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With Help from ARRA, Universities Report $61 Billion in FY 2010 Total R&D; New Details from Redesigned Survey

NSF 12-313 | March 2012 | PDF format. PDF  
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by Ronda Britt[1]

University spending on research and development in all fields increased 6.9% between FY 2009 and FY 2010 to $61.2 billion, according to FY 2010 data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey (table 1).[2] When adjusted for inflation, higher education R&D rose by 6.0% in FY 2010.

TABLE 1. Higher education R&D expenditures, by R&D field: FY 2009–10
(Millions of current dollars)
Field FY 2009 FY 2010 % change
2009–10
All R&D fieldsa 57,289 61,235 6.9
Science 46,215 48,994 6.0
Computer sciences 1,600 1,658 3.6
Environmental sciences 2,923 2,990 2.3
Atmospheric sciences 417 428 2.6
Earth sciences 1,020 1,085 6.4
Oceanography 1,078 1,022 -5.2
Environmental sciences, nec 410 455 11.0
Life sciences 32,779 34,903 6.5
Agricultural sciences 3,056 2,984 -2.4
Biological sciences 10,146 10,947 7.9
Medical sciences 18,230 19,164 5.1
Life sciences, nec 1,348 1,807 34.1
Mathematical sciences 547 599 9.5
Physical sciences 4,283 4,625 8.0
Astronomy 578 573 -0.9
Chemistry 1,583 1,751 10.6
Physics 1,870 2,003 7.1
Physical sciences, nec 252 298 18.3
Psychology 972 1,077 10.8
Social sciences 2,081 1,993 -4.2
Economics 380 353 -7.1
Political sciences 369 373 1.1
Sociology 408 416 2.0
Social sciences, nec 924 852 -7.8
Sciences, nec 1,029 1,150 11.8
Engineering 8,649 9,344 8.0
Aeronautical/astronautical engineering 614 625 1.8
Bioengineering/biomedical engineering 648 741 14.4
Chemical engineering 696 797 14.5
Civil engineering 980 1,064 8.6
Electrical engineering 1,844 2,012 9.1
Mechanical engineering 1,244 1,434 15.3
Metallurgical/materials engineering 688 908 32.0
Engineering, nec 1,934 1,762 -8.9
Non-science and engineeringa 2,425 2,897 19.5
Business and management 344 360 4.7
Communications, journalism, and library science 107 157 46.7
Education 916 987 7.8
Humanities 255 259 1.6
Law 108 96 -11.1
Social work 138 175 26.8
Visual and performing arts 73 64 -12.3
Non-science and engineering, nec 484 798 64.9

nec = not elsewhere classified.

a For FY 2009, the overall total and the total for non-science and engineering (S&E) are lower-bound estimates because the National Science Foundation did not attempt to estimate for nonresponse on the non-S&E R&D expenditures item. Non-S&E R&D data were provided by 97.4% of responding institutions in FY 2009.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

This increase was due in large part to the $2.7 billion in reported expenditures funded by the one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).[3] As a result of ARRA, the percentage of academic R&D funded by the federal government rose to 61% in FY 2010, constituting $37.5 billion of the $61.2 billion total.

The FY 2010 data come from the first fielding of a redesigned and expanded academic R&D survey. Previously known as the Survey of R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges, the FY 2010 Higher Education R&D Survey contained several significant changes.[4] The most notable change to the survey was the inclusion of R&D within non-science and engineering (S&E) fields, such as business, education, and law, into the overall reported totals. These non-S&E R&D totals had been collected since 2003 but were reported separately until now. With the revised survey design in 2010, the non-S&E totals are now combined with the S&E totals, although field-specific details are still available.

Unless otherwise indicated, references to dollar amounts or percentages for the remainder of this InfoBrief are in current dollars.

R&D Expenditures by Field

Among the 10 broad fields collected, life sciences account for the largest share by far ($34.9 billion of the $61.2 billion total). Engineering was the next largest broad field with $9.3 billion in reported R&D expenditures. Among subfields, medical sciences continued to hold the largest share of the total (31% or $19.2 billion in FY 2010). All of the broad fields saw an increase in the reported expenditures between 2009 and 2010 except for social sciences, which declined by more than 4%. Some of this decline may be due to institutional changes in R&D field classifications, because non-S&E fields are now fully incorporated into the survey totals. Some R&D previously reported as social sciences might now be reported in the non-S&E fields. In fact, R&D within non-S&E fields had the largest percentage increase of all of the broad fields from FY 2009 to FY 2010 ($2.4 billion to $2.9 billion).[5]

R&D Spending by Federal Agency Sources

The largest source of federal funding to universities continues to be the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including its National Institutes of Health. In FY 2010, HHS funding represented 56% ($21.1 billion) of the $37.5 billion federally funded total (table 2). HHS serves as the primary federal funding source for medical research, contributing 94% to the $12.1 billion total federally funded medical science expenditures. NSF contributed the next largest amount of the government-wide funding total in FY 2010 ($4.7 billion). Its support was spread across a wide mix of fields. The Department of Defense (DOD) provided $4.5 billion, almost half in support of engineering R&D. Of the $3.2 billion listed from other agencies, the largest named sources were the Department of Education with $602 million, the Department of Commerce with $460 million, and the Department of Transportation with $330 million.[6]

TABLE 2. Federally funded higher education R&D expenditures, by federal agency and R&D field: FY 2010
(Millions of current dollars)
Field All agencies DOD DOE HHS NASA NSF USDA Othera
All R&D fields 37,488 4,486 1,552 21,094 1,476 4,734 954 3,192
Computer sciences 1,175 429 44 84 19 479 3 118
Environmental sciences 2,014 230 134 87 309 710 70 475
Life sciences 21,686 664 197 18,586 80 695 767 698
Agricultural sciences 956 20 53 85 7 95 526 169
Biological sciences 7,564 238 100 6,277 37 513 189 211
Medical sciences 12,066 371 30 11,324 35 54 32 218
Life sciences, nec 1,100 35 14 899 1 32 20 99
Mathematical sciences 419 76 15 42 6 237 4 39
Physical sciences 3,380 524 532 592 559 1,040 7 126
Psychology 760 53 1 549 14 75 4 65
Social sciences 897 91 9 298 10 139 39 311
Sciences, nec 439 109 32 91 8 128 3 67
Engineering 5,732 2,236 575 581 462 1,058 46 776
Non-science and engineering 984 74 13 185 11 173 12 516

DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NSF = National Science Foundation; nec = not elsewhere classified; USDA = U.S. Department of Agriculture.

a Includes all other agencies reported.

NOTE: Not all subfields reported in this table.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY 2010.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

R&D Spending by Nonfederal Sources

Universities themselves have long been the second largest source of their R&D funding, spending $11.9 billion in FY 2010 and representing half of the total funded by nonfederal sources (table 3). The FY 2010 survey requested a new breakout of this internally funded R&D into three categories: direct internal funding for research, cost sharing on federal and nonfederal grants, and unrecovered indirect costs.[7] Of the $11.9 billion, 52% ($6.1 billion) was in the form of direct funding for faculty or student research projects, 9% ($1.1 billion) was devoted to cost sharing, and almost 40% ($4.7 billion) represented unrecovered indirect costs (figure 1).

TABLE 3. Nonfederally funded higher education R&D expenditures, by sources of funds and R&D field: FY 2010
(Millions of current dollars)
Field All nonfederal State and local government Business Nonprofit organizations Institution funds All other sources
All R&D fields 23,747 3,854 3,209 3,764 11,897 1,023
Computer sciences 483 71 79 43 266 23
Environmental sciences 976 172 128 108 510 58
Life sciences 13,216 2,148 1,817 2,487 6,126 638
Agricultural sciences 2,028 856 136 118 859 59
Biological sciences 3,383 499 326 664 1,756 138
Medical sciences 7,098 712 1,282 1,585 3,106 412
Life sciences, nec 707 80 72 120 406 29
Mathematical sciences 180 32 11 17 115 5
Physical sciences 1,244 121 124 165 785 49
Psychology 317 51 17 50 191 8
Social sciences 1,096 200 67 226 564 38
Sciences, nec 711 122 64 72 437 16
Engineering 3,612 689 821 313 1,648 140
Non-science and engineering 1,912 248 80 283 1,255 47

nec = not elsewhere classified.

