The SOT Annual Meeting is the largest congress of its kind in the world. The content of the scientific sessions, whether symposia, roundtables, workshops, or oral and poster presentations, provides a broad range of topics for toxicologists to learn about and discuss new findings. Meeting attendees also come from a variety of backgrounds representing the breadth of training and experience that makes our Society vibrant and engaging. This intellectually stimulating atmosphere provides the opportunity for variations in opinions, the very feedstock for scientific exploration and growth.
The Scientific Program Committee carefully reviews about 2,800 abstracts for the SOT meeting. Although abstracts are very brief, those that are judged to encompass sound science and adequate results are scheduled for presentation in the scientific program. Whether the presenter is a senior SOT member, a graduate student, or a high school student (yes, even high school students have papers accepted for scientific sessions), the SOT meeting provides an open forum for more in–depth discussion of the methods used to generate the results along with the interpretation and significance of the findings.
SOT cannot prescribe the nature of interpersonal interactions during the many discussions that occur during the scientific sessions. However, we want to emphasize the importance of professional dialog and discourse, and we encourage meeting attendees to always approach authors with respect and consideration. Careful expression of alternate ways the work might have been conducted or debating alternative conclusions from those results will provide a learning opportunity for both parties. This is particularly important for those scientists who are in the early years of their scientific careers, because such interactions can help to guide their research as well as their perspective on possible career pathways. All meeting attendees can contribute to our strategic objective of building for the future of toxicology by offering thoughtful, constructive interaction with scientists at every stage of their career.
Scientific discourse is fuel for improving our science. The Annual Meeting is an important venue for such debate, and our discussions should always be courteous, with no prejudice concerning the position of the author in the field, his or her employer, geographic origin, or other such factors. We encourage all members to be professional and objective when discussing our science. We can and should learn from each other.