Scientific Language: Verbs

In your summary you will have to pay attention to the way you use your verbs. You will need to make decisions about:

Tense: choosing the appropriate tenses in the summary
Certainty and Usuality: the way conclusions are stated in the summary
Obligation: the way recommendations are made in the summary.

In the summary, the main tense choice is the PAST TENSE because the writer is summarising the experiment that was carried out, its aim, methods and results. This is factual information relating to how the experiment happened.

However, when the writer draws conclusions from the results, s/he must be tentative about the claims and judgements s/he is making based on the results. These are opinions and are open to a different interpretation by someone else.

When the writer makes recommendations based on the conclusions, s/he must be tentative about what should be done by someone else in future experiments. Once again these suggestions are not facts and are open to debate.

Degrees of certainty and obligation are expressed by modal verbs (e.g. can, may, should, etc) or other expressions (such as possibly, clearly, it seems...etc).

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