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

Month: February 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

Survey: Preferred reference management tools at SU

We cordially invite you to participate in a short survey that seeks to gauge Stellenbosch University’s Library clients’ experience of reference management tools and to seek your guidance on the reference management tool that the Library ought to support. Since Mendeley, the current reference management tool recommended or supported by the Library, has rolled out their newer version, many clients have expressed dissatisfaction with the product and this has prompted the SU’s Library and Information Service to seek your views on its current status as a recommended/supported reference management tool at the University. Your opinion and experience will be of great value to us in determining whether we should retain Mendeley as a supported reference tool at SU or if we should consider alternatives.

Since this is a web-based survey, you consent to participate by choosing to complete the survey. The survey will take an average of 5 minutes to complete and participation is entirely voluntary. Your responses will remain anonymous.

If you have any questions or concerns about the survey, please feel free to contact the researcher, Kirchner van Deventer ( or 021 808 2623).

If you wish to participate in the survey, please click here.

Research data management planning @ SU

Research data is the cornerstone of all scientific research and refers to the recorded factual material that is commonly accepted within the scientific community as evidence that may be used to validate research findings. As such, managing research data has become an essential part of every research endeavor. This has created the need for research institutions to develop systems to appropriately manage their research data with the aim to ensure more productive and efficient science as new knowledge is created by building on previous scientific discoveries.

In this context, SU through its Library and Information Service had to conceptualise Research Data Management (RDM) with the aim to provide an array of RDM services to SU Library clients. For the purpose of this article, the primary focus will be limited to SU research data management planning as a service. A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a document that describes the manner in which research data will be treated during and after the completion of a research project. Amongst other things, this entails comprehensively describing research data beginning from its type, how it is going to be collected, processed, analysed and shared during a research project, as well as the manner in which research data will be published and/or preserved beyond a research project. SU researchers are expected to, beforehand, write a plan on how they will collect, analyse, and outline the conditions under which data may be shared and/or disseminated. DMPs often vary from one research project to another.

The Research Data Management lifecycle

The SU Library provides support on how to write DMPs for researchers. This is to ensure that all contemporary research done at the institution complies with the RDM regulations that are already in place. Some external research funders also mandate researchers to provide DMPs as part of their grant requirements. In this context, the Library may recommend RDM planning tools that are openly available. These tools enable researchers to clearly describe the type of data, format, volume and how they intend to collect such data, and or how the currently existing data would be reused if conducting secondary research. Liaising with the SU research data services librarians during the planning phase, researchers may receive guidance on how to write documentation for and organise research data. The RDM planning phase also presents an opportunity for the SU library to encourage researchers to share their research data through outlets that are supportive of the FAIR Data Principles. The SU Library does provide a platform supportive of the previously mentioned principles for researchers in the form of SUNScholarData, which is a research data repository that is managed and controlled by the Library. SU researchers enjoy exclusive rights to openly publish their research data to the repository, subject to third-party contract terms and conditions should the research project be externally funded. The Library remains a natural partner in the research process and RDM planning is one of the various research support services provided that are instrumental for the scientific research process.

Author: Sizwe Ngcobo

SUNDigital Collections: The Marloth Collection

In 2018 the Stellenbosch University Library and Information Services launched the digitised collection of the original botanical illustrations, prepared for printing between 1912 and 1932 in Rudolf Marloth’s Flora of South Africa, as part of SUNDigital Collections.

This collection is also supported by a number of personal documents, correspondence, photographs, dairies, and articles.

The digital images in this collection are used by Visual Arts researchers for research on botanical artists such as Ethel May Dixie (1876-1973), Esther Smith (1878-1954), Florence Amy Thwaits, and Peter McManus.

Other disciplines that make use of the digitised Marloth Collection are Plant Science and Zoology.  Although the focus of this collection is on the plants, questions on the location, climate, habitat of the plants and their pollinators can also be searched.

