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How to search: Springer eJournals, eBooks and eReference

This guide will show you how to search in the different Unisa Library resources to find relevant information for your research needs

Request a Literature Search

Need sources for your literature review? Struggling to find sources for your assignment, research proposal or thesis?

The Library can assist with a literature search, which is a systematic and comprehensive search for published, academic material on your specific subject/topic. How do you request one? Simply go to Request a literature search .

If you are experiencing problems accessing the form, please use this link


Springer is a comprehensive online platform, providing easy access to millions of STM resources.

  • Publishing the world’s leading scholars
  • Including books, journals, reference works, protocols and databases
  • Accessible on the fastest, most versatile research platform we’ve ever developed

Disciplines include:

eJournal Collection

With the eJournal Collection you have: 

  • Unlimited 24/7 access.
  • Searchable by keywords.
  • Access to over 240 eJournals.
  • Through the Online Archives Collection almost every journal is available online from Volume I, Issue I.

eBook Collection

With the eBook Collection you have: 

  • Unlimited 24/7 access.
  • Access to the full range of books including: monographs, textbooks, handbooks and reference works.
  • Seamlessly integrated with Springer journals.
  • Searchable by keywords.
  • No DRM (Digital Rights Management):
    Springer offers unlimited downloading, printing and sharing.
  • Access to over 1.500 eBooks.
  • More than 250 new titles per year.

Advanced Searching

The Advanced Searching option is available by clicking on gear icon next to the search box on the home page and chosing Advanced Search from the options.


The OR operator (or |)

The  OR operator (case-insensitive) allows results to be returned even when they contain only one of the words entered.

For example  wheat OR maize  will give results which include either one of the terms "wheat" or "maize".          


The NOT operator

The  NOT  operator (case-insensitive) excludes results that contain the term following the NOT.

For example wheat NOT maize   will give results which include the term "wheat" but exclude the term "maize".          


The AND operator (or &)

 The AND operator (case-insensitive) provides the same results as the default on our site.

If you search for  evolutionary patterns of families, the search that will actually be carried out will be (evolutionary AND patterns AND of AND families).                     


The NEAR operators

The  NEAR operator (case-insensitive) will return results where the search term on the left is within ten words of the word to the right of the NEAR operator. For example  system NEAR testing will return results in which the word "system" is located within ten words of the word "testing", in either order.          

 The  ONEAR          operator means the search terms on either side must both be near each other in the text and also appear in the order you’ve entered them in the search box.        

 You can narrow the ten-word range by including a forward slash and number along with the NEAR operator.

For example information NEAR/4 systems  will return results where the word "information" appears within four words of the term "systems".          



If you include multiple operators in your search, they are interpreted in the following order of precedence: NOT, OR, AND.

Operators work only on the words immediately before and after the operator (and for NOT, only the word after), so if you would like an entire phrase to be evaluated with the operator, put it in quotes.

 Because two words without an operator between them are treated as an AND query by default, this means 

plastic bottles OR water pollution 

 will be interpreted as 

plastic AND (bottles OR water) AND pollution 

instead of as the probably intended 

"plastic bottles" OR "water pollution"      


The * Wildcard

 An asterisk (*)  entered as part of a search is interpreted as a substitute for any number of letters.

For example, a search for  hea* will return results containing any word starting with "hea", such as "head", "heats", "health", "heated", "heating" and so on. The wildcard search works best when there are at least 3 characters before the wildcard operator.          


The ? Wildcard

A question mark (?)  entered in a search is interpreted as a substitute for any single letter.

For example, a search for hea?  will return only results that contain four-letter words starting with "hea", such as "head", "heat", "heal", and so on. The wildcard search works best when there are at least 3 characters before the wildcard operator.

"Phrase match"     

A search with multiple terms entered within quotation marks ("") will return only results that contain those words or their stemmed variations in that exact order.

Language and stemming   

Your search will return results that share the stem(s) of the words you enter in the search box based on your selected interface language.

For example, if you have English selected as your interface language, a search for running" will return matches that contain "runner", "run", "ran", and so on. Changing the interface language will change the stemming language and can therefore change your search results.


Narrowing your results   

Filter results by access

By default, search results are displayed without regard for your access rights to the content. If you would like to see only results to which you have access, uncheck the box labelled "Include preview-only content."



The facet boxes that display on the left side of the search results page are sets of characteristics that describe the current set of results, with the number next to each item indicating how many results match each characteristic. Selecting an item in a facet box will refine your search results so that only those results that fit the selected item remain. Click "see all" to view and select from all facet items for a particular facet.


Date Published

You can narrow your results by date by clicking "Date Published" at the top of your search results and entering different values in the date boxes.


Search within a search

In order to search within a search, simply add keywords to any existing search terms in the keyword box at the top of the page and re-submit your search.