According to the APA Publication Manual, you should use past tense for discussing literature, an action or condition that occurred at a specific time in the past. Past tense should be used to describe previous research or when referencing quotes, as the process has already been completed. Any study but the proposal has already been done, so the tense is past tense except for the verbiage taking about the proposal which would be future tense (not yet done). Past tense should be used to describe previous research or when referencing quotes, as the process has already been completed. An example of the appropriate use of past tense might be: Jones (2005) defined or Smith (2004) published.When referring to what authors have written in the literature you should use past tense. Thompson stated, not states. When referring to your dissertation study when you are completed, you will refer to what you did in the past tense. For the proposal use future tense--The purpose of the proposed study will be to… not is (is in the present tense). When you indicate what is in a chapter of your proposal or dissertation, use present tense because what you have written will always be in the chapter, thus in the present.
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