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Tenses in Science

English has a complex system of tenses, and this can be problematic when writing Science reports.

Which tenses should you use?

The tenses used in scientific writing can vary from one disciplinary area to another. As a result it is not possible to give a single simple rule to follow. Think about the tenses you come across while you are reading and researching in your subject area, and notice how they are used in the research reports you read. You should follow the recommendations of your lecturer or tutor in each unit, and your study guide may also provide useful hints.

There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding which tense to use. The section of your report and your view of the research you are reporting upon may influence the verb tense you use.

With thanks to Dr David Rowland, Learning Assistance Unit, University of Queensland.

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