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Indicators 2002
Introduction Overview Chapter 1: Elementary and Secondary Education Chapter 2: Higher Education in Science and Engineering Chapter 3: Science and Engineering Workforce Chapter 4: U.S. and International Research and Development: Funds and Alliances Chapter 5: Academic Research and Development Chapter 6: Industry, Technology, and the Global Marketplace Chapter 7: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding Chapter 8: Significance of Information Technology Appendix Tables
Chapter Contents:
Financial Resources for Academic R&D
Doctoral Scientists and Engineers in Academia
Outputs of Scientific and Engineering Research: Articles and Patents
Selected Bibliography
Appendix Tables
List of Figures
Presentation Slides

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Figure 5-1

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Figure 5-2

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Figure 5-3

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Figure 5-4

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Figure 5-5

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Figure 5-6

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Figure 5-7

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Figure 5-8

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Figure 5-9

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Figure 5-10

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Figure 5-11

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Figure 5-12

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Figure 5-13

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Figure 5-14

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Figure 5-15

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Figure 5-16

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Figure 5-17

Academic Research and Development

Financial Resources for Academic R&D

Academic R&D Within the National R&D Enterprise
Major Funding Sources
Funding by Institution Type
Distribution of R&D Funds Across Academic Institutions
Emphasis on Research at Universities and Colleges
Expenditures by Field and Funding Source
Federal Support of Academic R&D
Academic R&D Facilities and Equipment

Academic R&D is a significant part of the national R&D enterprise.[1] Enabling U.S. academic researchers to carry out world-class research requires adequate financial support as well as excellent research facilities and high-quality research equipment. Consequently, assessing how well the academic R&D sector is doing, the challenges it faces, and how it is responding to those challenges requires data and information on a number of important issues relating to the financing of academic R&D, including:

  • the level and stability of overall funding,

  • the sources of funding and changes in their relative importance,

  • the distribution of funding among the different R&D activities (basic research, applied research, and development),

  • the balance of funding among S&E fields and subfields (or fine fields),

  • the distribution of funding among various types of academic R&D performers and the extent of their participation,

  • the changing role of the Federal Government as a supporter of academic R&D and the particular roles of the major Federal agencies funding this sector, and

  • the state of the physical infrastructure (research facilities and equipment) that is a necessary input to the sector's success.

Individually and in combination, these issues influence the evolution of the academic R&D enterprise and therefore are the focus of this section. For a discussion of the nature of the data used in this section, see the sidebar, "Data Sources for Financial Resources for Academic R&D."

Academic R&D Within the National R&D Enterprise top of page

The continuing importance of academia to the nation's overall R&D effort is well accepted today.[2] This is especially true for its contribution to the generation of new knowledge through basic research. During the 1990s, academia accounted for slightly less than half of the basic research performed in the United States.

In 2000, U.S. academic institutions spent an estimated $30 billion, or $28 billion in constant 1996 dollars, on R&D.[3] This was the 26th consecutive year in which constant-dollar spending increased from the previous year. Academia's role as an R&D performer has increased steadily during the past half century, rising from about 5 percent of all R&D performed in the United States in 1953 to almost 11 percent in 2000. (See figure 5-1 figure.) However, since 1994, the sector's performance share has dipped slightly from its high of almost 13 percent. The decline in the academic share is the result of rapid growth in industrial R&D performance. See the section "Growth" below. For a comparison with other industrial countries, see the sidebar, "Comparisons of International Academic R&D Spending."

Character of Work 

Academic R&D activities are concentrated at the research (basic and applied) end of the R&D spectrum and do not include much development activity.[4] For academic R&D expenditures in 2000, an estimated 93 percent went for research (69 percent for basic and 24 percent for applied) and 7 percent for development. (See figure 5-2 figure.) From the perspective of national research, as opposed to national R&D, academic institutions accounted for an estimated 27 percent of the U.S. total in 2000. The academic share of research almost doubled, from about 14 percent of the U.S. total in the 1950s to around 26 percent in the first half of the 1970s. (See figure 5-1 figure.) It has since fluctuated between 23 and 30 percent. In terms of basic research alone, the academic sector is the country's largest performer, currently accounting for an estimated 43 percent of the national total. Between 1953 and 1972, the academic sector's basic research performance grew steadily, increasing from about one-quarter to slightly more than one-half of the national total. It has since fluctuated at between 43 and 51 percent of the national total.


