Academic Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 1998

Section A.
Technical Notes

Scope of the Survey top

Data for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) fiscal year (FY) 1998 report on research and development (R&D) expenditures were collected from 556 institutions of higher education in the United States and Outlying Areas. These institutions have doctoral programs in science and engineering (S&E), are historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) that expend any amount of separately budgeted R&D in S&E, or are other institutions that expend at least $150,000 in separately budgeted R&D in S&E. This is the first year since FY 1993 that the entire population of institutions meeting these criteria was surveyed. See the section below, FY 1998 survey frame design, for additional information.

In addition, the survey includes 17 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). To qualify, an FFRDC must be engaged in basic or applied research, development, or management of R&D activities, and the results of these activities must be directly monitored by the Federal Government—usually a single agency—in a relationship expected to be maintained on a long-term basis. The center must be operated, managed, and administered by either a university or consortium of universities as an autonomous organization or as an identifiable separate operating unit of its parent institution. Finally, 70 percent or more of the center’s financial support must be received from the Federal Government.

Although the same survey form (NSF Form 411) is used to collect data from both academic institutions and FFRDCs, the resulting data are presented separately in this report. The survey population was reviewed prior to mailing the questionnaires to ensure that each institutional classification was accurate. Characteristics of the institutions were reviewed before and during the course of the survey to determine if changes had occurred (i.e., in highest degree granted or in terms of institution openings, closings, or mergers).

FY 1998 Survey Frame Design top

Starting with the FY 1998 survey, NSF will conduct a full population survey each year. Prior to the FY 1998 data collection, NSF conducted a thorough review of higher education institutions to ensure that all universities and colleges meeting the criteria were included in the survey universe. NSF revised the FY 1998 survey frame design as follows:

As a result of adding and deleting institutions from the survey population to comply with the changed criteria, the overall number of institutions surveyed increased from 493 in FY 1997 to 556 in FY 1998.

Survey Instrument top

Most major R&D performers have incorporated into their recordkeeping systems the data that are essential to complete this survey, thereby ensuring a consistent format from one year to the next. Such consistency yields the most useful statistics for time series. As a rule, information to complete this questionnaire is found within the institutions’ year-end accounting records.

The survey questionnaire consists of four main items:

Item 1 requests that institutions report their total current expenditures for separately budgeted science and engineering R&D for all activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes and commissioned by an agency either external to the institution or separately budgeted by an organizational unit, i.e., research centers, within the institution by source of funds. In addition, institutions are asked to provide the percentage of the total and the percentage of the federally financed expenditures that are considered basic research. Included also are research funds for which an outside organization, educational or other, is a subrecipient. Care should be observed when interpreting data on source of funds; for example, industry R&D support is limited to grants and contracts for R&D activities from profit-making organizations. Total industry funds excludes research funded through unrestricted accounts and from corporate foundations, endowments, and fellowships to students; those funds would be included in an institution’s own funding totals. An increasing number of institutions have linkages with industry and foundations via subcontracts, thus complicating the identification of funding source. In addition, institutional policy may determine whether unrestricted State support is reported as State or as institutional funding.

Item 1A, added in FY 1996, requests total and federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted science and engineering R&D passed through the institution to subrecipients. Institutions were asked to break out the subrecipient category by "educational" and "other."

Item 2 requests total and federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted R&D activities by detailed S&E fields. Major fields remain unchanged from the FY 1994 questionnaire. In the FY 1997 questionnaire, a subfield of bioengineering/biomedical engineering was added under Engineering. When interpreting these data at the detailed discipline level, users should keep in mind that there is considerable interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary activity.

Item 3 requests the portions of total and federally financed expenditures reported in items 1and 2 that were used for the purchase of research equipment out of current funds. This portion includes all research equipment purchased under sponsored research project awards and disbursed in the same detailed disciplines as in item 2. These data are of special interest to Federal and institutional policymakers in determining current funding levels for scientific research instrumentation.

Item 1A Analysis top

The responses to this item were not published in any of the Detailed Statistical Tables in FYs 1996 and 1997, but the technical notes for those publications included summary tables. For FY 1998, in addition to the following summary tables, NSF is including two ranking tables in the Section A tables based on item 1A data.

