Answered By: Theresa Bell
Last Updated: Aug 24, 2021     Views: 2

The 7th edition style manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) provides suggestions on which verb tense is appropriate for various sections of a thesis, major project or journal article:

  • Past or present perfect tense: "Literature review (or whenever discussing other researchers' work)" (APA, 2020, p. 118), "method" (APA, 2020, 118), and "description of procedure" (APA, 2020, 118)
  • Past tense: "Reporting of results" (APA, 2020, p. 118)
  • Present tense: "Discussion of implications of results" (APA, 2020, p. 118) and "presentation of conclusions, limitations, future directions, and so forth" (APA, 2020, p. 118).

As much as possible, try to be consistent with your chosen verb tense within a section "to ensure smooth expression" (APA, 2020, p. 118). If the verb tenses suggested above don't make sense for the purposes of your document, please check with your instructor or academic supervisor to get their recommendation on the best approach for your document.


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).