Background: Cochrane strives for diversity in its membership and among its authors and contributors. The inclusion of people from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences is critical to ensuring the questions addressed in systematic reviews (SRs), and the subsequent conclusions and recommendations, are relevant and representative of the global community.
Objectives: we examined the gender and geographic diversity of authors in a random sample of Cochrane SRs as compared with non-Cochrane SRs of interventions in the field of eyes and vision.
Methods: Cochrane Eyes and Vision United States Satellite maintains a database of SRs in the field of eyes and vision, the most recent update (2018) of which found 3774 SRs across all eye conditions. We randomly sampled 100 Cochrane Library intervention SRs and 100 non-Cochrane Library intervention SRs for this study. We extracted gender and location of the first and corresponding authors using their full names and affiliations. We classified author location based on country and the World Health Organization region. We assigned author gender (‘woman,’ ‘man,’ or ‘unknown’) using a previously tested algorithm: 1) personal knowledge of the author, 2) the name having a strong gender association, 3) use of a web-based name-and-gender database (genderize.io), and 4) an internet search for an image or reference to the author’s gender.
Results: of the 200 randomly selected SRs, the first author was also the corresponding author in 102 (51%). Overall, we identified 272 unique authors for 298 author positions (authors could appear multiple times). We were unable to ascertain the gender of 31/272 (11%) authors. We found the geographic location for all authors; of 28 countries represented, the three that contributed the most authors were the USA (65/272), China (50/272), and the UK (49/272) (Figure). Women comprised 103/272 (38%) unique authors and 112/298 (38%) listed authors. Of 117 unique authors of Cochrane SRs, 63 (54%) were women (Table 1). Of 119 unique authors of non-Cochrane SRs for whom a gender was ascertained, 40 (34%) were women (Table 1). Overall, first authors appeared to be women more often than corresponding authors (Table 2). As compared with non-Cochrane SRs, Cochrane SRs had a greater proportion of authors from Europe (40% versus 28%) and North America (37% versus 27%), and a lower proportion from the Western Pacific region (14% versus 37%) (Table 1 and Figure).
Conclusions: Cochrane SRs in eyes and vision appear to have equal representation of women and men among the first and corresponding authors. Compared to non-Cochrane SRs in eyes and vision, Cochrane SRs appear to have a greater concentration of authors who are based in European and North American countries, possibly due to the locations of the editorial centres. Cochrane Eyes and Vision should continue to recruit authors from around the world in locations that reflect the global burden of eye disease.