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

Author: Marié Roux (Page 1 of 8)

Where to find help on publishing avenues

Did you know that our faculty librarians offer assistance in choosing the best avenues for publishing your research? They can assist you with the following:

A library guide on where to publish your research

It gives you an overview of all the important aspects of publishing and finding a suitable journal to publish your research. Visit the library guide here.

Journal metrics in databases such as Scopus and Web of Science

With the use of journal metrics (see this page on library guide) you will be able to decide which journal to publish. These metrics include the Impact Factor, CiteScore, SNIP, and many more. It is also helpful to see in which percentile the journal falls, and then also analyse the subject fields and get suggestions for other journal titles in which you may publish.

Publish in accredited journals

Consult the Division for Research Development’s webpage for information on which journals are accredited by the DHET to qualify for subsidy. Librarians will also be able to assist you with whether a specific journal is accredited or not.

Guidance on how to avoid predatory publishers

Librarians are also able to assist you with determining whether a journal/publisher is predatory. This tab in the Library guide will give you some guidance on the topic, but you are also most welcome to contact your faculty librarian for assistance.

Getting to know all the Open Access avenues and discounts that exist

Your research will be widely visible and accessible if you publish with Open Access avenues. See more information here and see the library guide which describes all the discounts available by means of transformative agreements for Open Access publishing here.

A workshop on where to publish will be presented early October

The workshop, Making important decisions about publishing your research, will be presented again early October. Please make sure to book your space here!

Enquiries: Your faculty librarian or Marié Roux




What can SUNScholarData do for you?

Are you someone who has been mulling over any of the following questions:

  1. How can I go about uploading my research data to an Openly Access repository so that I can satisfy my academic publisher’s requirements?
  2. How can I provide reviewers with access to my research data as part of the peer-review process?
  3. How can I obtain a Digital Object Identifier for my research data so that I can satisfy my academic publisher’s demands?
  4. How can I ensure that my research data are openly accessible after I graduate from Stellenbosch University?
  5. How can I make previously published research data more findable?

Well, if that is the case you need to look no further than SUNScholarData, Stellenbosch University’s very own institutional research data repository. SUNScholarData is used for the long-term archival storage and publication of research data produced or collected in relation to research conducted under the auspices of Stellenbosch University. The research data published on the repository are openly accessible. The Library and Information Service library guide on SUNScholardata provides a wealth of information relating to the use of the repository.

If you are interested in finding a solution to your problem click here in order to make use of SUNScholarData. Should you require more information about SUNScholarData click here to access the SUNScholarData Library Guide or contact the Research Data Services Division at the following e-mail address:

Author: Samuel Simango

SUNDigital Collections as research tool: The Maggie Laubser collection

Portrait of Maggie Laubser

An art collection of 150 artworks by the renowned South African artist Maggie Laubser (1886 – 1973) was digitised by the Stellenbosch University  Museum in 2021. These works can be seen on the SU Library’s SUNDigital Collections platform.  Click here to visit the Maggie Laubser digital artworks.

But wait, there is more information on Maggie Laubser on SUNDigital that you might not know about.  The finding aid to the Maggie Laubser document collection and other related manuscript collections are also available to support research. Use the Finding aids on SUNDigital to discover what is available. A record of the Maggie Laubser collection is also available in the library catalogue.

This collection dates from 1907 -1975 and consists of 42 pamphlet boxes containing books, magazines, correspondence, sketchbooks and loose sketches, personalia, articles, radio talks, finances, films, newspaper clippings, photos and more.

Your research on Maggie Laubser would not be complete without a visit to the Manuscript section (Special Collections ) of the Library and Information Service. You can visit or make an appointment to gain access to this wonderful wealth of information.

View a few of her artworks below:

Seemeeu (Seagull)

Die Tamatieplukkers (The tomato pickers)

Landskap met vier figure (Landscape with four figures)

Author: Marieta Buys

Flourish in your data visualisation techniques

The generous free version of Flourish, is very helpful to gain data visualisation techniques and easily create visualisations.

What it does: Flourish is part of the Canva family and was created to enable anyone to tell stories with data. Launched in 2018, the tool is used by a large community. It has flexible templates, custom themes and a very user-friendly interface. It is also not just for visualisations, but you can create anything, from quizzes to carousels. The fact that it is integrated with Canva is also an advantage in the sense that it can import your visualisations into any new creation in Canva, such as powerpoint templates or infographics.

The #SmartResearcher webinar about Tableau Public and RawGraphs on 26 September will also touch on how to create visualisations with Flourish. Please book here!

Learn more: Help and resources / Blog

SciVal training sessions

Two training sessions about the effective use of SciVal will take place on 1 August and 5 September. Stellenbosch University acquired access to SciVal in May 2023 and would like to encourage clients to use the tool to analyse their own research performance or the performance of their group, department, or faculty.

SciVal Fundamentals – 1 August 2023

The first webinar on 1 August will cover the fundamental elements of SciVal and enable users to use SciVal efficiently. Topics that will be covered include data sources, different metrics available in SciVal,  the different modules, navigation, types of entities and rankings. This webinar will be from 11:00-12:00.

Please book here


SciVal SDGs & Researcher Groups – 5 September 2023

The second webinar on 5 September will address how research toward the Sustainable Development Goals can be analysed in SciVal as well as
how to create researcher groups. This webinar will be from 11:00-12:30.

Please book here

Both webinars will be presented by Lucia Schoombee, Senior Customer Consultant Research Intelligence, Elsevier.

Hope to see you there and please let us know if you have any questions!

What is SciVal?

SciVal is Elsevier’s research performance assessment tool that allows the visualisation of research performance, benchmarking relative to peers, and identification and analysis of emerging research trends. The tool is based on Scopus bibliometric information as well as various other data sources such as awarded grants, patent-cited papers, and news media. The research performance of over 22,000 research institutions from more than 230 nations worldwide can be analysed.

The three modules to which Stellenbosch University has access are the Overview, Benchmarking and Collaboration modules. In the “Overview” module you can view the research performance of researchers, institutions, countries, etc. In the “Benchmarking” module you will be able to compare and benchmark the research performance of any data available in SciVal and in the “Collaboration” module you can explore the collaboration of institutions, countries and researchers.

Enquiries: Marié Roux

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.

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.

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

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