R&D Expenditures Survey

Academic Science and Engineering:
R&D Expenditures

Technical Notes


Scope of the Survey TOP

Data for the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) fiscal year (FY) 1992 report on research and development (R&D) expenditures were collected from a sample of 461 institutions of higher education in the United States and Outlying Areas. Those institutions were selected from the universe of 594 schools that grant a graduate science or engineering degree and/or perform activities for which at least $50,000 has been funded from separately budgeted R&D expenditures. The sample population includes all doctorate-granting institutions, all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with R&D expenditures, and a random sample of all other institutions.

In addition, the survey includes 19 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 schools 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 school openings, closings, or mergers). Names of institutions newly added to the HEP 1993 Higher Education Directory [1] were reviewed to determine their eligibility for inclusion in this survey.

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 three main items:

Item 1 is a request that institutions report their total current expenditures for separately budgeted science and engineering (S&E) 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, schools 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, academic 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, and the total reported excludes research funded through unrestricted accounts and from corporate foundations, endowments, and fellowships to students. 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 2 is a request for 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 1991 questionnaire. When interpreting these data at the detailed discipline level, users should keep in mind that there is considerable interdisciplinary activity and/or overlap among subdisciplines.

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 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.

Response Rate TOP

The FY 1992 survey questionnaires were mailed in October 1992. 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. They were encouraged to correct prior years' data if anomalies were identified. When updated or amended figures covering past years were submitted, trend data were correspondingly changed by NSF. 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 in early July, forms had been received from 456 universities and colleges out of the academic sample population of 461, resulting in a 98.9-percent response rate. Responses were received from 99 percent of all doctorate-granting institutions, where 98 percent of the R&D expenditures in S&E fields was disbursed. Also, forms were received from all 19 FFRDCs. Tables A-1a and A-1b display a detailed breakdown of the response rates by degree granted and by sampling stratum (defined later under "Sampling, Weighting, and Standard Errors of the Estimates").

National Total and Imputation TOP

To provide a national estimate for all universities and colleges performing R&D in FY 1992, it was necessary to implement three statistical procedures. First, data were estimated by "imputation" for approximately 1 percent of the sample population that had not responded by the closing date of the survey. Imputation has been used consistently since FY 1976. Second, data were either imputed or estimated for universities and colleges that submitted only partial responses. The combined imputed and/or estimated amounts, prior to weighting, totaled $52 million. Third, the sample total was weighted to compensate for those universities and colleges that were in the survey universe but not in the survey sample. (This procedure is described later under "Sampling, Weighting, and Standard Errors of the Estimates".) This process led to an inflation of $172 million in the national total of R&D expenditures at universities and colleges for FY 1992 to equal $18,880 million, as shown in table A-2. (The imputed/estimated amount was inflated to $53 million, as noted in table A-2.)

Tables A-3a and A-3b present a breakdown of both the imputed and/or estimated amounts and the amount of the weighted inflator by broad S&E fields. The dollar amount imputed and/or estimated is displayed along with the percentage it represents of the national estimate for universities and colleges in a particular field. Also given is the amount of the weighted inflator for that field. The amount imputed or estimated and the amount of the weighted inflator are similarly broken down by source of funds in table A-4.

A significant number of surveyed institutions have been responding 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 reporting anomalies 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 compared with subsequent submissions to determine whether the imputed data accurately represent the growth patterns shown by reported data. Re-estimation was applied when the imputed data were not consistent with reported data. If data were reported for fiscal years 1989 and 1992 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 (1990-91). 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 resulted in much more consistent reporting trends for individual institutions but had little effect upon aggregate figures reflecting national totals.

Data Anomalies TOP

Aggregate academic expenditure trend 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.

Sampling, Weighting, and Standard Errors of the Estimates TOP

Since FY 1988, the year of the last full population survey, the NSF has performed surveys on a constant sample of 461 academic institutions and 19 FFRDCs. During the FY 1989 survey cycle, the survey design separated universities and colleges from FFRDCs, keeping the FFRDCs outside of the sampling frame. This survey design was continued in the FY 1990, FY 1991, and FY 1992 cycles. In turn, universities and colleges have been divided into the following four sampling strata (three certainty strata and one probability stratum):

  1. A certainty stratum of doctorate-granting institutions. This stratum contains 301 universities and colleges that grant doctoral degrees in S&E fields. Excluded from this stratum are all doctorate-granting HBCUs and university-system campuses.