NOTE: Not all subfields reported in this table.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY 2010

  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

FIGURE 1. Institutionally funded higher education R&D expenditures, by type: FY 2010.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

Two other key changes to the FY 2010 survey were the addition of nonprofit organizations as a specific funding source and the request for a field breakdown for each of the nonfederal funding sources. Universities reported $3.8 billion in nonprofit-funded R&D expenditures in FY 2010, the majority devoted to medical and biological sciences. State and local governments supplied $3.9 billion of the total, with the majority of support going toward agricultural sciences, medical sciences, and engineering. Business, or for-profit organizations, funded $3.2 billion of the academic R&D total, and also focused its funding on medical sciences and engineering projects. Finally, institution's own funding was primarily in support of biological and medical sciences. However, institutions also provided the largest funding source for the non-S&E fields of R&D (43% of the $2.9 billion total spent on non-S&E R&D).

R&D by Character of Work

For the first time, the HERD survey asked institutions to categorize their expenditures by basic research, applied research, or development. The question provided definitions and examples to aid institutions in this classification. This represented a major change in reporting; previously the survey requested only the percentage of the total devoted to basic research.

Of the $61.2 billion spent on academic R&D in FY 2010, 67% was categorized as basic research, 25% as applied research, and 9% as development (table 4). The percentage classified as basic is a substantial decrease from the 74%–76% reported for each year of the past decade. Many factors may be responsible for this decrease, including the addition of non-S&E R&D to the total and the explicit inclusion of clinical trials and research training grants as R&D. However, based on explanations provided by many institutions, the most important factor was the change to the survey question. Because the question requested actual expenditures for the three different categories rather than a single percentage and provided examples of projects for each category, some institutions worked to improve the estimation they had been using.[8]

TABLE 4. Higher education R&D expenditures, by character of work, highest degree granted, and institutional control: FY 2010
(Percent)
Type of institution and control All R&D expenditures
(current $millions)
Basic
research
Applied
research
Development
All institutions 61,235 66.5 24.9 8.6
Doctorate 60,220 66.7 24.8 8.5
Nondoctorate 1,015 57.0 31.2 11.8
Public 41,180 66.5 25.0 8.5
Private 20,055 66.6 24.7 8.8

SOURCE: National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY 2010.

  Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

The proportion of basic research, applied research, and development was virtually the same for both public and private institutions; however, bachelors and masters (nondoctoral) institutions reported a lower percentage of their $1 billion total as basic research (57%) when compared with doctoral institutions (67%).

R&D Spending for Top 25 Performers

Beginning with FY 2010, each institution campus headed by its own administration (i.e., a campus level president or chancellor) was asked to report separately. Previously institutional rankings were based on a mix of reporting conventions. Some institutions were ranked on the basis of multi-campus totals. For others, their independent campus totals were ranked individually.

Of the 742 institutions surveyed, the top 25 in terms of R&D expenditures in all fields accounted for 35% of total academic R&D spending (table 5). Despite the changes to the survey, there was remarkable consistency in the institutions comprising the top 25 in 2009 and 2010.

TABLE 5. Twenty-five institutions reporting the largest FY 2010 R&D expenditures in all fields, by source of funds: FY 2010
(Millions of current dollars)
Rank Institution All R&D
expenditures
Federal
government
State and local government Business Nonprofit
organizations
Institution
funds
All other
sources
All institutions 61,235 37,488 3,854 3,209 3,764 11,897 1,023
Leading 25 institutions 21,519 13,683 1,043 1,423 1,555 3,324 488
1 Johns Hopkins U., Thea 2,004 1,737 10 68 91 77 21
2 U. MI-Ann Arbor 1,184 748 3 39 48 339 8
3 U. WI Madison 1,029 545 97 12 131 208 36
4 U. WA Seattle 1,023 830 23 92 NA 44 34
5 Duke U. 983 514 27 234 90 113 4
6 U. CA, San Diego 943 580 35 68 102 111 47
7 U. CA, Los Angeles 937 539 26 54 91 156 70
8 U. CA, San Francisco 936 515 28 51 129 137 76
9 Stanford U. 840 593 23 61 81 79 2
10 U. PA 836 642 34 39 60 60 0
11 U. Pittsburgh main campus 822 595 12 10 22 184 0
12 Columbia U. in the City of New York 807 572 12 36 67 95 25
13 U. MN Twin Cities 786 426 65 28 70 177 20
14 PA State U. University Park and Hershey Medical Ctr 770 465 63 64 38 139 1
15 U. NC Chapel Hill 755 546 10 26 57 117 0
16 OH State U. 755 400 106 120 29 83 16
17 Cornell U. 750 448 67 23 71 139 2
18 Washington U. St 696 469 19 37 46 90 35
19 U. CA, Berkeley 694 313 68 86 87 121 20
20 TX A&M U. 690 288 139 47 18 191 6
21 U. FL 682 280 99 23 20 252 8
22 U. CA, Davis 680 332 60 37 87 160 3
23 MA Institute of Technology 677 458 0 103 69 12 35
24 Yale U. 624 476 7 19 39 69 14
25 GA Institute of Technology 616 372 10 46 12 171 5

NA = not available.

a The Johns Hopkins University includes the Applied Physics Laboratory, with $1,080 million in total R&D expenditures in FY 2010.

