Is the apostrophe in the right place in the following sentence?

Pendleton, et al. (2002)’s research implies that extension of treatment allows for greater weight loss.

  • 1
    Dear Susan, welcome to EL&U. This is a nice first question. Please be reminded that you can comment further here (below this comment) if you want to discuss the answers given below. You can also mark one of the answers as “accepted”, meaning that it was the most helpful to you. – F'x Feb 21 '11 at 22:56

Logic suggests that, but it's pretty ugly. No one is coercing you into using the ’s mark of the possessive, and it would be much nicer to rewrite it as:

The research of Pendleton et al. (2002) implies that…


If this is academic writing, then there is no one answer that will work in any situation.

The answer actually depends on the specific field you are writing in. In my field (linguistics), there is a standard way that this is done, and it is like the following, e.g.:

  • Chomsky's (1957) analysis of...

  • Dupoux et al.'s (1999) finding of...

Other fields might specifically demand that you do it the other way, but in linguistics, this is just what you do. If you do it the other way in a peer-reviewed publication, it will be corrected. It's not really a matter of logic, but of formality and tradition.

(Also: the best way to know what happens in your field? Outside of asking someone knowledgable in the field, you can look at two or three papers and probably find at least a few examples.)

  • For some reason, "Pendleton's, et al. (2002) research" feels right - but is likely wrong – HorusKol Feb 21 '11 at 22:22
  • @HorusKol: Again, "wrong" depends on your audience for this one. – Kosmonaut Feb 21 '11 at 22:44
  • I would say it is a point of fact that it is wrong as it assigns possession only to "Pendleton" and not to "Pendleton and others" (all those who also contributed). – Marinus Apr 12 '17 at 6:02
  • @Marinus: I don't think you can use logic to definitively say a certain construction is inherently wrong. It only assigns possession in an unintended way if other people interpret it that unintended way (and particularly, if the "other people" are the intended audience). – Kosmonaut Apr 13 '17 at 14:02

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