Nur Hasheena
4 min readJun 10, 2021

For those new to research writing or currently undertaking bachelor’s or master’s degrees, I would recommend 5 tips on preparing for your research and thesis writing.

1. Download & Install Mendeley reference manager

Before the thesis writing, I recommend you download Mendeley software to manage your literature references. Mendeley is a reference manager used to manage scholarly papers and generate bibliographies on your documents — you can add Mendeley extension to Microsoft Word.

To add bibliographies in your reference section, go to the Reference tab and click on Insert Bibliography.

Insert Bibliography using Mendeley reference manager

Kindly noted that there are still some limitations that exist on Mendeley on the referencing part. Ensure to double-check the reference citation is written in the correct APA format (depending on your faculty or university’s thesis requirement) after you finish the write-up.

2. Install Grammarly extension

From the title itself (Grammarly.com), you probably know what it is. It’s a free online writing assistant, which I highly recommend students use for English grammar checking. For basic account (free), it reviews common grammatical mistakes performed by writers and provides suggestions to fix them. Grammarly also offers a premium package that includes clarity-focused sentence rewrites, tone adjustments, plagiarism detection, word choice, formality level, fluency, and additional advanced suggestions.

3. Sign-up for ResearchGate

Why do I recommend you to sign-up for ResearchGate? During my first year of research, I started using ResearchGate to search for journal articles. Most of the journal articles that I wanted to download requires payment from some commercial online databases. If I’m digging the journal articles from ResearchGate, I can easily download them or send a request to the paper’s author if it is unavailable for download. At the same time, you could publish your work on ResearchGate to share the project that you are currently working on. Follow prestigious researchers from all around the world and even your lecturers from your faculty and university. I suggest you follow some highly relevant researchers in your field of study and keep yourself updated with current issues and development.

Follow Jeanette M. Wing, that specialized in Computational Thinking research

4. Search for high-quality journal papers (most-cited)

It is essential to search for high-quality scholarly papers that most researchers cite. It determines the quality and reliability of your research work. High-quality articles indexed by top search engine journal databases such as SCOPUS, cited by many scholars, and have high impacts in relevant fields. Also noted that you could access online databases subscribed by your respective university (if available) or contact your university’s librarian for assistance to access some premium scholar papers of the subscribed online database. If you search and download documents from Google search engine, kindly beware of grey journal papers (some journal probably doesn’t even exist).

5. Learn the important keywords

Searching for the right keywords is vital before writing your thesis. It determines the scope of your writing and the topics that you are trying to explore and understand. For example, my project focused on Computational Thinking, Educational Technology, Primary School, Scratch, Unplugged, Rural Pupils, etc. The goal is to understand what you are trying to solve based on the context of your study; then, you are good to go.

If you have two keywords such as Computational Thinking, use double quotation (“ ”) when you search it on the online database search engine. It will consider “Computational thinking” as one keyword and remove papers that mentioned only “Computational” and “thinking” from the search results.

Search for “Computational thinking” keyword

As you can see in the figure below, the search results only show papers with the “Computational thinking” keyword.

“Computational thinking” keyword search results

After four years of indulging in the research study, I finally received my letter of confirmation for graduation. My research and writing journey wasn’t easy. It took me one and a half years to finally figured my research niche. It requires tremendous patience in reading, analyzing, understanding, and deep thinking of the journal articles about the topic and issues I wanted to tackle — in computational thinking research. My work is a qualitative study that focused on understanding indigenous children’s learning experience at Borneo Malaysia.

Here I share two journal papers that were published based on my work.

· Contextualising Computational Thinking: A Case Study in Remote Rural Sarawak Borneo

· Art-Integration in Computational Thinking as an Unplugged Pedagogical Approach at A Rural Sarawak Primary School

Hope this article is useful for bachelor’s degree and master’s degree students who are preparing for the research journey.

Best regards, Sheena.