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  1. Is there a predominant style in academic papers in computer science concerning the usage or the omission of the serial comma? What do ACM and IEEE do in general? I failed to find it out on my own.

  2. Is there any style guide of an academic publisher that suggests (or prescribes) that US-English papers in the two disciplines (mathematics, computer science) omit the serial comma in general?

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. The serial comma has been discussed on this forum extensively. Here is a relevant question with comments saying that style guides disagree: english.stackexchange.com/questions/172671/… . – rajah9 Dec 26 '19 at 12:54
  • @rajah9 Your link provides a general piece of information (which I am largerly aware of), whereas my question concerns (potentially existing or not existing) conventions in academic papers on computer science and mathematics specifically. – user370543 Dec 26 '19 at 14:17
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    Are you submitting your writing to a journal? If not, use whatever style you like better. If so, look at their style guidelines. If it doesn't say anything about the serial comma, use whatever style you like better. We don't have any secret information that journals don't put in their style guides. – Peter Shor Dec 26 '19 at 15:12
  • And your paper is not going to be rejected because you made the wrong choice ... the only thing that will happen if you make the "wrong" decision is that a copyeditor might change it in the galley proofs. – Peter Shor Dec 26 '19 at 18:11
  • Please be aware that ELU does not get involved in potential disputation over style choices. It is the responsibility of the person submitting a paper (and scientific style guides may be far removed in many places from standard English usage) to ascertain what style is considered necessary for submission to any particular body. Such recommendations may even prove confusing / misleading for general English users. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '19 at 19:47
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In searching for "What style guide does IEEE use," I found this PDF: IEEE Editorial Style Manual. Its purpose, stated in the first line, is to provide "...editorial guidelines for IEEE Transactions, Journals, and Letters."

Here is a helpful excerpt:

Rules of Grammar

The principles of style given below aim to concentrate on the fundamentals of modern usage. Particular emphasis is given to the rules most commonly violated.

1) Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ’s.

2) In a series of three or more terms, use a comma after each term except the last.

Admittedly, this tells the OP only part of the first question (namely, what does IEEE require) and part of the second question (namely, there is at least one style guide that omits the final comma).

  • As @PeterShor pointed out in the comments, if you slipped in the terminal serial comma, some kind copyeditor would probably remove it to conform to the IEEE style guide. But the peer reviewers would probably not be concerned one whit. – rajah9 Dec 26 '19 at 19:19
  • As to the ACM, I found this interesting question on a sister StackExchange site: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/18149/… . I did see an acm.org style guide at acm.org/publications/acm-word-style-guide-3jan2017, but it is no longer being support (and doesn't mention the serial comma). – rajah9 Dec 26 '19 at 19:22
  • There have been previous questions addressing the acceptability of the Oxford comma on ELU. Preferred usage in various scientific domains is off-topic for ELU, but the best answer given for using or not using the Oxford comma was that it's sometimes to be preferred for disambiguation, but sometimes to be eschewed as it actually introduces ambiguity. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '19 at 19:29
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    Concerning your "2)", beware: in the series example "The colors accepted are red, blue(,) and white.", the last term is "white". After this, you never use the comma by default; you use a period. Your quotation simply implies that you use the comma also after the last-but-one, which is "blue" in the example. So, the style prescribes the serial comma; the style quoted does not seem to constitute an answer to my second question. – user370543 Dec 26 '19 at 21:18