Feasibility of an Assessment Tool as a Data-Driven Approach to Reducing Racial Bias in Biomedical Publications

Siobhan Wescott, Ronn Johnson, Sangeeta Lamba, Devon Olson, Yolanda Haywood, Carolyn C. Meltzer, Ricardo Correa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The editorial independence of biomedical journals allows flexibility to meet a wide range of research interests. However, it also is a barrier for coordination between journals to solve challenging issues such as racial bias in the scientific literature. A standardized tool to screen for racial bias could prevent the publication of racially biased papers. Biomedical journals would maintain editorial autonomy while still allowing comparable data to be collected and analyzed across journals. A racially diverse research team carried out a three-phase study to generate and test a racial bias assessment tool for biomedical research. Phase 1, an in-depth, structured literature search to identify recommendations, found near complete agreement in the literature on addressing race in biomedical research. Phase 2, construction of a framework from those recommendations, provides the major innovation of this paper. The framework includes three dimensions of race: 1) context, 2) tone and terminology, and 3) analysis, which are the basis for the Race Equity Vetting Instrument for Editorial Workflow (REVIEW) tool. Phase 3, pilot testing the assessment tool, showed that the REVIEW tool was effective at flagging multiple concerns in widely criticized articles. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the proposed REVIEW tool to reduce racial bias in research. Next steps include testing this tool on a broader sample of biomedical research to determine how the tool performs on more subtle examples of racial bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalJournal of Medical Systems
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

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