FORS is the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences. FORS implements large-scale national and international surveys, offers data and research information services to researchers and academic institutions, and conducts methodological and thematic research.

Our strategic priorities:

Data and consulting services for social science researchers and research institutions in Switzerland
Data collections as part of the national and international social science infrastructure

These activities include both national surveys, such as the Swiss Household Panel, SELECTS and MOSAiCH 2.0, and international surveys, such as the ESS, ISSP, EVS and SHARE. FORS ensures that the national surveys are embedded within the social science research community and also owns these data collections based on open calls for data modules or special mandates for the academic content of surveys. FORS represents Switzerland in the general assemblies of ESS and SHARE and plays various roles in a number of associations in Switzerland relating to national and international projects.

Services on a mandate basis supporting the entire data life cycle of social science projects in Switzerland

FORS conducts surveys, designs questionnaires and provides support for the planning of fieldwork. FORS also offers data cleaning and data preparation services, analyses and reporting that adhere to high quality standards, generates data and makes it publicly available at the end of projects and covers all the costs.

Providing tools for the national and international information infrastructure
We acquire, document, preserve and disseminate high quality quantitative and qualitative data and research information in conformity with national and international standards.

We also make these data and services known and promote a research culture of data sharing and secondary analysis for the social sciences in Switzerland.

SWISSUbase is a research data platform for the archiving and sharing of Swiss research data. SWISSUbase also enables the registration of projects, and the storage, maintenance and sharing of research data in a secure and controlled environment. SWISSUbase was developed in close collaboration with institutional partners and individual researchers, and provides training and guidance to researchers in the field of research data management.

Doing research related to methodological and thematic research
Thanks to its own research activities, FORS is an integral part of the social science research community in Switzerland. To fulfil its key mission, FORS participates in academic research in two main fields:

Thematic research based on its own data collections ensures that FORS is an active part of the social science research community at both the national and international level. Thematic research activities are a prerequisite for the provision and advancement our own data collections and data services.

Methodological research is crucial for the understanding of current and future challenges of data collections, as well as for surveys and the collecting of social science data in a more general sense. Methodological research is a top priority at FORS and a continual dialogue on methodological issues with the Swiss Federal Statistical Office is of utmost importance.


With “Demain la Suisse”, Switzerland launched a major research programme in the 1990s that aimed at “revitalising” social sciences in Switzerland. Within the context of this programme, the idea originated to create a centre of expertise to unite a number of long-term social science projects under the umbrella of a single institution.

FORS was finally established as a new social science institution in Switzerland in 2008. FORS pooled the responsibility for a number of existing long-term projects, including the Swiss Household Panel (SHP), the Swiss Electoral Studies SELECTS and SIDOS, and the Swiss Information and Data Archive for the Social Sciences. Bringing together researchers that were working on large-scale survey projects and data services within a new social science infrastructure in Switzerland created a unique environment to focus and develop knowledge regarding how to collect, archive and disseminate social science data, but also about how to provide services to social scientists in a broader sense.

FORS celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2018 with a symposium. On this occasion, retired FORS Director Prof. Peter Farago illustrated the founding history of FORS. The presentation can be read here:
Designing and Creating a 
Social Science Research Infrastructure in Switzerland

The 15th-anniversary celebration of FORS took place on November 16, 2023, at the University of Lausanne, marking a momentous occasion. The event gathered many past and present FORS members for discussions centered on FORS’s remarkable journey and its future trajectory. For more details, please consult the press release.