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I thought I might ask here as well.

So I'm writing a paper and I want to define the experimental process. I have two challenges.

Firstly, when I define the experimental process, I want to write it in a way that is independent of its execution, i.e., a generic process definition. So, which tense should I use? Past doesn't sound right, because it's actually a blueprint for an experiment and not something that was already done. I was thinking present simple? For example, I don't want to say "In the first step, participants had to answer the question" but something in the manner of "in the first step, participants answer the questions". I'm not sure which tense to use.

Secondly, I want to state that the experimental process was executed three times. What noun should I use? I'm using the "instances" noun, e.g., "Three instances of the experimental process were performed across three days". Is this an OK choice for what I'm writing about? Also, I want to stress that the same experiment was completed three times, once each day and not that one experiment lasted for 3 days.

Thanks for the advice!

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    This is already asked on Academia and has an answer. Please don't cross-post. Choose the most relevant site and ask your question there. Just because it might be relevant on another site does not justify asking twice. – Andrew Leach Jul 21 '18 at 9:07
  • I made that clear with the first sentence. However, the response I got here, was way better than that in academia and I guess I should have posted here firstly. Sadly, I wasn't even aware this community exists. – curiouscat Jul 21 '18 at 9:24
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I want to define the experimental process.

Ok, although you should be aware that the actual process varies from the version taught in middle-school science.

So, which tense should I use?

If you're describing actions, use the present simple, the tense for action outside of time: Participants do this.

If you're giving instructions, use the imperative present: Do this.

"In the first step, participants answer the questions".

This is the right tense, but not part of any scientific method. If you're talking about offering hypotheses, they suggest possible answers. They don't announce the correct ones.

Secondly, I want to state that the experimental process was executed three times. What noun should I use?

This also makes no sense. You just said you were talking about a process, not a specific instance in the past. Do you mean they should repeat the experiment three times to obtain an averaged result?

  • thanks for your response! Let me clarify this: I already have the hypotheses defined, and dependent variables too. Now I want to describe which steps were foreseen in the experiment. For example, there's a survey which 3 sections and I want to describe what participants will have to do in each section. Then, in another chapter, called "Research execution" I will actually describe how this defined steps were executed. I obtained 90 responses, 30 participants per day. So the defined steps were executed 3 times separately – curiouscat Jul 21 '18 at 9:23
  • Sorry, curiouscat; if you have the hypotheses defined, with dependent variables, what are you asking, please? Surveying three sections you describe what participants do… In the chapter “whatever you like” you describe how the steps were executed. Could you explain how they mattered, please? Do you know a Professor of any discipline who would support any research involving 90 responses, please? 900 perhaps but 90? Why would you even ask a Question about 90 subjects? Again, 30 participants per day boils down to what? How many minutes does each person take to process? – Robbie Goodwin Aug 4 '18 at 22:03

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