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I'm writing an academic article for journal publication. My field is social science, and the article is submitted to an American journal.

One of the reviewers suggested using the past tense ("were limited" and "were not investigated") in the following paragraph. This is the minimum working example (MWE).

Someone (1990) studied X. [...] However, the study is limited to proposing only a theoretical framework for the problem of X. As a result, the impact of the framework in practice is not investigated.

Actually, I've confirmed that "the impact of the framework" has not been investigated at this moment, by checking all the publications from the research group after 1990.

Then, I can agree with the reviewer because the study "Someone (1990)" is done in the past, in 1990. But if I use the past tense here, it sounds like the limitation is something in the past, hence does not exist now. This is not what I want to communicate.

Which tense should I use for this situation?

Note: I'm not a native speaker.

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I would suggest "was limited" and "was not investigated" and then clarify with "remains ambiguous/uncertain". It's easier to just add an extra sentence to clarify meaning.

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The suggestion to use the past tense seems somewhat helpful. However, for the "investigated" portion, it would be better to use present perfect.

Someone (1990) studied X. [...] However, the study was limited to proposing only a theoretical framework for the problem of X. As a result, the impact of the framework in practice has not been investigated.

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When there is a past adverbial in the clause, to show the completion of the action, a simple past tense verb should be used as in "Someone studied X in 1990". And here in the next sentence, the nature of the study is explained. That part also is better to be in the simple past tense. (Somewhat like both these sentences can easily be correlated by a conjunction as 'Someone studied X in 1990 and the study was limited to.....) But the last sentence should be in the Present Perfect Tense in order to show the present relevance of a completed action in the past: "As a result, the impact of the framework in practice has not been investigated".

"If we wish to refer completed activities that took place within a period of time that extends to and includes the present moment, without giving a definite point or period of time for any of these activities, we may use the Present Perfect Tense".

"The Present Perfect Tense is also used to refer to the present result of an activity or experience in the past. The chief interest is not in the past but in the present".

(Guide to Patterns and Usage in English by AS Hornby)

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This covers what you need and what you were told:

Someone (1990) studied X. [...] However, the study was limited to proposing only a theoretical framework for the problem of X. As a result, the impact of the framework in practice was not investigated and still awaits further study as of February 2017.

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