This item was completed by 89.4 percent of the FY 1998 respondents. Total R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients, $994 million, represented 4.9 percent of the item 1A respondents’ total R&D spending and 3.9 percent of all institutions separately budgeted R&D in FY 1998 (table 1). The doctorate-granting institutions reported a similar percentage of pass-through funds as the non-doctorate-granting institutions. Item 1A respondents from doctorate-granting institutions reported $978 million, or 4.9 percent, of their total R&D expenditures were passed through to subrecipients, versus $15 million or 4.6 percent of item 1A non-doctorate-granting respondents. Item 1A respondents from private institutions reported a higher percentage (5.5 percent) of pass-through funds than those from public institutions (4.5 percent).

Table 1. FY 1998 Item 1A Summary of Total Academic R&D Expenditures

Table 1 Excel version

Respondents to this question reported $845 million in Federal R&D funds passed through to subrecipients. This amount represented 7.2 percent of the Federal support reported by item 1A respondents and 5.6 percent of the $15 billion in total Federal R&D expenditures (table 2).

Table 2. FY 1998 Item 1A Summary of Federal Academic R&D Expenditures

Table 2 Excel version

Table A-6 shows the total amount of R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients for the 100 institutions reporting the highest amounts. Table A-7 shows the total amount of Federal R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients for the 100 institutions reporting the highest amounts. Attendees at a June 1999 workshop in Boulder, Colorado recommended publishing these data in this report. Respondents who provided item 1A data were contacted to obtain their concurrence with the publication of these data at the institutional level.

Response Rate top

The FY 1998 survey questionnaires were mailed in November 1998. Respondents could choose to submit a paper questionnaire or to use a newly developed Web data collection system to respond to the survey. Every effort was made to maintain close contact with respondents in order to preserve both consistency and continuity in the resultant data. Questionnaires were carefully examined for completeness upon receipt. Computerized facsimiles of the survey data were then prepared for each institution, comparing the current and 2 prior years’ data and noting any substantive disparities. These facsimiles were mailed to the respondents so that they could provide revisions before final processing and tabulation of the data.

Respondents were asked to explain significant discrepancies between current and prior years’ reporting patterns previously verified as correct (see Data Anomalies for more information). They were encouraged to correct prior years’ data if anomalies were identified. When updated or amended figures covering past years were submitted, NSF correspondingly changed trend data. Similarly, if a respondent institution underwent an organizational change, such as a merger, NSF incorporated the effects of such changes into prior years’ data.

By the survey closing date at the end of July, forms had been received from 548 universities and colleges out of the academic population of 556, resulting in a 99-percent response rate. Responses were received from 98.3 percent of all doctorate-granting institutions, where 98.4 percent of the estimated national R&D expenditures in S&E fields was disbursed. Also, forms were received from all of the 17 FFRDCs. Table A-1 displays a detailed breakdown of the response rates by highest degree granted.

Oregon Health Sciences University is the only institution appearing among the first 100 universities and colleges ranked by total R&D expenditures that did not respond to the survey in FY 1998. Users should be aware that the FY 1998 data for this institution were imputed.

National Total and Imputation top

To provide a national estimate for all universities and colleges performing R&D in FY 1998, it was necessary to implement two statistical procedures. First, data were estimated by "imputation" for the eight institutions that had not responded by the closing date of the survey, using imputation techniques that have been used consistently since FY 1976. Second, data were also imputed for universities and colleges that submitted only partial responses. The imputed total was $124 million, or 0.5 percent of the $25.7 billion total R&D expenditures, as shown in Table A-2.

Tables A-3a and A-3b present breakdowns of the total and federal imputed amounts by S&E fields. The dollar amount imputed is displayed along with the percentage it represents of the national estimate for universities and colleges in a particular field. The amount imputed is similarly broken down by source of funds in table A-4.

A number of surveyed institutions have responded only intermittently in past years, providing data one year, not responding for one or more subsequent years, and then providing data again. For the years in which no response was received, data have been imputed as previously described. Although the imputation algorithm accurately reflects national trends, it cannot account for specific trends at individual institutions. For this reason a separate backcasting of prior years’ data was performed, following current-year imputation.

