Research and Development in Industry: 2002.


This report is the second of two publications containing results from the 2002 Survey of Industrial Research and Development. The first publication, an InfoBrief (NSF 2004) announcing the availability of survey results, contains analytical information and highlights the decline in expenditures for industrial research and development (R&D) funded from companies' own resources. This report contains the full set of statistics produced from the survey including statistics on R&D funding during the calendar year 2002 and on R&D personnel in January 2003. Among the tables are several that include statistics on trends in industrial R&D since 1953, statistics on employment by R&D-performing firms since 1992, and a table classified by state that contains statistics for selected years since 1987. This report also contains (in the technical notes in appendix A) information about the industry-coding classification system, company size classifications (NSF 2001a), survey methodology, comparability of the statistics over time, survey definitions, history of the survey, and other information designed to convey to the data user what the survey statistics represent and, in some cases more importantly, what they do not represent. Survey forms, instructions, and other documents are reproduced in appendix B.

This report provides national estimates of the expenditures on R&D performed within the United States by industrial firms, whether U.S. or foreign owned. Among the statistics are estimates of total R&D, the portion of the total financed by the federal government, and the portion financed by the companies themselves or by other nonfederal sources such as state and local governments or other industrial firms under contract or subcontract. Total R&D is also separated into the types of costs, wages and fringe benefits of R&D staff, materials and supplies, depreciation, and other costs. Other statistics include R&D financed by domestic firms but performed outside the 50 U.S. states and DC, R&D performed by organizations outside the firm, R&D performed in collaboration with other organizations, and the funds spent to perform energy-related R&D. Also, this report provides information on R&D-performing firms including domestic net sales, number of employees, number of R&D-performing scientists and engineers, geographic location where the R&D was performed, and R&D funds spent per R&D-performing scientist and engineer.

The National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, authorizes and directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) "to provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal Government." The Survey of Industrial Research and Development is the vehicle with which NSF carries out the industrial portion of this mandate and NSF's Division of Science Resources Statistics has sponsored and managed a survey of industrial R&D since 1953. The 1953–56 surveys were conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the U.S. Department of Labor (NSF 1956, 1960). Since 1957, the Bureau of the Census in the U.S. Department of Commerce has conducted the survey. Data obtained in the earlier BLS surveys are not directly comparable with Census figures because of methodological and other differences. Census staff conduct the survey under Title 13 of the United States Code, which prohibits publication or release of data or statistics that may reveal information about individual companies. In some tables in this report, the symbol D is used to indicate that estimates are withheld to avoid possible disclosure of information about operations of individual companies.

The Survey of Industrial Research and Development is an annual sample survey that intends to include or represent all for-profit R&D-performing companies, either publicly or privately held. Respondents receive detailed definitions to help them determine which expenses to include or exclude from the R&D data that they provide. Nevertheless, the statistics presented in this report are subject to response and concept errors caused by differences in the way respondents interpret the definitions of R&D activities and by variations in company accounting procedures. The survey's primary focus is on U.S. industry as a performer of, rather than as a source of funds for, R&D. Thus, data on federal support of R&D activities performed by industry are collected, and the resulting statistics appear in several tables while only limited statistics on industrial funding of R&D undertaken at universities and colleges and other nonprofit organizations are collected.[1]

The result of collecting and publishing performer-reported statistics is that the federally funded R&D performance totals presented in this report differ from the totals reported by the federal agencies that provide the funds and the statistics published in NSF's Federal Funds for Research and Development report series. One reason for these differences is that performers of R&D often expend federal funds in a year other than the one in which the federal government provides authorization, obligations, or outlays. (See Comparisons to Other Statistical Series in appendix A for definitions of these terms.) During the past decade, the differences have widened between the federal R&D funding reported by performers and that reported by funding agencies. These differences are documented and analyzed in the latest editions of NSF's Science & Engineering Indicators and National Patterns of R&D Resources report series.

The content of the Survey of Industrial Research and Development has been expanded and refined over the years in response to an increasing need by policymakers for more detailed information on the nation's R&D effort. For example, questions on energy R&D were added in the early 1970s, following that decade's oil shortage crisis. And, more recently, questions that probe companies' collaborative R&D activities and funding of international performance of R&D have been added to keep up with the fast-changing environment of the conduct and organization of industrial R&D. On the other hand, collection of certain data items has been eliminated in an attempt to alleviate some of the burden on respondents. For large firms known to perform R&D, a detailed survey form (Form RD-1) is used to collect data. To limit the reporting burden on small R&D performers and on firms included in the sample for the first time, an abbreviated survey form (Form RD-1A), which collects only the most crucial data, is used.

