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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Research and Development in Industry: 2003


General Notes



This report is the second of two publications containing results from the 2003 Survey of Industrial Research and Development. The first publication, an InfoBrief (NSF 2005b) announcing the availability of survey results, contains analytical information and highlights the increase 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 2003 and on R&D personnel in January 2004. 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 1993, and a table classified by state that contains statistics for selected years since 1989. 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, including 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 conducts 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 (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/) and National Patterns of R&D Resources (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/natlpatterns/) reports 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 (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/industry/).

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, subdivisions, etc.) 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 SIC (1987) of the United States. (For a detailed comparison of NAICS to the SIC (1987) of the United States, visit http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html.) 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 statistics for the current year (2003) and four prior years (1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002).[3]

Availability of survey results:  Detailed historical statistics for 1953–98 can be obtained from NSF's Industrial Research and Development Information System (IRIS) at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/iris/, 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 http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/industry/.

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Table Notes

These notes pertain to the tables in this section and in appendix A, except as noted in footnotes and other explanatory information at the end of specific tables.

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Company Size

Companies were categorized by total number of domestic employees. The following are the size classes used in this report (see Comparability of Statistics in appendix A for information on how this array of company size classes compares to size classes used previously):

  • 5–24 employees
  • 25–49 employees
  • 50–99 employees
  • 100–249 employees
  • 250–499 employees
  • 500–999 employees
  • 1,000–4,999 employees
  • 5,000–9,999 employees
  • 10,000–24,999 employees
  • 25,000 or more employees

The survey excludes companies with fewer than five employees to limit burden on small business enterprises in compliance with the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidelines for Federal government data collection activities.

Current and Constant Dollars

Statistics in all tables are reported in current dollars. Constant dollars also are presented in the summary tables (1, 31, 32, and 33). Gross domestic product (GDP) implicit price deflators were used to convert current to constant dollars (see NSF 2002 for a detailed discussion of the application of the deflators).

Disclosure and Suppression of Statistics

Title 13 of the United States Code and a pledge of confidentiality to respondents prohibit publication or release of data or statistics that may reveal information about individual companies. Therefore, the data in some table cells have been deleted and replaced with D. This occurs when a small number of companies account for a large percentage of the estimate in a particular data cell. Although publication of certain cells may be withheld, the estimates in the cells are always included in totals. The tables most often affected by cell suppression are those that contain data on federal support for industrial R&D performance.

Geographic Statistics

The statistics in this report cover only those operations located in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (DC). Statistics on company-sponsored R&D performed outside the 50 U.S. states and DC by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. domestic companies are included in tables 17 and 18 but excluded from all other tables.

Beginning with 2001, the methodology to produce statistics by state was modified from previous years to address the recurring problem of large year-to-year variation in many state estimates. This variability was caused by many factors including the potential inefficiency of the sample at state levels, the rarity of R&D expenditures, and the large weights often associated with companies that report R&D in the survey for the first time. Under the new methodology, a portion of the amount of R&D reported by some companies not selected for the sample with certainty is allocated (or raked) among all the states in which there was industrial activity. The new methodology was also applied to statistics for 1998, 1999, and 2000. In tables 35, 36, and 37, statistics for 1998–2003 are flagged with an E if more than 50 percent of the estimate was imputed because of raking. Note that there was no change to the methodology for estimating the number of R&D performers in each state. This estimate continued to be calculated by summing the weights of the companies that actually reported R&D activity in a given state. For a more detailed explanation of the new methodology and the definition of a "certainty" company, see the technical notes.

Historical Statistics

Prior to the 1999 report, many tables classified by industry contained the current year's statistics plus statistics for 10 previous years. Because of the conversion to the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) (see below), post-1999 versions of the tables contain only statistics for the current year and prior years back through 1999. Selected historical tables not classified by industry still contain estimates for years prior to 1999.

Industry Classification

One North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code was assigned to each company. Multi-establishment companies were assigned single codes based on the most dominant aggregated activity for that firm in terms of total payroll. Statistics for the following industries and industry groupings are published in this report (NAICS codes are given on the right) (see Comparability of Statistics in appendix A for information on NAICS and how it compares with the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system used in reports prior to the 1999 edition. The 1997 version of NAICS was used for the 1999–2003 surveys):

