A brief history of the SAGER Guidelines
Sex and gender differences were often overlooked in research design, study implementation and scientific reporting, as well as in general science communication. This oversight limited the generalizability of research findings and their applicability to clinical practice, in particular for women but also for men.
The EASE Council established the Gender Policy Committee (GPC) in October 2012 to promote gender balance in scientific publishing work and inspire better and consistent provision of sex/gender-specific data published in scientific journals, since it is evident that there was a lack of widespread adoption of editorial gender policies despite the clear relevance of such in particular disciplines. In 2016, the GPC launched the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines, as a tool for researchers and authors of research manuscripts and editors of scientific journals and publishing houses to promote reporting of sex- and gender dimensions in research as a matter of routine.
The article ‘Sex and Gender Equity in Research: rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use’, by Shirin Heidari, Thomas F. Babor, Paola De Castro, Sera Tort and Mirjam Curno (2016) describes the rationale for an international set of guidelines to encourage a more systematic approach to the reporting of sex and gender in research across disciplines.
The SAGER guidelines were designed primarily to guide authors in preparing their manuscripts, but they are also useful for editors, as gatekeepers of science, to integrate assessment of sex and gender into all manuscripts as an integral part of the editorial process.
In 2018 a dedicated SAGER Working Group, led by Shirin Heidari, was established to focus on dissemination, implementation and monitoring of the SAGER guidelines and other activities related to mainstreaming gender in research content. Since then the Group has promoted the SAGER Guidelines and encouraged publishers and editors to endorse them. They are now widely used (as recently recognised by the WHO). You can view a list of those who have endorsed the Guidelines here.
Sex and gender questions are available to encourage authors of scientific articles to check whether sex and gender are properly reported in their manuscripts.
The SAGER Guidelines are included in the EQUATOR website and are listed in the Research Reporting Guidelines of the US National Library of Medicine.
In 2023 GENDRO, EASE and Elsevier created a nine-module online course to raise awareness of sex and gender issues and promote the use of the SAGER Guidelines. These are hosted on Elsevier’s Research Academy.
The Gender Policy Committee was closed at the end of 2023. The SAGER Guidelines will continue to be promoted by EASE and we will work closely with Shirin Heidari as she continues to promote and expand this work within GENDRO, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, with the mission to advance equity through the integration of sex and gender dimensions in research across disciplines.
The achievements of the Gender Policy Committee will continue to be published on these pages. The work of the Gender Equity in the Editorial Workforce Project, has been redirected to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee.