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|National Centre for Scientific Research|
|Formation||October 19, 1939|
|Purpose/focus||Fundamental scientific research|
|Headquarters||16th arrondissement of Paris|
|Location||rue Michel Ange|
|Main organ||Comité national de la recherche scientifique|
The National Centre for Scientific Research (French: Centre national de la recherche scientifique or CNRS) is the largest governmental research organisation in France and the largest fundamental science agency in Europe. It employs 26,000 permanent employees (researchers, engineers, and administrative staff) and 6,000 temporary workers.
Following a 2009 reform, the CNRS is divided into 10 institutes:
Previously, it was divided into INSU, IN2P3, and several "scientific departments".
The National Committee for Scientific Research, 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 an optional secondary institute; the researchers themselves belong to one section.
For administrative purposes, the CNRS is divided into 18 regional divisions (including four just for the region of Paris).
CNRS runs its research units either independently or in association with other institutions, such as INSERM or universities. In French these units are called laboratoires informally and unités de recherche in administrative parlance. They 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), respectively. 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 research groups ("équipes").
CNRS also has support units, which, analogously to the research units, are called unités propres de service (UPS) or unités mixtes de service (UMS). 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 "mixed" and also include non-CNRS researchers (most notably university professors); mixed groups tend to be housed inside universities and other institutions of higher education. The prevalence of such "mixed" research groups is an unusual characteristic of the French system.
The headquarters of CNRS are at the Campus Gérard Mégie in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
Researchers who are permanent employees of the CNRS are classified in two categories, in order of seniority:
In principle, research directors tend to head research groups, but this is not a general rule (a research scientist can head a group or even a laboratory and some research directors don't head a group).
Employees for support activities include research engineers, studies engineers, assistant engineers and technicians. Contrary to what the name would seem to imply, these can have administrative duties (e.g. a secretary can be "technician", an administrative manager of a laboratory an "assistant engineer").
All permanent support employees are recruited through annual nationwide competitive campaigns. Following a 1983 reform, the candidates selected have the status of civil servants and are part of the public service.
The CNRS is represented with administrative centers in Brussels, Beijing, Tokyo, Hanoi, Washington, D.C., Bonn, Moscow, Tunis, Johannesburg, Santiago de Chile, Israel, and New Delhi.
The CNRS was created on October 19, 1939 by decree of President Albert Lebrun. Since 1954, the centre has annually awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals to French scientists and junior researchers. In 1966, the organisation underwent structural changes, which resulted in the creation of two specialised institutes: the National Astronomy and Geophysics Institute in 1967 (which became the National Institute of Sciences of the Universe in 1985) and the Institut national de physique nucléaire et de physique des particules (IN2P3; English: National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics) in 1971.
The performance of the CNRS has been questioned, with calls for wide-ranging reforms. In particular, the effectiveness of the recruitment, compensation, career management, and evaluation procedures have been under scrutiny. Governmental projects include the transformation of the CNRS into an organ allocating support to research projects on an ad hoc basis and the reallocation of CNRS researchers to the universities. Another controversial plan advanced by the government involves breaking up the CNRS into six separate institutes.
Alain Fuchs was appointed president on January 20, 2010. His position combines the previous positions of president and director general.
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