  2. A certainty stratum of HBCUs. This stratum includes all 68 HBCUs (including those that are doctorate-granting institutions or university-system campuses).

  3. A certainty stratum of university-system campuses. This stratum includes 41 "university-system campuses"; each sample entry is the aggregation of all campuses that make up a university system. Note that no HBCUs are included in this stratum even if they are university-system campuses.

  4. A probability stratum of institutions that grant degrees at the master's level or below. This stratum includes 49 master's or bachelor's degree-granting institutions and institutions that offer no S&E degrees at any degree level, out of a survey stratum universe of 182. Note that none of the universities or colleges included in this stratum is either an HBCU or a university-system campus. This stratum had a sampling ratio of 0.27.

The data in this report are weighted to represent national-level R&D expenditures for universities and colleges (as mentioned previously under National Total and Imputation). The sample data, after imputation and estimation, were inflated to produce universe estimates by weighting the individual questionnaire data values by the inverse of the sampling ratio. Thus, in aggregating data for institutions from the probability stratum for tabulation purposes, each datum value was weighted by the inverse of the sampling ratio.

Estimates derived for institutions in the probability stratum were based on a sample, and the relative standard error (coefficient of variation) of an estimate was then obtained by dividing the standard error by the estimate itself, expressed as a percentage of the estimate.

The standard errors and coefficients of variation for each major S&E field are shown in table A-5. For example, for total academic R&D expenditures of $18.9 billion, the standard error of the estimate is $72.6 million at the 95-percent confidence level, with a coefficient of variation of 0.4 percent. Similarly, for the estimate of $11.1 billion in federally financed expenditures, the 95-percent confidence limits are $35.8 million, with a coefficient of variation of 0.3 percent.

Highest Degree-Granted Tables TOP

Several longitudinal tables display data for institutions whose highest S&E degree granted is at the doctoral level. In previous publications 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 now based on the highest degree granted in the most recent year, FY 1992.

Data Availability and Distribution TOP

Data in this report are also available in machine-readable form on magnetic tapes. A multiyear data tape is available that contains data for FY 1972 through FY 1992; single-year tapes may also be purchased for any of these years. Information on survey content, tape formats, and years available, with prices and instructions for ordering, are contained in the current Guide to the National Science Foundation's Surveys of Academic Science and Engineering and may be obtained by contacting Ms. Marge Machen at--

Science and Engineering Activities Program
Division of Science Resources Studies
National Science Foundation
Suite 965
4210 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

(703) 306-1772, ext. 6934
Internet:  mmachen@nsf.gov
Selected data items for individual doctorate-granting, master's-granting, and historically black institutions are available on computer-generated Institutional Profiles, which consist of data not only from this survey, but also from NSF's other two academic S&E surveys: Federal Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions (Federal Support Survey) and Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (Graduate Student Survey). Since the R&D Expenditures Survey is a sample data collection effort, not all master's-granting institutions have a profile. Institutional Profiles for any institution or limited group of institutions may be ordered by contacting Mr. Richard Bennof at--
Science and Engineering Activities Program
Division of Science Resources Studies
National Science Foundation
Suite 965
4210 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

(703) 306-1772, ext. 6938
Internet:  rbennof@nsf.gov

The CASPAR (Computer-Aided Science Policy Analysis and Research) database system is an easy-to-use tool for retrieval and analysis of statistical data on academic S&E resources. CASPAR provides the analyst with an extensive and growing data library with multiyear statistics on the state of higher education in general and on S&E resources specifically. This data library is based on a set of standardized institutional and field of science definitions across the multiple sources used to develop the database. The CASPAR program includes built-in help capabilities to facilitate the use and interpretation of the data.

CASPAR 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 this R&D Expenditures Survey, the Federal Support Survey, and the Graduate Student Survey. Data from surveys of universities and colleges conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics include Earned Degrees, Opening Fall Enrollment, Faculty Salaries, Tenure, and Fringe Benefits, and Financial Statistics. Data from other sources include the National Research Council Doctorate Program Ratings.

CASPAR is distributed on CD-ROM compact disc. For additional information on CASPAR, write or fax to the following, or see the description of CASPAR available on the Web.

Quantum Research Corp.
7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 631W
Bethesda, MD 20814

Fax Number:  (301) 657-3862

Higher Education Publications, Inc., Falls Church, VA, 1993 [Return]