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Ask a Librarian: Research Support

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Is there study space in the Unisa Main Library or any of the branches?

Study space in support of researchers:

Each of the Unisa Libraries has a limited amount of seating for students and visitors who need a desk at which to study or at which to consult Library material. However, please be aware that the number of seats is limited for public safety reasons.

Master’s and Doctoral students have access to the Research Space on the 4th floor of the Muckleneuk Library where they may write and work on their research projects. Access to this area is controlled by the use of your electronic student card.

A study carrel is a small, lockable room in the Library reserved for study. Study carrels are available for use by Master's and Doctoral students on Levels 5 to 8 of the Muckleneuk Library. Enquire at the Lending Counter of the Library if you wish to make use of a study carrel.

Who can assist me if I am a Master's or Doctoral student?

The Unisa Library supports Master's and Doctoral students in the following ways:

Library Guides

The Library guides are part of the Library's efforts to support students and researchers to develop their research skills.

Guides cover a wide range of general topics, for example Research SkillsLiterature Review, e-JournalsE-books and Requesting and finding library material.

You can select the guide for your specific course of subject from the list of Subject-specific guides

Personal Librarians

A list of Personal Librarian and the subjects they are responsible for is available on the main Library page. Personal Librarians support academics and postgraduate students in the following ways:

  • assistance with research needs; ​
  • training in the use of the subject databases;
  • ​support in setting up alerting services; 
  • partnering with academics in the structuring of study material;
  • gathering subject-specific input for collection development 
  • developing partnerships with academics, researchers and graduate students

Information Search Librarians

A literature search service is delivered by the Information Search Librarians Team to all Unisa staff and students.

You can request a literature search on a specific research topic:                                     

Go to myUnisa, enter your student number and myUnisa password, or your staff login codes, then click on Log in

  • Click on myModules
  • Click on Sites and then select Library or Staff Library Pages, and then Literature Search Request Form
  • Complete the form and click on Submit once - an acknowledgement email will be sent to your myLife mailbox.

To compile the literature search, a number of electronic databases are searched to provide you with an overview of the literature written on your topic. The search results will include citationsabstracts, and links to full-text articles, where available.

Instructional material compiled by the Information Search Librarians will guide you in acquiring the necessary skills in finding and retrieving information on your research topic.

Branch Librarians

If you visit the Library in person, the Branch Librarians will be able to guide you in how to search the Library Catalogue and other electronic resources.

Who can assist me if I am an undergraduate or Honours student with a research component to my studies?

The Library offers support for the research skilling of undergraduate and Honours students.

1. Library guides

Library guides are available to support students and researchers to develop their research skills:

The Library guide on How to Search explains the basics of searching the Library's resources, including how to make the most of Google and Google Scholar.

If your course includes a research component, you will find the Library guide on How to write a Literature Review helpful.

There is also a link on the Library home page to Research Support where you will find a useful set of tutorials on Research Skills. Topics covered include:

  • Using the Unisa Library home page
  • Researching your topic
  • Using the Library's subject databases
  • Finding books
  • Finding journal articles
  • Finding theses and dissertations
  • Finding other electronic material
  • Findling legal information
  • Evaluating  your information
  • Managing your references
  • Keeping up-to-date with your research
  • Citation resources

2. Branch libraries

If you visit the Library in person, the Branch Librarians will be able to guide you in how to search the Library Catalogue and other electronic resources.

3. Scheduled training sessions

Training sessions are offered by the Branch Librarians of the Library on the Unisa Main Campus in Pretoria. Visit the Library training page for the trianing shedule and contact information. Sessions offered are:

  • Introduction to the Library: Services and Procedures
  • Using the Unisa Library Catalogue
  • Introduction to E-Resources
  • Using Reference Sources
  • Introduction to Reference Techniques

4. Literature search services

As long as your assignment or research project does not require you to do a literature search independently as a learning exercise to develop your research skills, or, if you have carried out a literature search and are simply not finding relevant or sufficient information, you may submit a request for a literature search on your research topic.

What is plagiarism?

Using information ethically for written assignments and research is extremely important.  The ethical use of information does not only reflect a person's integrity, but it is also mandated by law.  

Unethical use of information is referred to as 'plagiarism' and may be prevented by citing sources. 

For an overview and help ensure that written assignments and research conform to the current standards of using information ethically, consult the Research Support: Plagiarism Library guide. 

You can also download the Unisa Policy for copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Where can I find more information on research methods

SAGE Research Methods supports beginning and advanced researchers in every step of a research project, from writing a research question, choosing a method, gathering and analyzing data, to writing up and publishing the findings.

Selecting the approach to use

Summary of different research methodologies

Research design vs research methodology

Quantitative vs qualitative method

Click here for a selected list of books on research methodology in general, writing research proposals, dissertations and theses, time management and reference styles.

You may also access the search results on the topic of research methodology in the Encore Library Catalogue.