Present Tense, Past Tense or Future Tense?

My next task in research & enquiry module is to write a critical analysis. I need to use roughly 1,000 words to evaluate a text which was chosen from my annotated bibliography. I’ll give myself about 5 days’ time to complete this evaluation while refining my bibliography annotations.

After re-watching the teaching resources from my tutor, I basically have a rough idea to structure my analysis. However, I’m still feel quite confused with the uses of present tense and past tense in academic writings. The writing style is unlike the novels, biographies and textbooks I have read before, therefore I decided to do some research about the use of the verb tenses.

I found University of New England website offers a clearer view for use of the verb tense. It states that  “in academic writing, there are conventions about using tense correctly and about using tense consistently.” and the page provides some guidance to use the verb tense in academic writings.

Basically, there are few important points I need to know before writing my analysis:

  1. The right use of present tense, past tense and present tense.
  2. When expressing my idea or evaluating the text, I should use present tense. The webpage states that “academic writing mostly use present tense to state facts, to make generalizations and to report on the research and ideas of others.”
  3. The past tense is used to illustrate or describe an “past event and research that is not continuing.” 
  4. I should use future tense “to express the writer’s assumptions, speculation and prediction about the future after a situation has been analyzed and considered in the light of evidence.”
  5. I should probably draw a time frame in order to make shifts of the verb tense.

These few guidelines are simplified but provided a clearer idea to use the verb tense appropriately in my analysis.


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