A sex- and gender-informed perspective increases rigor, promotes discovery, and expands the relevance of biomedical research. In the current era of accountability to present data for males and females, thoughtful and deliberate methodology can improve study design and inference in sex and gender differences research. We address issues of motivation, subject selection, sample size, data collection, analysis, and interpretation, considering implications for basic, clinical, and population research. In particular, we focus on methods to test sex/gender differences as effect modification or interaction, and discuss why some inferences from sex-stratified data should be viewed with caution. Without careful methodology, the pursuit of sex difference research, despite a mandate from funding agencies, will result in a literature of contradiction. However, given the historic lack of attention to sex differences, the absence of evidence for sex differences is not necessarily evidence of the absence of sex differences. Thoughtfully conceived and conducted sex and gender differences research is needed to drive scientific and therapeutic discovery for all sexes and genders.
Rich-Edwards JW, Kaiser UB, Chen GL, Manson JE, Goldstein JM. Sex and Gender Differences Research Design for Basic, Clinical, and Population Studies: Essentials for Investigators. Endocr Rev. 2018 Aug 1;39(4):424-439. Review. PubMed PMID: 29668873.