Scientific Language: Tense and Certainty

In this section we will look at two aspects of the language of the results section: tense and certainty. The tense of verbs will vary in the results stage, generally between the simple present and simple past. The most usual tense found in the results is the simple past. Simple present is used to refer to what figures and tables show and to make generalisations about the results. However, you need to be careful about what generalisations you make, as these are more appropriate in the discussion section. The example text provides a good guideline for tense choices in the results.

You can also state your results with different degrees of certainty, depending on how sure you are about a specific result, e.g. X appeared to be, X may be…. However, the language of certainty will vary more in the discussion section. In this example all results were stated with certainty.

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