A study conducted by NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) researchers has shown that while there are positive trends in terms of the number of women authoring the BRC’s scientific papers, the proportion of female authors is significantly lower than male ones across all categories of authorship.
Nonetheless, the paper, published on the open-access online journal BMJ Open, found that despite the proportion of male authors being significantly higher across all six categories of authorship analysed, the proportions of male and female senior (last) authors was comparable to their respective proportions as principal investigators in the BRC.
“These findings suggest positive trends and convincing evidence that the NIHR Oxford BRC doing very well in gender parity in the most senior authorship category,” said Dr Lorna Henderson, the BRC’s Senior Manager and an author on the paper.
“We believe that this study offers an important benchmark on gender equity in scientific authorship for other NIHR-funded BRCs and organisations in England. However more work is required in this field.”
The paper found that male corresponding authors were more likely to publish articles in prestigious journals with high impact factor while both male and female authors at first and last authorship positions publish articles in equally prestigious journals.
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: joint first authors, joint corresponding authors and joint last authors in biomedical research.
Syed Ghulam Sarwar Shah, first author on the paper, said: “While NIHR BRCs routinely collect bibliometric data on publications, this data is not routinely analysed by gender. Our study shows that analysing scientific authorship of NIHR-funded publications is feasible. Retrospective analysis is labour-intensive and has limitations, but there is an opportunity to begin to track authorship by gender prospectively, allowing longitudinal analysis that could prove useful for tracking progress towards gender equity in NIHR BRCs.”
“Speeding up women’s advancement and leadership in translational research is a key objective of the NIHR, so our study could pave the way for tools that can inform strategies to achieve this,” said Vasiliki Kiparoglou, the Oxford BRC’s Chief Operating Officer and an author on the paper.