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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 writing a literature review

Encore - a useful tool

Need additional reading material? Use the Summon 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-Publication Finder -how to use the e-Publications Finder to find a specific article when the title of the journal is known
  • How to write a research proposal This guide will help you understand what a research proposal is, what its components are and how to write your proposal
  • 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

A literature search is a reading list on a research topic. We consult South African and international information resources to find material that is relevant to your research topic. To request a literature search:

Please click here to submit your literature search request. 

Sign in with your myLife email address and myUnisa password. (If you are already logged into office 365 with a different account / profile, please log out from Office 365 and log in again with your myLife credentials.) 

Complete the form and click on Submit once


  1. Login on myUnisa with your student number and myUnisa password, then click on Log in 
  2. Click on myModules 
  3. Click on Sites and then select Library and then Literature Search Request Form 
  4. Complete the form and click on Submit once
  5. Check your myLife mailbox for the acknowledgement email. 

Please note: If you cannot access the form:  

  1. We would like to recommend that you use Internet Explorer as your browser.  
  2. Go to Microsoft Office 365 at and sign in with your myLife email address and myUnisa password. (If you are already logged into office 365 with a different account / profile, please log out from Office 365 and log in again with your myLife credentials.) 
  3. Follow the steps above to complete the Literature Search Request Form 

If you are still experiencing problems please use this link. 

Important: This form may only be used to request a literature search.

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

Clients with visual disabilities:

The form to request a literature search in myUnisa is accessible to screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA. You can also click the Immersive reader option at the top of the screen. If you still experience difficulty in accessing the form, please contact us at

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 Summon 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