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Requesting and finding library material: Postgraduate services

This guide will cover library services to students who cannot visit a Unisa library

Literature review

A literature review is a critical evaluation of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. 

In other words literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.  Thus, a literature review is not descriptive but analytical in nature

More information about a literature review

Encore - a useful tool

Need additional reading material? Use the Encore Library Catalogue.

Identify and type keywords for your topic in the search block (see  the example below)

Need help on how to search?

Your results will include books, e-books, journal articles, and other material. Explore the results, refine your search, select the relevant items and view, request or download.


encore keywords

 encore search

 encore request

Using subject databases

Identify keywords for your topic to create a search strategy to use when searching a database. You might find the How to search LibGuide helpful in compiling your own search strategies.

 Databases are available @: > Find e-resources > click on Resources by subject

Choose the subject relevant to your topic.

Many databases will have a list of terms, usually listed as a thesaurus that you can browse for alternative keywords.

 We have also compiled the following guides which will be useful when searching for relevant resources.

Click on the links below for more information:

  • How to search - This guide will show you how to search in the different Unisa Library resources to find relevant information for your research needs.
  • e-Journals & how to use the e-Journal Finder -e-Journals and how to use the e-Journal Finder to find a specific article when the title of the journal is known
  • How to write a literature review - A guide to writing a literature review from selecting and evaluating sources to managing these sources .
  • Research Methods Online - This guide introduces you to SAGE Research Methods Online, a database which supports your research activities, from selecting your research methods to designing your research, and much more.  
  • Research Skills - A step-by-step approach to ensure that you possess the key skills required to find, retrieve and evaluate information on your research topic.
  • Requesting recommended library material - This guide will cover the downloading and requesting of Library material.

How to request a literature search

How to request a literature search :

  1. Log in on myUnisa using your student number and myUnisa password
  2. Click on Sites and then select Library and Literature Search Request Form
  3. Read the important information on this page before clicking on the blue continue arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the page
  4. The first page of the form will be pre-populated with your information. Check that the information is correct. If not, please update the information. Remember to update your student record on myUnisa later. Click on the blue button and complete the rest of the form. Please note that the Research Topic/Query field has a limited amount of space.
  5. After completing the form click on Submit and your reference number will pop up. You must note down this number. Please do not click Submit more than once as it creates multiple requests for the same request
  6. You will receive an email and sms to acknowledge receipt of the request. If you do not receive an email or sms acknowledging receipt of your request within 24 hours, please contact us at
  7. Please quote your reference number if you need to follow up on the status of your search request at a later stage

Helping clients who are blind:

The Request a Literature Search form in myUnisa is accessible to screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA. However, if you still experience difficulty in accessing the form please contact us @

Interlibrary loan service

No single library has the capacity to own or subscribe to all the print and electronic publications or databases available.

The Interlibrary Loan service is available free of charge to staff and registered M and D students of Unisa.

If you request an item that is not available in the Collection of the Unisa Library, your request will be referred automatically to the Interlibrary Loans staff to find out if it is available at another local or international library, or to purchase the item for the Collection.

More information on how to request material not available in the Unisa Library.

Research skills & research methodology

Selected lists of Research Methodology Books and Encore Library Catalogue search results on research methodology.

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.

Software products that you can use 

Ethical issues

Copyright & plagiarism

The Copyright Law of South Africa (Copyright Act 98 of 1978) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. One of the conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction may be used only for the purpose of private study, scholarship or research.

Please familiarise yourself with the Policy for Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism.

How to avoid plagiarism

Research ethics