A retrospective analysis of gender parity in scientific authorship in a biomedical research centre
Dam R., Shah SGS., Milano MJ., Edmunds L., Henderson L., Hartley C., Coxall O., Ovseiko P., Buchan A., Kiparoglou V.
ABSTRACT Objective Scientific authorship is a vital marker of success in academic careers and gender equity is a key performance metric in research. However, there is little understanding of gender equity in publications in biomedical research centres funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This study assesses the gender parity in scientific authorship of biomedical research. Design A retrospective descriptive study. Setting NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. Data 2409 publications accepted or published from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2017. Main outcome measures Gender of authors, defined as a binary variable comprising either male or female categories, in six authorship categories: first author, joint first authors, first corresponding author, joint corresponding authors, last author and joint last authors. Results Publications comprised clinical research (39%, n=939), basic research (27%, n=643), and other types of research (34%, n=827). The proportion of female authors as first author (41%), first corresponding authors (34%) and last author (23%) was statistically significantly lower than male authors in these authorship categories. Of total joint first authors (n=458), joint corresponding authors (n=169), and joint last authors (n=229), female only authors comprised statistically significant smaller proportions i.e. 15% (n=69), 29% (n=49) and 10% (n=23) respectively, compared to male only authors in these joint authorship categories. There was a statistically significant association between gender of the last author(s) with gender of the first author(s) (χ 2 33.742, P < 0.001), corresponding author(s) (χ 2 540.774, P < 0.001) and joint last author(s) (χ 2 91.291, P < 0.001). Conclusions Although there are increasing trends of female authors as first authors (41%) and last authors (23%), female authors are underrepresented compared to male authors in all six categories of scientific authorship in biomedical research. Further research is needed to encourage gender parity in different categories of scientific authorship. Strengths and limitations of this study <jats:list list-type="bullet"><jats:list-item> This is the first study to investigate gender parity in six categories of scientific authorship: first authors, first corresponding authors, last authors and three joint authorship categories i.e. joint first authors, joint corresponding authors and joint last authors in biomedical research. <jats:list-item> This study provides an important benchmark on gender equity in scientific authorship for other NIHR funded centres and organisations in England. <jats:list-item> The generalisability of the findings of this study may be limited due to differences in medical specialities, research areas, institutional cultures, and levels of support to individual researchers. <jats:list-item> Using secondary sources for determining the gender of authors may have limitations, which could be avoided by seeking relevant information from original authors and institution affiliation at the time of submission.