Points to check in your writing

■ Within one paragraph, it is not usual to shift tenses unless there is a good reason to do so. The example below is the final paragraph of the introduction to a scientific paper. This paragraph

* summarises the purpose of the paper (in the past tense),

* states the current state of development in the area of interest (present perfect),

* indicates the aim of the paper (future tense), and

* reports the results performed by the authors (past tense).

The purpose of the work presented here was to examine interfacial crack initiation over a wide range of mode mixes. The analysis and development of a suitable specimen and biaxial device have already been described. This paper will present the results and analysis of a series of experiments that were conducted with various combinations of tensile and positive or negative shear loads.

■ When all verbs describe a sequence of actions or states, their tenses should be the same. This is often the case in describing an experiment.

In the petroleum industry, one of the most widely used methods for enhancing production is the hydraulic fracturing process. The method involves packing off a section of a borehole in the "pay zone" and hydraulically pressurizing it until the formation fractures. The fracture is then propagated by keeping the borehole pressurized, typically by controlling the flow rate at the surface.

■ variation between passive and active constructions is strongly recommended to keep the reader interested. (See Section 4.4 on the Passive Voice.)

■ check your use of tenses in if clauses (see above)

If the relative width of the tube is greater than 20, then the difference is /will be hardly affected by h. If the experiments were carried out by introducing edge conditions nearer to true simple supports than those imposed within tubes, the buckling loads could be higher than those obtained in tube experiments.

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