Over the course of the past half century (1953 to 2000), the average annual R&D growth rate (in constant 1996 dollars) of the academic sector has been higher than that of any other R&D-performing sector at 6.6 percent compared with about 5.8 percent for other nonprofit entities, 5.0 percent for industry, 3.8 for federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), and 2.6 percent for the Federal Government. (See figure 5-3 figure and appendix table 4-4 for time series data by R&D performing sector.) However, during the second half of the 1990s, average annual R&D growth within industry (an estimated 6.9 percent) was higher than at academic institutions (an estimated 4.1 percent). As a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), academic R&D rose from 0.07 to 0.30 percent between 1953 and 2000, more than a fourfold increase. (See appendix table 4-1 for GDP time series.)

Major Funding Sources top of page

The academic sector relies on a variety of funding sources for support of its R&D activities. Although the Federal Government continues to provide the majority of funds, its share has declined steadily since reaching a peak of slightly more than 73 percent in 1966. In 2000, the Federal Government accounted for an estimated 58 percent of the funding for R&D performed in academic institutions, its lowest share since the late 1950s. (See figure 5-4 figure.) The Federal sector primarily supports basic research; 74 percent of its 2000 funding went to basic research versus 26 percent to applied R&D. (See appendix table 5-1.) Non-Federal sources also are used predominantly for basic research; 62 percent of its 2000 funding went to basic research versus 38 percent to applied R&D).

Federal support of academic R&D is discussed in detail later in this section; the following list summarizes the contributions of other sectors to academic R&D:[5]

  • Institutional funds. In 2000, institutional funds from universities and colleges constituted the second largest source of funding for academic R&D, accounting for an estimated 20 percent, the highest level during the past half century. Institutional funds encompass three categories: separately budgeted funds from unrestricted sources that an academic institution spends on R&D, unreimbursed indirect costs associated with externally funded R&D projects, and mandatory and voluntary cost sharing on Federal and other grants. For more detailed discussions of both indirect costs and the composition of institutional funds, see the sidebars "The Composition of Institutional Academic R&D Funds" and "Recent Developments on the Indirect Cost Front."

The share of support represented by institutional funds has been increasing steadily since the early 1960s, except for a brief downturn in the early 1990s. Institutional R&D funds may be derived from (1) general-purpose state or local government appropriations (particularly for public institutions) or Federal appropriations; (2) general-purpose grants from industry, foundations, or other outside sources; (3) tuition and fees; (4) endowment income; and (5) unrestricted gifts. Other potential sources of institutional funds are income from patents or licenses and income from patient care revenues. See "Patents Awarded to U.S. Universities" later in this chapter for a discussion of patent and licensing income.

  • State and local government funds. State and local governments provided an estimated 7 percent of academic R&D funding in 2000. They played a larger role during the early 1950s, when they provided about 15 percent of the funding. Since 1980, the state and local share of academic R&D funding has fluctuated between 7 and 8 percent. This share, however, only reflects funds directly targeted to academic R&D activities by the state and local governments. It does not include general-purpose state or local government appropriations that academic institutions designate and use for separately budgeted research or to cover unreimbursed indirect costs.[6] Consequently, the actual contribution of state and local governments to academic R&D is understated, particularly for public institutions.

  • Industry funds. In 2000, industry provided an estimated 8 percent of academic R&D funding. The funds provided for academic R&D by the industrial sector grew faster than funding from any other source during the past three decades, although industrial support still accounts for one of the smallest shares of funding. Industrial funding of academic R&D has never been a major component of industry-funded R&D. During the 1950s, industry's share was actually larger than it is currently, peaking at 8.5 percent in 1957. In 1994, industry's contribution to academic R&D represented 1.5 percent of its total support of R&D compared with 1.4 percent in 1990, 0.9 percent in 1980, 0.6 percent in 1970, and 1.1 percent in 1958. Since 1994, the share has steadily declined from 1.5 to 1.2 percent. (See appendix table 4-4 for time series data on industry-funded R&D.)

