Skip to Main Content

How to write a Literature Review: Managing sources

A guide to writing a literature review.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Below are just some of the ways to protect yourself against unintentional plagiarism:

  • If you use a fact, phrase, chart, diagram, table, map, illustration, photograph, theory, method, steps or lists, or a quotation from someone else’s work, always acknowledge the original source accurately.
  • Even if you have put someone else’s ideas into your own words, you must credit the source of those ideas.
  • Carefully document and record every single source you read and use. Do not cut corners when it comes to this aspect of your research. Manage your sources by means of a Reference Management Tool.
  • When you copy and paste from the Internet, you must also copy the web address of the document and note the date of access.
  • When you copy and paste from electronic books, journal articles, theses, dissertations, law reports, you must record the source in full together with its URL (Uniform Resource Locator or web address) in the database you have used.
  • If you suspect you are using something without attributing the original source, copy and paste the passage into Google or another search engine. If your search retrieves close results, it is possible that the passage is not original work.

See Unisa's policy on Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism.

Be wise ... Don't plagiarise!

Click here for more information on ethics in research.

Reference Management Tools

Reference management tools help you organise and store your citations.  They assist you to keep track of your sources including those that have been exported from other databases.  They also allow you to generate your bibliography for your assignment or research project.  

Below are some software products that you can use:

  Refworks  RefWorks

Unisa subscribes to this product on your behalf.  To make use of RefWorks you will first need to create an account.  

    EndNote EndNote

Unisa does not subscribe to this product but it can be purchased by an individual and is available in both desktop and web-based versions.


There are various other free web-based reference management tools available to you:

  Mendeley Mendeley

Mendeley is a free reference management tool and academic social network that allows you to manage your references.  It also helps you discover new trends and statistics in your research area and to connect and collaborate with other researchers.

 Zotero Zotero

Zotero is a free open source tool that you can use to collect, organise, manage, cite and share research sources.



Please note the copyright restrictions when printing and downloading journal articles.

In terms of the regulations promulgated under the Copyright Act, No 98 of 1978 (as amended), material required for study or research purposes may be photocopied subject to the following conditions:

  • Not more than one copy may be made of an article or other contribution appearing in a periodical issue or other collection.
  • From other works only a reasonable portion may be photocopied (it is accepted that a “reasonable portion” means not more than 10% of the whole work).
  • No work may be photocopied in its entirety.

See Unisa's policy on Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism.

Two Useful Tips on Referencing Style

  • Please contact your lecturer regarding the referencing style you are expected to use for your assignments and research projects.
  • The most important thing about referencing is to be consistent.


Referencing Styles

 APA Referencing Style

The APA style is mostly used in Psychology, Education and other social sciences.

Chicago Referencing style

The Chicago referencing system is used with all subjects and formats including books, newspapers, and other non-scholarly publications and materials that are not intended for publication .

Harvard Referencing Style

The Harvard style is generally used across many subject disciplines.  Please click here for more information on the Harvard Referencing Style

MLA Refencing Style

The MLA system is mostly used by researchers in Arts and Humanities. However it is especially used in English Language, Literature, Folklore and Lingustic courses.

Vancouver Referencing Style

The Vancouver system, also known as the "author-number" system, is a way of writing references in academic papers. It is popular in the physical sciences, biological sciences, health and is one of two referencing systems normally used in medicine, the other being the Harvard style.


Turnitin (Tii) is a tool used in the prevention of plagiarism by checking documents for originality.

Unisa has licenses for all the postgraduate students (M and D, Honours and selected fourth year level course students).  These students all get access automatically to Turnitin.

Kindly note that we currently do NOT have licenses for undergraduate students.

Frequently Asked questions on Turnitin


Click on the logo to open the Turnitin website

Any queries that students or staff members have, need to be sent to: