Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS)Survey Overview Key Survey Information Survey Design Data Collection and Processing Survey Quality Measures Data Availability and Comparability Data Products Contact Information
- Purpose: The Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) is the primary source of information on R&D expenditures and the R&D employees of for-profit, nonfarm businesses with five or more employees operating in the United States.
- Data collection authority: National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010; collected under Office of Management and Budget control number 0607-0912, expiring 29 February 2020.
- Major changes to recent survey cycle: None.
- Frequency: Annual.
- Initial survey year: 2008. The predecessor to BRDIS, the Survey of Industrial R&D (SIRD), began in 1953.
- Reference period: CY 2016.
- Response unit: Companies with known R&D activity (approximately 5,000) are sent the standard survey (BRDI-1), and all other companies (approximately 40,000) are sent a short survey screener (BRD-1(S)).
- Sample or census: Sample survey of for-profit companies with a U.S. presence and five or more employees engaged in the mining, utilities, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, or services industries.
- Population size: A total of 1,485,151 companies.
- Sample size: A total of 44,861 companies prior to data collection. The actual number of companies that remained within the scope of the survey between sample selection and tabulation was 42,122.
- Key variables: Key variables of interest are listed below.
- R&D performance (domestic and foreign R&D for U.S.-based companies)
- Total and R&D employment
- Sources of R&D funding
- Type of R&D work (basic research, applied research, and development)
- Type of R&D cost (e.g., salaries and fringe benefits)
- R&D capital expenditures
- R&D application and technology focus areas
- Business codes
- Geographic location of domestic and foreign R&D performance of U.S.-based companies
- Patenting, licensing, and technology transfer activities
- Product and process innovation
- Target population: The target population consists of all for-profit nonfarm companies that are publicly or privately held, have five or more paid employees in the United States, have at least one establishment that is classified in an in-scope sector based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), is in business during the survey year, and is physically located in the United States.
- Sample frame: The Business Register, maintained by the Census Bureau, is the source used to create the sample frame for BRDIS.
- Sample design: BRDIS has a stratified probability sampling design that uses both simple random sampling and probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling within strata. Stratification is based on R&D activity and a NAICS-based industry code. For companies with known R&D activity, PPS sampling is based on R&D performance. For companies with unknown R&D activity, PPS sampling is based on annual payroll. Companies known to perform large amounts of R&D and companies with large amounts of payroll are selected with certainty.
- Data collection: BRDIS uses multimode data collection by paper booklet or Web reporting instruments. Respondents have the option to report by mail (7%) or on the Web (93%).
- Data processing: All data submitted by respondent companies are reviewed to ensure that data fields are complete and that data are internally consistent. Given the size and complexity of BRDIS, many survey responses contain errors that require correction or unusual patterns that require validation. Several hundred automated edit checks are applied to improve the efficiency of analyst data review and correction. Approximately two-thirds of these edit checks are designed to catch arithmetic errors and logically inconsistent responses (balance edits). The remaining edit checks are designed to flag outliers for further analyst review (analytical edits). During editing, if additional information or data corrections are needed, respondents are contacted. If additional information or corrected data cannot be obtained from respondents, data are imputed.
- Estimation techniques: The general methodology used to produce estimates from BRDIS involves sums of weighted data (reported or imputed), in which the weights are the product of the sampling weight and the nonresponse adjustment factor. However, there are some exceptions, which are described in the technical notes in the annual BRDIS reports (https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyindustry/#infdsts&tabs-2).
- Sampling error: Estimates based on the total sample have small relative standard errors (RSEs). An RSE is the standard error of the survey estimate divided by the survey estimate and then multiplied by 100. For 2016, RSEs for domestic R&D performance paid for by the company, paid for by others, and total were 0.36%, 0.85%, and 0.34%, respectively. Estimates of sampling errors associated with each cell in the detailed statistical tables are available by request.
