A global call for action to include gender in research impact assessment

Pavel V. Ovseiko*, Trisha Greenhalgh, Paula Adam, Jonathan Grant, Saba Hinrichs-Krapels, Kathryn E. Graham, Pamela A. Valentine, Omar Sued, Omar F. Boukhris, Nada M. Al Olaqi, Idrees S. Al Rahbi, Anne Maree Dowd, Sara Bice, Tamika L. Heiden, Michael D. Fischer, Sue Dopson, Robyn Norton, Alexandra Pollitt, Steven Wooding, Gert V. BallingUlla Jakobsen, Ellen Kuhlmann, Ineke Klinge, Linda H. Pololi, Reshma Jagsi, Helen Lawton Smith, Henry Etzkowitz, Mathias W. Nielsen, Carme Carrion, Maite Solans-Domènech, Esther Vizcaino, Lin Naing, Quentin H.N. Cheok, Baerbel Eckelmann, Moses C. Simuyemba, Temwa Msiska, Giovanna Declich, Laurel D. Edmunds, Vasiliki Kiparoglou, Alison M.J. Buchan, Catherine Williamson, Graham M. Lord, Keith M. Channon, Rebecca Surender, Alastair M. Buchan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorScientificpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Global investment in biomedical research has grown significantly over the last decades, reaching approximately a quarter of a trillion US dollars in 2010. However, not all of this investment is distributed evenly by gender. It follows, arguably, that scarce research resources may not be optimally invested (by either not supporting the best science or by failing to investigate topics that benefit women and men equitably). Women across the world tend to be significantly underrepresented in research both as researchers and research participants, receive less research funding, and appear less frequently than men as authors on research publications. There is also some evidence that women are relatively disadvantaged as the beneficiaries of research, in terms of its health, societal and economic impacts. Historical gender biases may have created a path dependency that means that the research system and the impacts of research are biased towards male researchers and male beneficiaries, making it inherently difficult (though not impossible) to eliminate gender bias. In this commentary, we - a group of scholars and practitioners from Africa, America, Asia and Europe - argue that gender-sensitive research impact assessment could become a force for good in moving science policy and practice towards gender equity. Research impact assessment is the multidisciplinary field of scientific inquiry that examines the research process to maximise scientific, societal and economic returns on investment in research. It encompasses many theoretical and methodological approaches that can be used to investigate gender bias and recommend actions for change to maximise research impact. We offer a set of recommendations to research funders, research institutions and research evaluators who conduct impact assessment on how to include and strengthen analysis of gender equity in research impact assessment and issue a global call for action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Athena SWAN
  • Call for action
  • Gender
  • Health research
  • Path dependency
  • Research impact assessment
  • Science policy


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