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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

General Notes

Data Tables

Suggested Citation, Acknowledgments

Mark Boroush,
Project Officer
(703) 292-8726
Research and Development Statistics Program

National Patterns of R&D Resources: 2009 Data Update


General Notes


National Patterns of R&D Resources describes and analyzes the current patterns of research and development performance and funding in the United States, with comparisons to the historical record and the reported R&D levels of other industrialized countries. The data tables covered here are a statistical supplement to the recent InfoBrief (March 2012) authored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) discussing the National Patterns findings for 2009 (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf12310/).

Content of Data Tables

Table 1 summarizes the 1953–2009 trends in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), total R&D, and the ratio of R&D to GDP.

Tables 2–9 present the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) most current information on R&D performed in the United States. The statistics on expenditure levels over time (1953–2009) are disaggregated by the following:

  • R&D performer: business sector, federal government, federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), universities/colleges, and other nonprofit organizations
  • Source of funding: business sector, federal government, nonfederal government, universities/colleges, and other nonprofit organizations
  • Character of work: basic research, applied research, development
  • Monetary unit: current dollars and constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars

Please note: For trend comparisons, use only the historical data reported here. These tables incorporate the latest revisions to prior-year data for all R&D performers and funders. Do not use data published earlier.

Table 10 describes the geographic distribution of U.S. R&D expenditures in calendar year 2008, by the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Table 11 compares the R&D expenditures, in total and as a share of gross domestic product, of the United States and a number of other large R&D-performing countries and economic regions (China, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom).

Updates to Methodology

The statistics on U.S. R&D presented here are derived chiefly from data on R&D expenditures and funding collected by NSF's national surveys of the organizations that perform the bulk of U.S. R&D (businesses, government, academia, other nonprofit organizations). In some cases, the primary survey data are adjusted to enable consistent integration of the statistics from these separately conducted surveys. Estimated values may be used where final data from one or more of the surveys are not yet available and can reasonably be prepared.

The main R&D surveys utilized include NSF's new Business R&D and Innovation Survey (for 2008 and 2009; the preceding Survey of Industrial R&D for 2007 and earlier years), the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (FY 2009 and earlier years), the Survey of Federal Funds for R&D (FY 2009–11 and earlier years), and the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Federally Funded R&D Centers (FY 2009 and earlier years). Figures for R&D performed by other nonprofit organizations with funding from within the nonprofit sector and business sources are estimated, based on parameters from the Survey of R&D Funding and Performance by Nonprofit Organizations, 1996–97.

Data from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey are reported on a calendar-year basis and are used directly in the integration of the National Patterns totals. Those from the Federal Funds and FFRDC surveys are reported on a federal fiscal-year basis and are adjusted to calendar year for the integration. The data from the Survey of Universities and Colleges are reported on an academic fiscal-year basis and converted to calendar year.

Prior to FY 2001, R&D data for the FFRDCs were collected as part of separate surveys: the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (for university-administered FFRDCs), the Survey of Industrial R&D (for industry-administered FFRDCs), and the Survey of Federal Funds for R&D (for nonprofit-administered FFRDCs). The data collection for all FFRDCs was consolidated in FY 2001 into a separate survey.

In 1998 and later years, the university/college R&D figures have been adjusted to eliminate double counting of funds passed through from one academic institution to another. For example, in FY 1998, $479 million in total pass-through funds were reported out of $25.9 billion of all academic R&D expenditures that year. Comparable figures for FY 2009 are $1.9 billion in total pass-through funds out of $54.9 billion in academic R&D.

The character-of-work estimates for business-sector R&D were revised for 1998 and later years. These changes resulted in a net decrease in the proportion of business R&D classified as basic research. As such, the data for 1998 and later years are not directly comparable with data for 1997 and earlier years. The new business R&D survey, starting in 2008, does not appear at present to have introduced further discontinuities in the character-of-work estimates. For university/college R&D, the character-of-work estimates were also revised for 1998 and later years. The revised procedure, along with respondent data corrections, yielded an increase of approximately 5 percentage points in the share of academic R&D identified as basic research. Similarly, these changes make the data for 1998 and later years not directly comparable to the data for 1997 and earlier years.

The data on federally funded R&D discussed in this report were derived from surveys of organizations that perform R&D, such as companies, universities, and FFRDCs. These amounts can differ substantially from the R&D that federal agencies have reported funding. The National Academies' Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) has recommended that NSF publish an annual reconciliation of estimates for federal R&D funding as reported by performers of R&D and as reported by federal agencies.[i]

In FY 2009, federal agencies reported obligating $133 billion in total R&D to all R&D performers (including $53 billion to the business sector), compared with an estimated $124 billion in federal funding reported by all performers of R&D ($40 billion by businesses). Although NSF has not found a definitive explanation for this divergence, CNSTAT notes that comparing federal outlays (as opposed to obligations) for R&D to performer expenditures results in a smaller discrepancy. For FY 2009, federal agencies reported R&D outlays of $127 billion to all R&D performers. 

Further discussion of the methodology and technical issues involved in obtaining and compiling these R&D statistics can be found in National Patterns of R&D Resources: 2006 Methodology Report (the most-recent edition).

Notes on How to Read the Tables

Tables 2–9 are arranged to exhibit R&D data from two differing perspectives: (1) by type of performer, with subsequent breakouts by source of funds; and (2) by source of funds, with subsequent breakouts by type of performer. The first case describes the distribution of total R&D expenditures among the various performers and then, for each performer, the sources of funding. The second case describes the distribution of total R&D funding among the various source organizations and then how each source's funding is distributed to performers.

For example, the upper-left-hand corners of table 2 and table 6 are displayed below, and represent the above cases 1 and 2, respectively. In table 2, the column spanner for industry (as a performer) in the first row breaks out in the second row to headers for the two main sources of industrial R&D funding: the federal government, and industry's own funds. For the federal government as a performer (first row), federal is repeated in the second row because the federal government is the only source of funds for federal intramural research.

Example 1:

Table 2 Sample. U.S. research and development expenditures, by performing sector and source of funds: 1953–2009.

In table 6, the federal government as a source of funding (column spanner, first row) subdivides to a set of column heads in the second row, reflecting the various performers receiving federal funds for R&D (such as industry, universities and colleges, and the federal government itself).

Example 2:

Table 6 Sample. U.S. research and development expenditures, by source of funds and performing sector: 1953–2009.

Tables 2–5 are structured the same, and tables 6–9 are structured the same. However, tables 3–5 and 7–9 focus separately, in turn, on basic research, applied research, and development rather than on total R&D expenditures (which is the sum of these three components).


[i] National Research Council. 2005. Measuring Research and Development Expenditures in the U.S. Economy. Panel on Research and Development Statistics at the National Science Foundation, Brown LD, Plewes TJ, Gerstein MA, editors. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Patterns of R&D Resources: 2009 Data Update
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 12-321 | June 2012