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Researchers take into account and acknowledge the current state of research when planning a project. To identify relevant and suitable research questions, they familiarise themselves with existing research in the public domain. HEIs and non-HEI research institutions ensure that the necessary basic framework for this is in place.
Methods to avoid (unconscious) distortions in the interpretation of findings, e.g. the use of blinding in experiments, are used where possible. 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 context in which the research was conducted is taken into consideration when interpreting findings.
Sex, gender and diversity in research
As opposed to equal opportunities and diversity in terms of the composition of a project team, “sex, gender and diversity in research” concerns the actual content of research (so-called “sex, gender and diversity dimensions” in research).
Considering sex, gender and diversity can – where relevant – have concrete implications in terms of the planning, implementation and outcomes of a research project. Aspects such as sex, gender, age, social or ethnic origin, health status, etc. can have an impact on the development of research questions, selection of methods and categories of analysis, creation of data sets and hypothesising. Furthermore, differentiation according to sex, gender and/or other diversity dimensions can be relevant to research projects at several different levels – such as the people or the animals to be studied or the human or animal material to be investigated, for example.
Examples of the importance of sex, gender and/or diversity in research:
Crash test dummies designed according to both male and female body models help prevent potential injuries in both sexes. Research on the risks of osteoporosis in men has long been neglected; it is now known that approximately one third of sufferers are male, so effective therapies are required here. The symptoms of heart attacks also differ between men and women. Research and models based on experiments on animals and on animal/human material have also shown that results for one sex cannot always simply be generalised.
In developing countries, the application of particular medical-diagnostic methods is often only possible not just due to their reliability but also based on suitability and cost. In the research field of artificial intelligence, it is possible for stereotypes and prejudices to be learned in the training data and then reproduced in machine learning.
In basic research, too (especially in the life sciences and engineering sciences), the dimensions of sex, gender and diversity can be a crucial factor in improving the quality of research.
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