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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Academic R&D Expenditures: FY 2008

 


Appendix A. Technical Notes

 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (Academic R&D Expenditures Survey) is the primary source of information on separately budgeted R&D expenditures within academic institutions in the United States and outlying areas. Conducted annually since FY 1972, the survey collects information on R&D expenditures by academic field as well as by source of funds. The results of the survey are primarily used to assess trends in R&D expenditures across the fields of science and engineering (S&E). This information is vital for federal, state, and academic planners who make decisions on future R&D funding priorities. Unless otherwise noted, expenditures analyzed in this report refer to S&E R&D activities only.

Scope of the Survey

The FY 2008 Academic R&D Expenditures Survey was sent to 705 institutions of higher education in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These institutions granted a bachelor's degree or higher in S&E fields and expended at least $150,000 in separately budgeted S&E R&D in FY 2008.

The survey population was reviewed before data collection began to ensure that each institutional classification was accurate. Characteristics of the schools were reviewed before and during the course of the survey to determine whether changes had occurred (e.g., highest degree granted; school openings, closings, or mergers).

After data collection closed, institutions were reviewed to verify that only those reporting at least $150,000 in separately budgeted R&D were included in the population. Of the 705 institutions surveyed, 15 reported total R&D expenditures of less than $150,000. These 15 institutions were excluded from the population and their data are not included in the FY 2008 detailed statistical tables. The total and federally financed R&D expenditures for these 15 institutions are listed in table A-1.

The survey also collects information on R&D from each of the nation's 38 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). Of the 38 FFRDCs, 14 are administered by academic institutions, 18 are administered by nonprofit organizations, and 6 are administered by industrial organizations.

To qualify for the survey, 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 long-term. The center must be operated, managed, and administered as an autonomous organization or as an identifiably separate operating unit of its parent institution. Finally, 70% or more of the center's financial support must be received from the federal government. Although the same form (NSF Form 411) was used to collect data from both academic institutions and FFRDCs, FFRDCs were asked to provide only R&D expenditures by source of funding and character of work (Item 1 of the survey). In FY 2007, NSF expanded the character of work question from Item 1 to a separate item for FFRDCs that requests the amount of total expenditures and federally financed expenditures by three categories: basic research, applied research, and/or development. FFRDC R&D data are reported in tables 81–86.

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FY 2008 Survey Frame Design

The Academic R&D Expenditures Survey is a census of the full population of eligible academic institutions. Before FY 1998 a census of eligible institutions was conducted approximately every 5 years; during intervening years eligible institutions were sampled. Since then a census has been conducted annually. NSF also conducts a population review each year to ensure that all institutions that meet the inclusion criteria are surveyed. In FY 2004 the inclusion criteria were changed, and since then the survey population has included all institutions that grant a bachelor's degree or higher in S&E fields and that reported at least $150,000 in separately budgeted S&E R&D expenditures in the previous fiscal year. Each year NSF contacts institutions that meet the degree-granting criterion but were not in the population of the previous census to determine whether they meet the $150,000 expenditure criterion. Institutions with a minimum of $150,000 are added to or retained in the survey population. As a result of this step, the overall number of academic institutions in the population increased from 670 in FY 2007 to 690 in FY 2008 (table A-2).

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Survey Instrument

Most major R&D-performing institutions have incorporated the data that are needed to complete this survey into their record-keeping systems, 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 survey is found in the institutions' year-end accounting records.

Academic Institutions

Item 1 is a request for total current expenditures for separately budgeted S&E R&D expenditures by source of funds. Institutions are also asked to provide the percentage of total expenditures and federally financed expenditures that are considered basic research. Also included are research funds for which an outside organization, educational or other, is a subrecipient.

Care should be taken when interpreting data on source of funds. Industry R&D support is limited to grants and contracts for R&D activities from profit-making organizations. Total industry funds exclude 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 links with industry and foundations through subcontracts, thus complicating the identification of funding sources. In addition, institutional policy may determine whether unrestricted state support is reported as state or institutional funding.

Item 1A is a request for total and federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted S&E R&D passed through the institution to subrecipients.

Item 1B is a request for total and federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted S&E R&D received by the institution as a subrecipient.

