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Section A.
Technical Notes


Scope Survey top

Data presented in this report are collected annually through the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) congressionally mandated Survey of Federal Science and Engineering (S&E) Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions (the Federal S&E support survey). The survey originated in 1965, when the Committee on Academic Science and Engineering (CASE) within the Federal Council for Science and Technology established the CASE data collection system to report annually on Federal S&E obligations to academic institutions and associated federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). Since 1968, CASE data, as well as data on nonprofit institutions, also have served as the basis for an annual report to the President and Congress. This survey is designed to collect information from Federal agencies on (1) total S&E program support to academic institutions, and (2) research and development (R&D) and R&D plant support to nonprofit institutions.

The data are presented in terms of Federal obligations provided for direct support of academic S&E. The data exclude financial support of an indirect nature, such as funds allocated to state agencies, even if the final recipient of such funds is known to be an academic institution. Data on type of institutional control and on highest degree granted are not presented in this report but are available upon request (see "Data Availability" at the end of this section).

Obligations are the amounts for orders placed, contracts awarded, services received, and similar transactions during a given period, regardless of when the funds were appropriated and when future payment of money is required. Obligations differ from expenditures in that funds allocated by Federal agencies during one fiscal year may be spent by the recipient institution either partially or entirely during one or more subsequent years.

The obligations listed for individual institutions reflect direct Federal S&E support. Thus, amounts subcontracted and subgranted to other institutions are included, but funds received through subrecipient arrangements from prime recipients are excluded.

Obligations should be reported in thousands of dollars. Obligations totaling less than $500 for any specific activity (e.g., R&D, general support for S&E) should be reported as zero.

Obligations are listed as awards to individual institutions within a system (e.g., to the University of California, Los Angeles rather than to the University of California system as a whole). However, obligations awarded directly to the central administration of a system are listed separately. If the final destination of the funds is not known, the agencies report them as obligations to a system's administrative office from which the funds are distributed to the system's individual institutions.

Changes in Reporting top

Since these data were first collected in 1965, there have been some changes in reporting. The most recent of these include the following:

Categories of Support top

The data presented here include all obligations for academic S&E: this comprises Federal obligations for R&D; R&D plant; facilities and equipment for S&E instruction; fellowships, traineeships, and training grants; general support for S&E; and other S&E activities. These support categories are defined below.

  1. Research and development includes all direct, indirect, incidental, or related costs resulting from or necessary to performance of R&D by private individuals and organizations under grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. Demonstration projects designed to test or prove whether a technology or method is, in fact, workable are considered to be within the scope of R&D if they are designed to produce new information, and are accomplished within a given time period. The following activities are excluded from R&D, but should be reported under one or more of five other S&E categories:

  2. Research is systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. Research is classified as either basic or applied according to the objectives of the sponsoring agency. In basic research, the objective of the sponsoring agency is to generate knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications toward processes or products in mind. In applied research, the objective of the sponsoring agency is the creation of knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.

    Development is systematic use of knowledge and understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes.

    Research equipment is any item (or interrelated collection of items comprising a system) of nonexpendable tangible property or software having a useful life of more than 2 years and an acquisition cost of $500 or more that is used wholly or in part for research. Research equipment is included under R&D.

  3. R&D plant includes all projects whose principal purpose is to provide support for construction, acquisition, renovation, modification, repair, or rental of facilities, land, works, or fixed equipment for use in scientific or engineering research and development. A facility is to be interpreted broadly to include any physical resource important to the conduct of research or development. All costs—direct, indirect, and related expenditures—are to be included.

  4. If the R&D facilities are part of a larger facility devoted to other purposes as well, the funds should be distributed among the categories of support involved as appropriate. In general, another category that would be involved is category 3 (facilities and equipment for instruction in science and engineering).

    Exclude from the R&D plant category expendable research equipment and office furniture and equipment, and all other activities, i.e., those not specifically related to science and engineering. See definition of "research equipment" under "research and development" category.

