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National Science Foundation
Definitions of Research and Development.
Contents
Introduction
U.S. Businesses
U.S. Federal Government
   bullet Office of Management and Budget Circular A-11
   bullet Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards
   bullet Federal Acquisitions Regulations
   bullet Department of Defense Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Activities
   bullet Government Surveys
U.S. Academic and Nonprofit Organizations
International Organizations
Additional Resources
National Center for Science and
  Engineering Statistics (NCSES)
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Definitions of Research and Development:
An Annotated Compilation of Official Sources

U.S. Federal Government

A. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-11

Description:
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prescribes budget regulations for Federal agencies. Part II of Circular A-11 covers development of the president's budget and provides guidance on agency submissions to OMB. Section 84 of the circular defines R&D expenditures. The text can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/a11/current_year/s84.pdf.


Definition (as appears in the original source):
Conduct of research and development (R&D): Research and development (R&D) activities comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.

Include:

  • Administrative expenses for R&D.

Exclude:

  • Physical assets for R&D such as R&D equipment and facilities...
  • Routine product testing, quality control, mapping, collection of general-purpose statistics, experimental production, routine monitoring and evaluation of an operational program, and the training of scientific and technical personnel.

Definitions of basic and applied research and development are provided below...

Basic research is defined as systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind.

Applied research is defined as systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.

Development is defined as systematic application of knowledge or understanding, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.

Research and development facilities: Amounts for the construction and rehabilitation of research and development facilities. Includes the acquisition, design, and construction of, or major repairs or alterations to, all physical facilities for use in R&D activities. Facilities include land, buildings, and fixed capital equipment, regardless of whether the facilities are to be used by the Government or by a private organization, and regardless of where title to the property may rest. Includes the international space station and such fixed facilities as reactors, wind tunnels, and particle accelerators.


B. Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards

Description:
Statements of Federal Financial Accounting Standards, issued by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, set forth generally accepted accounting principles for Federal agencies. Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards No. 8: Supplementary Stewardship Reporting, chapter 7, paragraph 96, is devoted to research and development. The full text is available at http://www.fasab.gov/pdffiles/sffas-8.pdf.


Definition (as appears in the original source):
"Investment in research and development" refers to those expenses incurred to support the search for new or refined knowledge and ideas and for the application or use of such knowledge and ideas for the development of new or improved products and processes with the expectation of maintaining or increasing national economic productive capacity or yielding other future benefits. Research and development is composed of
  • Basic research: systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications toward processes or products in mind;
  • Applied research: systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary for determining the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met; and
  • Development: systematic use of the knowledge and understanding gained from research for the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including the design and development of prototypes and processes.


C. Federal Acquisitions Regulations

Description:
The Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) were established to codify uniform policies for the acquisition of supplies and services by executive agencies. Definitions for R&D appear in subchapter A–General, Part 2–Definitions of Words and Terms (basic research), and in subchapter F–Special Categories of Contracting, Part 35–Research and Development Contracting (applied research, development). The full text is available at http://www.acqnet.gov/far/current/html/FARMTOC.html.


Definition (as appears in the original source):
Basic research means that research directed toward increasing knowledge in science. The primary aim of basic research is a fuller knowledge or understanding of the subject under study, rather than any practical application of that knowledge.

Applied research means the effort that (a) normally follows basic research, but may not be severable from the related basic research; (b) attempts to determine and exploit the potential of scientific discoveries or improvements in technology, materials, processes, methods, devices, or techniques; and (c) attempts to advance the state of the art. When being used by contractors in cost principle applications, this term does not include efforts whose principal aim is the design, development, or testing of specific items or services to be considered for sale; these efforts are within the definition of "development," given below.

Development, as used in this part, means the systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge in the design, development, testing, or evaluation of a potential new product or service (or of an improvement in an existing product or service) to meet specific performance requirements or objectives. It includes the functions of design engineering, prototyping, and engineering testing; it excludes subcontracted technical effort that is for the sole purpose of developing an additional source for an existing product.


D. Department of Defense Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Activities

Description:
The Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) budget activities are broad categories reflecting different types of Department of Defense (DOD) science and technology activities. These definitions guide internal budget documents and submissions of data to other government agencies. The following is drawn from DOD's Financial Management Regulation (DOD 7000.14-R), volume 2B, chapter 5 (Research, Development and Evaluation Appropriations), beginning on page 5-2; the full text is available at http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/fmr/02b/.


Definition (as appears in the original source):
Budget Activity 1, Basic Research. Basic research is systematic study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind. It includes all scientific study and experimentation directed toward increasing fundamental knowledge and understanding in those fields of the physical, engineering, environmental, and life sciences related to long-term national security needs. It is farsighted high payoff research that provides the basis for technological progress. Basic research may lead to: (a) subsequent applied research and advanced technology developments in Defense-related technologies, and (b) new and improved military functional capabilities in areas such as communications, detection, tracking, surveillance, propulsion, mobility, guidance and control, navigation, energy conversion, materials and structures, and personnel support...

