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GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

The Foundation of Excellence

With more than 300 employees at two locations - Mannheim and Cologne - GESIS provides essential and internationally relevant research-based services for the social sciences. As the largest European infrastructure institute for the social sciences GESIS offers advice, expertise and services at all stages of scientists' research projects. With this support socially relevant questions can be answered based on the latest scientific methods, and with high quality research data.

GESIS is an infrastructure institution for the social sciences whose purpose is to promote social science research. We stand for independence, sustainability, quality, and competence in the social sciences. We are a member of the Leibniz Association.

Our goal is to be the most important infrastructure institution for the social sciences in Germany and one of the leading infrastructure institutions for the social sciences in the world. In order to develop innovative, research-based services, we align our core competencies with thematic, methodological, and structural developments in the social sciences.

Services and Research

We offer our target groups support in all phases of the research process.

The focus of our services is on collecting research data and making them available and on related activities and information that enable the social sciences to conduct research on socially relevant issues. Our services for the research process benefit from our diverse network in Germany and throughout the world. They are committed to the principle of open science.

We conduct research in the areas of survey methodology, applied computer science, research data management, contemporary societal issues and at their interfaces. Through this unique bundling of expertise, we keep the infrastructure services for our target groups up to date at all times.

Target Groups

Our services are targeted primarily at scientists who work with methods of empirical social research, especially at universities and non-university research institutions in Germany and throughout the world.

As a key player in the European research data infrastructure, we are actively committed to enhancing its global network. We maintain close contact with our target groups, and we collaborate with universities and other national and international partners.

We are convinced that the alignment of our services with the needs of our target groups is a key to success. To this end, we conduct needs analyses on the basis of surveys and observation, and via our statutory bodies we actively involve the target groups in the design of our services.


We treat each other with mutual respect. Our long-term success is based on the fact that we carry out our tasks with dedication, high motivation and enthusiasm. In doing so, we follow the principle of "promoting and demanding". We work creatively, interdisciplinary and networked across departmental and institutional boundaries.

The work we do is subject to continuous dynamic development. It goes without saying that all employees have opportunities for training and further education. Scientific staff are supported in their academic qualification and career development.

Compatibility of work and family life, equality between women and men, the health of our employees and diversity as a basis for our international positioning are other important priorities.

Strategies and strategic objectives are central elements of GESIS’ management and serve the further development of the institute as well as its services. GESIS develops its strategies along a kind of cascade. Starting point is the statutes of GESIS with which all the strategic considerations are consistent.

On this basis, GESIS has formulated the following long-term principles in its Programme Planning. These are to be seen as a strategic orientation which also affects medium- and short-term objectives:

  • GESIS sets national and international standards with its infrastructure offerings.
  • GESIS conducts excellent disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and thus strengthens its infrastructure services.
  • GESIS is linked with all relevant national and international actors.
  • GESIS is organized in such a way that it achieves its objectives optimally, enables cross-departmental cooperation as well as the integration of research and infrastructure tasks.
  • GESIS supports its employees and is characterized by an internationally attractive work environment, clear structures and transparent communication. Structured further training, reconciling work and family life, equal opportunities for women and men, and occupational health management are key principles.
  • The principle of profitability and economy shall apply to the GESIS management for its public resources.

The strategic objectives are regularly reviewed and adjusted if necessary. They receive a high degree of commitment through their documentation in the annual Programme Budget. The medium- to short-term goals defined therein are discussed by scientific peers in the Scientific Advisory Board and confirmed by the Board of Trustees as the supervisory body of GESIS.

If necessary, separate strategy papers are created for specific areas of Programme Planning or for individual topics. These are oriented in principle to the mission statement and the Programme Planning, but their strategic content is more focused on specific topics and includes both goals of action and implementation steps.

In addition, the departments work out their own strategy papers which are in line with the GESIS-wide objectives and serve the internal planning and management of the units.

Founded 1986 as "Gesellschaft Sozialwissenschaftlicher Infrastruktureinrichtungen" GESIS initially consisted of three legally independent institutes, the "InformationsZentrum Sozialwissenschaften" (IZ) in Bonn, the "Zentralarchiv für Empirische Sozialforschung" (ZA) in Cologne and the "Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen" (ZUMA) in Mannheim.

These three institutes were merged 2007 into one infrastructure which has been included in the Leibniz Association and since November 2008 has introduced the name "Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences".