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How to write a Literature Review: Request a literature search

A guide to writing a literature review.

What is a literature search?

A literature search is a systematic and comprehensive search for literature on a specific subject/ topic by using certain tools like the Library Catalogue and the subject databases.

How do I request a literature search?

  1. Log in on myUnisa using your student number and myUnisa password
  2. Click on myModules
  3. Click on the Sites button and then select Library
  4. Select Literature search request form from the menu
  5. Read the important information on this page before clicking on the blue continue arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the page
  6. The first page of the form will be pre-populated with your student details. Check that they are correct. Click on the arrow to continue and complete the rest of the form 
  7. Complete the form and click on submit only once to prevent multiple submissions of the same request
  8. After you have submitted your request, the last page will inform you of your reference number. Please use this number if you make any later enquiries about this particular search request. Send any enquiries to the Information Search Librarians at:

Please note that this form can be used only for literature search requests.

If you have a short reference question, please click here.

Who delivers the 'request a literature search' service?

This online service is delivered by the Information Search Librarians Team to all Unisa staff and students.

The Information Search Librarians team consists of a dedicated, experienced and committed team of professionally qualified information specialists. We will help you find quality information for your research from Unisa’s impressive list of available resources.

We offer the following services to all registered Unisa students and staff:

  • literature searches
  • answers to short reference questions
  • support for self-sufficient use of Library resources

Requests may vary from the shortest reference query to an in-depth subject specific literature search.

Please note: Our team does not have face-to-face contact with students owing to the remote channels of communication we use.

What do I receive?

Your search will be captured on our client contact management system and you will receive an automated email and/ or sms message from the system to acknowledge receipt of your request citing your assigned reference number.

If you do not receive the sms or email message, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you wish to enquire about the status of your search at a later stage please contact us directly at:   and please quote your reference number.

Useful tips

  • It is important to submit your request well in advance.  We work on a first-come-first-served basis. Your request will go into the queue and will be completed as soon as possible.
  • The literature search request  form can be used only for literature search requests. If you have a short reference question, please use click here.
  • Save the literature search results sent to you by the Information Search Librarians to a flash disk and to your hard drive (in other  words, back up the document in one than one place). The search results are a useful source of information when you compile and check your footnotes and/ or bibliography. It has happened in the past that students lost their work and their bibliographies after a lightning strike. It can be very helpful to know that you can recover the information of many of the sources you may have used from your saved literature search results.

Search results explained

To compile the literature search a number of electronic databases are consulted to provide you with an overview of the literature written on your topic. Please keep in mind that the lists compiled by the Information Search Librarians are not exhaustive. THey may contain book titles that do not at first glance appear relevant, but these titles usually contain a relevant chapter or essay that is picked up by the search software but is not displayed in the exported record. These items will therefore be useful.

The literature list provides a helpful starting point for your research. Your next step is to work through the literature search results and identify relevant material that you would like to download yourself or to request from the Unisa Library.

Please take note that the search results include citationsabstracts, and links to full-text articles when available.

Interlibrary Loan requests

If you wish to borrow a book or request a copy of an article or a law report that is not part of the Library's print or electronic collections, you may submit an interlibrary loan request.  Visit our Interlibrary Loan LibGuide here.

Students with special needs

We can deliver the search results in mp3 format if required.

Please click here to learn about the Unisa Library services available for clients with special needs.