In France, research policy, whether for basic or applied research, is conducted by the ministry responsible for scientific research (the MESRI – Ministry for Higher Education, scientific Research and innovation) and largely structured by the Research Code and the Law dated July 23, 2013 relating to higher education and research.
Enacted in 2004, the Research Code consolidates all the legislative measures relating to the research tasks, objectives, general organization and activities, as well as the operation of all institutions, bodies and personnel involved in research. Its codification is mainly based on two laws, adopted in 1982 and 1985, governing the orientation and the programming of research in France. These laws include a set of general provisions and guidelines determining the status of researchers and the research institutions to which they are attached, as well as defining the resources which may be made available to the research stakeholders in France. These laws helped to structure the organization of research activities which, prior to 1982, were conducted empirically within diverse frameworks and poorly coordinated.
- Research Code
- Law No. 82-610 dated July 15, 1982 for the orientation and programming of research and technological development in France
- Law No. 85-1376 dated December 23, 1985 relating to research and technological development
Law No. 2013-660 dated July 22, 2013 relating to higher education and research
The purpose of this law, adopted in 2013, is to stimulate research by strengthening its international outreach and restoring its ambition and coherence. Among its many provisions, this law provides for the development of a national research strategy and the protection of basic research activities, while promoting the mobility of foreign researchers and teachers. The text also aims to foster student success through various measures (setting priority orientations for certain high school graduates, enhancing employability, etc.) and the drafting of a national research strategy for higher education.
National Research Strategy
Published in 2015, the National Research Strategy (SNR – Stratégie Nationale de Recherche) focuses on 10 challenges facing society. Its primary ambition is to improve our knowledge so as to properly tackle the numerous socio-economic issues of the XXIst century, such as global warming, the digital revolution or food safety. Directions for research are derived from these challenges and enable the identification of the main issues requiring coordinated actions given their impact on society.
For further information on National Research Strategy (SNR)
National Strategy for Research Infrastructure
Combined with the National Research Strategy, the National Strategy for Research Infrastructures has been developed on the basis of a state of the art prepared by a group of scientists from all fields. Its purpose is to highlight the diversity of existing or proposed infrastructures and tools which meet the criteria of scientific and technological excellence and efficiency. This strategy, which generates numerous data, should also enhance the capacity of these research infrastructures to make such data accessible to the community. Published by the Ministry responsible for Higher Education and Research, it covers 95 infrastructures, including 5 international organizations, 20 very large research infrastructures, 61 research infrastructures and 9 projects.
For further information on National Strategy for Research Infrastructures
For further information on the Research Infrastructures of the ODATIS Data Cluster
In addition to this regulation which provides a global framework for the organization and structuring of research in France, there are more specific rules which define the status and general functioning of Operational Research Structures (SOR – Structures Opérationnelles de Recherche) and Operational Service Structures (SOS – Structures Opérationnelles de Service).
Operational Research Structures
Operational Research Structures (SORs – Structures Opérationnelles de Recherche) are governed by Decision No. 920520SOSI dated July 24, 1992, as amended, determining the organization and functioning of the Operational Research Structures. While they each have a different status, all SORs share the same purpose: pooling the financial, material and human resources which are necessary to carry out a given scientific research program. In principle, each SOR is attached to a prominent research institution (CNRS - French National Center for Scientific Research, IRD - French National Research Institute for Development, INSERM – French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, INRA - French National Institute for Agricultural Research, etc.) and to one or more institutes, depending on the scientific topics covered. The various SORs are grouped into different categories: so called “Basic” Research Units, Distributed Research Structures (SFRs – Structures Fédératives de Recherche), Research Networks (GDRs – Groupements de Recherche), and Transitional Research Groups (FREs – Formations de Recherche en Evolution).
Operational Service Structures
Operational Service Structures (SOSs – Structures Opérationnelles de Service) are regulated by Decision N° 159-87 dated December 2, 1987 determining the organization and functioning of the Operational Service Structures. The purpose of SOSs is to provide all Operational Research Structures (SORs – Structures Opérationnelles de Recherche) with the necessary resources and support for their scientific activities. Like SORs, SOSs are attached to a large research body or to one or more institutes, depending on their needs. They are divided into service units or service networks.
- Decision No. 159-87 dated December 2, 1987 determining the organization and functioning of the Operational Service Structures (SOSs)
Earth Science and Astronomy Observatories
Earth Science and Astronomy Observatories (OSUs – Observatoires des Sciences de l’Univers) consist of laboratories joining forces to carry out long-term observations in the field of Earth sciences. A decree of the Ministry responsible for Higher Education and Research has identified 27 OSUs, covering several topics (astronomy, Earth physics, oceanography and environment). Their organization is governed by the Education Code and their task is to provide the national and international community with services related to their research activities; to support the training of students and research personnel; to participate in the dissemination of knowledge; and to set up activities promoting international cooperation. As regards oceanography, these common tasks are complemented by an additional objective: the protection of the ocean environment through the advancement of knowledge and the development of dedicated research programs.
- Decree No. 85-657 dated June 27, 1985 relating to Earth Science and Astronomy Observatories (OSUs)
- Articles D713.9, D713-10 and D713-11 of the Education Code
For further information on the OSUs of the ODATIS Data Cluster
National Monitoring Services
National Monitoring Services (SNOs – Services Nationaux d’Observation) are labelled by the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) and provide a set of resources dedicated to the monitoring of the Earth system and the astronomical systems, with a view to documenting in the long term the formation, evolution and variability of such systems, as well as enhancing the knowledge and understanding thereof. The 182 SNOs of INSU (French National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy), a CNRS institute, are combined into 4 national monitoring initiatives (AA – Astronomy & Astrophysics; OA – Oceans & Atmosphere; SIC – Surfaces & Continental Interfaces; and TS – Solid Earth) and are intended to provide support to the scientific community for the production of and access to observation data.
- Framework Memorandum dated January 13, 2016 relating to the organization of National Monitoring Services (SNOs)
For further information on the SNOs of CNRS for all topics
For further information on the SNOs of the ODATIS Data Cluster
Long Term Environmental Research Monitoring and Testing Systems
Environmental Research Monitoring and Testing Systems (SOEREs – Systèmes d’Observation et d’Expérimentation pour la Recherche en Environnement) are labelled by AllEnvi (French National Alliance for Environmental Research) and their purpose is to create a network among the various Environmental Observatories spread over different sites. Each SOERE constitutes a network of basic testing and/or monitoring services sharing common observation and measurement features, whose data are processed and stored in a lasting and continuing manner. Labelling these networks facilitates the national and European recognition by the scientific community and the access to certain sources of funding.
Research Alliances aim at strengthening the coordination of large scientific programs so as to develop closer relationships among research stakeholders working on close topics. The creation of these alliances forms part of an effort to promote French research by enhancing the performance, visibility and outreach of the main research institutions and structures, at both national and international level, through the coordination of thematic programs that are consistent with the National Research Strategy (SNR – Stratégie Nationale de Recherche). Between 2009 and 2010, 5 alliances were created and defined according to the research priorities identified in the SNR.