Reaching out across the Web .. ...分享 Zuojun Yu, physical oceanographer, freelance English editor


和任胜利老师: 科技写作时态 (Past tense? Present tense?) 精选

已有 16766 次阅读 2013-1-28 06:31 |个人分类:Most shared|系统分类:论文交流| present, paste, consistently



I left a comment at Ren lao shi’s Blog, and received this homework assignment.

I don’t know if I can do a better job than his book, but let me try to add my two cents. (Why me? I was a researcher who wrote papers in English, and I am a freelance English editor who edits about 150 research papers each year.)


First, I am a numerical modeler. So when I am ready to write a paper, I have done most of the numerical experiments already.

1. Introduction

In the introduction, we often need to cite many publications. Our rules are:

1) use the past tense when a sentence starts with a publication;

For example: Ren et al. (2012) noted a dramatic increase in publication by Chinese authors in SCI journals during the 2000s, thanks in part to the cash reward and promotion criteria set by the (Chinese) system. (Sorry, I made up this sentence, and this Ren is not any Ren lao shi at SciNet.)

Note that even though the publication is recent, I still use the past tense, “noted.”

Note also that I have no authority to make you follow this rule, but from now on you should pay attention to what your colleagues do when you read their papers.

2) use the present tense for a result/fact that remains true today, even though the result/fact was obtained 100 years ago.

For example:  The Gulf Stream is the most powerful western boundary current on Earth, which was discovered and confirmed by sailors and scientists hundred years ago.

3) use both mixed (say past and present) tenses in one sentence.

If you don’t like the sentence I made up in 2), here is one from Wikipedia: European discovery of the Gulf Stream dates to the 1513 expedition of Juan Ponce de León, after which it became widely used by Spanish ships sailing from the Caribbean to Spain.[1] 


2. Methodology

To describe the methods and data sets used in the paper, we use the present tense.

For example: We use the WOA (World Ocean Atlas) data as initial conditions for our experiments. We use satellite data to validate model’s phytoplankton field in the surface layer.


3. Results

We use the present tense to describe all our (finished) experiments. If you prefer to use the past tense, it is fine as long as you do so consistently. Do not switch from the past tense to the present tense randomly.

4) Discussion and Conclusion

We tend to use the present perfect tense, such as “We have shown,” but again one can use the past tense or the present tense. Just be consistent.


I hope this helps.

ps. You may also want to check this out:

Scientific Writing for Beginners (1)-(8)

by Zuojun Yu

using this link:


上一篇:Scam Alert: “Social Engineering”
下一篇:Americans are poorer than you think...
收藏 IP: 218.0.192.*| 热度|

29 王桂颖 任胜利 吕喆 陈小润 陈桂华 刘全慧 喻海良 武夷山 孙学军 马红孺 贾伟 朱丽红 朱志敏 王春艳 高英 徐长庆 郑永军 翟自洋 蒋永华 徐耀 郑融 温世正 胡莹玉 赵西增 高绪仁 罗汉江 王爱平 周锋 binpda

该博文允许实名用户评论 评论 (16 个评论)


Archiver|手机版|科学网 ( 京ICP备07017567号-12 )

GMT+8, 2024-6-12 22:59

Powered by

Copyright © 2007- 中国科学报社