Quick and Dirty Tips for Verb Tense in Research Articles (or Academic Writings)

One of the most annoying thing in the academic writing is to keep the verb tense consistent and appropriate so that your writing may appear to be more formal and objective. Here are some tips I’ve found on the Internet. (I am pretty sure that the recent edition of Publication Manual of APA contains following information in full length.)

Use Past Tense

  1. To describe your methodology and report your results. (Because you have already completed your study.)
  2. When referring to the work of previous researchers. (Because a previous researcher’s research activity is finished and is not still being done.)
  3. To describe a fact, law or finding that is no longer considered valid and relevant.

Use Present Tense

  1. To express findings that continue to be true. (Because these findings are believed to be always true.)
  2. To refer to the article, thesis or dissertation itself. (For example: Table 3 shows that…)
  3. To discuss your findings and present your conclusion. (For example: These findings suggest that …)

Source:

http://www.unl.edu/gradstudies/current/dev/newsletter/GradConnections-201002.pdf

Book Mentioned:

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.

WorldCat

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