Classical assumptions about the nature and ethical entailments of authorship (the standard model) are being challenged by developments in scientific collaboration and multiple authorship. In the biomedical research community, multiple authorship has increased to such an extent that the trustworthiness of the scientific communication system has been called into question. Documented abuses, such as honorific authorship, have serious implications in terms of the acknowledgment of authority, allocation of credit, and assigning of accountability. Within the biomedical world it has been proposed that authors be replaced by lists of contributors (the radical model), whose specific inputs to a given study would be recorded unambiguously. The wider implications of the ‘hyperauthorship’ phenomenon for scholarly publication are considered.