1297.0 - Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2008   
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The Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) is jointly produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Statistics New Zealand (Statistics NZ).

ANZSRC is the collective name for a set of three related classifications developed for use in the measurement and analysis of research and experimental development (R&D) undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. The three constituent classifications included in the ANZSRC are: Type of Activity (TOA), Fields of Research (FOR), and Socio-economic Objective (SEO).

ANZSRC replaces the Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC 1998) and introduces a new framework for measuring research and development activity in New Zealand.

The use of the three constituent classifications in the ANZSRC ensures that R&D statistics collected are useful to governments, educational institutions, international organisations, scientific, professional or business organisations, business enterprises, community groups and private individuals in Australia and New Zealand.

The development of the ANZSRC has been undertaken by the ABS and Statistics NZ in co-operation with major academic and research organisations and users of research information in Australia and New Zealand. This consultative process has sought to ensure that the ANZSRC is widely accepted and used as the national standard classification in Australia and in New Zealand, not only in the compilation of R&D statistics but also in the study of research in these countries generally.

The introductory chapter provides a background to the development of the classification; an explanation of the conceptual basis of the ANZSRC; the definition and scope of R&D; and an outline of what constitutes a unit of R&D for data collection and reporting purposes. Subsequent chapters of this publication contain details of the structure and content of the three classifications. A summary correspondence table (concordance) between the ANZSRC and the ASRC 1998 is included in Chapter 5.


The ABS and Statistics NZ have a policy of working towards developing harmonised statistical classifications in support of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement 1983.

The benefits of developing a joint research classification include the ability to produce an up-to-date, relevant and conceptually sound classification, and the improved capacity for analysis of trans-Tasman research sector data.

For Australian users, a high level of comparability has been maintained with ASRC 1998 in an effort to minimise disruption to data collection. The development of ANZSRC has provided scope to improve and strengthen the conceptual basis and framework that existed with ASRC 1998. For example, the ANZSRC has improved the treatment of interdisciplinary R&D by rigorously applying a uniform concept across the classification.

In addition, ANZSRC preserves comparability with much of the previous data in the R&D series, while possessing a framework which enables comparisons with other classifications used nationally and internationally.

For New Zealand users, this is a new standard framework for measuring research and a joint development has been possible because Australia and New Zealand have considerable commonalities in R&D activities.

To support international comparisons, it is important for the classifications to relate to those used in other countries, particularly those countries whose stages of social and economic development are similar to that of Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, the definition, scope and classification of R&D activities contained in ANZSRC largely follow the guidelines prescribed in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development, "Frascati Manual", Sixth Revision 2002.

The development of ANZSRC commenced at the end of 2006 as a joint project between the ABS and Statistics NZ and was completed in early 2008.


The three classifications in the ANZSRC:

  • Type of Activity (TOA);
  • Fields of Research (FOR); and
  • Socio-economic Objective (SEO);

are used in official statistics to analyse the nature of R&D and in conjunction with industrial and institutional sector classifications to produce a set of official statistics that support a variety of user interests.

TOA Classification

This classification allows R&D activity to be categorised according to the type of research effort, namely, pure basic research, strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Definitions and guidelines for classifying R&D by TOA are covered in Chapter 2.

FOR Classification

This classification allows R&D activity to be categorised according to the field of research. In this respect, it is the methodology used in the R&D that is being considered.

The categories in the classification include major fields of research investigated by national research institutions and organisations, and emerging areas of study.

Explanatory notes, definitions and guidelines for classifying data and the full classification are covered in Chapter 3.

SEO Classification

This classification allows R&D to be categorised according to the purpose or outcome of the R&D as perceived by the data provider (researcher). It consists of discrete economic, social, technological or scientific domains for identifying the principal purposes of the R&D. The attributes applied to the design of the SEO classification comprise a combination of processes, products, health, education and other social and environmental aspects of particular interest.

Explanatory notes, definitions and guidelines for classifying R&D by SEO and the full classification are covered in Chapter 4.


The FOR and SEO classifications follow a hierarchical structure.

The FOR has three hierarchical levels, namely Divisions (at the broadest level), Groups and Fields (at the finest level). The Division represents a broad subject area or research discipline while groups and fields within represent increasingly detailed dissections of these categories. Divisions, Groups and Fields are assigned unique 2-digit; 4-digit; and 6-digit codes respectively. The FOR classification has 22 Divisions, 157 Groups and 1238 Fields.

