A junior researcher with no reputation (as we've dropped the facade of double-blind review, reputation counts) may benefit from coauthoring with a senior researcher of established reputation, and may accept such a co-authorship with no more than a nominal contribution.
Surely if a senior researcher comes up with the idea, sends the junior researcher off to get his data, provides fruitful advice on where to look, critiques the data gathering methods proposed and refines it if necessary, reviews early to late drafts of the write up, indisputably that senior researcher deserves recognition of coauthorship despite never having directly given voice to the document.
How much advice does a professor have to give before he becomes an coauthor? Isn't the below image's last author listing wrong? Isn't it academic dishonesty on the parts of all of the authors to take and give credit where it is not due? Isn't it misleading to the readers of these papers?
Further, are these semantically unordered? Maybe this indicates we can drop that facade as well, since order apparently does have meaning (unless explicitly ordered alphabetically).
If we really care about people rightfully getting credit, perhaps a paper should list credits in the same way that a movie does.
Perhaps something like:
The Prestigious Journal of Import Vol XLVI No 2, June 1992 A Paper We Wrote Primary Author: Sap, P. S. Primary Advisor: Oliveira, L. Reviewers: Lee, E. F., Nichols, S. T., Figures: Michael, C. Dept Chair: Smith, B. S. Abstract The time has come, to talk of many things, of shoes, of ships, of sealing ...
Do we need to revamp how authorships are credited, do papers need to roll credits, a'la Hollywood? Or is all of this inferred by our list order, and it doesn't really matter who did what, all authors signed off on it, so current practice is equivalent to as if each of them contributed equally and in kind?