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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: 2011–12 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 authored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics that discusses the National Patterns findings for 2011–12 (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf14307/).

Content of Data Tables

Table 1 summarizes the 1953–2012 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 (1953–2011) are disaggregated by the following:

R&D performer: business sector,[1] federal government, federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), universities and colleges, and other nonprofit organizations

Source of funding: business sector, federal government, nonfederal government, universities and 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.

Tables 10 and 11 provide cross-sectional data on R&D expenditures by performer, source of funding, and character of work for 2011 and 2012.

Table 12 and 13 describe the geographic distribution of U.S. R&D expenditures in calendar years 2010 and 2011 for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico .

Table 14 compares U.S. R&D expenditures, in total and as a share of gross domestic product, with those of 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 principally 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, federal and nonfederal government, universities and colleges, and other nonprofit organizations). In some cases, the primary survey data are adjusted to enable consistent integration of the statistics from these separately conducted surveys. Preliminary or otherwise estimated values may be used where final data from one or more of the surveys are not yet available. In all tables, the data for 2011 are final and revise previously published numbers. The data for 2012 are preliminary.

The R&D surveys utilized include NSF's Business R&D and Innovation Survey (2008 to 2011; Survey of Industrial R&D for 2007 and earlier years), the Higher Education R&D Survey (FYs 2010–12; Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges for FY 2009 and earlier years), the Survey of Federal Funds for R&D (FYs 2011–13 and earlier years), and the FFRDC Research and Development Survey (FY 2012 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 Survey of Federal Funds for R&D and the FFRDC Research and Development Survey are reported on a federal fiscal-year basis (1 October to 30 September) and are adjusted to the calendar year for the integration. The data from the Higher Education R&D Survey are reported on an academic fiscal-year basis (typically, 1 July through 30 June) and converted to calendar year.

Prior to FY 2001, R&D expenditure data for the FFRDCs were collected as part of the major performer 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). Starting with FY 2001, collection of R&D expenditures data for all FFRDCs was consolidated into a single survey (FFRDC Research and Development Survey).

For 1998 and later years, the R&D figures for universities and colleges have been adjusted to eliminate double counting of funds passed through from one academic institution to another. For example, in FY 1998, a total of $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 2012 are $3.1 billion in total pass-through funds out of $65.8 billion in academic R&D. Additionally, the figures for universities and colleges prior to 2003 cover only science and engineering (S&E) fields; in 2003 and later years, R&D in non-S&E fields is also included. Non-S&E R&D was $1.4 billion in FY 2003 and $3.5 billion in FY 2012.

The method for character-of-work estimation in business-sector R&D was revised for 1998 and later years. This change 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 business R&D survey (with data starting in 2008), does not appear to have introduced further discontinuities in the character-of-work estimates. For universities and colleges, the character-of-work estimation method was revised in 1998 and again in 2010. Hence, the latest data for universities and colleges are also not directly comparable to those reported in 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 colleges, and FFRDCs. These amounts can differ substantially from the R&D that federal agencies have reported funding. For example, 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 $127 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, the National Academies' Committee on National Statistics notes that comparing federal outlays (as opposed to obligations) for R&D to performer expenditures results in a smaller discrepancy.[2] 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; available on request from the Project Officer).

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[1] (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:

Screen shot of Table 2. Sample.

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:

Screen shot of Table 6. Sample.

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).


[1] The terms business and industry are used interchangeably in this report.

[2] 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: 2011–12 Data Update
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 14-304 | December 2013