Item 2 is a request for total and federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted R&D activities by detailed S&E field. When interpreting these data at the detailed discipline level, users should keep in mind that there is considerable interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary activity.

Item 2A is a request for total and federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted non-S&E R&D activities by detailed non-S&E field. This item was originally added to the survey as an optional item in FY 1997 and was collected as a core item for the first time in FY 2003.

Item 2B is a request for federally financed current fund expenditures for separately budgeted R&D activities by S&E field and federal agency. This item was originally added to the survey as an optional item in FY 1998 and was collected as a core item for the first time in FY 2003.

Item 3 is a request for the portions of total and federally financed expenditures reported in items 1 and 2 that were used for the purchase of research equipment. 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.

FFRDCs

Item 1 is a request for total current expenditures for separately budgeted S&E R&D expenditures by source of funds. Also included are research funds for which an outside organization, educational or other, is a subrecipient.

Item 2 is a request for the amount of total expenditures and federally financed expenditures that are considered basic research, applied research, or development.

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Data Collection

The FY 2008 survey questionnaires were sent by e-mail in November 2008. Respondents from academic institutions and FFRDCs could choose to submit an Adobe Portable Document Format questionnaire downloaded from the Web or use a Web-based data collection system to respond to the survey. Every effort was made to maintain close contact with respondents in order to preserve both the consistency and continuity of the resulting data. Questionnaires were carefully examined for completeness upon receipt. Computerized facsimiles of the survey data were then prepared for each institution; these compared the current and 2 prior years of data and noted any substantive disparities. Respondents were sent personalized e-mail messages asking them to provide any necessary revisions before the final processing and tabulation of data. These e-mail messages included a link to the Academic R&D Expenditures Survey Web-based data collection system, allowing respondents to view and correct their data online.

Respondents were asked to explain significant differences between current-year reporting and established patterns of reporting verified for prior years. They were encouraged to correct prior-year data if needed. When respondents updated or amended figures from past years, NSF made corresponding changes to trend data in this report and to the underlying microdata database. Similarly, if a respondent institution underwent an organizational change, such as a merger, NSF incorporated the effects of the change into prior years' data.

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Response Rate

By the survey's closing date, in April 2009, forms had been received from 679 universities and colleges out of the academic population of 690, a response rate of 98.4%. Responses were received from 99.2% of all doctorate-granting institutions. The R&D expenditures reported by these doctoral institutions constituted 98.4% of the estimated national R&D expenditures in S&E fields for FY 2008. Forms were received from all of the 38 FFRDCs. Table A‑3 displays a detailed breakdown of response rates by highest degree granted, and table A-4 displays a breakdown of response rates by survey item for the academic population.

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National Total and Imputation

Two statistical procedures were used to provide a national estimate for all universities and colleges performing R&D in FY 2008. First, for the 11 institutions that had not responded by the closing date of the survey, data for Items 1, 2, and 3 were estimated by imputation using techniques that have been used consistently since FY 1976. These techniques use prior years' figures derived from the data of respondent institutions with similar characteristics, including highest degree granted and type of institutional control (public or private). Second, data Items 1, 2, and 3 were imputed for universities and colleges that submitted only partial responses. This imputation was performed using prior years' figures for each institution to allocate that institution's FY 2008 total R&D expenditures reported within the various categories. The imputed total R&D was $30 million, or 0.1%, of the $52 billion in all separately budgeted R&D expenditures (table A-5).

Tables A-6 and A-7 present imputed amounts for total and federally financed R&D expenditures, respectively, by S&E field. 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-8.

A number of surveyed institutions have responded intermittently in past years. For 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 estimation of institutional data for prior years is also performed, following current-year imputation.

For each institution, formerly imputed key variables for items 1–3 were recomputed to ensure that the imputed data accurately represent the growth patterns shown by reported data. If, for example, data were reported for FY 1998 and FY 2008 but not for the intervening years, the difference between the reported figures for each item total was calculated and evenly distributed across the intervening years (1999–2007). 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. These procedures result in much more consistent reporting trends for individual institutions but have little effect on aggregate figures reflecting national totals.

