The CNRS

The French National Centre for Scientific Research is among the world's leading research institutions. Its scientists explore the living world, matter, the Universe, and the functioning of human societies in order to meet the major challenges of today and tomorrow. Internationally recognised for the excellence of its scientific research, the CNRS is a reference in the world of research and development, as well as for the general public.

Snapshot

The National Centre for Scientific Research is an interdisciplinary public research organisation under the administrative supervision of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

3.3 billion A budget of
33,000 people dedicated to research
1,144 research laboratories in France and abroad

Status : Public Scientific and Technological Establishment (EPST)

Date of creation : October 19, 1939

President : Antoine Petit

Headquarters : 3, rue Michel-Ange, Paris 16e

Research fields :
 

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology and environment
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Engineering and systems
  • Mathematics
  • Nuclear and particles
  • Physics
  • Information sciences
  • Earth sciences and astronomy

CNRS, pushing back the frontiers of science

Audiodescription

Missions

The French state has entrusted the CNRS with the role of advancing knowledge for the benefit of society. The organisation seeks to accomplish this national mission while respecting ethical rules and showing commitment to professional equality.

To identify and conduct, alone or with its partners, research that is in the interest of science as well as the technological, social, and cultural advancement of the country.
Mission entrusted by the state to the CNRS, decree of November 24, 1982

A five-pronged mission

1. Conduct scientific research

The CNRS conducts “research that is in the interest of science as well as the technological, social, and cultural advancement of the country”. Oriented toward the common good, this research approach is multidisciplinary in nature, long-term in outlook, and open to the unknown.

2. Transfer research results

The CNRS’s aim is for society to benefit from the advances it achieves, whether they relate to technologies, sustainable development, or societal issues. Numerous measures for technology transfer and application have been implemented to that effect, notably with industrial partners.

3. Share knowledge

The CNRS gives access to research results and data, for they are part of our common heritage. This sharing of knowledge is intended for different audiences, including the scientific community, the media, and the general public.

4. Train through research

Knowledge is also transmitted through training and the conduct of research, with the CNRS welcoming hundreds of future researchers, PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows in its laboratories each year.

5. Contribute to scientific policy

The CNRS participates in the national research strategy with its partners, notably at major French university locations. It also carries out evaluations and expert assessments on scientific matters.

Decree regarding the organisation and functioning of the CNRS (in French)


Promoting ethics in research

Integrity in research has become a key element in scientific policies. In recent years, norms defined on the European and international levels have prompted countries and research institutions to tackle this issue head on. As a pioneer in the domain, the CNRS is perfectly in keeping with the philosophy of the National Charter of Ethics for the Research Professions (2015).

The purpose of research is to contribute to the development of knowledge and the advancement of science. It relies on the principles of honesty, scientific integrity, and responsibility, on which the public bases its confidence in research.
CNRS Ethics Committee, Integrity and Responsibility in Research Practices

A best practice guide

Centered around the concrete activity of researchers, the Integrity and Responsibility in Research Practices guide is a reminder of the framework in which researchers work: the civil service, the rights and obligations of civil servants, and professional responsibility (non-discrimination, gender equality, combatting harassment) notably with regard to PhD students. It lists the basic rules for the production and processing of scientific data (reliability, traceability, etc.), as well as for scientific publications (plagiarism, royalties, open access, etc.). The guide also touches on the issues of intellectual property and conflicts of interest, and provides recommendations for all of these points.

CNRS Ethics Committee

Created in 1994, The CNRS Ethics Committee (Comets) is an independent advisory body connected to the CNRS Board of Trustees. It represents all disciplines, and ensures gender equality. Its mission is to :

  • reflect on the ethical aspects of research practice, the main stakes involved, and relations with society
  • raise awareness of the importance of ethics among researchers and staff
  • formulate opinions together with recommendations

The Ethics Committee does not directly intervene in scientific controversies, and does not deal with specific cases, which fall under the purview of the CNRS ombudsperson.

Operational ethics and bioethics

For all questions relating to regulations on ethics, the Comets can resort to both an internal and external audit. The Committee notably works with the Bioethical Regulation Unit of the CNRS’s Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB), the organisation that addresses all issues related to operational ethics in laboratories.

When it comes to ensuring compliance with ethical research rules involving human beings, the Inserm’s Ethics Evaluation Committee (CEEI) or the Institutional Review Board (IRB) can be approached if needed.

Changes in the legislation and regulation of bioethical matters — especially research involving human beings — also fall under the remit of the CNRS’s Bioethical Regulation Unit.

Find out more

Commitment to professional equality

The CNRS’s Mission for Women’s Integration, reporting directly to the CNRS president, is a pioneering governing body in France’s research landscape. For more than fifteen years, it has endeavoured to promote gender equality in the workplace, as well as the integration of gender in research programmes.

Women represent 34.5% of researchers, and 49.7% of engineers and technicians. Despite recent progress, gender parity has not yet been achieved among scientists.
Elisabeth Kohler, Director of the Mission for Women’s Integration

The “Acting for Professional Equality at the CNRS” action plan (2014) has four main focuses: striving for professional equality within the CNRS (recruitment, careers, honors); promoting an interdisciplinary “gender” approach in research; encouraging scientific and technical careers with young people, especially girls; developing European and international partnerships.

Visit the Mission for Women’s Integration website (in French)

Management

The CNRS has been led by scientists since the word go. This form of governance allows it to devote all of its resources to research... and to demonstrate its innovation capacity in terms of ethics and professional equality.

Institutional management

Management Board

The Management Board is the CNRS’s decision-making body. It firstly includes the CNRS President and CEO, who is a member of the scientific community, and is appointed by the Council of Ministers upon a proposal made by the French Minister of Higher Education and Research. The Management Board is also composed of a Chief Research Officer, a Chief Resources Officer, a Chief Technology Transfer Officer, and the President’s Cabinet Secretary.

Management Committee

The management committee includes the Management Board along with the ten Institute directors and the Communications Department.

Scientific organisation

CNRS Research Office (DGDS)

The DGDS conducts, alongside the president, the institution’s scientific policy. Elle coordonne l'action des dix instituts du CNRS, veille à promouvoir l'interdisciplinarité et organise les partenariats avec les divers acteurs de la recherche, à l'échelle régionale, nationale, européenne ou internationale. It coordinates the activities of the ten CNRS Institutes, promotes interdisciplinarity, and organises partnerships with various research players at the regional, national, European, and international levels. Dans ce cadre, et en relation étroite avec la direction générale déléguée aux ressources, elle s'appuie sur les compétences des délégations régionales. Within this framework, and in close collaboration with the CNRS Resource Office, it relies on the expertise of the regional offices.

The Institutes

The scientific management of the CNRS includes ten institutes that guide the organisation’s research strategy and coordinate the activities and projects of the laboratories reporting to them. Each institute covers more or less extensive disciplinary fields in biology, physics, chemistry, engineering, the humanities and social sciences, mathematics, ecology, information sciences, and Earth sciences and astronomy.

Learn more about the institutes

Administrative organisation

CNRS Resource Office (DGDR)

The DGDR conducts, alongside the president, the institution’s administrative and financial policy. Elle est responsable du développement des ressources humaines et des activités de soutien à la recherche. It is responsible for the development of human resources and activities in support of research. Dans ce cadre, et en relation étroite avec le DGDS, elle s'appuie sur les compétences des instituts du CNRS. Within this framework, and in close collaboration with the CNRS Research Office, it relies on the expertise of the CNRS Institutes.

Regional organisation

Regional offices

The CNRS's eighteen regional offices play a role in managing and offering local support for the laboratories located throughout France. They work in collaboration with the CNRS’s academic partners, and notably assist in developing industrial projects and European programmes.

Learn more about the CNRS Regional Offices
 

Financing in the service of public research

The funding of CNRS activities is mostly provided by public service subsidies approved in the budget, supplemented by various resources known as CNRS-generated income. The latter is connected in particular to research contracts, which are signed as a result of successful applications to calls for proposals — primarily with French and European public organisations, and to a lesser degree with private companies. Funding is also derived from subsidies from other institutions (universities, research organisations, etc.).

Main features of the CNRS budget :

  • A €3.3 billion budget;
  • 77% of resources come from public service subsidies, and 23% from CNRS-generated income (research contracts, funding from calls for proposals, provision of services, etc.);
  • half of the CNRS-generated income comes from research contracts (375 M€ in 2016), and a third from project or research programme funding (255 M€ en 2016). A little more than 1/10th of research contracts are concluded with private companies.

 

3.3 billion budget
23 % CNRS-generated income

(research contracts, funding from calls for proposals, provision of services, etc.)

86.5 % of funding devoted to laboratories

A committed employer

Recipient of the HR Excellence in Research Award

In February 2017, the CNRS received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its European human resources strategy for researchers (HRS4R). The institution was recognized for helping build the European Research Area, as well as for the quality of its human resources policies.

Permanent employees recruited by competitive entrance examination

The CNRS employs nearly 33,000 people, including over 15,000 researchers, 14,000 engineers, and approximately 4,000 technicians. Permanent employees work alongside contract employees, and are recruited through external competitive entrance examinations, which open in December for researchers and June for engineers and technicians. More than 90 nationalities are represented in its research units. 

More than 200 occupations

The research activities of the ten thematic institutes include all fields of knowledge, and are organised into 41 sections and 5 interdisciplinary commissions under the administrative supervision of the National Committee for Scientific Research. The engineers and technicians who contribute to and support research fall into over 200 occupations from numerous professional fields, including sciences of the living world, chemical sciences, the humanities and social sciences, computer science, information, administration, and management.

Quality of life at work, a priority

In the world of research, in which personal commitment is decisive for the successful outcome of scientific programmes, quality of life at work is an essential lever for success. The CNRS made it one of its HR priorities by implementing a dedicated plan through 2019.

Integrating people with disabilities

Finally, the Mission for the Integration of People with Disabilities has implemented an action plan seeking to recruit and facilitate the professional integration of these agents. 

