How do you become a scientist?

Field of activity science and research

Areas of activity in the research area are primarily basic research and teaching as well as applied research and development. Basic research takes place primarily at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and at universities. In contrast, applied research and development and the implementation of knowledge in marketable innovations is primarily a domain of the private sector and universities of applied sciences.

Basic research and teaching

Basic research deals with the review and expansion of general knowledge bases and theories of a science and is not aimed at direct application. Through scientific research results and experience, the researchers arrive at or improve new processes, methods, materials, devices, systems, etc. In Switzerland, basic research is mainly carried out by universities. Research and teaching at universities usually form a unit: researchers are usually also entrusted with teaching activities.

Applied research and development

The universities of applied sciences and the research departments of the private sector concentrate on applied research and development. This research should contribute to the solution of specific, also economically and socially relevant problems. The most important applied research areas of Swiss companies are the chemical, pharmaceutical and electrical and metal industries. Cooperation between universities and the private sector has increased in recent years.

Applied research is also carried out at the Confederation and the cantons. Graduates from almost all fields of study can conduct research in a wide variety of areas such as health, education, the environment, migration and security as scientific employees. This so-called departmental research, which is carried out in the public interest, provides the relevant offices with evidence-based knowledge for policymaking. The Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), for example, is concerned with a solid knowledge base for optimal health care for the population.

Who is researching where?

In the private-sector research and the non-university research institutes, especially graduates with scientific and technical directions find jobs. Researchers from all fields of study can be found in the university sector, where teaching is also involved in addition to research.

Anyone wishing to enter research after studying the humanities, theology or law is, with few exceptions, dependent on universities as employers. Social scientists and economists have in-depth knowledge of statistics. This enables them to carry out field research or case studies outside the university. Important employers for researchers in the social sciences are, for example, the cantonal statistical offices and in particular the Federal Statistical Office.