Applied research: Original investigation undertaken to acquire new knowledge; directed primarily, however, toward a specific, practical aim or objective (OECD 2015).

Basic research: Experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view (OECD 2015).

Business sector: (Definition applies to R&D section of report.) Consists of both private enterprises (regardless of whether they are publicly listed or traded) and government-controlled enterprises that are engaged in market production of goods or services at economically significant prices. Nonprofit entities, such as trade associations and industry-controlled research institutes, are also classified in the business sector (OECD 2015).

East-Southeast Asia: Includes China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

European Union (EU-27): Twenty-seven member nations after Brexit in 2020, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Expected stay rate: The proportion of foreign recipients of U.S. S&E doctorates who expect to stay in the United States after receiving their doctorate one year later.

Experimental development: Systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience and producing additional knowledge, which is directed to producing new products or processes or to improving existing products or processes (OECD 2015).

First-university degree: A terminal undergraduate degree program; these degrees are classified within level 6 (bachelor’s degree or equivalent) or level 7 (master’s degree or equivalent, including long first degrees) in the 2011 International Standard Classification of Education.

Foreign-born workers: Those born outside of the United States, regardless of citizenship. Foreign-born workers can be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Government sector: (Definition applies to R&D section of the report.) Consists of all federal, state, and local governments, except those that provide higher education services, and all non-market nonprofit institutions controlled by government entities that are not part of the higher education sector. This sector excludes public corporations, even when all of the equity of such corporations is owned by government entities. Public enterprises are included in the business sector (see Business sector) (OECD 2015).

Higher education sector: (Definition applies to the R&D section of the report.) Consists of all universities, colleges of technology, and other institutions providing formal tertiary education programs, whatever their source of finance or legal status, as well as all research institutes, centers, experimental stations, and clinics that have their R&D activities under the direct control of, or are administered by, tertiary education institutions (OECD 2015).

High-income countries: Countries with a gross national income per capita of $12,696 or more in 2020 (World Bank 2021a).

Index of highly cited articles: A country’s share of the top 1% most-cited S&E publications divided by the country’s share of all S&E publications. An index greater than 1.00 means that a country contributed a larger share of highly cited publications; an index less than 1.00 means a smaller share.

Information and communication technologies (ICT) industries: Industries classified under the International Standard Industrial Classification Revision Code 4 (ISIC, Rev.4) in 26 computer, electronic, and optical products; 582 software publishing; 61 telecommunications; and 62–63 information technology (IT) and other information services (OECD 2017).

Innovation: A new or improved product or process (or combination thereof) that differs significantly from the unit's previous products or processes and that has been made available to potential users (product) or brought into use by the unit (process). The unit is a generic term to describe the actor responsible for innovations. It refers to any institutional unit in any sector, including households and their individual members, according to the Oslo Manual, Revision 4 (OECD Eurostat 2018). 

International patents: Original patents issued by any international jurisdiction, adjusted to count only the first issuance of a series or family of related patents. The unit of measurement is a patent family that shares a single original invention in common. All subsequent patents in a family refer to the first patent filed, or priority patent and the indicator provides an unduplicated count of original or priority patents in any individual jurisdiction. The organization of these international patents around a single initial invention means that there may be fewer international patents than individual patents. 

Invention: Any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 2020).

Knowledge- and technology-intensive (KTI) industries: Industries classified by the OECD as high-R&D-intensive and medium-high-R&D-intensive industries based on R&D intensity (see R&D intensity).

Location quotient (LQ): Ratio of an industry’s share of a state’s gross domestic product (GDP) to the corresponding industry’s share of domestic GDP.

Middle-income and upper-middle income countries: Countries in the World Bank’s (2021a) (1) lower middle-income economies (those with a gross national income per capita between $1,046 and $4,095) and (2) upper middle-income economies (those with a gross national income per capita between $4,096 and $12,695) in 2020.

Middle-skill occupations: Occupations that require a high level of scientific and technical knowledge, although these occupations do not typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry. Middle-skill occupations are primarily in construction trades, installation, maintenance, and production.

Natural sciences: The combined group of physical and biological sciences, mathematics and statistics, computer sciences, agricultural sciences, and earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences.

Patent Cooperation Treaty applications: An international agreement that allows entities to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in each of a large number of countries by filing an "international" patent application. Such an application may be filed by anyone who is a national or a resident of a contracting state (WIPO 2021). Patent Cooperation Treaty applications include USPTO patent applications (see USPTO patent).

Patent intensity: Number of patents per population in a geographic location.

