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What tense are research papers written in

Do not begin each section on a new page. If one section ends part of the way down the page, the next section heading follows immediately on the same page. One important general rule to keep in mind is that a scientific paper is a report about something that has been done in the past. The present tense is, are is used when stating generalizations or conclusions. The present tense is most often used in the Introduction, Discussion and Conclusion sections of papers.

The paper should read as a narrative in which the author describes what was done and what results were obtained from that work. By reading the title, the work being reported should be clear to the reader without having to read the paper itself. The title, "A Biology Lab Report", tells the reader nothing.

An example of a good, self-explanatory title would be: This title reports exactly what the researcher has done by stating three things: The environmental factors that were manipulated light, temperature. The parameter that was measured growth. The specific organism that was studied the bacterium, Escherichia coli.

The secret to using tenses in scientific writing [Infographic]

If the title had been only "Effects of Light and Temperature on Escherichia coli ", the reader would have to guess which parameters were measured. That is, were the effects on reproduction, survival, dry weight or something else? If the title had been "Effect of Environmental Factors on Growth of Escherichia coli ", the reader would not know which environmental factors were manipulated. If the title had been "Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of an Organism", then the reader would not know which organism was studied.

In any of the above cases, the reader would be forced to read more of the paper to understand what the researcher had done.

Scientific Writing: A Verb Tense Review

If several factors were manipulated, all of them do not have to be listed. Instead, "Effects of Several Environmental Factors on Growth of Populations ofEscherichia coli " if more than two or three factors were manipulated would be appropriate.

The same applies if more than two or three organisms were studied. The researcher would then include the names of the bacteria in the Materials and Methods section of the paper.

  • Remember that you are writing for classmates who have knowledge similar to yours;
  • If one section ends part of the way down the page, the next section heading follows immediately on the same page;
  • Species-dependent effects of seed predation and ground cover on seedling emergence of old-field forbs;
  • Popular literature and the Internet should be used sparingly and with caution.

An abstract is more than a summary. A summary is a brief restatement of preceding text that is intended to orient a reader who has studied the preceding text. An abstract is intended to be self-explanatory without reference to the paper, but is not a substitute for the paper.

Writing About Your Research: Verb Tense

The abstract should present, in about 250 words, the purpose of the paper, general materials and methods including, if any, the scientific and common names of organismssummarized results, and the major conclusions.

Do not include any information that is not contained in the body of the paper. Exclude detailed descriptions of organisms, materials and methods. Tables or figures, references to what tense are research papers written in or figures, or references to literature cited usually are not included in this section.

The abstract is usually written last. An easy way to write the abstract is to extract the most important points from each section of the paper and then use those points to construct a brief description of your study. It should give readers enough information to appreciate your specific objectives within a larger theoretical framework. After placing your work in a broader context, you should state the specific question s to be answered. This section may also include background information about the problem such as a summary of any research that has been done on the problem in the past and how the present experiment will help to clarify or expand the knowledge in this general area.

All background information gathered from other sources must, of course, be appropriately cited. Proper citation of references will be described later. A helpful strategy in this section is to go from the general, theoretical framework to your specific question.

However, do not make the Introduction too broad. Remember that you are writing for classmates who have knowledge similar to yours. Present only the most relevant ideas and get quickly to the point of the paper.

For examples, see the Appendix. The researcher describes the experimental design, the apparatus, methods of gathering data and type of control. If any work was done in a natural habitat, the worker describes the study area, states its location and explains when the work was done. If specimens were collected for study, where and when that material was collected are stated.

DO NOT write this section as though it were directions in a laboratory exercise book. First pour agar into six petri plates. Then inoculate the plates with the bacteria.

Which Tense Should Be Used in Abstracts: Past or Present?

Then put the plates into the incubator. Simply describe how the experiment was done: Six petri plates were prepared with agar and inoculated with the bacteria. The plates were incubated for ten hours. The materials that were used in the research are simply mentioned in the narrative as the experimental procedure is described in detail. If well-known methods were used without changes, simply name the methods e. If modified standard techniques were used, describe the changes. RESULTS Here the researcher presents summarized data for inspection using narrative text and, where appropriate, tables and figures to display summarized data.

Only the results are presented. No interpretation of the data or conclusions about what the data might mean are given in this section. Do not present raw data! Do not repeat extensively in the text the data you have presented in tables and figures. But, do not restrict yourself to passing comments either. For example, only stating that "Results are shown in Table 1.

The text describes the data presented in the tables and figures and calls attention to the important data that the researcher will discuss in the Discussion section and will use to support Conclusions.

Rules to follow when constructing and presenting figures and tables are presented in a later section of this guide. The author should include any explanations of how the results differed from those hypothesized, or how the results were either different from or similar to those of any related experiments performed by other researchers. Remember that experiments do not always need to show major differences or trends to be important. A useful strategy in discussing your experiment is to relate your specific results back to the broad theoretical context presented in the Introduction.

Since your Introduction went from the general to a specific question, going from the specific back to the general will help to tie your ideas and arguments together. This section should not offer any reasons for those particular conclusions--these should have been presented in the Discussion section. By looking at only the Introduction and Conclusions sections, a reader should have a good idea of what the researcher has investigated and discovered even though the specific details of how the work was done would not be known.

If your work has been supported by a grant, you would also give credit for that in this section. It provides the readers with the information needed should they want to refer to the original literature on the general problem.

Note that the Literature Cited section includes only those references that were actually mentioned cited in the paper. Any other information that the researcher may have read about the problem but did not mention in the paper is not included in this section. This is why the section is called "Literature Cited" instead of "References" or "Bibliography".

The system of citing reference material in scientific journals varies with the particular journal. The method that you will follow is the "author-date" system. Listed below what tense are research papers written in several examples of how citations should be presented in the text of your paper.

The name s of the author s and year of publication are included in the body of the text. Sentence structure determines the placement of the parentheses. The following citations illustrate the details of punctuation and order of information for a journal article, book, Internet source, and your laboratory packet.

Occurrence of indoleacetic acid in the bryophytes. Processes of Organic Evolution. Salt Tolerance in Phaseolus vulgaris. Colby Custom Publishing Generally, most references will be to the primary literature i. Popular literature and the Internet should be used sparingly and with caution.

Other sources such as book chapters and pamphlets typically have their own specific citation formats. If necessary, be sure to find out what tense are research papers written in these formats are and use them appropriately.

For a much more detailed discussion about writing scientific papers, consult: Council of Biology Editors, Inc. This guide is based on a paper by Gubanich, A. Writing the scientific paper in the investigative lab. Examples from the scientific literature that illustrate material in various sections of a scientific paper. Revision of the theory of phototropism in plants: Went's classical experiment on the diffusion of auxin activity from unilaterally illuminated oat coleoptile tips Went 1928was repeated as precisely as possible.

In agreement with Went's data with the Avena curvature assay, the agar blocks from the illuminated side of oat Avena sativa L. However, determination of the absolute amounts of indole-3-acetic acid IAA in the agar blocks, using a physicochemical assay following purification, showed that the IAA was evenly distributed in the blocks from the illuminated and shaded sides.

In the blocks from the shaded and dark-control halves the amounts of IAA were 2. Chromatography of the diffusates prior to the Avena curvature test demonstrated that the amounts of two growth inhibitors, especially of the more polar one, were significantly higher in the agar blocks from the illuminated side than in those from the shaded side and the dark control.

These results show that the basic experiment from which the Cholodny-Went theory was derived does not justify this theory.