Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
8109.0 - Research and Experimental Development, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/06/2013   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product



Statistics presented in this release have been compiled from data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from Australian government and private non-profit organisations in the Survey of Research and Experimental Development (R&D), Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations. 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 government and private non-profit organisations 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 organisation, mainly the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (Innovation) 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 government and private non-profit organisations in the Survey of R&D, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations on a biennial basis, with the reference year being the financial year (i.e. year ended 30 June). Statistics compiled from the data collected are released approximately 12 months after the reference period.

The 2010–11 Survey of R&D, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations was deferred for a year and conducted for the 2011–12 financial year. The survey will be conducted again for 2012–13, before returning to a biennial (two-yearly) collection frequency.


The Survey of R&D, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations is a census of in-scope organisations (refer to the Scope and Coverage section of the Explanatory Notes).

As the survey is a census, the survey estimates are not subject to sampling error. However, other inaccuracies, collectively referred to as non-sampling errors, may affect the data. These errors can result from of a number of factors, including:

  • inadequacies in the collection instrument;
  • treatment of non-response;
  • inaccurate reporting of data by data providers;
  • errors in the application of survey procedures;
  • incorrect recording of answers; and
  • errors in data capture and processing.

Every effort is made to minimise non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the collection instrument, the use of efficient operating procedures and systems, and the use of appropriate methodologies.

For the Government and Private non-profit sectors, reliability and comparability of R&D statistics may be affected by the following specific non-sampling errors:
  • Many organisations provided estimates due to a lack of separately recorded data on R&D activity. This was most prevalent for government organisations without a specific research focus.
  • Data were self-classified by institutions to Type of activity, Fields of Research and Socio-economic Objective at the time of reporting. Some organisations may have experienced difficulty in classifying their R&D projects. The ABS makes every effort to ensure correct and consistent interpretation and reporting of these data by applying consistent processing methodologies.
  • The estimation method for R&D related overhead costs varied across organisations and reference periods.

In processing 2011–12 data, no revisions were applied to 2008–09 estimates due to the three year gap between the collection cycles. Revisions must be taken into consideration when interpreting results, particularly when comparing estimates over time.

While every effort is made to ensure that all in-scope organisations are included in the survey, complete coverage cannot be guaranteed. The 2011–12 Survey of R&D, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations achieved a response rate of 98.1%.


There are no other data sources with which ABS R&D data for the Government and Private non-profit sectors 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 are expected to broadly reflect changes in budget allocations as well as government policy relating to R&D funding, particularly for research based organisations.

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 the non-sampling errors outlined in the Accuracy section, above, another factor which may affect the comparability of 2011–12 estimates with those of previous cycles is described below:
  • From the 2008–09 cycle, Type of activity, Fields of Research and Socio-economic Objective 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 2000–01 and 2008–09 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, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations 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 also the Reliability of Statistics and Revisions sections of the Technical Note.

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, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, 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, Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations 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.

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.