  • Other sources of funds. In 2000, other sources of support accounted for 7 percent of academic R&D funding, a level that has stayed rather constant during the past three decades after declining from a peak of 10 percent in 1953. This category of funds includes grants for R&D from nonprofit organizations and voluntary health agencies and gifts from private individuals that are restricted by the donor to the conduct of research, as well as all other sources restricted to research purposes not included in the other categories.

Funding by Institution Type top of page

Although public and private universities rely on the same funding sources for their academic R&D, the relative importance of those sources differs substantially for these two types of institutions. (See figure 5-6 figure and appendix table 5-3.) For all public academic institutions combined, slightly less than 10 percent of R&D funding in 1999, the most recent year for which data are available, came from state and local funds, about 24 percent from institutional funds, and about 52 percent from the Federal Government. Private academic institutions received a much smaller portion of their funds from state and local governments (about 2 percent) and institutional sources (10 percent), and a much larger share from the Federal Government (72 percent). The large difference in the role of institutional funds at public and private institutions is most likely due to a substantial amount of general-purpose state and local government funds that public institutions receive and decide to use for R&D (although data on such breakdowns are not collected). Both public and private institutions received approximately 7–8 percent of their respective R&D support from industry in 1999. Over the past two decades, the Federal share of support has declined, and the industry and institutional shares have increased for both public and private institutions.

Distribution of R&D Funds Across Academic Institutions top of page

The nature of the distribution of R&D funds across academic institutions has been and continues to be a matter of interest to those concerned with the academic R&D enterprise. Most academic R&D is now, and has been historically, concentrated in relatively few of the 3,600 U.S. institutions of higher education.[7] In fact, if all such institutions were ranked by their 1999 R&D expenditures, the top 200 institutions would account for about 96 percent of R&D expenditures. (See appendix table 5-4.) In 1999:

  • the top 10 institutions spent 17 percent of total academic R&D funds ($4.6 billion),

  • the top 20 institutions spent 30 percent ($8.3 billion),

  • the top 50 spent 57 percent ($15.6 billion), and

  • the top 100 spent 80 percent ($22.1 billion).

The historic concentration of academic R&D funds diminished somewhat between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s but has remained relatively steady since then. (See figure 5-7 figure.) In 1985, the top 10 institutions received about 20 percent of the nation's total academic R&D expenditures and the top 11–20 institutions received 14 percent compared with 17 and 13 percent, respectively, in 1999. The composition of the universities in the top 20 has also fluctuated slightly from 1985 to 1999. There was almost no change in the share of the group of institutions ranked 21–100 during this period. The decline in the top 20 institutions' share was matched by the increase in the share of those institutions in the group below the top 100. This group's share increased from 17 to 20 percent of total academic R&D funds, signifying a broadening of the base. See "Spreading Institutional Base of Federally Funded Academic R&D" later in this chapter, under the section "Federal Support of Academic R&D," for a discussion of the increased number of academic institutions receiving Federal support for their R&D activities during the past three decades.

Emphasis on Research at Universities and Colleges top of page

Between 1977 and 1996, the nation's universities and colleges increased their relative emphasis on research, as measured by research expenditures as a share of combined expenditures on instruction, research, and public service,[8] which are the three primary functions of academic institutions. This indicator rose from 19 to 21 percent during this period. This aggregate change, however, masks quite different trends at public and private institutions and among institutions with different Carnegie classifications. At public universities and colleges, the research expenditure share rose from 17 to 21 percent during this period, whereas at private institutions this share declined from 24 to 21 percent. (See figure 5-8 figure and appendix table 5-5.) The increased relative emphasis on research activity at public institutions was offset by a decline in emphasis on instruction. At private institutions, the declining relative emphasis on research was not offset by increased emphasis on instruction but by an increased emphasis on public service.

Although the increased emphasis on research in public institutions occurred in each of the four groups of institutions in Carnegie classes Research I and II and Doctorate-granting I and II, and the declining emphasis in research at private institutions occurred in all four of these Carnegie classes, the extent of change was more substantial in some groups than in others. (See figure 5-9 figure and appendix table 5-6.) The increase in research emphasis in the public Doctorate-granting I group (6 to 13 percent) and the public Doctorate-granting II group (16 to 25 percent) were much larger than for the other two public groups. The decline for the private Research I class (42 to 36 percent) and the private Doctorate-granting II group (18 to 14 percent) were larger than for the other two groups.

Expenditures by Field and Funding Source top of page

The distribution of academic R&D funds across S&E disciplines often is the unplanned result of numerous, sometimes unrelated, decisions and therefore needs to be monitored and documented to ensure that it remains appropriately balanced. The overwhelming share of academic R&D expenditures in 1999 went to the life sciences, which accounted for 57 percent of total academic R&D expenditures, 56 percent of Federal academic R&D expenditures, and 58 percent of non-Federal academic R&D expenditures. (See appendix table 5-7.) Within the life sciences, the medical sciences accounted for 29 percent of total academic R&D expenditures and the biological sciences for 18 percent.[9] The next largest block of total academic R&D expenditures was for engineering—15 percent in 1999. The distribution of Federal and non-Federal funding of academic R&D in 1999 varied by field. (See appendix table 5-7.) For example, the Federal Government supported more than three-quarters of academic R&D expenditures in both physics and atmospheric sciences but one-third or less of academic R&D in economics, political science, and the agricultural sciences.

The declining Federal share in support of academic R&D is not limited to particular S&E disciplines. The federally financed fraction of support for each of the broad S&E fields was lower in 1999 than in 1973.[10] (See appendix table 5-8.) The most dramatic decline occurred in the social sciences, down from 57 percent in 1973 to 37 percent in 1999. The overall decline in Federal share also holds for all the reported fine S&E fields. However, most of the declines occurred in the 1980s, and most fields did not experience declining Federal shares during the 1990s.

Although academic R&D expenditures in constant 1996 dollars for every field increased between 1973 and 1999 (see figure 5-10 figure and appendix table 5-9), the R&D emphasis of the academic sector, as measured by its S&E field shares, changed during this period.[11] (See figure 5-11 figure.) Absolute shares of academic R&D have:

  • increased for engineering, the life sciences, and the computer sciences;

  • remained roughly constant for mathematics; and

  • declined for psychology, environmental (earth, atmospheric, and ocean) sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences.

Although the proportion of the total academic R&D funds going to the life sciences increased by only 4 percentage points between 1973 and 1999, rising from 53 to 57 percent of academic R&D, the medical sciences' share increased by almost 7 percentage points, from 22 to 29 percent of academic R&D, during this period. (See appendix table 5-9.) The share of funds for each of the other two major components of the life sciences, agricultural sciences and biological sciences, decreased during the period. Engineering's share increased by almost 4 percentage points, from about 11.5 to 15.5 percent of academic R&D, while computer sciences' share increased by 2 percentage points, from 1 to 3 percent.

The social sciences' proportion of total academic R&D funds declined by more than 3 percentage points (from 8 to less than 5 percent) between 1973 and 1999. Within the social sciences, R&D shares for each of the three main fields, economics, political science, and sociology, declined over the period. Psychology's share declined by 1 percentage point (from 3 to 2 percent of academic R&D). The environmental sciences' share also declined by 1 percentage point (from 7 to 6 percent). Within the environmental sciences, the three major fields; atmospheric, earth, and ocean sciences, each experienced a decline in share. The physical sciences' share also declined during this period, from 11 to 9 percent. Within the physical sciences, however, astronomy's share increased, while the shares of both physics and chemistry declined.

Federal Support of Academic R&D top of page

The Federal Government continues to provide the majority of the funding for academic R&D. Its overall contribution is the combined result of a complex set of Executive and Legislative branch decisions to fund a number of key R&D-supporting agencies with differing missions.

Some of the Federal R&D funds obligated to universities and colleges are the result of appropriations that Congress directs Federal agencies to award to projects that involve specific institutions. These funds are known as congressional earmarks. (See sidebar, "Congressional Earmarking to Universities and Colleges" for a discussion of this subject.) Examining and documenting the funding patterns of the key funding agencies is key to understanding both their roles and that of the government overall.

Top Agency Supporters 

Three agencies are responsible for most of the Federal obligations for academic R&D are concentrated in three agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NSF, and the Department of Defense (DOD). (See appendix table 5-10.) Together, these agencies are estimated to have provided approximately 84 percent of total Federal financing of academic R&D in 2001: 60 percent by NIH, 15 percent by NSF, and 9 percent by DOD. An additional 11 percent of the 2001 obligations for academic R&D are estimated to be provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at 4 percent; the Department of Energy (DOE) at 4 percent; and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 3 percent. Federal obligations for academic research are concentrated similarly as those for R&D. (See appendix table 5-11.) Some differences exist, however, because some agencies (e.g., DOD) place greater emphasis on development, whereas others (e.g., NSF) place greater emphasis on research.

Between 1990 and 2001, NIH's funding of academic R&D increased most rapidly, with an estimated average annual growth rate of 4.9 percent per year in constant 1996 dollars. NSF and NASA experienced the next highest rates of growth: 4.2 and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Agency Support by Field 

Federal agencies emphasize different S&E fields in their funding of academic research. Several agencies concentrate their funding in one field; the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA focus on life sciences, whereas DOE concentrates on physical sciences. Other agencies, NSF, NASA, and DOD, have more diversified funding patterns. (See figure 5-12 figure and appendix table 5-12.) Even though an agency may place a large share of its funds in one field, it may not be a leading contributor to that field, particularly if it does not spend much on academic research. (See figure 5-13 figure.) In FY 1999, NSF was the lead funding agency in physical sciences (33 percent of total funding), mathematics (64 percent), computer sciences (53 percent), environmental sciences (48 percent), and social sciences (42 percent). DOD was the lead funding agency in engineering (38 percent). HHS was the lead funding agency in life sciences (87 percent) and psychology (95 percent). Within the fine S&E fields, other agencies took the leading role: DOE in physics (44 percent), USDA in agricultural sciences (100 percent), and NASA in astronomy (78 percent) and both aeronautical (55 percent) and astronautical (97 percent) engineering. (See appendix table 5-13.)

Spreading Institutional Base of Federally Funded Academic R&D 

Since 1994, the number of academic institutions receiving Federal support for their R&D activities has declined. This decline followed a 20-year period in which there was a general upward trend in the number of institutions receiving such support.[12] (See figure 5-14 figure.) The change in number has occurred almost exclusively among institutions of higher education not classified as Carnegie research or doctorate-granting institutions but in those classified as comprehensive; liberal arts; two-year community, junior, and technical; or professional and other specialized schools. The number of such institutions receiving Federal support nearly doubled between 1971 and 1994, rising from 341 to 676, but then dropped to only 559 in 1999. (See appendix table 5-14.) The institutions that were not classified as Carnegie research or doctorate-granting institutions also received a larger share of the reported Federal obligations for R&D to universities and colleges in the 1990s than they have at any time in the past. Their share even continued to increase during the latter part of the 1990s, reaching almost 14 percent in 1999. The largest percentage this group had received before the 1990s was just under 11 percent in 1977. This increase in share is consistent with the increase in the share of academic R&D going to institutions below the top 100 reported earlier in this chapter in "Distribution of R&D Funds Across Academic Institutions."

Academic R&D Facilities and Equipment top of page

The condition of the physical infrastructure for academic R&D, especially the state of research facilities and equipment, is a key factor in the continued success of the U.S. academic R&D enterprise. The National Science Board's (NSB's) concern that the quality and adequacy of the S&E infrastructure are critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in S&E research and education recently led it to establish a task force to examine this issue. (See sidebar, "The NSB Task Force on S&E Infrastructure.")


Total Space. The amount of academic S&E research space[13] grew continuously over the past decade. Between 1988 and 1999, total academic S&E research space increased by almost 35 percent, from about 112 million to 151 million net assignable square feet (NASF).[14] (See appendix table 5-15.) Doctorate-granting institutions accounted for most of the growth in research space over this period.

Little change was noted in the distribution of academic research space across S&E fields between 1988 and 1999. (See appendix table 5-15.) About 90 percent of current academic research space continues to be concentrated in six S&E fields:

  • biological sciences (21 percent in 1988 and 1999),

  • medical sciences (17 percent in 1988 and 18 percent in 1999),

  • agricultural sciences (16 percent in 1988 and 17 percent in 1999),

  • engineering (14 percent in 1988 and 17 percent in 1999),

  • physical sciences (14 percent in 1988 and 13 percent in 1999), and

  • environmental sciences (5 percent in 1988 and 1999).

New Construction. Between 1986–87 and 1998–99, the total anticipated cost for completion of new construction projects for academic research facilities begun in each two-year period fluctuated between $2 and $3 billion. (See appendix table 5-16.) Projects planned for 2000 and 2001, however, are expected to cost $7.4 billion by the time they are completed, and those begun in 1998 and 1999 are expected to cost $2.8 billion (reported in 1999 survey). Earlier in the planning stage, however, projects expected to begin in 1998 and 1999 were expected to cost $3.9 billion (reported in the previous S&E Facilities survey). Construction projects initiated between 1986 and 1999 were expected to produce more than 72 million square feet of research space when completed, the equivalent of about 48 percent of estimated 1999 research space. A significant portion of newly created research space is likely to replace obsolete or inadequate space rather than actually increase existing space, indicated by the total research space increase of 39 million NASF between 1988–89 and 1999, a period in which new construction activity was expected to produce 62 million NASF. (See appendix table 5-15.)

The ratio of planned new construction during the 1986–99 period to 1999 research space differs across S&E fields. More than three-quarters of the research space in medical sciences at medical schools and in computer sciences appears to have been built in the 1986–99 period. In contrast, less than one-quarter of the research space for mathematics and psychology appears to have been newly constructed during this period. (See figure 5-15 figure.)

Repair and Renovation. The total cost of repair/renovation projects has also fluctuated over time. Expenditures for major repair/renovation (i.e., projects costing more than $100,000) of academic research facilities begun in 1998–99 are expected to reach $1.7 billion. (See appendix table 5-16.) Projects initiated between 1986 and 1999 were expected to result in the repair/renovation of more than 87 million square feet of research space.[15] (See appendix table 5-15.) Repair/renovation expenditures as a proportion of total capital expenditures (construction and repair/renovation) have increased steadily since 1990–91, rising from 22 percent of all capital project spending to 37 percent by 1998–99.

Sources of Funds. Academic institutions derive their funds for new construction and repair/renovation of research facilities from a number of sources: the Federal Government, state and local governments, institutional funds, private donations, tax-exempt bonds, other debt sources, and other sources. (See appendix tables 5-17 and 5-18.) In most years, state and local governments have provided a larger share of support than either private donations or tax-exempt bonds, followed by institutional funds. The Federal Government has never provided more than 14.1 percent of the funds for construction and repair/renovation. In 1998–99, the latest year for which data are available:

  • the Federal Government directly accounted for only 8 percent of all construction funds and 4 percent of repair/renovation funds,[16]

  • state and local governments accounted for 32 percent of all construction funds and 26 percent of repair/renovation funds,

  • private donations accounted for 15 percent of all construction funds and 12 percent of repair/renovation funds,

  • institutional funds accounted for 22 percent of all construction funds and 38 percent of repair/renovation funds, and

  • tax-exempt bonds accounted for 19 percent of all construction funds and 14 percent of repair/renovation funds.

Public and private institutions drew on substantially different sources to fund the construction and repair/renovation of research space. (See figure 5-16 figure) Public institutions relied primarily on:

  • state and local governments (43 percent of funds for new construction and 45 percent of funds for repair/renovation),

  • private donations (11 percent of funds for new construction and 7 percent of funds for repair/renovation),

  • institutional funds (16 percent of funds for new construction and 37 percent of funds for repair/renovation), and

  • tax-exempt bonds (15 percent of funds for new construction and 5 percent of funds for repair/renovation).

Private institutions relied primarily on:

  • private donations (22 percent of funds for new construction and 19 percent of funds for repair/renovation),

  • institutional funds (30 percent of funds for new construction and 40 percent of funds for repair/renovation), and

  • tax-exempt bonds (27 percent of funds for new construction and 26 percent for repair/renovation).

Adequacy and Condition. Of the institutions reporting research space in 1999, more than 30 percent reported needing additional space in biological sciences in universities and colleges (as opposed to medical schools), physical sciences, psychology, and computer sciences. In all four of these fields, more than 25 percent of these institutions reported needing additional space equal to more than 25 percent of their current research space. (See text table 5-3 text table.) Less than 20 percent of the institutions reported needing any additional space in medical sciences in both medical schools and universities and colleges, in biological sciences in medical schools, and in agricultural sciences.

