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I'm writing a paper to describe my methods that are borrowed from other's models.

I think both the past and present tense are possible.

I can use present tense as I'm explaining it now.

However, we use only programming languages and programming paradigms for selecting programming model examples. Specifically, we choose two ...

Also, I can use the past tense as I've already used and chose something before writing the paper.

However, we used only programming languages and programming paradigms for selecting programming model examples. Specifically, we chose two ...

Which is correct or better?

ADDED

I chose to use the present tense in my paper as the sentences are in an introduction to describe details later.

However, we use only programming languages and programming paradigms for selecting programming model examples. Specifically, we choose two programming languages--Lisp and Forth--and two programming paradigms--Object Oriented and Functional--as examples of successful programming models. We analyze them to understand what elements enable these languages or paradigms, passing the test of time to be used widely and solving problems in many domains.

I assume that present tense is possible as this is a CS paper, if this is a Chemistry paper that explains my or other's past experiments, I kinda feel I need to write in the past tense.

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, ColleenV, Community Jul 18 '16 at 0:10

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  • I think that if you think both past and present tense are possible, you don't really need any help here. So far as I'm concerned, you're quite right. Unless you're constrained by a particular style guide or house style, use whichever tense you feel comfortable with. – FumbleFingers Jul 17 '16 at 20:55
  • @FumbleFingers: Thanks for your reply. Though, I think there might be a difference (possibly a big difference between the two choices), and in an academic circle (specifically Computer Science) people might prefer one over another because of the difference. I wanted to know if it is really so or not. – prosseek Jul 17 '16 at 21:02
  • What comes after ...? If you then describe the two models, I would use "chose". But could be something like "Specifically, we choose two models in order to make a proper evaluation." Also you might elaborate on "I think there might be a difference (possibly a big difference)". That's nice, but tell us more about it. – user3169 Jul 17 '16 at 21:13
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When you are detailing a past event, it's natural and correct to use past tense.

I walked to the store, then I looked for the produce section. I found some lettuce and then I went to the register, paid for my groceries, and left the store.

However, there's a sense where the simple present tense can be used to describe past events. One of the uses of simple present tense is to narrate activity as its happening. This can be used to describe a past series of events as long as context makes it clear - this is a communication device that serves to "pull one in" to a description of events.

Here's a really silly and contrived example:

A: So Bob told me something interesting happened to you at the store yesterday.

B: Oh yeah, sit down and let me tell you this story.

A: Haha, ok.

B: So yesterday I walk to the store, and I look around for the produce section. I find the lettuce and pick a head out and put it in my basket. Then ...

A: Then what?

B: I look at it and notice something moving. And this big bug was in it.

A: That's crazy.

This technique of "pulling one in" by using simple present tense is also useful in an educational, illustrative, or instructive context, not just a dramatic or storytelling context.

However, if you don't want to do any of the above, e.g. if you are not entertaining or educating, then past tense is better to use.

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