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Passive sentences with present simple tense are extensively used in the abstracts of scientific papers. For example, we may read

  1. In this work, the melting point of copper is calculated with a new method.

the active form of which is

  1. In this work, we calculate the melting point of copper with a new method.

Considering the fact that present simple tense is usually used to express repeated actions, routines and permanent facts, why is it used in this case?

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    why wouldn't it? what should be used instead? the present progressive? the present perfect? – David Haim Feb 20 '18 at 10:19
  • @DavidHaim, if English is your first language, it is utterly intuitive for you. But I need a reason, a grammatical rule. I see a difference between "Physics is studied in this college" and "In this paper, X is studied." In the first sentence a regular action is described. – apadana Feb 20 '18 at 10:26
  • English is not my native language and I do go by the linguistic approach whenever I write in English. in this case, let's go with the elimination technique -> if we used the present progressive/present perfect here, what would a reader get from reading this sentence? try this technique and see that the present simple is the most appropriate here. – David Haim Feb 20 '18 at 10:30
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    also, you've already given the reason behind the use of the present simple here: "repeated actions, routines and permanent facts". calculating the melting point of a copper as part of a scientific project is in fact "a repeated action, a routine and a permanent fact". – David Haim Feb 20 '18 at 10:32
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    Present simple tense is usually used to express repeated actions, routines and permanent facts. And, usually in the passive, in the abstracts of scientific papers (at least when I used to read them in the 60s). – Edwin Ashworth Feb 20 '18 at 11:07
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First of all, passive forms are more common in writing than in spoken English. The sentence In this work, the melting point of copper is calculated with a new method is taken from some scientific paper and it's much better than In this work, we calculate the melting point of copper with a new method and here's why:

We often use the passive when the agent is not relevant, or not known.

I think you would agree that who calculates the melting point of copper is not so important. In written English we often use the passive to focus on the issues rather than on the people involved.

As for the use of the Present Simple in your sentence, it is used to express some fact about the work. Some new method is used throughout the book.

  • Thank you. If I say "Mr. B arrived yesterday," I'm expressing some fact, without using present simple. Actually, almost any verb describes a fact. Only special kinds of facts are described by present simple tense. – apadana Feb 20 '18 at 11:44
  • Right. "Mr. B arrived yesterday" is a kind of fact (a thing that is known) and you cannot use the present simple because he arrived yesterday. So only the past simple can be used. But don't be confused by the word "fact"... "I had done this before" is a fact and "I have lived here" is a fact too... You need to understand the situation well to use the right tense. – Enguroo Feb 20 '18 at 12:16

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