Proposal Guidelines for Applicants

Agencies take different approaches in their request to applicants to integrate SG&DA into their proposal, where relevant:

  • • some 'require' this type of language
  • • some ‘encourage’ this type of analysis
  • • a few encourage applicants but instruct evaluators to score this element, making it de facto mandatory.

In all cases, the ‘where relevant’ is crucial. No agency asks for SG&DA in pure mathematics, for example, where no body of literature has established its relevance.

Also crucial is to consider sex, gender and/or diversity analysis across all stages of the research process—from identifying the problem to designing the research, collecting data, analyzing data, to disseminating the results. For example, see Analyzing Sex below.

Emerging Global Practices

The examples below provide an overview of agency practices. Each agency will develop country-specific policies that accommodate their cultural practices and regulatory landscapes. At the same time, agencies may wish to share policies and practices to enhance collaborations across regions.

Agencies Requiring SG&/or DA

European Commission: Horizon Europe Programme Guide (Feb 2022) states: “The integration of the gender dimension into R&I [research and innovation] content is mandatory. It is a requirement set by default across all Work Programmes, destinations and topics, unless its non-relevance for a specific topic is specified in the topic description, e.g. by the mention ‘In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.’”

The Horizon Europe application form: "Describe how the gender dimension (i.e. sex and/or gender analysis) is taken into account in the project’s research and innovation content" [e.g. 1 page]. If you do not consider such a gender dimension to be relevant in your project, please provide a justification.

  • • Note: This section is mandatory except for topics which have been identified in the work programme as not requiring the integration of the gender dimension into R&I content.
  • • Remember that that this question relates to the content of the planned research and innovation activities, and not to gender balance in the teams in charge of carrying out the project.
  • • Sex and gender analysis refers to biological characteristics and social/cultural factors respectively.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Criteria for Integrating Sex and Gender in Biomedical Research; Criteria for Integrating Sex and Gender in Research with Human Participants. CIHR published peer-reviewed articles detailing how this type of analysis supports good science (Tannenbaum et al., 2016).

US National Institutes of Health: Include Sex As a Biological Variable (SABV) in all phases of research: consider, collect, characterize, communicate. If SABV is not included, the applicant must include a “strong justification from the scientific literature, preliminary data, or other relevant considerations.” NIH published peer-reviewed articles detailing how this type of analysis supports good science (Clayton, 2016). Training materials in Section 4 of these pages serve as examples. To support research focusing on sex and gender influences on human health, the NIH provides administrative supplements.

Irish Research Council (IRC): Checklist for sex and/or gender in research content through each stage of the research process (p. 33ff)

Austrian Science Fund (FWF: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung): Beginning 1 January 2019, every programme across all of FWF will integrate the guidelines below in their call for proposals: “All potential sex- and gender-related aspects in the planned project as well as the planned implementation of these research questions must be described in a separate section. This aspect should be addressed briefly in the text even if the applicant believes the project does not raise any sex- or gender-related issues.” Fix the knowledge with regard to gender in scientific research (includes checklist and resources for creating gender-sensitive research).

Agencies Encouraging SG&/or DA but Instructing Evaluators to Score this Element, Making It de facto Mandatory

German Research Foundation (DFG): Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice: Code of Conduct (2019) read, “Researchers examine whether and to what extent gender and diversity dimensions may be of significance to the research project (with regard to methods, work programme, objectives, etc.).” The DFG does not require applicants to address SG&DA, emphasizing that it funds ‘proposals in curiosity-driven basic research’ in fields selected by applicants where freedom of research is core. In the evaluation process, however, reviewers are instructed to take SG&DA into account. Their website includes a checklist for applicants and examples.

Agencies Encouraging SG&/or DA

National Research Foundation, the Republic of Korea (NRF, Korea): The NRF is guided by the National Assembly. In 2021, an amended Framework Act on Science and Technology was put into effect that includes sex and gender analysis in research design. They include a checklist for applicants.

National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada: Guide for applicants, see # 5, 6, 7, 8. Again not required but this is one element for the merit of the proposal criterion, which is assessed by peer-review.

In Japan, the government renews both the basic plans for Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) and Gender Equality (GE) every five years. In 2020, the sixth STI Basic Plan and the fifth GE Basic Plan both included integrating the gender perspective and gender analysis into research and technology development.

Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw): Policy Gender in Research FAQ

Research Council of Norway (Norges forskningsråd): Policy states: It is the Research Council’s ambition to incorporate gender as a perspective into all of the research it funds when this is relevant. This means that all programmes and initiatives must specifically assess what the gender dimension means for their particular knowledge domain. It is also essential to identify areas where there is an especially great need for more knowledge about gender perspectives in research.

Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación y Universidades): Science, Technology, and Innovation Law 2011 mandates the implementation of the gender perspective.

French National Research Agency (ANR, Agence nationale de la recherche): The call for proposals states: the project coordinator undertakes, when this is relevant, to take into account the sex and/or gender aspect in his or her research, regardless of the field …to reduce gender bias in knowledge production.

Spanish State Research Agency (AEI, Agencia Estatal de Investigación): Instructions state: "Promoting a more inclusive content with respect to the gender perspective in scientific and technical proposals through the incorporation of sex and gender variables, strengthening the evaluation and monitoring processes of the projects." from Gender Equality Plan. Prior Work: "The main calls for proposals include a question on the gender perspective in the content of the research in the application forms, which must be developed in the scientific-technical report of the proposal." English translation.

Works Cited

Clayton JA. Studying both sexes: a guiding principle for biomedicine. The FASEB Journal. 2016 Feb;30(2):519-24.

Tannenbaum C, Schwarz JM, Clayton JA, de Vries GJ, Sullivan C. Evaluating sex as a biological variable in preclinical research: the devil in the details. Biology of sex differences. 2016 Dec;7(1):1-4. 

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