I forgot to bring this up yesterday. Science conducted a review of it's publishing practices (due to the whole cloning affair). Honestly it would have been hard for them to have prevented this. In the end the best check on a scientist's work is reproducibility. But the review board did recommend something I like very much. From a NY Times article in yesterday's paper:
... authors should specify their individual contributions to a paper, a reform aimed at Dr. Hwang's stratagem of allowing another researcher, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, to be lead author of one of the reports even though Dr. Schatten had done none of the experiments.
Yes, I hope this will diminish the number of authors whose contribution to a paper is to provide DNA constructs or antibodies. Giving credit only where credit is due is a good thing.
The full report will appear December 1st (here at Science Magazine).
I can't remember where I saw it, but I recently came across an article with author contributions where the first author hadn't written the paper (it was written by author #2 and the last author). I found this odd.
At least two medical journals that I know of: Blood, and the Journal of Thrombotic Hemostasis, already do this. I was a co-author on two papers this year and the primary author had a bit leg work to do with sending everyone all the right forms to fill out and sign.
One of the rare instances where science cleans itself up. I hope this works.