Over the last 2 decades the size and complexity of experiments have grown enormously in the area of space science, with the result that large teams of scientists are often formed to help design and build a given instrument. Simultaneously, a large number of research studies have evolved from the simple examination of one's own data to detailed studies involving multidisciplinary data sets. The end result is the publication of an incredible number of papers with a large number of coauthors.
The central idea behind a given research topic usually orginates from one, two, or sometimes three people. Yet data from several different experiments are often required to bring the idea to fruition. This necessitates interaction with other scientists, whose contributions are often useful in strengthening and clarifying the theme of the paper. Thus the originators and the contributors have both played a part in the saga. Yet do both groups deserve equal billing? In the case of the cooriginators, they are often cast adrift among the sea of coauthors, where little credit is usually given. Is this a fair policy?