8104.0 - Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2006-07 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/10/2008   
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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). The data were collected under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


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 Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). R&D data are also used extensively by the Productivity Commission, academics and for international comparison purposes.


Data are collected from businesses in the Survey of R&D 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.


Two types of error can occur in survey estimates: sampling error and non-sampling error. R&D surveys do not have a sample component, therefore only non-sampling error is relevant to this release. The ABS makes every effort to minimise non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the collection instrument, use of efficient operating procedures and systems, and use of appropriate methodologies.

For the Business sector, reliability and comparability of R&D statistics may be affected by the following specific non-sampling errors:

  • Many businesses provided estimates due to a lack of separately recorded data on R&D activity.
  • Some businesses may not have reported data as per the definition of R&D used in the survey. This is potentially a result of slight differences in the survey definition of R&D and those used in: industry R&D schemes for the allocation of grants; and the AusIndustry administered R&D Tax Concession scheme for tax deductibility for specific R&D activities.
  • Data were self-classified by businesses to Research fields, Socio-economic objectives and Type of activity at the time of reporting. Some businesses 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 of R&D related overheads varied across businesses and reference periods.

    Revisions to previous cycle data occur on discovery of:
  • errors in previously reported data, typically a result of the specific non-sampling errors outlined above; 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 only applied, up to two cycles prior to the current cycle, 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 or more; or
  • Published level data is of proportional significance.
    This release includes revised data for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 reference periods. This must be taken into consideration when interpreting results, particularly when comparing estimates over time.

    While every effort is made to ensure that all businesses with significant expenditure on R&D are included in the survey (refer to the Scope and Coverage section of the Explanatory Notes), complete coverage cannot be guaranteed.

    In 2006-07, the Survey of R&D for the Business sector achieved a 94% response rate.


    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 data aligning with expectations due to government policy R&D funding increases.

    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.

    Comparability of R&D estimates for the Business sector over time may have been affected by changes in imputation methods, concepts, data item definitions and classifications. For example, ABS R&D collections use classifications specific to R&D, the Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC), which are periodically updated. With updates to ASRC in 1998, previous estimates (for classification level data) were not revised and, therefore, the introduction of updated classifications represents a break in the relevant time series.

    This release is the first to present R&D industry estimates for Australian businesses in accordance with the 2006 edition of Australian and New Zealand Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). Industry outputs for previous releases were based on the 1993 edition of the classification. To facilitate comparison of R&D estimates over time, the ABS has compiled industry estimates on both bases for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 reference periods. Users should consider the differences between the 1993 and 2006 editions of the ANZSIC if making comparisons to estimates for earlier cycles. [For more information about the new classification and comparability/concordance between editions, please refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).]


    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 also uses classifications specific to R&D (ASRC). These have recently been updated from ASRC 1998 to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) 2008. Results presented in this release are based on ASRC 1998.

    Statistics shown are classified by: Socio-economic objective; Research fields, courses and disciplines; and Type of activity. Data providers self-classify R&D expenditure based on their interpretation of OECD/ABS definitions. The ABS makes every effort to ensure correct and consistent interpretation and reporting of these data and applies 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:
  • Australian Standard Research Classification (ASRC), 1998 (cat. no. 1297.0); and
  • the OECD publication Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development ('Frascati Manual' 2002).


    Concurrent with the 2006-07 release, in addition to main features (which include key findings commentary) resulting from the Survey of R&D for Australian businesses, data at more detailed levels and time series data (in spreadsheet format) are included on the ABS website free of charge.

    Links to other data releases relating to the Research and Experimental Development Survey can be found on the ABS website, via the Innovation, Science and Technology Home page under Themes/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 Kirsty Rothenbury on (08) 9360 5382.