Survey respondents also rated the condition of their research space in 1999. Slightly more than 40 percent of S&E research space was rated as "suitable for the most scientifically competitive research." (See text table 5-4 text table.) However, 20 percent of the research space was designated as needing major repair/renovation and an additional 6 percent as needing replacement. The condition of this space differs across S&E fields. Fields with the largest proportion of research space needing major repair/renovation or replacement include agricultural sciences (33 percent), environmental sciences, biological sciences in universities and colleges, medical sciences in universities and colleges, and medical sciences in medical schools (each with between 26 and 28 percent).

Unmet Needs. Determining what universities and colleges need for S&E research space is a complex matter. To attempt to measure "real" as opposed to "speculative" needs, the survey asked respondents to report whether there was an approved institutional plan that included any deferred space needing new construction or repair/renovation.[17] Respondents were then asked to estimate, for each S&E field, the costs of such construction and repair/renovation projects and, separately, the costs for similar projects not included in an approved institutional plan.

In 1999, 44 percent of the institutions reported the existence of institutional plans that included deferred capital projects to construct or repair/renovate academic S&E research facilities. Twenty-five percent of institutions reported deferred projects not included in institutional plans. The total estimated cost for all deferred S&E construction and repair/renovation projects (whether included in an institutional plan or not) was $13.6 billion in 1999. Deferred construction projects accounted for 65 percent of this cost and deferred repair/renovation projects for the remaining 35 percent.

Deferred construction costs were close to or exceeded $1 billion in three fields: medical sciences in medical schools, biological sciences in universities and colleges, and engineering. Institutions reported deferred repair/renovation costs in excess of $500 million in the same three fields and in one additional field, as follows: medical sciences in medical schools ($1.6 billion for construction and 0.5 billion for repair/renovation); biological sciences in universities and colleges ($1.5 billion for construction and $0.7 billion for repair/renovation); engineering ($1.0 billion for construction and $0.8 billion for repair/renovation); and physical sciences ($0.7 billion for construction and $1.0 billion for repair/renovation). (See appendix table 5-19.)


Expenditures. In 1999, slightly more than $1.3 billion in current funds was spent for academic research equipment. About 80 percent of these expenditures were concentrated in three fields: life sciences (41 percent), engineering (22 percent), and physical sciences (19 percent). (See figure 5-17 figure and appendix table 5-20.)

Current fund expenditures for academic research equipment grew at an average annual rate of 4.2 percent (in constant 1996 dollars) between 1983 and 1999. Average annual growth, however, was much higher during the 1980s (8.7 percent) than it was during the 1990s (0.8 percent). The growth patterns in S&E fields varied during this period. For example, equipment expenditures for engineering (5.5 percent) grew more rapidly during the 1983–99 period than did those for the social sciences (1.4 percent) and psychology (1 percent).

Federal Funding. Federal funds for research equipment are generally received either as part of research grants, thus enabling the research to be performed, or as separate equipment grants, depending on the funding policies of the particular Federal agencies involved. The importance of Federal funding for research equipment varies by field. In 1999, the social sciences received slightly less than 40 percent of their research equipment funds from the Federal Government; in contrast, Federal support accounted for more than two-thirds of equipment funding in the physical sciences, computer sciences, and environmental sciences. (See appendix table 5-21.)

The share of research equipment expenditures funded by the Federal Government declined from 62 to 58 percent between 1983 and 1999, although not steadily. This overall pattern masks different trends in individual S&E fields. For example, the share funded by the Federal Government actually rose during this period for both the social and the environmental sciences.

R&D Equipment Intensity. R&D equipment intensity is the percentage of total annual R&D expenditures from current funds devoted to research equipment. This proportion was lower in 1999 (5 percent) than it was in 1983 (6 percent), although it peaked in 1986 (7 percent). (See appendix table 5-22.) R&D equipment intensity varies across S&E fields. It tends to be higher in physical sciences (about 10 percent in 1999) and lower in social sciences (1 percent) and psychology (2 percent). For the two latter fields, these differences may reflect the use of less equipment, less expensive equipment, or both.


[1]  Federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) associated with universities are tallied separately and are examined in greater detail in chapter 4. FFRDCs and other national laboratories (including Federal intramural laboratories) also play an important role in academic research and education, providing research opportunities for both students and faculty at academic institutions.