NOTES: Because of rounding, detail may not add to total. Institutions ranked are geographically separate campuses headed by a campus-level president or chancellor.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation/National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY 2010.

  Table 5 Source Data: Excel file

The University of Colorado dropped from the top 25 in FY 2010 due to the survey's reporting unit changes. The University of Colorado's R&D expenditures are now divided between its campuses at Boulder (ranked 62), Denver (ranked 48), and Colorado Springs (ranked 323). The other institution no longer in the top 25 was the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which moved to number 27 for FY 2010. Yale University and Georgia Institute of Technology were new additions to the top 25 in 2010, ranked 24 and 25, respectively.

Cost Categories of R&D Expenditures

The FY 2010 survey asked institutions to report for the first time the portions of their total R&D expenditures devoted to salaries, wages and fringe benefits versus other types of costs. Institutions reported 42% of the R&D expenditures, or $25.9 billion, were for salaries, wages, and fringe benefits (figure 2). Twenty-five percent ($15.1 billion) represented the indirect costs associated with sponsored projects (both recovered and unrecovered). Almost $5 billion (8%) was reported as passed through to other recipients for collaborative R&D projects.

FIGURE 2. Higher education R&D expenditures, by type of cost: FY 2010.

  Figure 2 Source Data: Excel file

Data Sources, Limitations, and Availability

The higher education R&D expenditures data presented in this InfoBrief were obtained from 742 universities and colleges that grant bachelors or higher degrees and expended at least $150,000 in R&D in the survey period. The amounts reported include all funds expended for activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes and sponsored by an outside organization or separately budgeted using institution funds. R&D expenditures at university-administered federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) are collected in a separate survey. Data from the FFRDC R&D Survey are available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/.

The full set of detailed tables from this survey will be available in the report Higher Education Research and Development: Fiscal Year 2010 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/rdexpenditures/. Individual detailed tables from the 2010 survey may be available in advance of publication of the full report. For further information, please contact the author.

Notes

[1]  Ronda Britt, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (rbritt@nsf.gov; 703-292-7765).

[2]  The fiscal year referred to throughout this report is the academic fiscal year; for most institutions FY 2010 represents the period 1 July 2009 through 30 June 2010.

[3]  Two changes to the survey's definition of R&D also contributed to the R&D increase, to a lesser extent: the explicit inclusion of clinical trials and research training grants. The true effect these changes had on the total is unknown because the survey did not request totals for either of these categories prior to FY 2010, but it is estimated to be fairly small given the size of the overall increase.

[4]  A listing of each of the changes is provided in the FY 2010 Higher Education R&D Survey questionnaire, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/question.cfm#23.

[5]  Some of this increase can be attributed to the change in survey methodology for FY 2010. Imputed R&D is now distributed among both S&E and non-S&E fields for those institutions who did not complete the survey in FY 2010, and the imputed total for non-S&E R&D expenditures was $99 million. In previous years only S&E R&D was imputed.

[6]  A complete listing of other agency sources will be provided in the forthcoming detailed statistical tables report; see "Data Sources, Limitations, and Availability."

[7]  Unrecovered indirect costs are the portion of indirect costs incurred as a result of conducting sponsored research that are not reimbursed by the project sponsor. Direct cost sharing refers to the portion of direct project costs paid for by the institution on an externally funded project. This amount is negotiated and agreed upon with the sponsor at the time of the project award. The data provided for these categories are kept confidential at the institutional level and only reported in aggregate form.

[8]  Many institutions also opted not to complete this question on the FY 2010 survey because of the additional detail requested. The breakdown was imputed for these institutions based on the proportions reported by their peer institutions.


National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
With Help from ARRA, Universities Report $61 Billion in FY 2010 Total R&D; New Details from Redesigned Survey
Arlington, VA (NSF 12-313) [March 2012]


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