For each institution, formerly imputed key variables for items 1 to 3 were recomputed to ensure that the imputed data accurately represent the growth patterns shown by reported data. If data were reported for fiscal years 1995 and 1998 but not for the intervening years, for example, the difference between the reported figures for each item total was calculated and evenly distributed across the intervening years (1996–97). The new figures were spread across disciplines (items 2 and 3) or sources of support (item 1) on the basis of the most recent reporting pattern. A clean facsimile was generated for each of the institutions undergoing these procedures and returned to the school for comment. These procedures result in much more consistent reporting trends for individual institutions but have little effect upon aggregate figures reflecting national totals.

Data Anomalies top

Aggregate academic expenditure data are generally consistent from year to year, although data for individual institutions may vary considerably. Data anomalies may reflect true increases or decreases in expenditures or may be the result of changes in reporting methodology.

MIT is in the process of refining the distribution of expenses for the FYs 1997 and 1998 data to recognize research that is incorrectly classified as interdisciplinary research.

State Tables top

The Detailed Statistical Tables showing R&D expenditures at individual doctorate-granting institutions by State, now provide detailed campus listings for the University of Tennessee and the University of Colorado in FY 1998. Louisiana State University plans to provide the same detailed data beginning with their FY 1999 survey submission.

Highest-Degree-Granted Tables top

Several longitudinal tables display data for institutions whose highest S&E degree granted is at the doctoral level. In tables produced prior to FY 1992, it would have been difficult to identify whether changes in yearly R&D expenditures were caused by changes in expenditure levels or in the number of doctorate-granting institutions. In order to maintain a consistent group of institutions across all years, the highest-degree-granted status for each institution is based on the highest degree granted in the most recent year, FY 1998.

Data Availability top

Data published in this report are also available in machine-readable form on the World Wide Web. Single-year or multi-year data files are available with data for FYs 1975-98.

Information on file formats and the years for which they are available can be found on the World Wide Web at

Institutional profiles containing selected data items are available on the World Wide Web ( These profiles cover data from this survey as well as data collected in NSF’s other academic S&E surveys: the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (graduate student survey) and the Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions (Federal S&E support survey). The profiles are also linked to the corresponding ranking table of each survey.

Institutional researchers can obtain data from several academic S&E resources through the Web Computer-Aided Science Policy Analysis and Research (WebCASPAR) database system, which is an easy-to-use tool for the retrieval and analysis of statistical data on academic S&E resources. WebCASPAR provides an extensive and growing data library with multi-year statistics on the state of higher education in general and on academic S&E resources specifically. This data library is based on a set of standard institutional and field-of-science definitions across the multiple sources used to develop the database. The WebCASPAR program includes built-in help capabilities to facilitate the use and interpretation of the data.

The latest version of WebCASPAR can be accessed via the World Wide Web at (

WebCASPAR data are drawn from a number of sources. All data are available for individual institutions, by State, and at the national level. Longitudinal data from surveys of universities and colleges conducted by the NSF Division of Science Resources Studies include the academic R&D expenditures survey, the Federal S&E support survey, and the graduate student survey. Data from the surveys of universities and colleges conducted by National Center for Education Statistics include earned degrees, opening fall enrollment, faculty salaries, tenure and fringe benefits, and financial statistics.

Section A. Tables top

Table Title
A-1 Response rates for the academic research and development expenditures survey, by respondent type and highest degree granted: fiscal year 1998
A-2 Imputed amounts for research and development expenditures at universities and colleges, by highest degree granted: fiscal year 1998
A-3a Imputed amounts for total research and development expenditures at universities and colleges, by science and engineering field: fiscal year 1998
A-3b Imputed amounts for federally financed research and development expenditures at universities and colleges, by science and engineering field: fiscal year 1998
A-4 Imputed amounts for research and development expenditures at universities and colleges, by source of funds: fiscal year 1998
A-5 Number of surveyed institutions for the academic research and development expenditures survey at all institutions, by respondent type and highest degree granted: fiscal years 1993–1998
A-6 Total amount of R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients by universities and colleges, ranked by amount passed through: fiscal year 1998
A-7 Total amount of Federal R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients by universities and colleges, ranked by amount passed through: fiscal year 1998

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