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Changes in Basic Research Totals

The Division of Science Resources Statistics at NSF regularly reviews the methodologies used in the Academic R&D Expenditures Survey with the goal of producing the most accurate statistics possible for researchers and policymakers. Reviews of responses to item 1, question 2, were conducted in FY 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. These reviews determined that the aggregate statistics on basic research could be improved by refining the imputation methodology for that item. Some universities and colleges are either unable or unwilling to respond to this question, and values must be imputed in order to present aggregate statistics.

In the past, if a respondent did not reply to the basic research question, the prior year's basic research share (whether reported by or imputed for the respondent) was carried forward. After interviews with respondents revealed that abnormal or erroneous values were sometimes carried forward for several years, a revised imputation methodology began being used in FY 2004. The revised imputation methodology uses an econometric model to impute the amount of total and federal basic research. The model accounts for differences between public and private institutions and nonfederal sources of R&D funding.

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Item 1A Analysis

Item 1A, R&D passed through the institution to subrecipients, was completed by 95.6% of the respondents from academic institutions (table A-9). The total R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients, $3.5 billion, represents 7.8% of item 1A respondents' total R&D expenditures ($45.1 billion) and 6.7% of all separately budgeted R&D ($51.9 billion) in FY 2008 (see table 39). Doctorate-granting institutions reported a slightly higher percentage of pass-through funds in item 1A, 7.8% ($3.4 billion), than did nondoctorate-granting institutions, 6.7% ($52.6 million). Item 1A respondents from private institutions reported a higher percentage of pass-through funds than did those from public institutions, 9.2% ($1.5 billion) compared with 6.9% ($2.0 billion).

Academic respondents to item 1A reported $3.0 billion in federally financed R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients (see table 39). This amount represents 11.1% of the federal support reported by item 1A respondents ($27.5 billion) and 9.7% of the $31.2 billion in federal support to all respondents.

Tables 41 and 42 show, respectively, total and federally financed R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients for all item 1A respondents.

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Item 1B Analysis

Item 1B, R&D received by the institution as a subrecipient, was completed by 95.4% of the respondents from academic institutions (table A-10). The total R&D expenditures received as subrecipients, $3.9 billion, represents 8.5% of item 1B respondents' total R&D expenditures ($45.6 billion) and 7.5% of all separately budgeted R&D ($51.9 billion) in FY 2008 (see table 40). Doctorate-granting institutions reported a lower percentage of funds received as subrecipients in item 1B, 8.4% ($3.8 billion), than did nondoctorate-granting institutions, 11.9% ($92.9 million). Item 1B respondents from private institutions reported a slightly higher percentage of funds received as subrecipients than did those from public institutions, 8.8% ($1.5 billion) compared with 8.3% ($2.4 billion).

Academic respondents to item 1B reported $3.5 billion in federally financed R&D expenditures received as subrecipients (see table 40). This amount represents 12.5% of the federal support reported by item 1B respondents ($27.8 billion) and 11.2% of the $31.2 billion in federal support to all respondents.

Tables 43 and 44 show, respectively, total and federally financed R&D expenditures received as subrecipients for all item 1B respondents.

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Item 2A Analysis

Item 2A, R&D in non-S&E fields, was completed by 97.3% of the respondents from academic institutions (table A-11). The total for non-S&E R&D expenditures, $2.2 billion, represents 4.2% of item 2A respondents' total S&E and non-S&E R&D expenditures ($53.7 billion) in FY 2008 (see table 64). Nondoctorate-granting institutions reported a higher percentage of non-S&E R&D expenditures in item 2A, 23.2% ($248.2 million), than did doctorate-granting institutions, 3.8% ($2.0 billion). Item 2A respondents from public institutions reported a higher percentage of non-S&E R&D expenditures, 4.6% ($1.7 billion), than did those from private institutions, 3.2% ($541.6 million).

Academic respondents to item 2A reported $837.7 million in federal non-S&E R&D. This amount represents 2.6% of the federal S&E and non-S&E support reported by item 2A respondents ($31.8 billion).

Tables 65–67 show the total and federal non-S&E R&D expenditures for all item 2A respondents.

