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8104.0 - Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/09/2013   
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Statistics presented in this release have been compiled from data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from Australian businesses in the Survey of Research and Experimental Development (R&D), Businesses. The data were collected under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

For information about the institutional environment of the ABS, including its legislative obligations, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


This release presents statistics on R&D undertaken by Australian businesses in respect of the 2011–12 financial year.

R&D statistics produced by the ABS enable the nature and distribution of R&D activity in Australia to be monitored and analysed for policy formulation, allocation of funds and determination of research priorities. The major users of R&D data are Commonwealth and State government organisations, mainly the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). R&D data are also used extensively by the Productivity Commission and for international comparison purposes.

Since the release of the 2008–09 Australian System of National Accounts, R&D has been treated as capital formation. This resulted from the implementation of the new international standards System of National Accounts, 2008 (2008 SNA) and represents a change in treatment of R&D (as intermediate consumption) from SNA 1993.


Data are collected from businesses in the Survey of R&D, Businesses on an annual basis, with the reference year being the financial year (i.e. year ended 30 June). Statistics compiled from the data collected are released approximately 15 months after the reference period. In future, the Survey of R&D, Businesses will change from an annual collection to biennial. The next survey will be conducted for the 2013-14 financial year.


The ABS aims to produce high quality data from its research and experimental development collections, while minimising the reporting burden on businesses. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into survey and questionnaire design, collection procedures and processing.

The Survey of R&D, Businesses is a sample survey of in-scope organisations (refer to the Scope and Coverage section of the Explanatory Notes). The survey achieved a response rate of 95%.

For more information about the sampling errors, please refer to the Technical Note.

Revisions to previous cycle data occur on discovery of:

  • errors in reported data, typically a result of specific non-sampling errors; and
  • newly identified R&D performers who indicated they had significant levels of R&D in earlier years (details are collected and used to revise previously released estimates).

Revisions are applied up to two cycles prior to the current cycle, but only where the impact on:
  • R&D expenditure is equal to $5 million or more;
  • Human resources devoted to R&D is equal to 25 person years of effort (PYE) or more; or
  • Published level data is of proportional significance.

In processing 2011–12 data, revisions were applied to 2009–10 and 2010–11 estimates. Revisions must be taken into consideration when interpreting results, particularly when comparing estimates over time.


There are no other data sources with which ABS R&D data for the Business sector can be directly compared. However, some observations can be made which suggest the survey outputs give a reasonable indication of real world expectations and events. For example, trends in R&D survey data aligning with trends in values claimed, or intending to be claimed, through the R&D Tax Concession Scheme.

While the ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability over time by minimising changes to the survey, sound survey practice requires ongoing development to maintain the integrity of the data, its relevance to the changing needs of users and the efficiency of the collection.

In addition to non-sampling errors, factors which may affect the comparability of 2011–12 estimates with those of previous cycles are described below:
  • Estimates are based on a stratified random sample survey in 2011-12, rather than a reduced scope census. The change to a sampling methodology introduced weighting for units, and variability and sampling error in the survey estimates. Please refer to the Explanatory Notes, Technical Note, and Appendix - Survey Changes for further information.
  • Information for fields of research and socio-economic objective will be available at the division level (2 digit) where in the past they have been available at the group level (4 digit). Information for industry may be limited below the division level. Please see the Appendix - Survey Changes for further information.
  • Employment size classification groups are defined on data reported in the reference period, and as such businesses may be categorised to different employment size groups across different reference periods. See the Technical Note for more information.
  • Businesses can also be classified to different industry divisions across survey reference periods as a consequence of structural change. See paragraphs 23 and 24 of the Explanatory Notes for more information.
  • From the 2007–08 cycle, Type of activity, fields of research and socio-economic data have been collected and compiled based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008 (cat. no. 1297.0). Prior to this, these data were based on the Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC). The implementation of updated classifications in the 1999–2000 and 2007–08 reference periods represent breaks in the relevant time series.


R&D, as collected by the ABS, is defined in accordance with the OECD standard as 'creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications'.

The ABS Survey of R&D, Businesses also uses classifications specific to R&D: results presented in this release are based on the ANZSRC 2008.

Data providers report and self-classify R&D survey information based on their interpretation of OECD and ABS definitions and classifications. The ABS makes every effort to ensure correct and consistent interpretation and reporting of these data by applying consistent processing methodologies. See the Revisions sections of the Technical Note for further information.

Further important contextual information, to be considered when interpreting the results presented in this release, is provided in the Explanatory Notes (including the Technical Note and Glossary).

Additionally, for a more comprehensive interpretation of the definitions and classifications relating to R&D activity, refer to:


In addition to main features (which include key findings commentary) resulting from the Survey of R&D, Businesses, a PDF version of the findings and time series data (in spreadsheet format) are included on the ABS website free of charge. See the Downloads page for this issue.

Links to other data releases relating to the ABS Survey of R&D, Businesses can be found on the ABS website, via the Innovation, Science and Technology theme page under Topics @ a Glance/Industry.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product, inquiries can be made by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Amanda Baile on Perth (08) 9360 5357.

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