What does "et al" mean in a literature review? In the review of literature I also found this: "(Shemwell et al., 1998)"

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The expression et al. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase et alia, which translates into English as "and others." It is common to see et al. when a group of people of any gender are grouped together but unnamed. To be precise, however, if all of the people designated are female, it stands for et aliae, and if they are all men, it stands for et alii. It is gender neutral to use et alia as a plural.

The expression et al. is uses when a group of people co-author or edit a piece of literary work, such as an anthology. In this case, the main author or editor who headed the project will be named, and the other authors or editors will be covered under the plural et al.

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The phrase "et al" in a bibliography or other citation simply means "and others."  This phrase comes about as an abbreviation of a phrase in Latin.  The original Latin phrase is "et alia."  "Et" means "and" and "alia" means "others." 

When you see this phrase in a bibliography or a citation, it can mean one of two things.  If the work is being cited for the first time, the "et al" means that work has at least six authors.  If the work has three to five authors, all of the authors are listed in the first citation.  In later citations, only the first author's name is used with "et al" to show that there are more authors.

In your case, then, Shemwell was the first author named, but he or she had coauthors.  This is why the "et al" is used.

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