Most of us have spent time compiling reference lists for papers or longer documents, a task which used to be even more time-consuming before the Internet and TeX came along (all lists had to be typed and sometimes retyped). With increased international communication as well as pressure by funding agencies to do collaborative work, more multi-author papers are apparently being written now. For instance, recent VIGRE-supported algebra groups at the University of Georgia have been publishing papers with many authors. This morning's automatic mailing from arXiv (in subject areas of special interest to me, mostly close to math.RT) brought a prize-winner: 1009.4134. Are we looking at the future?
It's the result of an AIM conference, perhaps intended for formal publication but challenging in any event to those who might want to refer to it. Page 23 of the paper itself consists mostly of an author listing. Since the list of 28 authors goes from A to Z (Aguiar to Zabrocki), it would seem invidious to refer only to Aguiar et al. Of course, if electronic-only publishing ever becomes the universal rule in mathematics, placing a link like the one I just posted in a numbered reference list might be enough. (Provided the link is durable.)
Is there a reasonable way to refer to a 23 page article with 28 authors?
P.S. I'm not planning to cite this particular paper, but am in the process of assembling a reference list for other purposes and might also need to cite Georgia VIGRE group papers at some point. It's usually impossible in an alphabetical list of authors to identify the "leaders" or the people contributing the main ideas. Theoretical progress does require ideas, whereas experimental work often depends more heavily on organization, teamwork, and of course funding. (As an aside, if the current list of finite simple groups and the reasoning behind it are eventually accepted by all well-informed observers as correct, who will be cited for that theorem?)