Research institute
A research institute is an establishment endowed for doing research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

. Research institutes may specialize in basic research or may be oriented to applied research. Although the term often implies scientific
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 research, there are also many research institutes in the social sciences as well, especially for sociological
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 and historical
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 research purposes such as the Institute of Historical Research
Institute of Historical Research
The Institute of Historical Research is a British educational organisation providing resources and training for historical researchers. It is part of the School of Advanced Study in the University of London and is located at Senate House. The Institute was founded in 1921 by A. F...

. Some research institutes are associated with public education museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

s such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is a not-for-profit oceanographic research center in Moss Landing, California affiliated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was founded in 1987 by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard fame...


Famous research institutes

In the early medieval period, several astronomical observatories were built in the Islamic world. The first of these was the 9th-century Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 observatory built during the time of the Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliph al-Ma'mun
Abū Jaʿfar Abdullāh al-Māʾmūn ibn Harūn was an Abbasid caliph who reigned from 813 until his death in 833...

, though the most famous were the 13th-century Maragheh observatory
Maragheh observatory
Maragheh observatory is an astronomical observatory which was established in 1259 CE by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, an Iranian scientist and astronomer...

, 15th-century Ulugh Beg Observatory
Ulugh Beg Observatory
The Ulugh Beg Observatory is an observatory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Built in the 1420s by the Timurid astronomer Ulugh Beg, it is considered by scholars to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world at the time and the largest in Central Asia before it was destroyed in 1449...


The earliest research institute in Europe was Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

's Uraniborg
Uranienborg was a Danish astronomical observatory operated by Tycho Brahe; built circa 1576-1580 on Hven, an island in the Øresund between Zealand and Scania, which at that time was part of Denmark. The observatory was shortly after its construction expanded with an underground facility,...

 complex on the island of Hven
Ven is a small Swedish island in the Öresund strait, between Scania and Zealand . It is situated in Landskrona Municipality, Skåne County. The island has 371 inhabitants and an area of . During the 1930s, the population was at its peak, with approximately 1,300 inhabitants...

, a 16th-century astronomical
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 laboratory set up to make highly-accurate measurements of the stars. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 there are numerous notable research institutes including Bell Labs
Bell Labs
Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

, The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute is an American medical research facility that focuses on research in the basic biomedical sciences. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, with a sister facility in Jupiter, Florida, the institute is home to 3,000 scientists, technicians, graduate students, and...

 and SRI International
SRI International
SRI International , founded as Stanford Research Institute, is one of the world's largest contract research institutes. Based in Menlo Park, California, the trustees of Stanford University established it in 1946 as a center of innovation to support economic development in the region. It was later...

. Hughes Aircraft
Hughes Aircraft
Hughes Aircraft Company was a major American aerospace and defense contractor founded in 1932 by Howard Hughes in Culver City, California as a division of Hughes Tool Company...

 used a research institute structure for its organizational model which makes sense given its heavy emphasis on creativity and innovation.

Research institutes in early modern Europe

From the throes of the Scientific Revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

 came the 17th century scientific academy. In France Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale des Sciences in 1666 which came after private academic assemblies had been created earlier in the seventeenth century to foster research. In London, the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 was founded.

In the early 18th century Peter the Great established an educational-research institute to be built in his newly created imperial capital, St Petersburg. His plan combined provisions for linguistic, philosophical and scientific instruction with a separate academy in which graduates could pursue further scientific research. It was the first institution of its kind in Europe to conduct scientific research within the structure of a university. The St Petersburg Academy was established by decree on 28 January 1724.

Scientific research in twentieth century America

Research institutes came to emerge at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1900, at least in Europe and the United States, the scientific profession had only evolved so far as to include the theoretical implications of science and not its application. Research scientists had yet to establish a leadership in expertise. Outside of scientific circles it was generally assumed that a person in an occupation related to the sciences carried out work which was necessarily "scientific" and that the skill of the scientist did not hold any more merit than the skill of a labourer. A philosophical position on science was not thought by all researchers to be intellectually superior to applied methods. However any research on scientific application was limited by comparison. A loose definition attributed all naturally occurring phenomena to "science". The growth of scientific study stimulated a desire to reinvigorate the scientific discipline by robust research; in order to extract "pure" science from such broad categorisation.


This began with research conducted autonomously away from public utility and governmental supervision. Enclaves for industrial investigations became established. These included the Rockefeller Institute, Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by Abraham Flexner...

. Research was advanced in both theory and application. This was aided by substantial private donation.

1940 onwards

The expansion of universities into the faculty of research fed into these developments as mass education produced mass scientific communities. A growing public consciousness of scientific research brought public perception to the fore in driving specific research developments. After the Second World War and the Atom Bomb specific research threads were followed: environmental pollution and national defense.
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