Look at the different flies, butterflies, and birds on these plates (please click on the thumbnail to view the full image):


More information on this collection is available at:

Authors: Special Collections staff

Network visualisation tools

Librarians often receive requests for information on the use of network visualisation tools, specifically for the visualisation of co-citation or co-authorship networks or journal co-citation networks. VOSViewer is a well-known tool that is used to create bibliometric network visualisations. There are other tools such Gephi and NodeXL, which could be very useful too. See more information about these three tools below:


VOSViewer is a network visualisation tool specifically developed to aid in examining bibliometric networks, such as collaborations between researchers and relationships between publications. You can create numerous types of network visualisations with VOSViewer using data from different databases, such as Scopus, Web of Science, Dimensions, Crossref, OpenAlex, etc. The networks you create could include journals, researchers, or individual publications, and they can be constructed based on citation, bibliographic coupling, co-citation, or co-authorship relationships. VOSviewer also offers text mining functionality that can be used to construct and visualise co-occurrence networks of important terms extracted from a body of scientific literature.


Collaboration between universities

Term co-occurrence network

Journal co-citation network

For the analysis of an individual author, please remember that you can view VOSViewer visualisations for co-citations and co-author networks in the free version of the Dimensions database. See more information on this topic in a previous blog post.


Gephi is a free, open-source desktop visualisation tool that specialises in visualising and analysing large network graphs. The following applications are available in Gephi.

Exploratory data analysis: Intuition-oriented analysis by network manipulations in real-time.

Link analysis: Revealing the underlying structures of associations between objects.

Social network analysis: Easy creation of social data connectors to map community organisations and small-world networks.

Biological network analysis: Representing patterns of biological data.

Poster creation: Scientific work promotion with high-quality printable maps.

Various layouts in Gephi


NodeXL is an add-on to Microsoft Excel with a free plan. It allows you to create various node-link diagrammes using Excel spreadsheets. Unfortunately, it is only compatible with Microsoft Windows versions of Excel.

With the free and open NodeXL Basic , you can easily:

  • Customize the network graph’s appearance
  • Zoom, scale and pan the graph
  • Calculate basic graph metrics
  • Dynamically filter vertices and edges
  • Alter the graph’s layout
  • Find clusters of related vertices

The NodeXL Pro application adds additional features:

  • Calculate advanced graph metrics
  • Import and export graphs to a variety of file formats
  • Get social networks using built-in connections to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Wikis, Blogs, Instagram, Network Surveys, and email
  • Automate network graph collection and creation

Example of a Twitter network analysis: The graph represents a network of 1 654 Twitter users whose recent tweets contained “valavuori OR valavuoren”, or who were replied to or mentioned in those tweets, taken from a data set limited to a maximum of 18 000 tweets.

Please contact Marié Roux for further assistance.

New navigation page for Research Services

As part of the Library’s ongoing efforts to create a more client-centric website and improve its navigation, we are in the process of replacing the drop-down menus on the home page with navigation pages of which the Research Services web page at is the first. This page regroups the Library’s research services for clients in order to better address and speak to the needs of the postgraduates and researchers at the University in every step of the research cycle. It provides guides, tools and services at your fingertips for starting your research journey, on where to get publishing support and learn about open access publishing, how to manage your research data and references, how to measure the impact of your research and how to analyse and visualise your data.

Have a look at this new navigation and we hope it will assist you in finding the information you need for all your research-related library needs!

#Smart Webinars for March

This month we continue with our #SmartResearcher and #SmartStudent series of webinars. Kindly note that you will receive a link to the webinar once you have registered. We hope to see you all 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.
Tips on how to format your thesis (MS Word)

This workshop will help you work around some of the common formatting glitches most postgraduate students experience, whilst getting their document ready for submission.

Date: 01 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

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: 02 March 2023 @ 14h00 – 16h00

Please book here

Library induction for postgraduate students and academic staff

In this introductory session, participants will be provided with an overview of the core services on offer by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service. Topics include navigating the Library Website, how to find their way around the Stellenbosch University Library, how to find information through the Library’s numerous databases, what advanced research support services are available and many others.

Date: 07 March 2023 @ 10h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Introduction to Special Collections: Dealing with
primary collections
This workshop focuses on Special Collection material in the library. The session will guide the participant to understand and explore the secondary and primary resources accessible to researchers. The aim is to encourage staff, students, and researchers to optimise the use of primary collections and data for research projects.

