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Study Species – Study Males

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 16 June 31 2020

September 2020

eLIFE, a non-profit organisation aiming to help scientists accelerate discovery through a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours in science, has published an article by researchers from Northwestern University in the US on A 10-year follow-up study of sex inclusion in the biological sciences.

To assess the impact of the US NIS policy – started in 2016 – to the historical overrepresentation of male subjects in biomedical research, they conducted a bibliometric analysis across nine biological disciplines for papers published in 34 journals in 2019 and compared results with those of a similar study in 2009. The authors report that although there is a significant increase in the proportion of studies that included both sexes across all nine disciplines, in eight of the nine, there was no change in the proportion that included data analysed by sex.

Only a few studies explained why they included one sex or didn’t conduct sex-based analyses. Those that did relied on misconceptions surrounding the hormonal variability of females. Together, these data demonstrate that while sex-inclusive research practices are more commonplace, there are still gaps in analyses and reporting of data by sex in many biological disciplines.

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