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Hello, I am an English teacher working overseas doing ESL. I have been hired to proofread a Master's Thesis, and a disagreement has arisen between myself and my client. Actually, as I look it over, it seems a little odd no matter how it's written, so I"m thinking maybe both of us are wrong. Anyway, here is the situation:

"In this subsection, I employ two testing methods. The first method, developed in 2009 by Corsi, et al, utilized..."

"The second test, proposed by Corsi in 2009, employed..."

"Additionally, Corsi introduced a correction to the z-statistics, which identified..."

I think that in each of these cases, even though they are grammatically correct, it doesn't make sense to use the past tense at the end. It should be "utilizes","employs", and "identified", because he isn't writing a historical report, he's using this data now in this paper. Besides, using the past tense seems (to me) to sort of imply that perhaps the equation proposed in 2009 only identified something in 2009, and maybe it wouldn't do so if you worked out the same equation now. Am I wrong?

My client insists that I should make every tense in every paragraph agree, period.

It's particularly weird as the paper then must continue with sentences such as "in the paper, the continuous component was defined as x=3q... which was equal to y-4t.

To me, that's blatantly wrong, or possibly just lousy style. Am I wrong? If not, help me explain why my method is grammatically correct in the most technical language possible, as I can't do that and it's the only thing my client would respect, I think.
Comments  
Sorry-- your client's right: the main thing is to make the tenses agree. But you can use either, depending on whether you wish the paper to view a past completed piece of research or wish to use the 'historical/narrative present' to make the text more immediate for the reader.

Of course, throughout the paper as a whole, there will be both past tenses and present tenses as appropriate.
Mister MicawberSorry-- your client's right: the main thing is to make the tenses agree.

Isn't this what Anon was suggesting? He believed the tense should be in the present simple to agree with the present tense 'employ' in the preceding sentence. The writer of the sentence used the past simple in the verbs following 'employ.'

Which would be preferred, do you think, MM--taking into consideration of course that the first verb is in the present simple.

In this subsection, I employ two testing methods. The first method, developed in 2009 by Corsi, et al, utilized..."



"The second test, proposed by Corsi in 2009, employed..."



"Additionally, Corsi introduced a correction to the z-statistics, which identified..."
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In this subsection, I employ two testing methods. The first method, developed in 2009 by Corsi, et al, utilized..." Sounds okay to me!
It does not sound the best choice to me. The method continues to be used: timeless present is called for. This is not a history of Corsi's science; it is a current experiment which, it is expected, others will try to duplicate in the future.
Your client is more correct. It does not mean that if he is writing a thesis, it is subjected to have verb tenses different from a historical text just with the idea that it is only for what was done or what happened.

The fact is, thesis papers are mostly written in the past tense since the study has already been done, performed, tested, observed upon.

Hope this helps Emotion: smile
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AnonymousTo me, that's blatantly wrong, or possibly just lousy style. Am I wrong? If not, help me explain why my method is grammatically correct in the most technical language possible, as I can't do that and it's the only thing my client would respect, I think.
I don't have the technical language you require, but my preference would be to put all of those verbs in the present tense.

To my ear the situation is the same for the discussion of any sort of work of art or science available for public comment. We speak of them in the present, I suppose, because they are (physically) present in some recorded form.

It could be a play by Shakespeare, a painting by Vermeer, a sonata by Mozart, or a method by Corsi. (The play concerns ... This painting shows ... The sonata begins with ... This method utilizes ...) The past participles can stay, of course. (The play, written by Shakespeare in 1605, concerns ..., etc.)

Things get interesting when you switch subjects from the work to its producer, however. Is it, for example, that Vermeer gives the face a translucent glow by ... or that Vermeer gave the face a translucent glow by ...? Or, in the case at hand, is it that Corsi introduces a correction or that he introduced a correction? I'm inclined to say that this switch turns the text into narrative, however briefly, and the past tense will work fairly unobtrusively, giving this mix of tenses,

Corsi introduced a correction ..., which identifies ...

Nevertheless, I know I've read texts in which the present is used there, so, on the basis of consistency, or possibly on the basis of a "historical present" usage, you can argue that case as well.

Corsi introduces a correction ..., which identifies ...

Good luck!

CJ