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Past simple and present perfect

The first line in my research is the following:

Since the May 6, 2010 ``Flash Crash’’ event, the following question has been raised several times: Does High-Frequency Trading increase the likelihood of long tail and chaotic events in financial markets?

Should I say

Since the May 6, 2010 ``Flash Crash’’ event, the following question was raised several times: Does High-Frequency Trading increase the likelihood of long tail and chaotic events in financial markets?

I have been told that I have to avoid "has been" and even "was" in academic journals. Is there a better way for me to improve my sentence?

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Carlo_R., Matt Эллен, kiamlaluno, Daniel Jul 20 '12 at 17:53

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
@FumbleFingers: I'm unsure, but I think the current question has been raised several times in the last days in several ways, even from users that have been removed. I'm going to vote to close. –  user19148 Jul 15 '12 at 22:26
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@CharlesM: I think this question probably will get closed. But for your purposes I think all that matters is you should use "has been raised" if you want to imply that the question continues to be raised. If it was only raised several times in the past, but not recently (and you don't expect it to be raised again), then use simple past "was raised". And forget about the idea that you're supposed to avoid present perfect - just make sure you understand what it implies, and therefore where it might be appropriate. –  FumbleFingers Jul 15 '12 at 22:34
    
@FumbleFingers: Furthermore, I'm sure that a removed user recently asked if "High-Frequency Trading" could be pluralized, but I cannot see this question and its incredible thread. –  user19148 Jul 15 '12 at 22:36
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@Carlo_R. Congratulations on having achieved the privilege to vote for closing questions. Use it wisely and continue to be as active on EL&U as you've been so far. –  Paola Jul 15 '12 at 22:39
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@Carlo_R.: It was this same user CharlesM who asked that question, but I think you must be confusing it with something else - the question was closed with little discussion, but obviously CharlesM is still happily asking about the same things –  FumbleFingers Jul 15 '12 at 22:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If your intention was to tie the raising of said question to the event, it's possible to phrase it like this:

The May 6, 2010 ``Flash Crash’’ event provoked much questioning along the following lines: does High-Frequency Trading increase the likelihood of long tail and chaotic events in financial markets?

or alternatively (and I think it is better this way, without the question directly asked; more noticeably professional than any exclusion of "has been" or "was" would denote):

The May 6, 2010 ``Flash Crash’’ event caused many to question whether High-Frequency Trading increases the likelihood of long tail and chaotic events in financial markets.

I have to say, however, that I have never come across such a prohibition of "has been" or "was" in journals, and you should not feel like you have to abide strictly by such a restriction where it makes writing more awkward. Communication is the goal, after all.

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Wow two good choices! Thanks a lot! –  CharlesM Jul 15 '12 at 21:56
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Adding another slightly shorter option: "The May 6, 2010 ``Flash Crash’’ event suggested that High-Frequency Trading may increase the likelihood of long tail and chaotic events in financial markets." –  Derrick Coetzee Jul 15 '12 at 22:07
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@DerrickCoetzee , that's a concise version, but loses some of the meaning of the original - probably for the best if the intention is a succinct, "tight" piece of writing, and if that sentence adequately reflects the intention of the original, which I'm not sure about. –  Key Jul 15 '12 at 22:09

If you use the Past instead of the Perfect, you're speaking of the past events of the question being raised, instead of on the present relevance of the question. Then the next question is, naturally, "When?", and that's not where you want to lead the reader; it's a red herring.

Whereas the Existential sense of the Perfect is exactly what's needed here. It says there were occasions, but brushes aside the details to concentrate on the question, instead of when and where it was raised.

And who in the world ever told you that

in Academic Journals, you want to avoid "has been" and even "was" ?

I've been publishing in academic journals (no capitals necessary; this is just a category, not a Hallowed Title) for over 40 years now, and I've never heard of anything like this.

Trust me on this -- what you want to avoid in academic journals is being unclear, and getting your facts or references wrong. Pleasing one's English instructors by adhering to their quirks is much, much lower on the scale of values.

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Thanks John for all the details! I was told on several occasions to avoid "has been" - if possible. Also, the past tense "was", if possible to reconstruct your sentence to avoid the past. Anyhow, thanks again! –  CharlesM Jul 15 '12 at 21:56
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The advice to avoid "has been" and "was" is a special case of the advice "avoid the passive". This advice is absolutely baseless; what you want to do is avoid overuse of the passive. –  Peter Shor Jul 15 '12 at 22:07
    
Use the passive where you ought to -- in many fields certain parts of technical papers must be in the passive -- and don't use it where it's not doing anything useful. In fact, don't use any construction unless you know what good it's doing for you. –  John Lawler Jul 15 '12 at 22:12
    
Great insight again! thanks –  CharlesM Jul 15 '12 at 22:37
    
@Peter Shor: Thanks for that - at least I now understand where OP got that bizarre idea from! –  FumbleFingers Jul 15 '12 at 22:37

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