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Item 2B Analysis

Item 2B, federal sources of R&D by S&E field, was completed by 97.9% of the respondents from academic institutions. Total federally financed R&D expenditures reported by item 2B respondents, $31.1 billion, represented 99.6% of all reported federally financed R&D expenditures ($31.2 billion) in FY 2008 (table A-12). Doctorate-granting institutions reported a higher percentage of federally funded R&D by federal sources in item 2B, 99.8% ($30.6 billion), than did those from nondoctorate-granting institutions, 91.0% ($501.6 million). Item 2B respondents from public institutions and those from private institutions reported similar percentages of federally funded R&D by federal sources, 99.7% ($19.3 billion) and 99.6% ($11.8 billion), respectively.

Academic respondents to item 2B reported the highest percentage of their federally financed R&D expenditures from the Department of Health and Human Services, 56.3%, or $17.5 billion (see table 68). NSF accounted for 12.1% ($3.8 billion) of item 2B respondents' R&D from federal sources; the Department of Defense, 9.9% ($3.1 billion); the Department of Energy, 3.6% ($1.1 billion); the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 3.4% ($1.1 billion); and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2.9% ($893.1 million).

Tables 68–77 show federally financed R&D expenditures for item 2B respondents.

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Data Anomalies

Within the University of California (UC) system, UC campuses manage nearly all R&D activities; however, some R&D expenditures are attributable to the UC Office of the President (UCOP) rather than to a particular campus. The reporting of UCOP R&D expenditures has changed over time. In FY 2004 R&D expenditures began being reported separately for UCOP. In FY 2004, when UCOP was reported separately from UC Los Angeles, total R&D at UC Los Angeles decreased by $77 million, whereas UCOP showed expenditures of $90 million. Thus, some of the trend changes shown in tables 27–30 for UC Los Angeles and UCOP can be attributed to changes in the location of reporting UCOP R&D expenditures.

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California, was added to the FY 2005 survey population after being mistakenly omitted for several years. Prior to the FY 2005 survey cycle it was thought that TSRI was included in UC San Diego expenditures. However, further contact with representatives from TSRI revealed that only the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is a separate entity from TSRI, is included under UC San Diego. During the FY 2005 data collection TSRI reported R&D expenditures for FY 2005 and FY 2004.

Due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent staff turnovers, records damage, and shortage of resources, there was a higher rate of nonresponse in FY 2005 for universities and colleges in New Orleans, Louisiana. Data were imputed for institutions that were unable to commit the resources necessary to complete the FY 2005 survey. Institutions also reported reduced R&D expenditures in FY 2006 as a result of facility loss and faculty turnovers.

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Data Availability

Data from this and other NSF academic S&E surveys (Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering; Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions; and the Survey of Earned Doctorates) are contained in academic institutional profiles, available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/profiles/. The profiles are linked to the corresponding ranking table for each survey.

Data from these and other surveys are also available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ and through the WebCASPAR database system at http://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/webcaspar/. Data are available at the institution, state, and national levels and as longitudinal data. WebCASPAR also includes data from the National Center for Education Statistics surveys of universities and colleges. These data include information on earned degrees, opening fall enrollment, tuition, faculty salaries, tenure and fringe benefits, and financial statistics.

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Table Technical Tables Excel PDF
  Academic R&D Expenditures Survey
A-1 Expenditures at institutions with less than $150,000 in separately budgeted R&D: FY 2005–08 view Excel. view PDF.
A-2 Institutions surveyed, by respondent type and highest degree granted: FY 2003–08 view Excel. view PDF.
  Response rates: FY 2008
A-3 by respondent type and highest degree granted view Excel. view PDF.
A-4 by survey item view Excel. view PDF.
  Imputed amounts for R&D expenditures: FY 2008
A-5 total, by highest degree granted view Excel. view PDF.
A-6 total, by science and engineering field view Excel. view PDF.
A-7 federally financed, by science and engineering field view Excel. view PDF.
A-8 total, by source of funds view Excel. view PDF.
  Response summary: FY 2008
A-9 item 1A, R&D expenditures passed through to subrecipients view Excel. view PDF.
A-10 item 1B, R&D expenditures received as a subrecipient view Excel. view PDF.
A-11 item 2A, R&D expenditures in non-S&E fields view Excel. view PDF.
A-12 item 2B, federally financed R&D expenditures by federal agency view Excel. view PDF.


 
Academic R&D Expenditures: FY 2008
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 10-311 | April 2010