellenbosch University (SU) researcher community, the university provides several SU pre-approved data collection tools (and support) to researchers. See a discussion below about some of the tools:

Stellenbosch University Microsoft Teams

All SU researchers are eligible to receive Microsoft Office365 software at no extra charge. This means that SU researchers can collect and share data using the pre-approved platforms to ensure that their research data is collected and stored safely and remains accessible any time. This helps minimise chances of data loss as the institutional Information Technology service desk controls this infrastructure.


SUNSurveys is an SU pre-approved web-based e-Survey service that is available to support SU researchers and may be used to conduct online surveys for their academic research. SUNSurveys is also regularly used for staff opinion polls, voting and service delivery surveys.

REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture)

REDCap is a secure web platform for building and managing online databases and surveys. This platform is available to all SU researchers at no extra charge. REDCap’s streamlined process for rapidly creating and designing projects offers a vast array of tools that can be tailored to virtually any data collection strategy. Moreover, REDCap provides automated export procedures for seamless data downloads to Excel and common statistical packages (SPSS, SAS, Stata, R), as well as a built-in project calendar, a scheduling module, ad hoc reporting tools, and advanced features, such as branching logic, file uploading, and calculated fields.

There are various other pre-approved data collection tools that are available to SU researchers. It is also worth noting that all SU pre-approved tools exist to ensure that researchers adhere to good data management practices throughout the research process. Please see the image below for a more detailed outlook on SU pre-approved research data collection tools.



Author: Sizwe Ngcobo

Tools for thought: Rayyan

Rayyan is a powerful, intelligent systematic review platform that allows you to do large scale analyses of thousands of records. It allows researchers to organise, manage and accelerate their collaborative systematic literature reviews. Rayyan understands language, learns from decisions, and helps research teams work quickly through even their largest sets of references reducing around 80% of your screening efforts. Rayyan is user-friendly and 93% of our members report learning to use Rayyan took them less than an hour or a day to master (Tryphosa, 2023). In the video below, we go over the Rayyan’s key features and introduce you to its potential benefits when using it for systematic (or other) reviews.


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