  5. Facilities and equipment for instruction in S&E include all programs whose principal purpose is to provide support for construction, acquisition, renovation, modification, repair, or rental of facilities, land, works, or equipment for use in instruction in S&E.

  6. If the instructional facilities are part of a larger facility devoted to other purposes as well, the funds should be distributed among the categories of support involved as appropriate. In general, the other category most likely to be involved is category 2 (R&D plant).

  7. Fellowships, traineeships, and training grants include all fellowship, traineeship, and training grant programs that are directed primarily toward the development and maintenance of scientific and technical manpower. The total amounts pertaining to such awards (stipends and cost-of-education allowances) are reported in terms of the institution at which the recipient performs research and/or study. EXCLUDED are projects that support research and educational institutes, seminars, and conferences such as teacher training activities provided through teacher institutes, short courses, research participation, and in-service seminars; activities aimed at the development of educational techniques and materials for use in S&E training; and programs that provide special opportunities for increasing the scientific knowledge and experience of precollege and undergraduate students. These activities are to be reported either under category 6 (other activities related to S&E) or not reported if they are not S&E-related.

  8. General support for S&E includes activities that provide support for nonspecific or generalized purposes related to scientific research and education. Such projects are generally oriented toward academic departments, institutes, or institutions as a whole. "General support" implies a spectrum of varying types of support. At one extreme is support provided without any specification of purpose other than that funds be used for scientific activities. Another kind of "general support" is to be found in projects that provide funds for activity within a specified field of S&E but without specification of explicit purpose. The distinguishing feature of "general support for S&E" projects is that they permit a significant measure of freedom as to purpose (research, faculty support, education, institutional support, etc.).

  9. It is intended that among the projects to be reported under the category "general support for S&E" are projects awarded through these agency programs:


  10. Other S&E activities include all academic S&E activities that cannot meaningfully be assigned to one of the five categories previously set forth. Among the types of activities to be included in this category are support for scientific conferences and symposia, teacher institutes, and activities aimed at increasing the scientific knowledge of precollege and undergraduate students.

Types of Institutions top

The types of institutions covered by this survey are universities and colleges, independent nonprofit institutions, and consortia of both universities and colleges and of independent nonprofit institutions.

Universities and Colleges

Universities and colleges are those institutions of higher education in the United States that offer at least 1 year of college-level study leading toward a degree. The universe of academic institutions for this survey is derived from the higher education institution portion of the Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics) and the 2000 Higher Education Directory (published by Higher Education Publications, Inc.).

Institutions included are those that received Federal S&E support during FY 1999. This support may have been provided to any part of the academic institution—its colleges (e.g., of liberal arts) and schools (e.g., of agriculture), professional schools, hospitals, agricultural experiment stations, bureaus, offices, and research centers (excluding FFRDCs), whether located on or off the main campus or at branch campuses controlled directly by the parent institution. Further, the institutions included must have a significant degree of academic and administrative autonomy. For example, institutions within a system (a group of institutions having a collective legal status and generally recognized by a state government, a board of education, or other relevant organization) in which a significant degree of autonomy remains at the individual institution level are presented separately; however, obligations to branch campuses are included in the totals for the parent institutions. Obligations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School are not included.

Independent Nonprofit Institutions

Independent nonprofit institutions are legal entities other than universities and colleges, privately organized or chartered to serve the public interest, and exempt from most forms of Federal taxation. Data presented for nonprofit institutions are obligations for R&D and R&D plant reported by as many as 18 participating agencies.

Coverage of the nonprofit sector in the Federal S&E support survey was expanded beginning in the late 1970s to include all types of nonprofit institutions that receive Federal R&D funds. For NSF's purposes, these types of institutions are defined as follows:

  1. Research institute: A separately incorporated, independent nonprofit organization operating under the direction of its own controlling body whose primary function is the performance of R&D in S&E.