Purchasing power parity (PPP): The price of a common basket of goods and services in each participating economy, measuring what an economy’s local currency can buy in another economy (World Bank 2021b). PPPs convert different currencies to a common currency while adjusting for differences in price levels between economies, and thus they enable direct comparisons of R&D expenditures across countries.

Research and development (R&D) funding (funders): Expenditures (or those that use expenditures) to pay the costs of R&D performance. For example, the federal government provides funding to laboratories at higher education institutions to perform R&D at the laboratories. R&D funders may differ from R&D performers (see R&D performance).

Research and development (R&D) intensity: A measure of R&D expenditures relative to size, production, financial, or other characteristics for a given R&D-performing unit (e.g., country, sector, or company). Examples include R&D-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio used in R&D cross-national comparisons and R&D-to-value-added output ratio used to classify industries as knowledge and technology intensive.

Research and development (R&D) performance (performers): Intramural expenditures (or those that use intramural expenditures) to conduct R&D. For example, laboratories at higher education institutions perform R&D with funding from the federal government. R&D performers may differ from R&D funders (see R&D funding).

Research and [experimental] development (R&D): Creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge—including knowledge of humankind, culture, and society—and its use to devise new applications of available knowledge.

Science and engineering (S&E) fields: Degrees awarded in the following fields: astronomy, chemistry, physics, atmospheric sciences, earth sciences, ocean sciences, mathematics and statistics, computer sciences, agricultural sciences, biological sciences, psychology, social sciences, and engineering. At the doctoral level, the medical and health sciences are included under S&E because the degree data used to classify these sciences correspond to the doctor’s research or scholarship degree level, which are research-focused degrees.

Science and engineering (S&E) occupations: A subset of occupations that includes biological, agricultural, and environmental life scientists; computer and mathematical scientists; physical scientists; social scientists; and engineers, including postsecondary teachers in these fields. S&E managers and technicians and health-related occupations are categorized as S&E-related (see S&E-related occupations) and are not included in S&E.

Science and engineering (S&E)-related occupations: Occupations that require science and technology (S&T) expertise but are not part of the five major categories of the S&E occupations (see S&E occupations), including these four minor occupations: (1) health, (2) S&E managers, (3) S&E precollege teachers, and (4) technologists and technicians.

Science and engineering (S&E) technology fields: Degrees awarded to prepare students for occupations requiring an associate’s degree or certificate; these fields include technician programs in engineering, health sciences and other S&E fields and have more of an applied focus compared to S&E fields (see S&E fields). 

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations: A subset of the U.S. workforce comprised of S&E (see S&E occupations), S&E-related (see S&E-related occupations), and STEM middle-skill occupations (see Middle-skill occupations).

Skilled technical workforce (STW): Workers in occupations that use significant levels of S&E expertise and skills and whose educational attainment is less than a bachelor’s degree.

South Asia: Includes Cambodia, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent: A property right granted by the U.S. government to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted (USPTO 2021). USPTO applications are included in Patent Treaty Cooperation applications (see Patent Cooperation Treaty applications).

Value-added output: A measure of industry production that is the amount contributed by a country, firm, or other entity to the value of the good or service. It excludes double counting of the country, industry, firm, or other entity purchases of domestic and imported supplies and inputs from other countries, industries, firms, and other entities.

Key to Acronyms and Abbreviations

ABS: Annual Business Survey

ACS: American Community Survey

AIAN: American Indian or Alaska Native

BEA: Bureau of Economic Analysis

DHS: Department of Homeland Security

DOD: Department of Defense

DOE: Department of Energy

ED: Department of Education

EU: European Union

GDP: Gross domestic product

GSS: Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering

ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

ICT: Information and communication technology

INPADOC: International Patent Documentation

IPEDS: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

IT: Information technology

KTI: Knowledge and technology intensive

LQ: Location quotient

MEXT: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan)

MHRD: Ministry of Human Resources Development (India)

MOE: Ministry of Education (China)

MSTI: Main Science and Technology Indicators

NAEP: National Assessment of Educational Progress

NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NBS: National Bureau of Statistics (China)

NCES: National Center for Education Statistics

NCSES: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

NSCG: National Survey of College Graduates

NSF: National Science Foundation

OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

PATSTAT: Patent Statistical Database of the European Patent Office

PISA: Program for International Student Assessment

PPP: Purchasing power parity

R&D: Research and [experimental] development

S&E: Science and engineering

S&T: Science and technology

SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

STEM: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

STW: Skilled technical workforce

UIS: Institute for Statistics

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

USDA: Department of Agriculture

USPTO: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization