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

Author: Marié Roux (Page 1 of 7)

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!

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

Summary of Open Access Week 2022

Stellenbosch University Library celebrated this year’s International Open Access Week 2022 by presenting a three-day programme that took place from 26-28 October. The celebrated theme “Open for Climate Justice” showcased a number of SU speakers who addressed the sub-themes of Climate Diversity, Climate Studies & Global Leadership and Climate Sustainability & Open Access at Stellenbosch University.

26 October – Climate Diversity

Prof Ruppel from the department of Mercantile Law, addressed the issues of climate justice versus climate responsibility, a South-North perspective.  He noted that the more affluent countries, such as those in the Global North, are responsible for around half of all the greenhouse gas emissions.  Whereas the Global South with the least greenhouse gas emissions, are the ones who are suffering as a result.  Yet the accountability of these adverse effects of climate change, hence climate justice, is complex and shrouded in legal, political, economic and philosophical issues.  He believes the North-South inequality can bridge the gap by recognising and acknowledging each others’ different realities and thereby objectively tackle global climate change.

Dr Okoliko from the School of Public Leadership, talked about a social media research study of public views on the COP26 coal phase-out deal for South Africa.  Their analysis showed Facebook to be the primary source of news and the ‘go to’ platform for several South African news media.  By analysing the comments and views of the people, they discovered an overwhelmingly negative sentiment towards the deal.  However, the negativity is based on legitimate issues, such as the proper allocation of funding, the pros and cons of this deal for South Africa, the environmental impact and potential job losses within the industry.

Prof Helen de Klerk and Mr Bailey from the department of Geography & Environmental Studies presented a dual paper.  They looked at various open access resources that provided geospatial data in geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing (RS) data.  These data repositories can be used for creating climate forecasting, climate change modules and climate simulations.  They also discussed the basic and advanced uses of these open data resources.

Recording: Open Access Week 2022 Climate Diversity 26 October 2022

27 October –  Climate Studies & Global Leadership

Prof Guy Midgley from the department of Botany & Zoology and School for Climate Studies gave a brief overview of climate inequality in so far that less than 3% of the world’s investment into climate science is allocated to the whole of the African content.  He also discussed regional solutions, for example the green hydrogen deal will work for Namibia, but it cannot work for South Africa.  By way of demonstration, he used a MIT database, En-Roads, demonstrating the various vectors that are involved in decision-making when it comes to finding solutions to climate challenge.

Miss Mbuyisa and Miss Murray from the department of Botany & Zoology, represented the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC) Youth Ambassadors for 2022.  They not only represented Stellenbosch University but were also the only representatives from an African University.  They, along with several other SU students, were the African voices for a global youth programme that involved discussions around climate change.  They gained insight from multiple disciplines and learned about West-centric ideas verses Africanacity. Having gained considerable knowledge and experience, they were able to host the African Regional Forum at the School for Climate Studies.

Recording: Open Access Week 2022 Climate Studies & Global Leadership 27 October 2022 

28 October – Climate Sustainability & Open Access at SU

Prof Chris Reddy from Curriculum Studies, started off by explaining the natural ecological structure of cycles and the human or man-made environmental structure.  Although humankind is part of the natural cycle, we are not within the ecological cycle and our actions and interventions are causing disruptions in the ecological cycle.  For this, environmental education is an essential dimension, since in it lies the sphere of a relationship with our environment.  This sphere allows for critical thinking based on local and community-driven issues.  It advocates for localised change, developing emancipatory life practices, and a place for sustainable living practices.

Prof Booysen from the department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering discussed the use and consumption of water, energy, and electricity.  The department developed three devices, namely What’on, Geasy and count Dropula.  These devices collected data from geysers in various households, various schools and from the driving patterns of minibus taxis.  The collected data is openly accessible and countries such as Switzerland, France, the United States, Oxford and even Eskom, are now using the data to run simulation models.  Next on the agenda for the department is water quality meters, smart green tunnels and air quality sensors.