Manufacturing industries 31, 32, 33
Food 311
Beverage and tobacco products 312
Textiles, apparel, and leather 313, 314, 315, 316
Wood products 321
Paper, printing and support activities 322, 323
Petroleum and coal products 324
Chemicals 325
Basic chemicals 3251
Resin, synthetic rubber, fibers, and filament 3252
Pharmaceuticals and medicines 3254
Other chemicals 325 (minus 3251, 3252, 3254)
Plastics and rubber products 326
Nonmetallic mineral products 327
Primary metals 331
Fabricated metal products 332
Machinery 333
Computer and electronic products 334
Computers and peripheral equipment 3341
Communications equipment 3342
Semiconductor and other electronic components 3344
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments 3345
Other computer and electronic products 334 (minus 3341, 3342, 3344, 3345)
Electrical equipment, appliances, and components 335
Transportation equipment 336
Motor vehicles, trailers, and parts 3361, 3362, 3363
Aerospace products and parts 3364
Other transportation equipment 336 (minus 3361, 3362, 3363, 3364)
Furniture and related products 337
Miscellaneous manufacturing 339
Medical equipment and supplies 3391
Other miscellaneous manufacturing 339 (minus 3391)
Other manufacturing 31, 32, 33 (minus 311–316, 321–327, 331–337, 339)
Nonmanufacturing industries 21, 22, 23, 42, 44, 45, 48, 49, 51–56, 61, 62, 71, 72, 81
Mining, extraction, and support activities 21
Utilities 22
Construction 23
Trade 42, 44, 45
Transportation and warehousing 48, 49
Information 51
Publishing 511
Newspaper, periodical, book, and database 5111
Software 5112
Broadcasting and telecommunications 513
Radio and television broadcasting 5131
Telecommunications 5133
Other broadcasting and telecommunications 513 (minus 5131, 5133)
Other information 51 (minus 511, 513)
Finance, insurance, and real estate 52, 53
Professional, scientific, and technical services 54
Architectural, engineering, and related services 5413
Computer systems design and related services 5415
Scientific R&D services 5417
Other professional, scientific, and technical services 54 (minus 5413, 5415, 5417)
Management of companies and enterprises 55
Health care services 621, 622, 623
Other nonmanufacturing 56, 61, 624, 71, 72, 81

Since 1999, the frame from which the statistical samples were selected was divided into two partitions based on total company employment. In the manufacturing sector, companies with employment of 50 or more were included in the large-company partition. In the nonmanufacturing sector, companies with employment of 15 or more were included in the large-company partition. Companies in the respective sectors with employment below these values but with at least 5 employees were included in the small-company partition. The purpose of partitioning the sample this way was to reduce the variability in industry estimates largely attributed to the random year-to-year selection of small companies by industry and the high sampling weights that sometimes were assigned to them. Therefore, in the 1999 and 2000 reports detailed industry statistics were published only from the large-company partition; detailed industry statistics from the small-company partition were not. Statistics from the small-company partition were included in the manufacturing, nonmanufacturing, and all industries totals but were aggregated into "small-manufacturing" and "small-nonmanufacturing" classifications instead of being included in their respective industry classifications. Beginning with the 2001 report, this practice was evaluated and discontinued because it was determined that the data for small companies are more useful if they are included in their respective industries even given the sampling concerns described above.

Large Year-to-Year Changes

Large year-to-year changes may occur because of the way industry classifications are assigned during statistical processing. A company's industry classification is a function of its primary activity based on payroll, which is not necessarily the primary source of its R&D activity. If the majority of a company's payroll shifts to an activity other than an R&D-related activity, for example trade, all of its R&D similarly shifts to the new activity. Further, the design of the statistical sample sometimes contributes to large year-to-year changes in industry estimates. Since relatively few companies perform R&D and there is no national register of industrial R&D performers, a large statistical "net" must be cast to capture new R&D performers. When these companies are sampled for the first time, they are often given weights much higher than they would be given if their size and the amount of R&D they perform were known at the time of sampling. After the size of the company and the amount of R&D performed are discovered via the first survey, the weight assigned for subsequent surveys is adjusted.

Nonresponse and Imputation

For various reasons, some firms did not choose to return the survey form or returned it with one or more blank items. (See Survey Nonresponse in appendix A for more information on the reasons for unit and item nonresponse.) Missing data for major data items were estimated using mathematical algorithms developed from industry comparisons, data from previous cycles of the survey, and other information. Therefore, the statistics in some table cells may be accompanied by the notation S, which indicates that the imputation rate—the percentage of the statistic not reported by respondents and consequently estimated—exceeds 50 percent for that item. In such cases, the estimate may be statistically unreliable. (See table A-5 for imputation rates for specific items.)


Percentages were calculated on the basis of thousands of dollars and may differ slightly from those calculated using the rounded figures shown.

Reporting Unit

The basic reporting unit was the company, firm, or enterprise that included all establishments under common ownership or control. All R&D expenditures and all information about scientists and engineers of each company were classified into a single NAICS code and size category.


Because of rounding, detail items may not add to totals. Most money amounts are expressed in millions of dollars and are rounded down if less than $500,000 or up if $500,000 or more. Frequency estimates (e.g., number of companies) are accumulated from decimal weights assigned to company records (see Weighting and Maximum Weights in appendix A for information on how company records are weighted) and are rounded down if less than 0.5 and rounded up if 0.5 or greater. Most employment counts (e.g., number of scientists and engineers) are expressed in thousands and are rounded down if less than 500 or up if 500 or greater.


When numerical values are accumulated from the statistical file to estimate money amounts and the accumulated sum equals zero, the cell contains 0. When the sum rounds to zero, the cell is filled with *. When numerical values are accumulated from the statistical file to estimate numbers of companies (frequencies) and the accumulated sum equals zero, the cell contains 0.


[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 tables 15 and 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 http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/rdexpenditures/.

[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.

Research and Development in Industry: 2003
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 07-314 | February 2007


Appendix table A-5 was replaced with a corrected version.