Scientific Research Institutes

Scientific Research Institutes


institutions created specially for the purpose of organizing and conducting scientific research and research projects. The term “institute” as applied to a scientific institution was first used in 1795 in naming the Institut de France. Research institutes in the modern sense first appeared at the turn of the century to meet the need for new organizational forms in research work; this need was created by the intensifying processes of differentiation and integration in science and the emergence of scientific problems whose solutions required collective effort from various specialized fields.

The purpose of the first scientific research institutes was the solution of certain fundamental problems in the natural sciences. Two such early institutes were the Pasteur Institute, founded in Paris in 1888, and the Radium Institute, founded also in Paris in 1909. In the early 20th century, various scientific research institutes were established, with partial government financing and supervision, in order to solve important problems in technology, agriculture, and public health, as well as theoretical problems—for example, the institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, an association of research institutes, founded in 1911. Institutes concerned with problems in the humanities were also established—for example, Pushkin House in Russia, founded in 1905 and reorganized in 1930 as the Institute of Russian Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Within the framework of such institutes, it became possible for researchers to specialize even further and for scientists working in many areas to cooperate. These advantages were such that by the mid-20th century research institutes were, in most countries, the dominant institution for coordinating scientific work.

In capitalist countries, scientific research institutes (often called laboratories, offices, or bureaus) vary in their financing and administration. These institutes include government institutes, such as the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority; “combined” institutes, such as the institutes of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science in the Federal Republic of Germany; private companies, such as the Bell Telephone Laboratories in the USA; and universities and colleges. The leading scientific organizations in capitalist countries, for example, the national academies of science, usually have few, if any, research institutes of their own.

In the USSR, scientific research institutes are financed by the state, and their work is based on plans drawn up by the state. Dozens of scientific research institutes were established in the first years of Soviet power, including the Institute of Physical and Chemical Analysis, the Institute for the Study of Platinum, the Central Aerodynamic and Hydrodynamic Institute, the State Optical Institute, the V. I. Lenin All-Union Electrical Engineering Institute, and the L. Ia. Karpov Physical Chemistry Institute, all of which grew to be major scientific associations.

A vast network of general and specialized scientific research institutes has developed in the USSR under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the academies of sciences of the Union republics, and specialized academies of the USSR and of all-Union and republic ministries and government offices. Scientific centers have been organized near Novosibirsk, Moscow, and other cities and in Vladivostok, Sverdlovsk, and elsewhere. Such centers concentrate research institutes in various fields. The solution of problems through the combined efforts of scientists in various fields raises the efficiency of scientific work in general.

As a result of the increased impact of scientific activity upon the efficiency of the national economy, a new bond between science and production has developed—the scientific industrial association—in which research institutes play a leading role. Other socialist countries have drawn upon the experience of the USSR in establishing a network of scientific research institutes. The work of these institutes in the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere shows the continuation of the tradition of the scientific institutes founded in the early 20th century and the interwar period. Research institutes of a new type have emerged in several countries during the scientific and technological revolution. These institutes have a small permanent staff of highly skilled experts; outside specialists are hired on a contractual basis to carry out specific research tasks. The increasing complexity of scientific work has led to cooperation among scientists within international scientific research institutes and scientific centers, such as the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva. A number of scientific research institutes have been established under the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), for example, the Institute of Standardization. UNESCO and several international scientific organizations have institutions resembling scientific research institutes.


Organizatsiia nauki. Editor in chief, G. M. Dobrov. Kiev, 1970.
Evoliutsiia form organizatsii nauki v razvitykh kapitalisticheskikh stranakh. Moscow, 1972.


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