English wRIting Consultant (ERIC)

Tense use in academic papers

English wRIting Consultant (ERIC)

By Dixin Wang

April 4, 2017

Using the correct tense in technical writings is always a problem for native and non-native writers. Generally, there are some guidelines to follow regarding different parts of a paper.

Abstract: Usually the simple past tense should be used in an abstract to state what you have done in this research. The present tense also can be used for general statements.

  1. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new framework that promotes to find the correlation rules underlying…..
  2. In the experiments conducted with….

Introduction: Generally use present tense if you are stating facts or truth, and use past tense when you talk about other people’s research efforts. Use present tense when you introduce the algorithms you use in your experiments. If you write the roadmap for the whole essay, also use the present tense.

  1. One notable approach is to constrain the probability of failure, then obtain an optimal path. It is called…..
  2. The rest of this paper is organized as follows. Section 2 gives a brief overview of the ….

Methods/Experiments: Use past tense for the experiment parts. When describing the figures or tables you may use simple present tense.

  1. We used 105 continuous variables and 41 status variables from January to March in 2013.

Discussion: Use past tense to discuss the results and describe your findings. You may use simple present tense if needed when you draw a conclusion.

  1. We found the evaluation values of … of the matrix…are significantly higher than those of the matrix…
  2. The reason why the similarities of … set increase is that…

Conclusions: Use present perfect tense and simple present tense to state what you have done in this research and clarify the statements. Use future tense or present tense for further work.

  1. In this paper, we proposed the framework for health monitoring of….
  2. For future work, we aim at constructing a model considering the….
    Also remember to keep the consistency when you write a sentence. Here are some mistakes made by our clients:
  1. The scores of … were lower than … because it is not suitable for … as mentioned in subsection 3.2.
  2. In our experiment, we used about 4000 sentences of reviews which are the same number of …
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