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My question is about the use of the present or future tense when describing what the current project being written does/will do:

  • Should it be "This thesis will investigate whether...," or "This thesis investigates whether..."?
  • I'd like to know whether it's ever proper to write (e.g. in a thesis introduction) "Chapter 3 will treat the historical matters...," as opposed to "Chapter 3 treats the historical matters...."
  • For the actual thesis, present. For a thesis proposal, will. – Lambie Feb 20 at 17:07
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The standard convention in many fields of science is to use the present tense in these cases.

"This thesis investigates whether ..."

This is merely a convention of scientific English, and has nothing to do with English grammar, which allows both the present and the future to be used for this.

You should look at theses and journal articles in your field, and figure out what tense they use.

  • While both are correct, and one should, indeed, generally follow the conventions of one's discipline, it can be observed that some writers, in some contexts, deliberately choose the future tense in order to convey the idea that the book is an exploratory journey that proceeds through several stages, and to create a sense of complicity with the reader, for whom reading the later chapters is in the future. – jsw29 Feb 20 at 17:42
  • @jsw29 There's no book here. – Lambie Feb 20 at 21:23

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