Dr Tshuma from the department of Agronomy discussed how agricultural activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, following a 10-year trial study involving eight countries. Their analysis showed that using nitrogen or synthetic fertiliser increases crop production. Their study also showed that synthetic fertilisers can be replaced by using more natural techniques to produce the same yield.  These techniques include animal manure, legumes, crop rotation and tillage methods, to name but a few.

Prof Esler from the department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology discussed her personal experiences about her connectedness and reciprocity with nature.  Experiencing home invasion, grief and stress she discovered the synergy and beauty of growing your own vegetable garden.  This timeless activity re-connected her with nature.  From her own garden, she started a hobby and created mandalas, which became her meditation tool.  Nature nurtures, and for her, nature is not just about a physical connection or producing food, but also a mental and spiritual connection that can heal both body and mind, and by healing the planet you heal yourself.  She also believes urban gardening can go a long way in combating climate change.

Mrs Seyffert-Wirth from Stellenbosch University Library gave an overview of why we are celebrating open access, and the benefits of providing free and unhindered access to research output.  She discussed the various open access initiatives that have been initiated, hosted and maintained by the Library & Information Service for the past 14 years.  This includes SUNScholar an institutional repository; an Open Access Publishing fund, now halted; 20 active journals; and a digital heritage repository.  She introduced the Library’s plans for the future, which include transitioning digital repositories to connect with the semantic web; finding a connection between different library collections using various data science techniques and flagship projects to host Digital Humanities connections in collaboration with some of the SU departments.

Recording: Open Access Week 2022 Climate Sustainability & Open Access at SU 28 October 2022  

Author: Paulette Talliard

The digital heritage repository: SUNDigital Collections

In almost ten years of existence, SUNDigital Collections, a digital heritage repository of the Library and Information Service, has showcased special collections and unique items from the Library to the public. It offers a single connection point to various collections of primary resources as well as digital research output. In support of digital scholarship, sharing our valuable resources and promoting intellectual collaboration the Library and Information Service offers free online access to these digital collections. The repository currently contains almost 16 000 items in 43 collections.

In recent years, Digital Humanities (DH), an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the Humanities has become a recognized discipline. In exploring how the Library can support Digital Humanities, it was found that SUNDigital Collections is an ideal home for DH projects.

One of the flagship projects is the hosting of the “Hardekraaltjie” collection in collaboration with the SU Transformation office’s Visual Redress project. Stellenbosch University engaged with members of the Tiervlei community and other stakeholders to initiate a “deep human-centered community participation process” to commemorate members of this community that were laid to rest at the site previously known as Hardekraaltjie cemetery. This cemetery is located on the grounds of the university’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Science. The University is committed to, in consultation with other members of the affected communities, to erect a memorial installation at the site of the cemetery to remind us of a past when the dignity of the people in this area was tragically violated. The cemetery was in use from 1909 to 1946 and had a central place in the then Tiervlei community, which was subjected to forced removals under the Group Areas Act of the apartheid regime.

SUNDigital Collections now gives a voice to the displaced by hosting inter alia recordings of interviews with members of the Hardekraaltjie community. The project is still in its infancy but will showcase deeds, images, maps, articles, poems and other material related to Hardekraaltjie once completed.

Please visit the repository for a peek into our digital heritage.

Author: Mimi Seyffert-Wirth

The special collections of DOMUS

The Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) is the special collections section of the Music Library. The aim of DOMUS is to collect, preserve and make available, rare materials of musicologists, musicians, music institutions and music societies. Representing mostly South African demography, our collection development focuses on South African and African content. Document types include paper documents (for example, correspondence, photographs, notes, and music manuscripts) and audio-visual materials (for example, CDs, DVDs, reel tapes and videos). Items added to DOMUS are either as direct donations or through collaboration with staff from the Africa Open Institute (AOI) and the Music Department.

Initial collections included Africana sheet music, rare books, collections of former Konservatorium staff members (e.g., Friedrich Wilhelm Jannasch and Hans Endler) of composers (e.g., Albert Coates and Rosa Nepgen), bibliophile Michael Scott, physical chemist Frits Stegmann, and newspaper critic Charles Weich. From 2005, the music special collections became known as DOMUS, based on a project that Prof Stephanus Muller proposed to the SU Library and Information Service and the Music Department.

