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Scientific Writing: A Verb Tense Review

If you’ve been wondering about which verb tense to use in your research papers, below is a quick cheat sheet highlighting the main verb tenses to use in each section of a scientific paper. We provide further explanation in a separate article about which tense to use in abstracts.

Choosing the right verb tense for your scientific research paper 

For additional information about how to write a strong research paper, make sure to check out our full research writing series!

You can also find these resources plus information about the journal submission process in our FREE downloadable e-book: Research Writing and Journal Publications E-Book.

To ensure that your verbs are correctly conjugated in every section of your research paper, let Wordvice’s professional editors proofread and edit your academic work. We revise for grammar, punctuation, style, and flow, improving your language and maximizing the impact of your scientific text.

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Scientific and Research Paper Writing: Choosing the right Verb Tense. 1. Abstract: Past Tense to talk about the results you gathered. 2. Introduction: Present Tense to talk about general background information. Present perfect tense to talk about previous research. 3. Methods: Past Tense to talk about what you did. TIP: passive voice is common. Present tense to explain diagrams and figures. Ex: Table 1 shows. 4. Results: Use past tense to talk about actual results. Use present tense to explain diagrams/figures. Ex: Table 1 shows… 5. Discussion: Use present tense to interpret and talk about the significance of findings. 6. Conclusion: use past tense to refer to your completed research. Use present tense to talk about implications and suggest future research.
How to Use Past Tense:
To talk about events that have been completed.
Ex1: We found that…
Ex2: Protocol X was followed. [Passive voice]
How to use Present Perfect:
To talk about events that started in the past but are still ongoing or recently completed.
Ex: Many experiments have focused on…
How to use Present Tense:
To talk about events that are general fact, discuss current meanings, and suggest future applications.
Ex1: Insulin and glucagon regulate blood glucose levels.
Ex2: Increased hormone production indicates…
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