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BACKGROUND: Global surgery has recently gained prominence as an academic discipline within global health. Authorship inequity has been a consistent feature of global health publications, with over-representation of authors from high-income countries (HICs), and disenfranchisement of researchers from low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this study, we investigated authorship demographics within recently published global surgery literature. METHODS: We performed a systematic analysis of author characteristics, including gender, seniority and institutional affiliation, for global surgery studies published between 2016 and 2020 and indexed in the PubMed database. We compared the distribution of author gender and seniority across studies related to different topics; between authors affiliated with HICs and LMICs; and across studies with different authorship networks. RESULTS: 1240 articles were included for analysis. Most authors were male (60%), affiliated only with HICs (51%) and of high seniority (55% were fully qualified specialist or generalist clinicians, Principal Investigators, or in senior leadership or management roles). The proportion of male authors increased with increasing seniority for last and middle authors. Studies related to Obstetrics and Gynaecology had similar numbers of male and female authors, whereas there were more male authors in studies related to surgery (69% male) and Anaesthesia and Critical care (65% male). Compared with HIC authors, LMIC authors had a lower proportion of female authors at every seniority grade. This gender gap among LMIC middle authors was reduced in studies where all authors were affiliated only with LMICs. CONCLUSION: Authorship disparities are evident within global surgery academia. Remedial actions to address the lack of authorship opportunities for LMIC authors and female authors are required.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Glob Health

Publication Date





health services research, obstetrics, other study design, surgery, Authorship, Demography, Developing Countries, Female, Global Health, Humans, Income, Male