Writing a research method section in past tense
“Write your research method in past tense even before starting the research.”
When I advised my students like this, students often say the following:
- “Well, we haven’t started the research, so I don’t know what to write.”
- “Can I write this after the experiment is over?”
- “All the details (e.g., the number of participants and tasks that the participants will be asked to do) are unknown, so how can I write the research methods.”
- “Past tense? Isn’t it a lie? I haven’t started my experiment.”
Here is my response:
- Before you start the research, writing the research method will help you visualize what kinds of detailed activities you need to prepare.
- Writting in past tense tends to make the visualization more specific and clearer compared to writing in future tense.
- If it is written in past tense, you don’t need to change the tense after the experiment is done.
- If there are undecided elements, please add ?? as a placeholder, so that you can revisit them.
So, start writing the research method even before conducting research experiment starts. It always helps.