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:

  1. “Well, we haven’t started the research, so I don’t know what to write.”
  2. “Can I write this after the experiment is over?”
  3. “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.”
  4. “Past tense? Isn’t it a lie? I haven’t started my experiment.”

Here is my response:

  1. Before you start the research, writing the research method will help you visualize what kinds of detailed activities you need to prepare.
  2. Writting in past tense tends to make the visualization more specific and clearer compared to writing in future tense.
  3. If it is written in past tense, you don’t need to change the tense after the experiment is done.
  4. 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.

Written on June 14, 2020