How Medical Communicators Can Counteract Gender Bias in STEM

Did you know that 52% of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and medicine) fields report experiencing gender bias, while only 2% of men in STEM do?

My colleague, Priyanka Jadhav, and I recently wrote an article on how medical communicators can combat the gender bias in STEM, currently featured in AMWA Journal.

Matic AI, Jadhav P. AMWA J. 2018;33:152-156.

Of particular relevance to medical communications and medical writing, there are far fewer female authors, peer-reviewers, and journal editors in STEM fields than there are men. As these metrics are usually gateways to notoriety, funding, and career success, it is important to be aware of the discrepancies and to try to level the playing field when possible.

What can medical communicators do?

  • Realize how and where gender bias exists in the relevant fields
  • Make a concerted effort to search for and include more content from female scientists and healthcare providers
  • Pass it on – educate and mentor colleagues on the issue
  • Read our article for more detailed information

Please get in touch if you would like to talk more about this topic or make any related changes to your workflow.

Updated Guidelines From ICMJE for Medical Publications

A scanning electron microscope picture of a nerve ending.

It’s December so that must mean another update from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) on their guidelines for peer-reviewed medical publications. (The ICMJE guidelines are one of the go-to resources that should always be consulted when preparing a publication.)

What’s new this year?

  • Journals are encouraged to de-emphasize the Impact Factor as a means of quantifying the journal’s quality. Instead, journals should “provide a range of …metrics relevant to their readers and authors.”
  • “Purposeful failure to disclose conflicts of interest” is now listed as a type of scientific misconduct. Certainly makes sense in light of the recent news stories about some glaring omissions in disclosure of prominent researchers.
  • Authors should use a preprint server that is clearly identified as one (not one posing as a peer-review system).
  • The date of clinical trial registration is defined as “the date the registration materials were first submitted to a registry.”
  • “Authors should use neutral, precise, and respectful language to describe study participants.” Related to one of my favorites ideas in medical writing – put the person first, not the disease.

GPP3: New guidelines for publishing company-sponsored medical research

Pellet of Lymphocyte Cells Created in the Centrifuge

Companies that sponsor medical research should pay attention to an updated guideline that was recently released. The document, Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company-Sponsored Medical Research“, more commonly known as GPP3, is the third iteration of the guideline, which goes back to 2003.

The guideline covers all types of documents published in peer-reviewed journals (original research articles, short reports, reviews, letters to the editor) and presentations at scientific congresses and meetings (oral presentations, posters, abstracts).
Continue reading GPP3: New guidelines for publishing company-sponsored medical research

Are ICMJE authorship guidelines leaving people out?

The most widely referenced and followed guideline for authorship of scientific publications is that issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). In it, the ICMJE recommends that authorship be determined by:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

The ICMJE states that

All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged.

A recent study looked at challenging authorship scenarios and asked clinical investigators, medical journal editors, publication professionals, and medical writers to decide who should be granted authorship status in these situations and how confident they were in their decision.

Results of the survey study showed several cases where there were higher levels of disagreement between the groups surveyed than other cases. Continue reading Are ICMJE authorship guidelines leaving people out?