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Under research is meant, as opposed to accidental discovery, the systematic search for new knowledge as well as their documentation and publication . The publication takes place predominantly as scientific work in relevant specialist journals and / or through the presentation at specialist conferences . Research and research projects both in scientific and in industrial operation, but also in the artistic context.


Research is generally divided into:

  • Basic research that tries to clarify previously unknown objects, behavioral mechanisms, basic structures or functional relationships of an elementary nature. For example, basic scientific research is concerned with B. with the function of organisms in biology or the interactions of substances in chemistry and physics. Basic research in the humanities has z. B. the phenomenon of education on the topic. It explores historically or socially relevant laws of human behavior. This research is carried out systematically and in accordance with the mandate, primarily at scientific universities . An example of European basic research is in particular CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. In Germany there are also special research institutions such as the non-profit research organization Max-Planck-Gesellschaft e. V. (MPG) and the institutes of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers (HGF). In Austria, institutions such as the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) work in basic research. In Italy, Trieste is considered a center of basic research with the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste research complex with, among other things, the Elettra electron accelerator and theFERMI free-electron laser . Basic research serves to expand elementary scientific knowledge. The area of ​​application is not in the foreground of interest. Basic research provides a foundation for applied research and development .
  • Translational research , advanced, targeted basic research at the interface to applied research, which is based on scientific knowledge gained and is geared towards specific application goals and / or an economic, social or cultural benefit to be developed. This includes, for example, research by the Leibniz Association
  • Applied research (also functional research ) that aims to solve a practical, often technical or medical problem. It pursues an economic use and takes place both at universities and in the private sector, in Germany also at the institutes of the Fraunhofer Society . Similar, partly state-funded institutions are also known in other countries, for example the TNO in the Netherlands, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Austria or the AREA Science Park in Trieste , Italy. In the narrower sense, applied research distinguishes between process and product research. The knowledge gained is implemented in technical developments.

While basic research is guided by a pure interest in knowledge and tries to track down generally valid connections and laws, applied research is geared towards practical, useful results like something in medical research. Either of the two research directions can provide impetus for the other and benefit from the other. Basic research works on a higher level of abstraction, application research moves closer to practical usability. The Stanford University in California with the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center , the research and studies in natural and engineering sciences and the IT companies in Silicon Valley is considered an international model with regard to the connection between basic research, application research and economic use.


The economic growth can about the investment and research intensity are promoted and therefore the research and its funding is economically significant. Above all, the concentration of research and development on cutting-edge technology has a long-term effect on growth.

Measured in terms of financial expense is attributable to the industrialized countries of the research, the majority of the industry , that is primarily the Applied Research Act. The basic research is, however, predominantly by scientists of the research facilities of the universities supported and specialized (to a lesser extent) Institute.

This research is mainly financed from the budget of the institute or university. But the proportion of so-called third - party research is growing in almost all western countries . Essentially, these are research projects applied for and carried out by university professors , for which (semi) state research funding usually exists.

Within the framework of the EU, the European Research Council (ERC) is an important institution for funding basic research.


According to calculations by the Federal Statistical Office for 2007, the total research expenditure in Germany totaled around 61.5 billion euros, 70 percent of which was financed by industry. The research-based pharmaceutical companies in Germany contributed 10.5 percent of the total research expenditure in German industry.

The majority of the approximately 18 billion euros of “non-industrial” research is carried out by institutes at universities and academies. In addition to their primary budget, there are the third-party funds , which are mainly financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Their budget in 2010 was around 2.3 billion euros . According to research report in 2010 which came 67.1 percent by the federal government, 32.7 percent of the countries and 0.2 percent from foundations and private donations .

Of the 32,000 research projects currently funded, over 15,000 were individual funding. A total of 894 million euros in funding was approved for them in 2010. In addition, there are 256 special research areas , for which the DFG supported around 4600 projects (funding volume 547 million euros). The DFG report also writes: 237 graduate colleges (138 million euros), 113 priority programs with around 3400 projects (193 million euros) and 252 research groups with almost 2500 projects (150 million euros) were also funded in the coordinated programs.


Austria's research promotion funds FWF and FFG differentiate between basic and commercial research. Both funds are mainly financed by the state, the rest from the private sector . In 2012, the FWF approved 684 new research projects totaling almost 200 million euros. The FFG received 427 million disbursements for research projects in 2012. Other (partly public) funding institutions are the Christian-Doppler Society and the Austrian Academy of Sciences . In addition to the FWF and FFG, there are a number of other research funding agencies in Austria, such as B. the federal ministries for science and research, for transport, innovation and technology, and for economy, family and youth. Some federal states have also set up research funding programs, such as B. Vienna with the WWTF (Vienna Science, Research and Technology Fund) and the ZIT (Center for Innovation and Technology) or the SFG in Styria (Styrian Economic Development Agency). Almost all federal states also use the FFG to run self-financed programs. The share of private non-for-profit research funding in Austria is comparatively low.


According to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation , research and development expenditure in Switzerland totaled 22.5 billion Swiss francs in 2017. This amount corresponds to 3.4% of GDP . Switzerland is thus one of the countries that make the highest investments in research and development in relation to their GDP. As in many other industrialized countries, the majority of these expenses go to the private sector, which finances and carries out around two thirds of the activities in the field of research and development. In addition to the cantonal universities and the two federal technical universities, the federal government is primarily responsible for state R&D funding. The most important federal funding instruments are the Swiss National Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research and Young Scientists (annual funding budget of around CHF 1.2 billion) and Innosuisse, the Swiss Agency for the Promotion of Innovation (annual funding budget of around CHF 200 million). In addition, participation in the research framework programs of the European Union is of particular importance for Switzerland.


  • K. Brockhoff: Research and Development: Planning and Control. 5th, supplemented and enlarged edition. Munich 1999.
  • Dietrich von Engelhardt : research, medical. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 410-416.
  • Karl Popper : Logic of Research . 11th edition. Tübingen 2005.
  • H. Siegwart: Product development in an industrial company . (= UTB. 315). Bern 1974.
  • E. Staudt: Research and Development. In: Volume 2 HWB, Teilbd. 1: AH. 5th, completely redesigned edition. Stuttgart 1993, Col. 1186 f.
  • H. Strebel: The importance of research and development for the growth of industrial companies. Dissertation . Technical University of Karlsruhe, Berlin 1968.
  • AP Wagner: The key to a successful product: The modern product idea generation techniques in a practical representation . Vienna 1974.

Web links

Wiktionary: Research  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Researcher  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Jürgen Mittelstraß: Art and Research: An Introduction. In: Bast Rittermann / Mittelstraß: Art and Research / Art and Research. Springer, Berlin 2011, pp. 13-16.
  2. Kugler: A deep look through "X-Rays". In: The press. November 24, 2013.
  3. ↑ on this Piero Pieri: The FERMI laser from Trieste. in BR from January 31, 2016.
  4. ^ Definition of translational research by the FWF ( Memento from October 9, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  5. cf. in detail: Christoph Keese: Silicon Valley. 2014, p. 54ff.
  6. cf. u. a. Falk Aiginger: Explaining Differences in Economic Growth among OECD Countries. 2005, p. 19ff; Expert council for the assessment of macroeconomic development, "Factors influencing economic growth in industrialized countries: An analysis with panel data - 2002/2003" (2002).
  7. Press release VFA , February 20, 2009
  8. FWF factsheet 2012. ( Memento from October 2, 2013 in the web archive )
  9. FFG statistics booklet 2012
  10. ^ Report on Research and Innovation in Switzerland 2020 from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation