Gender parity in scientific authorship in a National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre: a bibliometric analysis

Article


Shah, S., Dam, R., Milano, M., Edmunds, L., Henderson, L., Hartley, C., Coxall, O., Ovseiko, P., Buchan, A. and Kiparoglou, V. 2021. Gender parity in scientific authorship in a National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre: a bibliometric analysis. BMJ Open. 11. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-037935
TypeArticle
TitleGender parity in scientific authorship in a National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre: a bibliometric analysis
AuthorsShah, S., Dam, R., Milano, M., Edmunds, L., Henderson, L., Hartley, C., Coxall, O., Ovseiko, P., Buchan, A. and Kiparoglou, V.
Abstract

Objective
Scientific authorship is a vital marker of achievement 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
Descriptive, cross-sectional, retrospective bibliometric study.

Setting
NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Data
Data comprised 2409 publications that were either accepted or published between April 2012 and March 2017. The publications were classified as basic science studies, clinical studies (both trial and non-trial studies) and other studies (comments, editorials, systematic reviews, reviews, opinions, book chapters, meeting reports, guidelines and protocols).

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 39% clinical research (n=939), 27% basic research (n=643) and 34% other types of research (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 (p<0.001). Of total joint first authors (n=458), joint corresponding authors (n=169) and joint last authors (n=229), female only authors comprised statistically significant (p<0.001) smaller proportions, that is, 15% (n=69), 29% (n=49) and 10% (n=23) respectively, compared with male only authors in these joint authorship categories. There was a statistically significant association between gender of the last author with gender of the first author (p<0.001), first corresponding author (p<0.001) and joint last author (p<0.001). The mean journal impact factor (JIF) was statistically significantly higher when the first corresponding author was male compared with female (Mean JIF: 10.00 vs 8.77, p=0.020); however, the JIF was not statistically different when there were male and female authors as first authors and last authors.

Conclusions
Although the proportion of female authors is significantly lower than the proportion of male authors in all six categories of authorship analysed, the proportions of male and female last authors are comparable to their respective proportions as principal investigators in the BRC. These findings suggest positive trends and the NIHR Oxford BRC doing very well in gender parity in the senior (last) authorship category. Male corresponding authors are 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.

Sustainable Development Goals5 Gender equality
Middlesex University ThemeSustainability
PublisherBMJ Publishing Group
JournalBMJ Open
ISSN
Electronic2044-6055
Publication dates
Online23 Mar 2021
Print23 Mar 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted21 Feb 2020
Accepted17 Feb 2021
Deposited25 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-037935
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