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Economics Library Guide: Research Guide

How the library can help you in the resaerch process

Whether you are a master’s student or a doctoral student, this page gives an overview of how UCT Libraries can help you in your research journey.

How the library can help you/ Getting started and finding literature

Selecting a topic

The library provides access to information on past and current research projects.  By looking at these projects, you can gain a better idea of what you should write on. Go to OpenUCT or click here to see a list of other database that you can use.

Finding literature

When looking for literature, Primo is a good place to start. Primo provides simple, one-stop searching for books and e-books, videos, articles, digital media, and more.

You can also look for journal articles. Click here to see a list of recommended databases that you can use to find journal articles.

If you find an interesting article or book that UCT Libraries does not have, you can request it through Inter-Library Loans. You can find them near the Information Desk in the Main Library. They offer an electronic request system. Find out more here.

Finding data

UCT Libraries subscribes to a number of databases that offer data. Click here to see the recommended list. If you are unable to find the data that you need, contact the librarian for assistance.

Citation Databases

When searching for literature, it is important to use citation databases such as Scopus and Web of Science to give you an overview of your subject area. Citation databases provide a record of what has been published and citations between publications. However, it is important to note that no citation database covers all publications. 

With citation databases you are able to:

  • see what has been published on a topic over the years. Can see whether interest in a topic is increasing or decreasing
  • analyse search results to show the number of documents broken down by various criteria including year, author, source, affiliation or subject categories.
    • identify prolific or the top authors
    • identify the top journals on a topic by publication output
    • identify seminal or highly cited publications on a topic (NB: citation count should not be taken as a guarantee of quality as there can be other reasons for citation e.g. negative citation and self-citation).
    • identify who is citing who
    • set up citation alerts to notify you when a document or author is cited elsewhere
    • set up alerts to notify you about new documents by an author of interest to you

Writing up

While no-one can do the final write-up for you, UCT Libraries can make it a more pleasant experience. The Research Commons, a facility for masters students, PhD students and staff, provides the ideal environment to do your final work. Facilities include a silent study area, better bandwidth and  comfortable couches. Find out more about The Research Commons here.

Final touches

In making sure that your document is formatted 100% correctly, the Research Commons can assist you in the document layout. For final editing, contact the Writing Centre.

Sage Research Methods

Sage Research Methods is a tool with information about research methods. It provides an online collection of material that can be used throughout the research process with information on:

  • Research design
  • Method selection
  • Literature review
  • Data collection
  • Data anlaysis
  • Writing up

Provides a variety of content including:

  • Dictionary and encyclopedia entries
  • Book chapters
  • Full books
  • Journal articles
  • Little Green Books - brief overviews of quantitative techniques
  • Little Blue Books - brief overviews of qualitative research methods
  • Case studies (not avialable in UCT subscription)
  • Videos

Overview video of Sage Research Methods

Note: Access Sage Research Methods from the A-Z list of databases. Remember to go through the off-campus login if working from off campus.


UCT Libraries provides access to two reference management tools, RefWorks and Endnote. These are online research management, writing and collaboration tools designed to help researchers easily gather, manage, store and share all types of information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies.

More resources for referencing are available here.

Need help getting started? Contact the Librarian.

Looking for Research funding?

UCT has access to Research Professional Africa, an online database of research funding opportunities and a source of international research policy and practice news. As a member of a UCT, you are free to browse the content of the site, create customised searches of its content and share this information with colleagues. To register on the site, send your name and UCT email to the Librarian

Useful research websites

How to access electronic resources off campus