French National Centre for Scientific Research

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The National Center of Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique or CNRS)[1] is the largest governmental research organization in France[2] and the largest fundamental science agency in Europe.[3]

Grandes écoles

It involves 26,000 permanent employees (researchers, engineers, and administrative staff) and 6,000 temporary workers.

Contents

Organisation

Following a 2009 reform, the CNRS is divided into 10 institutes:

  • Institute of Chemistry (INC)
  • Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE)
  • Institute of Physics (INP)
  • National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3)
  • Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB)
  • Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS)
  • Institute for Computer Sciences (INS2I)
  • Institute for Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS)
  • Institute for Mathematical Sciences (INSMI)
  • National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy (INSU)

Previously, it was divided into INSU, IN2P3 and "scientific departments".

The National Commission for Scientific Research (CN), which is in charge of the recruitment and evaluation of researchers, is divided into 47 sections (e.g. section 1 is mathematics; section 7 is computer science and control). Research groups are affiliated with one primary institute and optional secondary institute; the researchers themselves belong to one section.

For administrative purposes, CNRS includes 18 regional divisions (including four just for the region of Paris).

CNRS runs its research units either independently or in association with other institutions, including those in higher education. In French these units are called laboratoires informally and unités de recherche in administrative parlance. The research groups are either operated solely by CNRS (and then known as unités propres de recherche or UPR or as mixed organizations (unités mixtes de recherche or UMR. Each research unit has a unique numeric code attached and is headed by a director (typically, a university professor or CNRS research director). A research unit may be divided into groups.

CNRS also has support groups: UPS (unités propres de service), or UMS (unités mixtes de service). A UPS or UMS may for instance supply administrative, computing, library or engineering services.

Currently CNRS researchers are active in 1,256 research groups, 85 percent of which are jointly run and also include non-CNRS researchers. The prevalence of such "mixed" research groups is an unusual characteristic of the French system. This mixing may hinder those outside the French higher education system from properly attributing works, since each laboratory may have many different names (UMR code, full name, acronym, CNRS address, university address, department inside university address).

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