The hierarchical structure of the FOR is as illustrated below:

Division02 Physical Sciences
Group0206 Quantum Physics
Field020603 Quantum Information, Computation and Communication

The SEO is a four level hierarchical classification with Sector at the broadest level. While the Sector forms part of the hierarchical structure of the SEO, it is however used only for the grouping of divisions and for publication of R&D data, not for data collection. The Sector is identified by a letter. Divisions, Groups and Objectives form the next three hierarchical levels in the SEO in decreasing order. Divisions, Groups, and Objectives are assigned unique 2-digit, 4-digit and 6-digit codes respectively. The SEO classification has 5 Sectors, 17 Divisions, 119 Groups and 847 Objectives.

The hierarchical structure of the SEO is as illustrated below:

SectorB: Economic Development
Division86 Manufacturing
Group8607 Agricultural Chemicals
Objective860702 Chemical Fertilisers


ANZSRC provides a three way matrix of classification. Each R&D activity can be classified by Type of Activity, Fields of Research and Socio-economic Objective.

ANZSRC provides a considerable degree of flexibility in meeting the needs of a wide variety of users. The hierarchical structure of both the FOR and SEO classifications enables them to be applied to particular purposes at various levels. ANZSRC also helps classify multi-disciplinary work, where several disparate areas of the FOR are usually brought together to address one area, or closely related areas of the SEO.

The complexity of issues addressed by R&D is such that questions of public policy often arise in a manner which cannot be readily seen in advance. The detail available in both the FOR and SEO classifications would be sufficient to facilitate the provision of statistics that can be used in a variety of contexts. For example, areas of key technological significance could generally be assessed using an aggregate of appropriate FOR groups or fields. The use of ANZSRC for R&D surveys minimises the need for separate one-off R&D surveys aimed at narrow areas.


Research and Development is defined according to the OECD standard as comprising 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.

An R&D activity is characterised by originality. It has investigation as a primary objective, the outcome of which is new knowledge, with or without a specific practical application, or new or improved materials, products, devices, processes or services. R&D ends when work is no longer primarily investigative.


As indicated in the Frascati Manual and as experience has shown, there are difficulties in delineating the point which clearly separates the culmination of R&D investigative work and the beginning of the implementation phase of the innovations or recommendations resulting from R&D. Errors at this point are particularly significant because, although R&D programmes require large outlays of resources, the costs of implementing innovations or recommendations resulting from R&D may also be as high, or higher, in many instances.

There is also a wide range of scientific and related activities that are not R&D, but that are closely linked to R&D in terms of organisation, resource allocation, institutional affiliation and the use or flow of information. However, activities conducted solely or primarily for the purposes of R&D support are included in R&D.

The activities which do not have clear boundaries with R&D are listed below.

(a) Education and training of personnel and students

Postgraduate research, including supervision of the research, is considered to be R&D. The development of new teaching methods is also regarded as R&D. However, teaching and training students, using established methods and subject knowledge, is excluded.

(b) Specialised scientific and technical information services

Specialised scientific and technical information services which are undertaken solely in support of R&D are regarded as R&D. Examples of these are scientific data collection, coding, recording, classification, dissemination, translation, analysis and bibliographic services.

These specialised services are excluded if they are undertaken independently and not solely in support of R&D.

(c) General purpose or routine data collection

Collecting data in support of R&D work is included in R&D.

However, data collection of a general nature is excluded. This is normally carried out by government agencies to record natural, biological, economic or social phenomena of general public or government interest. Examples are national population censuses, surveys of unemployment, topographical mapping and routine geographical or environmental surveys.

(d) Maintenance of national and international standards

Routine testing and analysis of materials, components, products, processes, soils, atmospheres, etc. for standard compliance is excluded from R&D.

(e) Feasibility studies

Feasibility studies undertaken in support of R&D are included. However, a feasibility study that involves gathering information about existing conditions, for use in deciding whether or not to implement a project, is excluded, e.g. a study to determine the viability of a petrochemical complex in a particular location.

(f) Specialised medical care

R&D includes the development of new treatments and procedures, including such developments in conjunction with advanced medical care and examinations usually carried out by university hospitals.

However, routine investigations or normal application of specialised medical knowledge, techniques or equipment are excluded from R&D. Examples of these are pathology, forensic and post-mortem procedures.

(g) Clinical trials

Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials are included in R&D. Phase 4 clinical trials are excluded from R&D, unless they bring about further scientific or technological advance.

(h) Patent and licence work

Patent work connected directly with R&D projects is included in R&D. However, commercial, administrative and legal work associated with patenting, copywriting and licensing, is excluded.

(i) Policy related studies

The boundary between certain policy related studies as described in the Frascati Manual and R&D is complex. In the Frascati Manual, policy related studies cover activities such as the 'analysis and assessment of existing programmes, continued analysis and monitoring of external phenomena (e.g. defence and security analysis), legislative inquiry concerned with general government departmental policy or operations'. Rigour is required to separate policy related studies that are not R&D from true R&D policy work.