Changes have been made to the survey throughout its history and some of the most recent are detailed in appendix A (see Comparability of Statistics). Specific changes are detailed in each of the annual reports resulting from the survey (

Industry statistics in this report were developed from data collected from individual companies.[2] Since the survey is company based rather than establishment based, all data collected for the various components of each company (plants, divisions, or subdivisions) were tabulated in the company's major industrial classification, which was based on payroll. (See Frame Creation in appendix A for more information about industry classification.) The resulting industry estimates were calculated by summing the data for companies classified within each major industry classification. National totals were then estimated by summing the industry estimates. The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) was used to determine a company's major industrial classification and the resulting statistics are published by NAICS code. For years prior to 1999, the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system was used. The development and ongoing refinement of NAICS has been a joint effort of statistical agencies in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The system replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (1980) of Canada, the Mexican Classification of Activities and Products (1994), and Standard Industrial Classification (1987) of the United States. (For a detailed comparison of NAICS to the SIC (1987) of the United States, visit NAICS was designed to provide a production-oriented system under which economic units with similar production processes are classified in the same industry. NAICS was developed with special attention to classifications for new and emerging industries, service industries, and industries that produce advanced technologies. NAICS not only facilitates comparability of information about the economies of the three North American countries but potentially increases comparability with the two-digit level of the United Nations International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) system.

The change of industry classification system affects most of the statistical tables produced from the survey. Prior to the 1999 report, tables classified by industry contained the current survey's statistics plus statistics for 10 previous years. Because of the new classification system, these tables now contain only statistics for the current year (2002) and three prior years (1999, 2000, and 2001).[3]

Another enhancement implemented for the 1999 cycle of the survey was an increase in the number of company size categories used to classify survey statistics. The original 6 categories have been expanded to 10 to emphasize the role of small companies in R&D performance and to highlight the growth in the amount of R&D performed by smaller companies compared to the amount performed by larger companies. The more detailed business size information also facilitates better international comparisons. Generally, statistics produced by foreign countries that measure their industrial R&D enterprise are reported with more detailed company size classifications at the lower end of the scale than U.S. industrial R&D statistics historically have been. The more detailed classifications of the U.S. statistics will enable direct comparisons with other countries' statistics. (For more information, visit the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) website at

NSF's objective in conducting the survey has always been to provide estimates for the entire population of firms performing R&D in the United States and to present the estimates in as many meaningful ways as possible. This is especially true for the character of work components of R&D, basic research, applied research, and development. Since the beginning of the survey, NSF has attempted to estimate each component, relying on traditionally poorly reported data. The methods NSF has used to develop these estimates are discussed in appendix A. It is important for the user of this report to know that a review has been made of the underlying data used to prepare recent estimates of basic research, applied research, and development and, as a result of the review, the ongoing effort to strengthen and maintain the quality of character of work estimates has intensified. Identification of anomalous reporting patterns has been completed and publication of character of work distributions of R&D, which had been suspended until the research was complete, has been resumed.

Availability of survey results: Detailed historical statistics for 1953–98 can be obtained from NSF's Industrial Research and Development Information System (IRIS) at, an online interface to the Survey of Industrial Research and Development Historical Database (SIRDHD) (NSF 2001b). The SIRDHD is a collection of more than 2,500 statistical tables containing all of the statistics produced and published from the 1953–98 cycles of the annual Survey of Industrial Research and Development. Statistics for 1991–2002 are available in separate reports at

Specific questions regarding the survey may be directed to

Raymond Wolfe
Research and Development Statistics Program
Division of Science Resources Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 965
Arlington, VA 22230
(703) 292-7789


[1] The survey collects data on the amount of R&D funded by companies but performed by outside entities including universities, colleges, and other nonprofit organizations. Resulting statistics are in table 16. More comprehensive data on R&D performed at universities and colleges are collected in NSF's annual academic R&D expenditure survey, the Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges. More information about this survey is available from NSF's Division of Science Resources Statistics website at

[2] In the Survey of Industrial Research and Development and in the publications presenting statistics resulting from the survey, the terms firm, company, and enterprise are used interchangeably. Industry refers to the 2-, 3-, or 4-digit North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes or group of NAICS codes used to publish statistics resulting from the survey.

[3] In Research and Development in Industry: 2000 an effort was made to provide a bridge for users who wanted to make year-to-year comparisons below the aggregate level. In several tables statistics from the 1997 and 1998 cycles of the survey, which were previously classified and published using the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system, were reclassified using the new North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes. These reclassified statistics were published using their new NAICS classifications and were shown alongside the 1999 and 2000 statistics, which were estimated using NAICS from the outset.

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