  2. Voluntary hospital: This is a member of the American Hospital Association not subject to the control of either Federal, state, or local governments nor an integral part of any institution of higher education. Note that hospitals that have been set up by research institutes and that, although providing patient care, function primarily as laboratories for research institutes are themselves classified as research institutes.

  3. All other independent nonprofit institutions:

Consortia

Consortia are organizations formed by the membership of a number of institutions from one or more performers (academic, nonprofit, industrial, etc.) in order to promote and support efforts to enhance knowledge in one or more science or engineering disciplines. NSF has identified several consortia and has classified them as either academic or nonprofit types based on the predominance of their membership at the time of identification.

Data Comparability with Other SRS Studies top

Federal Funds for Research and Development

Data presented here on R&D and R&D plant by agency sometimes differ significantly from similar data presented in the annual NSF survey, Federal Funds for Research and Development (or the "Federal funds survey"). Much of the difference lies in the two surveys' treatment of interagency transfers. Interagency transfers of funds obligated to an academic or nonprofit institution are reported here by the agency that actually obligates the funds to the receiving institution. In the Federal funds survey, however, obligations are reported by the agency in which the funds originated.

Other differences between the data compiled by the two surveys stem from the following factors:

  1. Agencies involved: In the present survey, data are reported by as many as 18 Federal agencies on their S&E obligations to institutions of higher education; these agencies together obligate virtually all Federal support to academic R&D. For the Federal funds survey, budget data on R&D and R&D plant are gathered from the 30 Federal agencies with such programs.

  2. Scope of information: Data collected in the Federal S&E support survey pertain only to individual academic and nonprofit institutions. Those collected in the Federal funds survey relate to all types of performers. Furthermore, the Federal funds survey provides detailed data on the character of work (basic research, applied research, and development); data from the Federal S&E support survey are not comparably disaggregated.

  3. Data sources: The two surveys rely on different sources of data and on different methods of data collection. For example, data for the Federal S&E support survey are generally processed from award files; Federal funds survey data are usually derived from agency budget documents.

  4. Preparer interpretations: Several agencies rely on personnel from separate internal offices to respond to the two surveys. These respondents frequently differ in their interpretation of survey questions. The National Institutes of Health, for example, report Minority Biomedical Support Grants under "general support for science and engineering" in the Federal S&E support survey, but under "research and development" in the Federal funds survey.

National Patterns of R&D Resources

NSF publishes one other report related to Federal R&D funding, National Patterns of R&D Resources. This report provides statistics on U.S. R&D expenditures categorized by provider of funds (Federal Government, non-Federal Government, industry, academia, and nonprofit institutions), type of performer (Federal Government, industry, academia, nonprofit institutions, and federally funded research and development centers), and character of work (basic research, applied research, and development). In the report, R&D expenditure levels from Federal sources are based on performer-reported surveys, which differ from Federal R&D funding totals reported by the Federal agencies that provide those funds. During the past several years, these differences have widened. The difference in the Federal R&D totals appears to be concentrated in the funding of industry R&D by the Department of Defense. See National Patterns of R&D Resources: 1999 (NSF 00-306) for detailed discussion and documentation of these differences.

Data Availability top

Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions

Data published in this report are also available on the World Wide Web. Information on file formats and the years for which they are available can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedsupport/.

Institutional Profiles

Selected data items for individual doctorate-granting institutions and schools with S&E departments that grant a master's degree are available on computer-generated institutional profiles. An institutional profile consists of data not only from this survey, but from NSF's other two academic S&E surveys: the Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges, and the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.

WebCASPAR top

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 multiyear 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.

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 NSF's Division of Science Resources Studies include the Federal S&E support survey, academic R&D expenditures survey, Federal funds survey, and graduate student survey cited above. Data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics are also included. Data from other sources include the National Research Council's assessment of research doctorate programs.

The latest version of WebCASPAR can be accessed via the World Wide Web at http://webcaspar.nsf.gov/.


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