In due course, more South African music collections were added to the existing DOMUS collections.  These collections represent different South African styles, languages and cultures and include artists such as Basil Coetzee, David Kramer, Jonathan Butler, Coenie de Villiers, Dizu Plaatjies, and Zayn Adams from the collection of producer Patrick Lee Lee-Thorp, Brenda Fassie, Johnny Clegg, Lucky Dube, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Mandoza, Prophets of da City, Rebecca Malope and the Soweto String Quartet from the collection of producer Pam Devereux-Harris, and Jeremy Taylor, Roger Lucey,  Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela from the Hidden Years Music Archive Project (HYMAP).

DOMUS also holds the collections of Afrikaans rock musician Anton Goosen, Taliep Petersen (musician and director of musicals) and composer and accordionist Nico Carstens. Anton Goosen, or ‘Liedjieboer’ (it is loosely translated as a person farming with songs). His song, ‘Blommetjie-gedenk-aan-my’, is regarded as the first rock song in Afrikaans, and this song earned Goosen the title of ‘Father of Afrikaans rock’. Recently, the book, ‘Mr Entertainment: The story of Taliep Petersen, by Paula Fourie was published.

Nico Carstens LP’s in foyer of Music Library

Jewish music is also represented through the collection of Fay Singer, who established the South African Jewish Music Centre (SAJMC) in 1992 to preserve Jewish music within a South African context by means of performances, presentations and lectures.

The Eoan Group collection documents the activities of the group, founded in District Six by Helen Southern-Holt in 1933. The Group operated under difficult circumstances under apartheid. From 1966, for example, they could perform in the City Hall before mixed audiences through permit applications.

Collections of South African art music composers include Graham Newcater, Stefans Grové, Michael Blake, Hubert du Plessis, Christopher James and John Simon. The collections of filmmaker Aryan Kaganof and musicologist Christine Lucia, as well as collections of music societies such as the Southern African Church and Concert Organists Society (SACOS) and Obelisk Music are also included.

It is clear from these examples that DOMUS collects diverse collections that link in with Stellenbosch University’s mandate of inclusivity, transformation and redress as set out in the Transformation and Redress Policy.

More information on DOMUS and its collections can be found in the DOMUS Library guide. The article, ‘Armed with a light bulb at the end of a cord’ provides a detailed history of DOMUS for the period 2005 to 2015.

Authors: Santie de Jongh and Beulah Gericke-Geldenhuys

From Open Access to Open Data

Image source: JulieBeck

In the past decade, the management of research data has come to take on a more prominent role at tertiary education institutions around the world. This has been primarily due to the increasingly data-centric route that academic research has taken. At the same time, academic institutions have come to be influenced by the Open Access movement which advocates for the unrestricted access and use of published research outputs. A convergence of these two developments has culminated in a call for unrestricted access and use of research data. The term commonly reserved for data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone is: ‘Open Data’.

The move to make research data more openly accessible is being pushed through by research funding agencies as well as academic journal publishers. In recent years, some of Stellenbosch University’s research funders have instituted mandates that require the implementation of adequate research data management practices in order to enable the open accessibility of research data. Such practices should comply with certain best practices, such as the following requirements:

  1. research data should be managed through the creation and submission of data management plans; and
  2. research data should comply with the FAIR Data Principles by being findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

As a leading research institution, Stellenbosch University sought to address this issue by setting up an institutional research data repository known as SUNScholarData. SUNScholarData is a multidisciplinary institutional research data repository that was launched in August 2019. The repository 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. SUNScholarData creates a medium through which Stellenbosch University’s research data can be made findable and accessible. It also facilitates the interoperability and re-usability of the university’s research data.

SUNScholarData was not set up in isolation. Instead, it was set up as part of a broader implementation which also included the formulation of a governance framework and the development of supporting research data services that are provided by dedicated staff members at the University’s Library and Information Services. Such services include data curation, client consultations and related training sessions. The use of SUNScholarData is supported by the SUNScholarData Library Guide. This is an online resource that provides a wealth of information about the repository in an easily digestible manner.

For more information about how you can make your research data openly accessible please contact the Research Data Services division at:

« Older posts