Visit the Careers website

Like this glass blower working for the Kastler Brossel laboratory, the CNRS employs highly-qualified professionals in a wide variety of occupations.© Frédérique Plas / CNRS Photothèque / LKB

Organisational chart

Management Board

President and CEO

Cabinet Secretary

Chief Research Officer

Chief Resource Officer

Chief Technology Transfer Officer

CNRS Research Office

The Research Office (DGDS) coordinates the activities of the ten CNRS Institutes, promotes interdisciplinarity, and organises partnerships with various research players on the regional, national, European, and international levels.

Institutes (10)

Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB)

Institute of Chemistry (INC)

Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE)

Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS)

Institute for Information Sciences and Technologies (INS2I)

Institute for Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS)

National Institute for Mathematical Sciences and their Interactions (INSMI)

Institute of Physics (INP)

National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3)

National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy (INSU)

CNRS Service Departments (3)

Scientific and Technical Information Department (Dist)

Department for the Territorial Organisation of Research (Dastr)

European Research and International Cooperation Department (Derci)

Mission for interdisciplinarity

Computing-Data mission

Mission pour la stratégie et les relations internationales

General Secretariat of the National Committee for Scientific Research

Very Large-Scale Research Facilities Committee

CNRS Resources Office

The CNRS Resources Office (DGDR) conducts the administrative and financial policy of the institution, and is responsible for the development of human resources and research support activities. The DGDR is directed by Christophe Coudroy.

Mission for the Monitoring of and Relations with Regional Offices and Institutes

CNRS Service Departments (6)

Accounts and Financial Information (DCIF)

Financial Strategy, Real Estate and Modernisation (DSFIM)

Human Resources (DRH)

Legal Affairs (DAJ)

Information Systems (DSI)

Security Department (Dirsu)

Occupational Health and Safety Department (3)

Presentation

Occupational Health and Safety Department’s mission

National Prevention and Safety Coordination (CNPS)

National Department for Occupational Health (CNMP)

Governing bodies reporting to the president

Internal Audit Department

Communications Department

Ethics Committee

Ombudsperson

Mission for Women’s Integration

European and International Policy Council (CPEI)

Déléguée à la protection des données

Defence and Security Officer

Référent intégrité scientifique

Référent Déontologue du CNRS

Regional offices

Eighteen regional offices serve as the primary CNRS representatives for the institution’s partners in the field. Theses offices play a role in managing and supporting the laboratories spread out across France. They assist in particular in implementing industrial projects and European programmes.

Research units

The CNRS has approximately 1,100 laboratories located throughout France. Most are Joint Research Units (UMR) operating in association with a university, a higher education establishment, or another research institution. To these laboratories must be added 36 international Joint Units (UMI).

Board of Trustees

The CNRS Board of Trustees analyses and establishes, upon consultation with the Scientific Board, the main lines of the CNRS policy relating to the cultural, economic, and social needs of the entire French nation. It defines the principles that govern its relations with socioeconomic partners, as well as universities and national, foreign, or international organisations operating in its fields of activity. The Board of Trustees is presided over by Antoine Petit.

National Committee for Scientific Research

Attached to the CNRS, the National Committee for Scientific Research (CoNRS) advises on the governance of the organisation and the management of the Institutes. Thanks to the research of its governing bodies, it contributes to the development of the institution’s scientific policy, analyses its context and prospects, participates in the recruitment and career path of researchers, and monitors the activity of research units.

Achievements

Present in all fields of knowledge, the CNRS ranks among the leading global research institutions for its excellent research and innovation achievements.

The CNRS at the top of international rankings

Created during the 2000s, international rankings compare research and higher-education institutions based on quantitative and qualitative criteria. They are established by private information analysis companies, commercial scientific publishers, or public research groups. The emergence of international rankings and their presence in the research landscape should be seen in the context of global competition between institutions.

1st in the Nature Index ranking

With a total of 4,589 articles referenced in 2017, the CNRS holds the top spot in the international ranking of scientific institutions proposed by Nature magazine (Article Count ranking, 2016), ahead of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Society in Germany, Harvard University in the US, and the Spanish National Research Council.

Nature Index

 

2nd in Scimago Institutions Rankings

According to the 2017 SIR ranking (Scimago Institutions Rankings), the CNRS is the second most important global research institution in terms of scientific publications. Now preceded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the CNRS remains ahead of Harvard University (US). The ranking evaluated more than 5,100 universities and research organisations throughout the world, and was based on the indexing of global scientific publications in the Scopus database.

Scimago

 

4th most visible research institution on the Web

The CNRS ranks 4th worldwide and 2nd in Europe among research institutes in the “Webometrics” global Web visibility ranking.

Webometrics

 

5th patent filer in France

The CNRS comes 5th among France’s largest patent filers in a ranking published by the country’s National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi) in 2017. It comes second among research organisations after the CEA.

Visit the Inpi website (in French)

 

8th most innovative public research institution

For Thomson Reuters, the CNRS comes 8th in the global rankings of the most innovative public research organisations in the world.

Thomson Reuters