Collaboration, competition and publication in toxicology: views of British Toxicology Society members

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  • University College London


To ascertain attitudes to resourcing, collaboration and publication in toxicology, a survey was developed and distributed to British Toxicology Society (BTS) members. The survey comprised 14 questions with 5 response options (strongly agree; agree; conflicted; disagree; strongly disagree) and a free text box. One hundred responses were received. Unsurprisingly, 60% of participants disagreed or strongly disagreed that toxicology research is adequately funded in the UK; only 12% agreed with this statement. A similar proportion of participants (53%) disagreed with the statement that funding councils give equal opportunity to toxicology whereas 31% were conflicted on this point. An overwhelming 97% of respondents agreed that collaboration is important in driving toxicology research whereas only 38% agreed that competition is important. When this question was broadened out beyond the discipline of toxicology, a similar profile was seen suggesting that participants held similar views on toxicology versus other types of research. Many respondents were conflicted regarding the role of competition both in toxicology and in other research disciplines. Free text comments suggested that some competition is good to drive quality but can be counterproductive when competing for limited resources. Most participants were in favour of making toxicology research data openly available (86%) and in favour of open access publication (89%) although there were reservations about the cost of open access. Many (60%) thought the current system of peer review is fair but 65% also supported the idea of double-blind peer review (where both reviewer and author are anonymized). Others suggested a step in the opposite direction towards increased transparency (revealing and holding reviewers to account) would be preferable. Overall, there was a broad theme in free text responses that the need for experienced toxicologists has increased at a time when training and investment in the discipline has declined. However, not all respondents held that view with some noting that toxicology both as a research and as an applied discipline is strong within the UK scientific community


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-488
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology Research
Issue number4
Early online date13 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019