The Polish Academy of Sciences is a state scientific institution founded in 1952. From the very beginning, it has functioned as a learned society acting through an elected corporation of top scholars and research organizations, via its numerous scientific establishments. It has also become a major scientific advisory body through its scientific committees.
The activities of the Academy in its present form are regulated by the Parliamentary Act of April 30, 2010.
The Academy is composed of national members (including both full and corresponding members) and foreign members. Membership in the Academy is held for life. The number of national members is set at no more than 350. All members (national and foreign) are elected by the General Assembly from among candidates with the highest scientific achievements and of recognized authority. The names of potential national members are submitted by current national members, the councils of university faculties, and the scientific councils of research establishments in Poland (including the Academy institutes). Foreign members are proposed and elected by the national members. Each member of the Academy is a member of one of the five divisions, according to her or his scientific discipline. Members are responsible for their own scientific activities as well as the statutory tasks of the Academy.
The organizational structure of the Academy is comprised of divisions, territorial branches and scientific and task force committees.
There are seven territorial branches of the Academy: Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław. Their role is to integrate the local scientific communities and act as representatives of the Academy to the local authorities and organizations. The territorial branches consist of national Academy members, according to their place of residence.
The committees are a very special part of the Academy. They fall into two groups: the scientific committees affiliated with the Divisions, and the task force committees (also called the problem committees) affiliated with the Presidium. Each scientific committee constitutes a self-governing representation of a scientific discipline for the purpose of integrating Polish scholars. The tasks of the scientific committees are: to deal with the problems of a particular discipline, to contribute to the dissemination of the research results, and to initiate cooperation with foreign scientific centers. Furthermore, a task force committee at the Presidium of the Academy or at the division level has interdisciplinary competence, being involved in research concerning science studies, teaching, and social and economy issues.
PAN as a research center is currently comprised of 79 research establishments (institutes and research centers, research stations, botanical gardens and other research units) and auxiliary scientific units (archives, libraries, museums, and foreign PAN stations). The research activity of the Academy is financed mainly from the State budget via the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.