Budget Activity 2, Applied Research. Applied research is systematic study to understand the means to meet a recognized and specific need. It is a systematic expansion and application of knowledge to develop useful materials, devices, and systems or methods. It may be oriented, ultimately, toward the design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet general mission area requirements. Applied research may translate promising basic research into solutions for broadly defined military needs, short of system development. This type of effort may vary from systematic mission-directed research beyond that in Budget Activity 1 to sophisticated breadboard hardware, study, programming and planning efforts that establish the initial feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions to technological challenges. It includes studies, investigations, and non-system specific technology efforts. The dominant characteristic is that applied research is directed toward general military needs with a view toward developing and evaluating the feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions and determining their parameters. Applied Research precedes system specific technology investigations or development...

Budget Activity 3, Advanced Technology Development (ATD). This budget activity includes development of subsystems and components and efforts to integrate subsystems and components into system prototypes for field experiments and/or tests in a simulated environment. ATD includes concept and technology demonstrations of components and subsystems or system models. The models may be form, fit and function prototypes or scaled models that serve the same demonstration purpose. The results of this type of effort are proof of technological feasibility and assessment of subsystem and component operability and producibility rather than the development of hardware for service use. Projects in this category have a direct relevance to identified military needs. Advanced Technology Development demonstrates the general military utility or cost reduction potential of technology when applied to different types of military equipment or techniques... Projects in this category do not necessarily lead to subsequent development or procurement phases, but should have the goal of moving out of Science and Technology (S&T) and into the acquisition process within the future years defense program (FYDP). Upon successful completion of projects that have military utility, the technology should be available for transition.

Budget Activity 4, Advanced Component Development and Prototypes (ACD&P). Efforts necessary to evaluate integrated technologies, representative modes or prototype systems in a high fidelity and realistic operating environment are funded in this budget activity. The ACD&P phase includes system specific efforts that help expedite technology transition from the laboratory to operational use. Emphasis is on proving component and subsystem maturity prior to integration in major and complex systems and may involve risk reduction initiatives...

Budget Activity 5, System Development and Demonstration (SDD). SDD programs...are conducting engineering and manufacturing development tasks aimed at meeting validated requirements prior to full-rate production... Prototype performance is near or at planned operational system levels. Characteristics of this budget activity involve mature system development, integration and demonstration..., and conducting live fire test and evaluation (LFT&E) and initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of production representative articles...

Budget Activity 6, RDT&E Management Support. This budget activity includes research, development, test and evaluation efforts and funds to sustain and/or modernize the installations or operations required for general research, development, test and evaluation. Test ranges, military construction, maintenance support of laboratories, operation and maintenance of test aircraft and ships, and studies and analyses in support of the RDT&E program are funded in this budget activity...

Budget Activity 7, Operational System Development. This budget activity includes development efforts to upgrade systems that have been fielded or have received approval for full rate production and anticipate production funding in the current or subsequent fiscal year..


E. Government Surveys

down arrow.NSF Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development
down arrow.NSF Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions


NSF Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development

Description:
This survey is the primary source of information about Federal funding for R&D in the United States. The R&D definitions are provided in the survey (see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyfedfunds/surveys/srvydod_fy02-04.pdf).


Definition (as appears in the original source):
Research and development — Research and development (R&D) activities comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.

Include:

  • Administrative expenses for R&D.

Exclude:

  • Physical assets for R&D such as R&D equipment and facilities.
  • Exclude routine product testing, quality control, mapping, collection of general-purpose statistics, experimental production, routine monitoring and evaluation of an operational program, and the training of scientific and technical personnel.

Research — A 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.

Basic research — Basic research is defined as systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind.

Applied research — Applied research is defined as systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.

Development — Development is defined as systematic application of knowledge or understanding, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.[1]

NSF Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions

Description:
This is a congressionally mandated survey and is the only source of comprehensive data on Federal science and engineering funding to individual academic and nonprofit institutions. The definitions are in the survey (see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyfedsupport/surveys/srvydod2002.pdf).


Definition (as appears in the original source):
Definitions for reporting categories

Research and development - Research and development (R&D) activities comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. Also, include administrative expenses for R&D.

Exclude the following from research and development:
Physical assets for R&D such as R&D facilities and fixed equipment (Report under "R&D Plant.")
Routine product testing
Quality control
Mapping
Collection of general-purpose statistics
Experimental production
Routine monitoring and evaluation of an operational program
Training of scientific and technical personnel

Basic research is defined as systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind.

Applied research is defined as systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met.

Development is defined as systematic application of knowledge or understanding, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.

Advanced technology development represents DoD research category 6.3A and includes all advanced technology development of subsystems/components and includes concept/technology demonstrations of new system concepts. Projects in this category have a direct relevance to identified military needs. These funds are used to demonstrate the general military utility or cost reduction potential of technology when applied to different types of military equipment or techniques. It also includes evaluation and synthetic environment and proof-of-principle demonstrations in field exercises to evaluate system upgrades or provide new operational capabilities. (This category is Budget Activity 3 of the DoD Financial Management Regulation (FMR).)

Major systems development represents DoD research categories 6.3B through 6.6 (demonstration and validation, engineering and manufacturing development, management and support, and operational system development) and Budget Activities 4 through 7 of the DoD Financial Management Regulation (FMR).

[1] In the Survey of Federal Funds for R&D, DOD's development expenditures comprise advanced technology development (selected activities in budget activity 6.3) and major systems development. Major systems development includes selected activities in budget activity 6.3, and budget activities 6.4 through 6.7. It includes demonstration and validation, engineering and manufacturing development, management and support, and operational system development.

 

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