An academic paper is referred to as using the authors name and publication year.

For example,

  1. Smith (2008) studied the property of blah-blah
  2. Smith and Johnson (2013)'s article investigated blah-blah
  3. Johnson et al.(2009)'s paper studies blah-blah

Here I wonder what is the correct spacing between the name(s) and year (in the parenthesis) and between year and "'s".

In #1. putting a space between Smith and (2008) looks natural, but in #2, it is weird because there is a space between Johnson and "'s". (Without (2013), it becomes "Johnson 's")

Is there any clear rule or common practice for this?

  • Please note that a paper doesn't study anything. "In their study, Johnson and Smith (2013) found that ..."
    – user5645
    Dec 5, 2016 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


I'm not entirely sure, but with correct grammar, I'm fairly sure it would be this:

Smith and Johnson's (2013) article investigated blah-blah

  • That's basically correct, except that the article didn't investigate anything, Smith and Johnson did.
    – user5645
    Dec 5, 2016 at 14:59
  • @what true; you might have to fudge the verb. The article discussed or presented or something. Dec 5, 2016 at 15:07
  • I was just copying what the other answer said, but true. Jan 22, 2017 at 20:05

That's an annoying construction to punctuate, I agree. You might try:

Smith and Johnson's article (2013) investigated blah blah

The article from Smith and Johnson (2013) investigated blah blah

The paper from Johnson et al. (2013) investigated blah blah

Please note the space between al. and 2013. The al. is short for alia, meaning "others."

In any case, I wouldn't put the apostrophe-S after the year in parens. It looks too weird. Reword until you get the year and possessive apart.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.