Studies to determine the effects of a specific national policy to a particular economic or social condition or social group may have elements of R&D. Routine management studies or efficiency studies are excluded.

(j) Routine software development

Software development is an integral part of many projects which in themselves may have no element of R&D. The software development component of such projects, however, may be classified as R&D if it leads to an advance in the area of computer software.

For a software development to be considered as R&D, its completion must be dependent on a scientific or technological advance, and the aim of the project must be the systematic resolution of a scientific and/or technological uncertainty.

The following are examples of software development which are considered to be R&D:
  • Development of internet technology
  • Research into methods of designing, developing, deploying or maintaining software
  • R&D on software tools or technologies in specialised areas of computing (e.g. image processing, artificial intelligence, character recognition)
  • R&D producing new theorems and algorithms in the field of theoretical computer science

The following are examples of software development which are not considered to be R&D:
  • Routine computer and software maintenance
  • Business application software and information system development using known methods and existing software
  • Adding user functionality to application languages
  • Adaptation of or support for existing software

(k) Marketing and market studies

Market research and opinion polls are excluded from R&D.

(l) Mineral exploration

The development of new or vastly improved methods of data acquisition, processing and interpretation of data is included as R&D. Surveying undertaken as an integral part of an R&D project to observe geological phenomena is also regarded as R&D. However, the search for minerals using existing methods is excluded from R&D.

(m) Prototypes and pilot plants

The design, construction and testing of prototypes generally falls within the scope of R&D. However, trial production and copying of prototypes are excluded from R&D.

The construction and operation of pilot plants is part of R&D provided that these are used to obtain experience or new data for evaluating hypotheses.

Pilot plants are excluded from R&D as soon as the experimental phase is over or as soon as they are used as normal commercial production units, even if they continue to be described as 'pilot plants'.

If a pilot plant is used for combined operations, the component used for R&D is to be estimated.

(n) Other activities

All other activities that are ancillary or consequential to R&D are excluded. Examples of these are interpretative commentary using existing data, forecasting, operations research as contributing to decision making and the use of standard techniques in applied psychology to classify or diagnose human characteristics.


There are some inherent difficulties in formulating a definition of what constitutes a unit of R&D, due to the lack of uniformity in organisational structures and considerable variation in the way organisations allocate resources to R&D activities. From a statistical viewpoint it is desirable that R&D expenditure be reported in the smallest cluster that can be classified to a single TOA and FOR, which for the purposes of this classification is defined to be an R&D unit. The extent to which it is not practicable to provide this detail will reduce the validity and usefulness of the classification, and the resulting R&D statistics.

The most common real world references to R&D activities are Research Program and Research Project. These focal units seldom approximate the idealised R&D unit as outlined above, although they could be regarded as an aggregation of these units.

Some Research Projects, especially in the social sciences, require a multi-disciplinary approach in order to achieve a purpose. There are also Research Projects that consist of sub-projects. For example, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia has indicated that a Research Project often consists of a set of sub-projects (staff) with a common purpose and one person designated as the project leader. Such projects lend themselves more readily to the concept of being comprised of multiple R&D units, demonstrating that the accurate classification of these projects requires the use of multiple codes with a weighting to indicate the relative significance of the various types of activity, fields of research and socio-economic objectives within the Research Project.


An important consideration when developing a statistical classification is the need to build in sufficient robustness to allow for long-term usage. This robustness facilitates meaningful time series analysis of data assigned to that classification. However, there is also a need for the classification to remain contemporary to capture changes happening in the R&D sector and to provide data relevant to users' needs.

In order to achieve a balance between these two competing objectives, the ABS and Statistics NZ intend to undertake minor revisions every five years and a major revision every ten years.


Correspondences (or concordances) between ANZSRC and ASRC 1998 are provided in Chapter 5. Other correspondences between ANZSRC FOR and OECD's Fields of Science, between ANZSRC SEO and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, and between ANZSRC SEO and the Central Product Classification are to be made available to users from the ABS web site www.abs.gov.au



For more information about the ANZSRC, contact ABS, PO Box 10, Belconnen, ACT 2616 or contact ABS National Information and Referral Service:

Phone: 1300 135 070

Email: client.services@abs.gov.au

ABS web site: www.abs.gov.au

New Zealand

For more information about the ANZSRC, contact Statistics NZ, PO Box 2922, Wellington or contact Statistics NZ's Information Centre:

Phone: 0508 525 525 (toll free in New Zealand)

+64 4 931 4600 (outside of New Zealand)

Email: info@stats.govt.nz

Statistics NZ web site: www.stats.govt.nz