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Gershengorn HB, Vranas KC, Ouyang D, Cheng S, Rogers AJ, Schweiger L, Cooke CR, Slatore CG. Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Author Sex and Manuscript Acceptance Rates among Pulmonary and Critical Care Journals. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2023 Feb 1; 20(2):215-225.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has negatively affected women more than men and may influence the publication of non-COVID-19 research. To evaluate whether the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with changes in manuscript acceptance rates among pulmonary/critical care journals and sex-based disparities in these rates. We analyzed first, senior, and corresponding author sex (female vs. male, identified by matching first names in a validated Genderize database) of manuscripts submitted to four pulmonary/critical care journals between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020. We constructed interrupted time series regression models to evaluate whether the proportion of female first and senior authors of non-COVID-19 original research manuscripts changed with the pandemic. Next, we performed multivariable logistic regressions to evaluate the association of author sex with acceptance of original research manuscripts. Among 8,332 original research submissions, women represented 39.9% and 28.3% of first and senior authors, respectively. We found no change in the proportion of female first or senior authors of non-COVID-19 or COVID-19 submitted research manuscripts during the COVID-19 era. Non-COVID-19 manuscripts submitted during the COVID-19 era had reduced odds of acceptance, regardless of author sex (first author adjusted OR [aOR], 0.46 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.36-0.59]; senior author aOR, 0.46 [95% CI, 0.37-0.57]). Female senior authorship was associated with decreased acceptance of non-COVID-19 research manuscripts (crude rates, 14.4% [male] vs. 13.2% [female]; aOR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.71-0.99]). Although female author submissions were not disproportionately influenced by COVID-19, we found evidence suggesting sex disparities in manuscript acceptance rates. Journals may need to consider strategies to reduce this disparity, and academic institutions may need to factor our findings, including lower acceptance rates for non-COVID-19 manuscripts, into promotion decisions.