Research and Development in Industry 1992 - Introduction


This report is the third of three publications produced from the 1992 Survey of Industrial Research and Development. The first, a Data Brief announcing the availability of survey results, contains some analytical information and describes recent changes to the survey that are discussed in detail below. The second, a Selected Data report, contains 16 of the most frequently requested tabulations and was published while this more comprehensive report was being prepared. This report, the
Detailed Statistical Tables report, contains the full set of statistics produced from the survey. All three of the publications provide statistics on research and development (R&D) funding for the years 1982-92 and on R&D personnel for the period from January 1983 to January 1994.

This report provides national estimates of the expenditures on R&D performed within the United States by industrial firms, whether U.S. or foreign owned. Among the statistics, classified various ways, are estimates of total R&D, the portion of the total financed by U.S. Government funds, and the portion financed by the companies themselves (or by other non-Federal sources such as State and local governments or other industrial firms under contracts or subcontracts). Total R&D is also separated into its character-of-work components: basic research, applied research, and development. Other R&D statistics include those on the funds for R&D financed by the domestic firm but performed outside the United States and on the funds spent to perform energy-related R&D. Also in this report are statistics on R&D-performing companies including domestic net sales, number of employees, number of R&D-performing scientists and engineers, and cost per R&D scientist and engineer.

The Survey of Industrial Research and Development is a sample survey that intends to include or represent all for-profit, nonfarm R&D-performing companies, either publicly or privately held. The survey's primary focus is on U.S. industry as a performer of, rather than as a source of funds for, R&D. Thus, data on Federal support of R&D activities performed by industry are collected and resulting statistics appear in several tables, but statistics on industrial funding of R&D undertaken at universities and colleges and other nonprofit organizations are not collected and therefore are not included in the tables[1].

Industry statistics are developed from data collected from individual companies or enterprises. Since the survey is enterprise based rather than establishment based, all data collected for the various subparts of each enterprise (plants, divisions, or subdivisions) are tabulated in the major standard industrial classification (SIC) of the company. The resulting industry estimates are reported using the SIC of the companies within the each industry. National totals are estimated by summing the industry estimates.

All companies known, through previous surveys or through outside information sources, to spend more than $1 million annually on R&D in the United States or to have 1,000 or more employees receive a survey questionnaire every year. Remaining firms are subjected to probability sampling and may or may not receive a questionnaire for a given survey year. Among the organizations purposely excluded from the survey are trade associations and not-for-profit consortia. Although their primary mission is to serve industry, these associations are established as nonprofit organizations.

Respondents receive detailed definitions to help them determine which expenses to include or exclude from the R&D data they provide. Nevertheless, the statistics presented in this report are subject to response and concept errors caused by different respondent interpretations of the definitions of R&D activities and by variations in company accounting procedures. Consequently, the statistics are better indicators of changes in, rather than absolute levels of R&D spending and personnel.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has sponsored a survey of industrial R&D since 1953. The two surveys covering the 1953-56 period were conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor[2]. Since 1957 the Bureau of the Census has conducted the survey[3]. NSF's Division of Science Resources Studies sponsors and monitors the survey.

The content of the survey has been expanded and refined over the years in response to an increasing need by policymakers for more detailed information on the Nation's R&D effort. For example, questions on energy R&D were added in the early seventies, following the first oil-shortage crisis. On the other hand, the frequency of collection of certain data items has been reduced in recent years in an attempt to alleviate some of the respondent burden that has been placed on industry from all sources. For large firms known to perform R&D, a detailed questionnaire, Form RD-1L, is used to collect data for odd-numbered years and an abbreviated version, Form RD-1S, is used to collect data for even-numbered years. To further limit reporting burden on small R&D performers and on firms that are included in the sample for the first time, an even more abbreviated form, Form RD-1A, which collects only the most crucial data, is used each year. This report provides data collected from the abbreviated forms, RD-1S and RD-1A.

Several changes have been made to the survey recently that are of special importance to users of this report. Prior to the 1992 survey, statistics were based on samples selected at irregular intervals (i.e., 1967, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1987). In intervening years a subset of the last sample (called a "panel") was used. The most recent sample prior to the 1992 survey was selected and first used for survey year 1987. Estimates for 1988 through 1991 were based on surveys of the panel of companies that reported R&D activity in the 1987 survey. Beginning with the 1992 survey, statistics are based on samples selected annually. Also, beginning with the 1992 survey, the sample size was increased from approximately 14,000 to nearly 23,400 firms. This increase wasd made for several reasons: (1) to better account for births of R&D-performing establishments in the survey universe, (2) to survey more fully and accurately R&D performed by nonmanufacturing firms (especially in the service sector and by small firms in all industries), and (3) to gather more current information about potential R&D performers. In this report tables containing historical statistics are presented in two ways. For the tables in section A, estimates from the 1992 survey are linked with estimates from the 1987 survey. The linking was accomplished using an algorithm that preserved to the greatest extent possible year-to-year trends for each industry. A full explanation of the linking process used is explained in this section, under "Comparability of Statistics". Also under "Comparability of Statistics," there is a series of tables for which no attempt was made to link the estimates derived from data collected in the 1992 survey to estimates derived from data collected in previous surveys.

1. Data on R&D performed at universities and colleges are collected in the annual Survey of Scientific and Engineering Expenditures at Universities and Colleges. More information about this survey is available from NSF's Science and Engineering Activities Program in the Division of Science Resources Studies at the address given in the General Notes preceding section A.
2. See National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering in American Industry: Final Report on a 1953-54 Survey (NSF 56-16) and Science and Engineering in American Industry: 1956 (NSF 59-50) (Washington, DC: Supt. of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1956 and 1960).
3. Data obtained in the earlier BLS surveys are not directly comparable with Census figures because of methodological and other differences.

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