Date: 08 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Systematic Reviews

Thinking about doing a systematic review? Having its origins in health sciences, a systematic review can be a daunting challenge. Let us help you demystify it and get started with a high-level introduction to the systematic review process.

Date: 09 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Tools and applications for research

This workshop will offer a look at some of the top tools and applications for students, academic staff, and researchers. It will cover a variety of mobile apps for research, productivity, reading, writing, presenting, note-taking, file sharing and other essential tools for studying and publishing on the go.

Date: 14 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

An Overview of Research Data Repositories

Many funders mandate that data collected in the process of conducting research funded by them is deposited in reputable repositories, this workshop will provide an overview of research data repositories and demonstrate the manner in which the SU’s Institutional Research Data Repository functions.

Date: 15 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Finding Government Statistics

This workshop focuses on the database Statistics SA which is available by means of the Library website. The session includes a demonstration on how to access publications on the database, do cross-tabulation and access time series data with variables over time.

Date: 16 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

Data Management Planning

This session introduces researchers to Data Management Planning. It is comprised of a presentation and practical demonstration. The presentation covers the following areas: the fundamental aspects of Data Management Planning, the structure of Data Management Plans, the regulation of Data Management Plans at Stellenbosch University as well as the resources that researchers can use in relation Data Management Planning. The presentation is followed by a practical demonstration on how researchers use Data Management Planning software to create Data Management Plans.

Date: 22 March 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: 23 March 2023 @ 14h00 – 16h00

Please book here

Copyright issues in theses and dissertation writing

This presentation provides an overview of the copyright issues which students typically encounter while working on their theses or dissertations.

Date: 28 March 2023 @ 12h30 – 13h30

Please book here

RDM tools, resources and training

The workshop will introduce participants to various available RDM tools, resources, and training. This will include introducing them to Information resources and technological solutions relating to data collection, sensitive data management, data storage, data sharing, data publication, game-based learning as well as researcher support.

Date: 29 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 12h00


Please book here

Overview of software for effective data analysis and data visualisation

An overview of tools and free software for data analysis and data visualisation will be presented. These tools are useful for statistical analysis, visualisation, mapping, data cleaning and the digital humanities.

Date: 30 March 2023 @ 11h00 – 13h00

Please book here

This programme has been developed to provide students and staff with introductory sessions to library related topics. To this end, these sessions are only 30 minutes long and you are welcome to bring along any questions. In addition, we have developed some video tutorials for quick help.
Referencing 101

This workshop will be an introductory session on Stellenbosch University’s key referencing styles and how to reference correctly. An overview of why referencing is important and some best practices will also be incorporated.

Date: 01 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

E-books workshop

Get to know the Library’s e-book collection and learn how to use e-books optimally.

Date: 07 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

Off-campus access to Library E-resources

Participants will learn how to access Library resources while off campus and via the Library website.

Date: 08 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

Improving your literature search strategy

Learn to improve your literature search strategy to get the best possible results when searching for information in databases.

Date: 13 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

Introduction to the Library

This is a basic orientation for clients new to Stellenbosch University who have not had the opportunity to attend any other orientation session.

Date: 13 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

Find books or articles using the Library search engine or subject specific databases

Learn to find appropriate academic information sources by using the Library’s discovery tool and Databases optimally.

Date: 15 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

Find trustworthy information on Google and Google Scholar

Participants will learn how to find appropriate academic information sources by using Google and Google Scholar optimally.

Date: 15 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

Referencing 101

This workshop will be an introductory session on Stellenbosch University’s key referencing styles and how to reference correctly. An overview of why referencing is important and some best practices will also be incorporated.

Date: 23 March 2023 @ 12h00 – 12h30

Please book here

New resource: PsycINFO

The Library managed to add some critical new resources to our list of databases available, such as PsycINFO. Herewith is more information on PsycINFO which is already available from our A-Z list of databases.

PsycINFO is an abstracting and indexing database which delivers content across the full spectrum of behavioral and social sciences.

