The Sex and Gender Data Gap: F1000 endorses Sex and Gender Equity in Research guidelines  - F1000

The Sex and Gender Data Gap: F1000 endorses Sex and Gender Equity in Research guidelines 

The Sex and Gender Data Gap: F1000 endorses Sex and Gender Equity in Research guidelines 
By Zoe Brooke

We are proud to announce a new F1000 editorial policy that endorses the Sex & Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines, starting with our own open research publishing Platform F1000Research. As of today, F1000Research’s author guidelines now include SAGER in the Reporting Guidelines, along with a checklist to help authors to align with the principles of SAGER. 

The SAGER guidelines aim to address biases in the way research is conducted and reported, often excluding, or not accounting for women, trans and non-binary people, or female animals. Past research has found that biases in study design have contributed to what is now termed as the ‘big data gap’, especially critical in medical research as the “integration of sex (biological factors) and gender (socio-cultural factors) in health research is a crucial step towards improving the quality of evidence to inform and tailor care”. The lack of data has particularly impacted the lives of women, e.g., the design of safety devices such as car seats and seat belts, everyday tools, police vests, as well as crucial medical research such as the inclusion of sex and gender reporting in diabetes research. An article by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine discusses how gender bias affects evidence-based medicine: “women may have a different drug efficacy or side effect profile to men. It was reported in 2005 that eight out of ten prescription drugs were withdrawn from the US market because of women’s health issues. This represents an enormous waste of research money as a consequence of neglecting gender research.”

By ensuring that researchers report on the sex and/or gender of their research subjects, we can begin to address these biases and enhance the generalizability of research.

F1000’s renowned research publishing model combines the benefits of pre-printing (providing rapid publication with no editorial bias), with mechanisms to assure quality and transparency (invited and open peer review, archiving and indexing). The endorsement of the SAGER guidelines will play an important role in advancing the quality and transparency of reported research by promoting sex and gender-specific analysis of research data and encouraging authors to acknowledge the sex and gender of their research participants or subjects in their article titles, methods sections, discussion, and results. Alignment with SAGER is therefore a chance for F1000Research authors to make their reporting more accurate, transparent, and reusable.  

Reproducibility and research transparency are two of our core principles at F1000. Endorsing the SAGER guidelines in our instructions for authors on F1000Research ensures that our commitment to quality and transparent research continues. We have also started conversations with our partners across our publishing Platforms and hope to have this employed across all of them soon. We are excited to be part of a wider effort by publishers and funders to establish better reporting of sex and gender in academic research.” Molly Cranston, Senior Editorial Lead at F1000.

The SAGER guidelines also advise that authors provide sex disaggregated datasets, so even if the original paper reported results only on the mixed sex cohort, another researcher could use the data to make a comparative analysis of the results for males and females. This provides further opportunities to explore sex- and gender-based differences across a range of research questions and disciplines.” Rebecca Grant, Head of Data & Software Publishing at F1000.

The original publication which defined the SAGER guidelines, ‘Sex and Gender Equity in Research: rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use’ reports that a lack of interest in sex and gender differences may not only be harmful but also present missed opportunities for innovation. Understanding the underlying differences and similarities, exploring applicability, uptake, and impact of technological innovations, and getting deeper insight into cognitive variability will undoubtedly lead to more innovative approaches and better solutions to meet the needs of society. 

By endorsing SAGER we hope to see a marked difference in sex and gender reporting across all disciplines published on F1000Research.

Visit F1000Research to learn more about our author guidelines: