In a move towards inclusivity and scientific rigor, IOP Publishing (IOPP) and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) have jointly announced the implementation of mandatory checks for sex and gender equality in all manuscripts submitted to their flagship journal, Physiological Measurement.

Aligned with the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines, designed to ensure the appropriate reporting of sex and gender considerations in scholarly literature, this initiative mandates that all research published in Physiological Measurement must declare the sex and gender balance of subject groups. Authors are required to elucidate any disparities in results related to sex or gender, providing clarity on the generalizability of outcomes across different sexes and genders within a population.

The implications of such reporting requirements are profound, particularly in fields such as cardiovascular and pain research. Notably, a recent study published in Physiological Measurement revealed distinct differences in the regulation of blood flow to the brain between men and women, underscoring the critical need to consider sex disparities in both physiological and clinical studies.

This decision follows a successful two-year trial period on the journal, conducted between November 2021 and January 2024. During the trial, authors were urged to include sex and gender reporting information if absent. Furthermore, if sample groups were found to be unjustifiably imbalanced, authors were requested to adjust the subject group size accordingly. Remarkably, only 3.1% of submitted papers were returned to authors due to imbalanced subject groups, highlighting the feasibility and effectiveness of this mandate.

Dr Jemimah Eve, IPEM Director of Policy and Impact, said: “It’s essential that published research is as robust as possible, and this requirement will help with that. The trial that we ran showed that it’s straightforward for researchers to follow and will help to ensure that relevant sex and gender differences are recognised and taken into account.”

Kim Eggleton, Head of Peer Review and Research Integrity says: “Understanding sex and gender differences is crucial for thorough and inclusive research. By insisting on clear declarations of sex and gender balance in study samples and flagging this early in the publishing process, we can make science better. We’d love to see these principles mandated more widely including by funders and institutions.”

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