8104.0 - Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2017   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



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 2015-16 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.

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.


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 in the Explanatory Notes). The survey achieved a response rate of 96%.

For more information about the sampling errors, please refer to the Technical Note under the Explanatory Notes tab.


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 Incentive 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 2015-16 estimates with those of previous cycles are described below:

  • 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 under the Explanatory Notes tab for more information.
  • Businesses can also be classified to different industry divisions across survey reference periods as a consequence of structural change. Refer to the Explanatory Notes for more information.
  • From the 2007-08 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 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 and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge - including knowledge of humankind, culture and society - and to devise new applications of available knowledge".

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.

Further important contextual information, to be considered when interpreting the results presented in this release, is provided under the Explanatory Notes tab (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 the information provided under the summary tab (which include key findings commentary) resulting from the Survey of R&D, Businesses, detailed data (in spreadsheet format) are included on the ABS website free of charge. Refer to the Downloads tab for these data. 

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.