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If a comma belongs next to a coordinating conjunction, it should precede (see Should I use a comma before "and" or "or"?, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/punctuation/commas/extended_rules_for_commas.html).

However, many of published research articles I've viewed as a psychology student, and I believe the majority of my textbooks, frequently place the comma after a coordinating conjunction. It's extremely frustrating; it's difficult to read, because I pause in the wrong place. This affects my efficiency, and my comprehension.

Why is this so common? Many are recognized authors and doctorate level researchers, and this error along with their credentials leaves me baffled. I've found this error to be committed mostly by researchers, not by authors of other materials (history, philosophy, theology, etc.)


To quote my first link, which contains these:

  • I hit my brother with a stick, and he cried.
  • The rain stopped, and the sun came out again.

The books and articles I read would have written them as:

  • I hit my brother with a stick and, he cried.
  • The rain stopped and, the sun came out again.

I was asked to provide example sources where this has been an issue.

Specific examples from the Criminal Behavior textbook (mentioned below):

One of the most notorious examples of a crime that wasn't is the case of O.J. Simpson and the 1994 murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. O.J. Simpson was charged and tried for the crime and, after a year-long highly publicized (and televised) trial, received a verdict of "not guilty." (p. 14)

Individuals who do not feel discomfort do not respond appropriately to punishment or threats of punishment and, as a result, are not effectively deterred from engaging in antisocial behavior. (p. 76)

Psychotic offenders are out of touch with reality and, although most are not violent, may commit crime when they fail to take their medication. (p. 104)

Psychopaths are unable to shift attention from carrying out a behavior to evaluating behavior and, once fixated on a goal, are unable to stop or change their behavior in response to nonsalient stimuli (e.g., recognition of long-term consequences). (p. 131)

Even in prison, sex offenders are the lowest on the offender hierarchy and, as a result, are victimized and aggressively targeted by other offenders (Sabo, Kupers, & London, 200 1; see Box 6.1).

Sex offending occurs when vulnerable individuals experience stress, proximate risk factors (such as mental illness, substance use, exposure to pornography) and, from a routine activities perspective, are in close proximity to an available victim in the absence of guardians and social controls. (p. 234-235)

In Babiak and Hare's (2006) Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (as cited in Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies and Criminal Justice 1st Edition)

They abuse coworkers and, by lowering morale and stirring up conflict, the company itself. Some may even steal and defraud. (Babiak & Hare, 2006, p. xiv)


Here are three books, which I no longer own, but I'm pretty sure they were great examples of this problem:

Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies and Criminal Justice 1st Edition

Cognitive Psychology 1st Edition -- by J. April Park, W. Trey Hill

Development Across the Life Span (8th Edition)


An example article: doi:10.1037/ppm0000128

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    Could you provide links to a few of those books and articles? – We oath to creation Apr 18 at 17:59
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    I'll do that. I didn't originally because I assumed my readers wouldn't be able to access them, which is why gave examples instead. – icor103 Apr 18 at 19:21
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    @icor103 I think we would all benefit from accessible links to specific examples of this. I looked at the available excerpt of Criminal Behavior on Amazon and didn't see any examples of what you're referring to. – Katy Apr 18 at 20:07
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    EDITING THIS: It looks like I can give some specific examples from at least one source above. Moments. – icor103 Apr 18 at 20:20
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    Thank you for taking the time to improve your Q. It shows the type of serious attitude we appreciate here. – Cascabel Apr 18 at 20:32
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None of the real-world examples you give are grammatically incorrect. For instance, the first example you give is:

One of the most notorious examples of a crime that wasn't is the case of O.J. Simpson and the 1994 murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. O.J. Simpson was charged and tried for the crime and, after a year-long highly publicized (and televised) trial, received a verdict of "not guilty."

Presumably, you are referring to the comma before "after a year-long ...". This is quite different from the example you give of "I hit my brother with a stick, and he cried." In "I hit my brother with a stick, and he cried.", "and" is coordinating between "I hit my brother with a stick" and "he cried". In the example you give, however, "and" is coordinating between "O.J. Simpson was charged and tried for the crime" and "[O.J. Simpson] received a verdict of 'not guilty'". The phrase "after a year-long highly publicized (and televised trial)" is an adverbial phrase modifying the verb "received". So unlike your example of "I hit my brother with a stick, and he cried", what follows "and" is not the clause being coordinated, but an adverbial phrase that is modifying the verb in the coordinated clause. By setting this phrase off with comma, the writer is basically saying "hey, I know I just wrote a coordinating conjunction, and so you'll be expecting the clause that's being coordinated, but I'm just letting you know that the next phrase you read isn't going to be that clause". Furthermore, this is an introductory adverb, and those should be followed by a comma. For instance, if you say "Last Tuesday, I ate a bagel", there's a comma after "Last Tuesday" because it's an adverbial phrase placed before the verb it modifies. If it were instead "I ate a bagel last Tuesday", a comma would not be appropriate. This is discussed in the second rule in the owl.purdue.edu link you provided.

The page also says in rule 3 "Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence." The phrase "after a year-long highly publicized (and televised) trial" is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

  • Good answer, though now I wonder what I should do with the title of my question! Obviously, my assertions and question were incorrect. – icor103 Apr 18 at 21:50

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