• Sex and the Ophthalmic Literature

    By Lynda Seminara
    Selected and Reviewed By: Neil M. Bressler, MD, and Deputy Editors

    Journal Highlights

    JAMA Ophthalmology, November 2019

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    Is there a gap with regard to the sex of authors of ophthalmic studies? Kramer et al. performed a bibliometric analysis of published ophthalmic literature to compare authorship by sex and gain understanding of women’s and men’s preponderance and position in article bylines. The results showed that women represented roughly 35% of authorships and were less likely than men to have key roles in the research. However, in recent years, the percentage of women whose names appear first or last in the byline has increased.

    For this study, the researchers looked at more than 10 years’ worth of original English-language articles published in ophthalmology journals that are in­dexed in the Web of Science. Data were acquired in August 2018. Given names were used to determine the sex of each author. Articles originating from China, South Korea, and Taiwan were excluded because of the high number of unisex names. A prestige index, reflecting byline position, was calculated.

    Outcome measures included the proportion of female authorships, odds ratios of women being listed first and last in bylines, rates of citation, and transnational female representation within ophthalmic research.

    Overall, 87,640 original articles were published among 248 ophthalmologic journals. Of the 344,433 authorships, 120,305 were by females (34.9%). Women represented 37.1% of first-listed authors, 36.7% of coauthors, and 27.1% of authors listed last. The female-to-male odds ratio was 1.12 for first authorships, 1.20 for coauthor­ships, and 0.63 for last authorships. The annual rate of increase in authorship by females was 1.6% overall, 1.6% for first authorship, 1.3% for coauthorship, and 2.5% for last authorship. Women were underrepresented in prestigious authorships (prestige index, −0.22). Articles with women in key authorship roles were cited slightly less frequently than those with men in key roles. On average, females were less prolific than males: 42.5% of female authors were responsible for the 34.9% of all author­ships. No particular journal or country provided better chances for women to be in prestigious authorship roles.

    The authors forecast that female authorship will grow to 44.1% by 2028, accompanied by sex-neutral distri­bution of prestigious roles. (See also related commentary by Irena Tsui, MD, in the same issue.)

    The original article can be found here.