IRIS links an online interface to a historical database of statistical tabulations containing all the industrial research and development data published by the National Science Foundation from 1953 to 2007. These tables, drawn from the results of NSF's annual Survey of Industrial Research and Development (SIRD), constitute the most comprehensive collection of historical national industrial R&D statistics currently available. Last conducted in 2007, SIRD was the primary source for national-level data on U.S. industrial R&D. SIRD has since been replaced by the Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS), which expands NSF's coverage of business R&D and innovation activities (see more about BRDIS).

About the Data

  • National estimates
  • Total expenditures on R&D performed within the United States by U.S. or foreign-owned industrial firms
  • Collected from a sample representing all R&D-performing companies, whether publicly or privately held
  • Classified by the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) coding scheme through 1998
  • Classified by the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) from 1999 to 2007

Format and Data Availability

IRIS resembles a databank more than a traditional database system. Rather than firm-specific microdata, it houses over 2,500 tables in Excel spreadsheet format. The tables are easily accessible either by defining various measures (e.g., total R&D) and dimensions (e.g., size of company) of specific research topics or by querying the report in which the tables were first published by title or by the year of the report.

The database does not contain microdata because the Bureau of the Census, NSF's collection and tabulation agent, conducted the survey under Title 13 of the United States Code, which prohibits publication or release of data or statistics that may reveal information about individual respondents. Consequently, some estimates in the database spreadsheets have been withheld to avoid possible disclosure of information about operations of individual companies.

Before the development of this database, tabulations from surveys prior to 1991 were available only on paper. Individual reports of annual survey results from 1991 to 2007 are available online. To give data users a bridge between the SIC and NAICS coding systems, several tables that reclassify SIC industries for 1997 and 1998 into the new NAICS industries are included in Research and Development in Industry: 1999.

Examples of Variables Available

  • Industry
  • Size of company
  • Size of R&D program
  • Type of cost (e.g., wages or materials)
  • State
  • Source of funds
  • Sponsoring agency, for federal R&D
  • Character of work
  • Field of science
  • Energy R&D expenditures
  • R&D as a percentage of net sales
  • Sales and total employment
  • Employment of R&D scientists and engineers
  • R&D contracted to outside organizations
  • R&D performed outside the United States

Also, the system houses already-prepared spreadsheets for 1953–1998, the years the industry classification was based on the SIC system, that track about two dozen major survey items from the first to the last years they were part of the survey. The system is designed to make these longitudinal tables available via the user-friendly IRIS system. (Note that longitudinal tables for 1999–2007, the years industry classification was based on NAICS, are not available in IRIS.)