Call for scientific journals to adopt accurate language about the sex of nonhuman animals

May 21, 2021

In light of the simple fact that nonhuman animals do not have gender identity, we call on scientific journals to adopt a simple policy that ensures accuracy in publications. 

One line is all that is needed.

“Articles about nonhuman animals should specify animals’ species as well as their sex; authors should not refer to nonhuman animals in terms of the human construct gender.” 

Image of mice courtesy of Understanding Animal Research

To read more about the rationale and a brief explanation of what is known about sex and gender in human and nonhuman animals, please see our previous post titled: “#FactCheckNeeded: Nonhuman animals cannot have a gender identity.”

We recommend that when only one sex is studied (i.e., all males, all females) journals require, and authors include, the rationale. We’d also note that referring to other animals in terms of sex, rather than gender, does nothing to diminish the animals or their individuality.

If you’re a:

  • Journal editor – let us know via comments if you adopt the policy or would like more information.
  • Journal reviewer – please keep an eye out and recommend changes to authors who use gender rather than sex when describing nonhuman animals, feel free to direct them to this post to build understanding of why the language matters.
  • Author – remember to describe animals accurately, including species and sex. If you are only studying one sex, provide a rationale, or justification.
  • Scientific publisher – consider adopting the policy across all of your journals.
  • Reader – let authors know that they should change their language.
  • Educator – teach with correct terms, consider sharing this post.

We will update this post to provide the names of journals that adopt the new policy, stay tuned!

~ Speaking of Research