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Use of the correct verb tense allows you to express clearly the time relationships among your ideas.
Which tense you use would depend on what you want to convey and focus on and what is grammatically correct in context. You may find it interesting to note that the use of tense in literature reviews is fairly debated in academic writing circles.
Back in the day—when you were in elementary school—you learned about past tense, present tense, and future tense.
Scientists conducted the experiments in the past, so you’ll write about the experiments in past tense.
(NOTE: If you’re writing in a science class, you’ll most likely cite in APA and always write in the past tense when discussing the steps and results of your experiment.) Of course I have a few examples up my sleeve to help clarify literary present tense!
The methodology should be in past tense if it has already happened.
The results section of the paper should also be in past tense, and implications of the results and conclusions in present tense.
Historical events occurred in the past, so they’re written about in past tense.
If you’re writing about your science experiment, you completed the experiment in the past.
Are you referring to a section (Introduction or Discussion) in your paper where you are talking about previously published work on the same/a similar topic?
Or are you referring to an entire paper that is a literature review?