Survey Methodology

Survey Population and Sample Design


Originating in fiscal year (FY) 1954, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Survey of Scientific and Engineering Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (R&D Expenditures Survey) has been conducted annually since FY 1972. The population of institutions surveyed in most years has consisted of the 500 to 600 universities and colleges that grant a graduate science or engineering degree and/or annually perform at least $50,000 in separately budgeted research and development (R&D). These institutions have traditionally expended more than 98 percent of the Nation's academic R&D funds. In addition, the survey population includes all federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) that are academically administered and engage in basic research, applied research, development, or the management of R&D activities, as well as all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that perform any separately budgeted R&D in the sciences or engineering.

The FY 1984-87 surveys were conducted as sample surveys of approximately 557 institutions in two strata: a certainty stratum including doctorate-granting institutions, HBCUs, and academically administered FFRDCs; and a probability stratum including a random sample of 25 percent of all other institutions in the survey population.

All institutions in the FY 1988 survey universe, which consisted of 556 academic institutions and 18 FFRDCs, were surveyed. This population was developed from the FY 1983 survey universe, augmented by additional institutions that received at least $50,000 in Federal science and engineering (S&E) obligations for R&D in any of the 3 previous years of published data, and additional institutions that granted graduate S&E degrees.

In FY 1989, the Department of Education's list of HBCUs was reviewed due to increased NSF interest in research performed at historically black institutions. All HBCUs not in the survey population were contacted and institutions that performed any amount of separately budgeted R&D in the sciences and engineering were added to the population. Subsequently, 41 HBCUs were added to the FY 1989 population for a new total of 70 HBCUs. There are 68 HBCUs in the FY 1992 population.

Sample surveys were again conducted in FY 1989-92, using the same strata to develop the sample population as was used in FY 1984-87. The FY 1992 sample survey population consisted of 461 universities and colleges and 19 FFRDCs, selected from a universe of 613 institutions. See the list of institutions sampled in FY 1992.



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