[2]  For more detailed information on national R&D expenditures, see" R&D Performance in the United States " in chapter 4.

[3]  For this discussion, an academic institution is generally defined as an institution that has a doctoral program in science or engineering, is a historically black college or university that expends any amount of separately budgeted R&D in S&E, or is some other institution that spends at least $150,000 for separately budgeted R&D in S&E.

[4]  Despite this delineation, the term "R&D" (rather than just "research") is primarily used throughout this discussion because data collected on academic R&D often do not differentiate between research and development. Moreover, it is often difficult to make clear distinctions among basic research, applied research, and development. For the definitions used in NSF resource surveys and a fuller discussion of these concepts, see chapter 4.

[5]  The academic R&D funding reported here includes only separately budgeted R&D and institutions' estimates of unreimbursed indirect costs associated with externally funded R&D projects, including mandatory and voluntary cost sharing. It does not include departmental research and thus will exclude funds, notably for faculty salaries, in cases where research activities are not separately budgeted.

[6]  This follows a standard of reporting that assigns funds to the entity that determines how they are to be used rather than to the one that necessarily disburses the funds.

[7]  The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classified about 3,600 degree-granting institutions as higher education institutions in 1994. See chapter 2 sidebar, "Carnegie Classification of Academic Institutions," for a brief description of the Carnegie categories. These higher education institutions include four-year colleges and universities, two-year community and junior colleges, and specialized schools such as medical and law schools. Not included in this classification scheme are more than 7,000 other postsecondary institutions (secretarial schools, auto repair schools, etc.).

[8]  Public service includes funds expended for activities that are established primarily to provide noninstructional services beneficial to individuals and groups external to the institution. These activities include community service programs and cooperative extension services.

[9]  The medical sciences include fields such as pharmacy, veterinary medicine, anesthesiology, and pediatrics. The biological sciences include fields such as microbiology, genetics, biometrics, and ecology. These distinctions may be blurred at times, because boundaries between fields often are not well defined.

[10]  In this chapter, the broad S&E fields refer to the physical sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, environmental sciences (earth, atmospheric, and ocean), life sciences, psychology, social sciences, other sciences (not elsewhere classified), and engineering. The more disaggregated fields of science and engineering are referred to as "fine fields" or "subfields."

[11]  For a more detailed discussion of these changes, see How Has the Field Mix of Academic R&D Changed? (NSF 1998) and Trends in Federal Support of Research and Graduate Education (National Academies Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy, forthcoming).

[12]  Although there was a general increase in the number of institutions receiving Federal R&D support between 1974 and 1994, a rather large decline occurred in the early 1980s that was most likely due to the fall in Federal R&D funding for the social sciences during that period.

[13]  For more detailed data and analysis on academic S&E research facilities (e.g., by institution type and control), see NSF (2001d, e).

[14]  "Research space" here refers to NASF within facilities (buildings) in which S&E research activities take place. NASF is defined as the sum of all areas (in square feet) on all floors of a building assigned to, or available to be assigned to, an occupant for a specific use, such as instruction or research. Multipurpose space within facilities (e.g., an office) is prorated to reflect the proportion of use devoted to research activities. NASF data for new construction and repair/renovation are reported for combined years (e.g., 1987–88 data are for FY 1987 and FY 1988). NASF data on total space are reported at the time of the survey and were not collected in 1986.

[15]  It is difficult to report repaired/renovated space in terms of a percentage of existing research space. As collected, the data do not differentiate between repair and renovation, nor do they provide an actual count of unique square footage that has been repaired or renovated. Thus, any proportional presentation might include double or triple counts, because the same space could be repaired (especially) or renovated several times.

[16]  Some additional Federal funding comes through overhead on grants and/or contracts from the Federal Government. These indirect cost payments are used to defray the overhead costs of conducting federally funded research and are reported as institutional funding on the NSF facilities survey. See the sidebar, "Recent Developments on the Indirect Cost Front," earlier in this chapter.

[17]  Four criteria are used to define deferred space in a survey cycle: (1) the space must be necessary to meet the critical needs of current faculty or programs; (2) construction must not have been scheduled to begin during the two fiscal years covered by the survey; (3) construction must not have funding set aside for it; and (4) the space must not be for developing new programs or expanding the number of faculty positions.

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