The database gives access to nearly 2 300 journals, 500 000 books records, 600 videos, and 3 million+ DOIs. It has twice-weekly updates, journals in nearly 30 languages, and publications from over 50 countries.

Amongst others, the following topics are covered:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Business
  • Education
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology
  • Political science
  • Social work
  • Sociology
  • Sports

The Library has been subscribed to the full-text database, PsycARTICLES, for a few years.

What does PsycARTICLES offer?

  • More than 225,000 full-text, peer-reviewed articles from APA, the Canadian Psychological Association, the Hogrefe Publishing Group, the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice, and others
  • Twice weekly updates and Online First indexing to ensure rapid access to cutting-edge research
  • Journal Snapshots, which include data on authors, most-cited articles, and other key journal information
  • Journal Browse functionality with journal Impact Factors, cover images, years of coverage, and editor information
  • Coverage dating back to 1894

PsycINFO and PsycARTICLES complement each other and are searchable from the APA PsycNet platform.


Author: Caretha Nel

Reminder of Open Access publishing options at SU

This is a reminder of the various discounted and free-of-charge options for open access publishing available to SU researchers.

In the past two years, the Library and Information Service has signed agreements with some publishers which offer discounts for publishing with open access (OA), and in some cases to publish OA without paying article processing charges (APCs). However, it has come to our attention that there are researchers that remain unaware of these benefits. We would like to encourage researchers to use these options and encourage their colleagues on campus to use them.

These are the publishers with whom we have signed free-of-charge OA agreements:

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

The agreement allows corresponding authors from SU to publish an unlimited number of articles OA in ACM journals free of charge.

Cambridge University Press

The agreement allows corresponding authors from SU to publish research articles in CUP journals free of charge.


The agreement permits corresponding authors from SU to publish a capped number of articles as OA free of charge in the Emerald gold and hybrid journals to which we subscribe.


The agreement permits corresponding authors from SU to publish an uncapped number of articles as OA in IMechE journals free of charge.


The agreement allows corresponding authors from SU to publish an uncapped number of articles as OA in  SAGE hybrid titles (SAGE Choice) free of charge. Corresponding SU authors will also receive a discount of 20% when publishing in  SAGE’s gold OA portfolio of titles.

Sponsoring Consortium for OA Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP³)

The partnership allows corresponding authors from SU to publish OA in journals in the SCOAP³ repository free of charge. The focus is on particle physics.


The agreement allows corresponding authors from SU to publish free of charge in Wiley’s hybrid OA journals.

These are the publishers with whom we have signed discounted OA agreements:


Corresponding SU authors will receive a 10% discount on the APC for any paper accepted for publication by MDPI.

Royal Society of Chemistry

Corresponding authors from SU will receive a 15% discount on APCs when publishing OA with RSC. The first four articles submitted to RSC by SU authors per year will be published free of charge.

Springer Nature

Submissions under the University’s affiliation will afford researchers 15% discount on the APCs for BMC, Springer Open and Palgrave Macmillan Open titles.

For more information about the publishers and to view titles eligible for OA publishing, please visit Please also feel free to contact your faculty librarian or Caretha Nel at or 021 808 4433.


Author: Caretha Nel

Ready to hand in? Find out where to submit your thesis or dissertation!

Graduating March 2023 and needing to submit your thesis or dissertation?  Then join us for one of our online training sessions on “How to submit your thesis/dissertation to SUNScholar”.  Please join us on 16 February and you can make a booking here.

With our training sessions we will give you guidance, tips and tricks, on how to take those final steps before graduating.   This is an interactive session so you can ask those final last minute questions?

For more information, see our guidelines here.

Enquiries: Paulette Talliard

#SmartResearcher and #SmartStudent training for the 1st Semester

The Library’s #Smart training series continues this semester in online format for both #SmartStudent and #SmartResearcher training. The #SmartResearcher series will again focus on the research process and is aimed at both new and experienced researchers who want to refresh their memory.

Please note that you will be emailed a link to the webinar upon registration.

In the below link, click on the date(s) of the trainings you are interested in to find out more and to register.

Smart Training Schedule

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