John Dixon, independent medical writer and trainer in scientific writing skills, provides a useful tip for medical writers who work in MedComms.

John’s Linkedin page is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndixonlmm/

John’s web page is at https://librasciencecomms.co.uk

Note these “bites” are recorded online using the zoom.us platform and hence quality may be affected by variability in internet connectivity and quality of webcams. The tips, however, are always first class!

Recorded 4 December 2018. Produced by NetworkPharma.tv

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Transcript

Hi, I’m John Dixon, a trainer in scientific writing, and here’s a bite that I hope may help you with your writing.

Be careful and consistent with tenses. [NEXT SLIDE]

When you’re writing up scientific research, do you ever get confused about whether you should use the present or past tense? [NEXT SLIDE]

Particularly when writing an abstract or discussion, you may need to alternate frequently between the past and present tense
And if you get it wrong, or you’re inconsistent, it can look a bit odd. [NEXT SLIDE]

So here are some simple rules – let’s consider this short abstract… [NEXT SLIDE]

Use the present tense::

for established facts or the background
for the question to be answered by a study or the objective
and for the answer we get or conclusion of a study [NEXT SLIDE]

Use the past tense:

for attribution – that is … reference to past findings that are not yet established fact
for our methods or approach to answering the question
and for the results – what we found

So don’t get … tense … when deciding if you should be in the present or the past.

I hope that’s helpful. For more bites to help your writing, visit networkpharma.tv.

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[For the avoidance of doubt: this video is intended to be freely accessible to all. Please feel free to share and use however you like. Cheers Peter Llewellyn, Director NetworkPharma Ltd and Founder of the MedComms Networking Community activity at http://www.medcommsnetworking.com]