R&D Survey

R&D measurement in South Africa

The South African National Survey on Research and Experimental Development is a flagship annual project for CeSTII, which it performs on behalf of the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).

Each year the R&D Survey team reports the latest available data on R&D expenditure and performance across five sectors: higher education, science councils, government, business, and not-for-profit organisations. Statistics are used in the development of science policy to set government R&D priorities and funding levels, and for monitoring and benchmarking purposes.

Conceptual framework

Frascati R&D surveys have been carried out internationally for more than 40 years. 

The Frascati Manual › definition of R&D is as follows:

Research and Experimental Development (R&D) is creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of this stock knowledge to devise new applications.

As much care as possible is taken to develop a common understanding with the respondents of what properly constitutes R&D.

The Frascati Manual is extensive and complex, and considerable effort was invested in developing a User Guide, and supporting the sector participants in completing the questionnaires as fully and accurately as possible the Frascati Manual, however, provides a set of guidelines, not prescriptions.

The R&D Survey's time series was both interrupted (no data in 1999/2000) and subject to methodological variation, since it was executed by different agencies between 1991 and 2001.

Measurement and design

The work of the R&D Survey entails the development of appropriate sector sampling methodologies (covered in the Survey Management and Results System database).

Breaking down of R&D performers into five sectors represents a deliberate choice.

In many OECD countries it is common practice to combine some of the five sectors.

It was decided to avoid confusion by surveying the sectors separately as has been previous practice in South Africa.

More information on the various sampling frames for the five sectors and survey instruments can be obtained by downloading the latest survey reports.


Survey data may be freely used, subject to the acknowledgment of its source and any interpretation or further analysis is the responsibility of the third party.

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