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‘What tense should I write a scholarly abstract in?’ and other frequently asked questions about writing abstracts

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Erin McTigue, a writing coach with The Positive Academic, and Wendi Kamman Zimmer, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, answer four frequently asked questions about writing scholarly abstracts.

Q: How long is an abstract?

Zimmer: “While this depends on the journal you’re publishing in and the requirements of your field, it is generally 150-300 words.”

Q: What tense should I write an abstract in?

McTigue: “Usually the present tense is used for the opening statement, the past tense is used for the methods and results, and the present tense again for the conclusion. It is definitely okay to switch the tenses.”

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