- Coverage error: Coverage error is minimal because the Business Register, the source for BRDIS, is continually updated and contains comprehensive coverage of all domestic businesses.
- Nonresponse error: The unit response rate was 80.2% for 2016. Except for estimates of counts, patents, patent licensing agreements, product or process innovation, and intellectual property protection, unit nonresponse is handled by adjusting weighted reported and imputed data by multiplying each company's sampling weight by a nonresponse adjustment factor. For estimates of counts, patents, patent licensing agreements, and product or process innovation, other adjustments for nonresponse are made. For count estimates for the BRDIS checkbox items that involve intellectual property protection, both unit and item nonresponse are handled using a nonresponse weight adjustment based on R&D groups, industry sampling strata, and the presence or absence of R&D activity. Detailed descriptions of the adjustments for nonresponse are available in the annual reports containing detailed statistical tables.
- Measurement error: Known sources of measurement error include differences in respondent interpretations of the definitions of R&D activities; differences in accounting procedures, specifically, the characterization and reporting of R&D activities by large defense contractors funded by the U.S. federal government; the reporting of R&D activities by companies classified in the R&D services industry, NAICS 5417; and differences in how companies count and report numbers of employees in various categories, including whether they work on R&D full time or part time. No quantitative metrics of measurement error are produced, but ongoing efforts to minimize measurement error include questionnaire pretesting, improvement of questionnaire wording and format, inclusion of more cues and examples in the questionnaire instructions, in-person and telephone interviews and consultations with respondents, and post-survey evaluations.
- Data availability: Data produced from BRDIS for 2008 to the current survey year and data produced from the SIRD for 1991–2007 are available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/industry/. Data from SIRD dating to 1953 are available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/iris/.
- Data comparability: BRDIS is a cross-sectional survey designed to produce annual estimates of R&D performance and related statistics, as was its predecessor, SIRD. However, many of the companies that perform large amounts of R&D are included in the survey each year. Thus, there is a longitudinal aspect to the survey. Because of this and the generally low sampling variability of the annual level estimates, estimates of year-to-year changes are generally precise. Estimates for changes covering a longer time span will generally be less precise.
There is no conclusive evidence that the redesign of SIRD to create BRDIS caused breaks in the series for the items common to both surveys, because no substantial changes in scope and methodology were introduced. Significant efforts were made to preserve the comparability of the data series and to minimize the effects of 1) changes in the assignment of companies to industry strata, 2) the inclusion of data on worldwide activities, 3) changes in the measurement of employment, and 4) changes because of the use of a modular survey questionnaire. Nonetheless, possibly as a result of improved reporting instructions, an unanticipated drop in the number of full-time equivalent scientists and engineers was reported between the last cycle of SIRD (2007) and the first cycle of BRDIS (2008).
- Publications: BRDIS data are published in NCSES InfoBriefs and reports containing detailed statistical tables in the Business and Industrial R&D series, available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/industry/. Data from BRDIS are also used in the biennial report Science and Engineering Indicators, available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind/.
- Electronic access: Results from the predecessor survey are available at NCSES's Industrial Research and Development Information System historical data website, https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/iris/.
BRDIS contains confidential data that are protected under Title 13 and Title 26 of the U.S. Code. Restricted microdata can be accessed at the secure Research Data Centers administered by the Census Bureau's Center for Economic Studies (CES). Researchers interested in analyzing microdata can submit a proposal to the CES, which evaluates proposals based on their benefit to the Census Bureau, scientific merit, feasibility, and risk of disclosure. To learn more about the Research Data Centers and how to apply, please visit the CES website at https://www.census.gov/ces/index.html. For additional information about the application process, including how to initiate a project, please contact the administrator at the primary site where the research will be conducted.
For additional information about this survey, please contact the Project Officer.
Raymond M. Wolfe
Research and Development Statistics Program
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite W14227
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 292-7789
Last Updated: July 23, 2020