Research in the laboratory
CNRS laboratories are the organisation’s “building blocks”. Their teams, which consist of researchers, engineers and technicians, are behind the production and transmission of knowledge. Most laboratories are joint research units, bringing together partners from academia (universities, schools, and other research organisations) and industrial actors.
Highly diverse teams
Laboratories managed in partnership
The CNRS counts approximately 1,100 laboratories spread across France. The vast majority are joint research units (UMR) associated with a university, higher-education institution, or research organisation. They shape the local scientific landscape. In addition to these laboratories, there are 36 international joint units (UMI), whose number has been growing significantly since 2010.
Staff members with varied duties and status
Joint research units, which develop and disseminate knowledge, are characterised by the diversity of their team members’ status and duties. CNRS researchers, engineers and technicians work alongside academics, engineers and technicians from other institutions (universities, engineering schools, other research organisations). Their teams are complemented by contract employees (PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers, engineers and technicians).
UMR, label of excellence
Obtaining the UMR status for a laboratory is a mark of recognition in the world of research, both in France and abroad. Reassessed every four years, this label makes it possible to hire CNRS personnel (researchers, engineers, technicians, administrative staff), and gives access to the organisation’s funds and international cooperation tools. 30% of French university laboratories are joint research units in partnership with the CNRS.
Professionals in the service of science
More than 15,000 researchers work in all scientific disciplines as represented by the organisation’s ten Institutes. They are recruited either by a competitive entry examination based on a scientific project, or by contract.
- 47.9 years: average age
- 34.6% women
- 90 different nationalities
Scientists drive research at the CNRS, which they have made the world’s leader in terms of scientific publications. The visibility of their work depends on their participation in conferences and seminars. Researchers also play an essential role in teaching and disseminating knowledge. They assist PhD students and young scientists, and can manage teams as well as teach. Encouraged to transfer their research results (through partnerships with industry, by applying for patents, creating companies, etc.), they are also key actors in relations between science and society through their participation in informational events intended for the general public.
Engineers and technicians
Nearly 18,000 engineers and technicians dedicate themselves to research and related support activities, or are involved in administrative duties (in laboratories, regional offices, or CNRS headquarters). Like researchers, engineers and technicians are recruited through competitive entry examination, or as contract employees.
Film produced by the CNRS. Animation: Nina Demortreux and Nicolas Mifsud. Music: “A Difficult Start” by Julien Vega, edited by Frederic Leibovitz
Training through research
Training for and through research is one of the missions of the CNRS. Each year, more than 500 young scientists begin a PhD at the CNRS. Recruited through a doctoral contract, PhD candidates are under the supervision of permanent researchers, and are fully integrated in laboratory teams. Approximately 1,700 PhD students of 80 different nationalities are preparing a thesis in a CNRS laboratory.