This report analyzes research and experimental development (R&D) trends in the United States and internationally. R&D refers to creative and systematic work aimed at increasing the stock of knowledge and is broken down into three categories: basic research, applied research, and experimental development (Moris and Pece 2022; OECD 2015). The Glossary section of this report summarizes key definitions.

R&D and other intangibles or intellectual property products (IPPs), such as software investment, contribute to innovation, output and productivity growth, competitiveness, and public policy goals across countries—from defense, cybersecurity, and information infrastructure to sustainable energy, environmental protection, and health (Baily, Bosworth, and Doshi 2020; CRS 2020a; NASEM 2020; Pece 2023b; OECD 2023d, 2023h). The COVID-19 pandemic impacted global science by highlighting the importance of resiliency and security in domestic and international global research networks (OECD 2022, 2023a, 2023b, 2023c, 2023d).

In the private sector, R&D is also a leading component of global value chains (GVCs) for industries at the forefront of advanced manufacturing, emerging and critical technologies, and high-technology services across the globe. International production arrangements and global R&D networks, built over the past decades (Kano, Tsang, and Yeung 2020; Papanastassiou, Pearce, and Zanfei 2020), have been challenged by pandemic-related and geopolitical factors that are impacting the organization of international R&D and economic activity and the role of critical or emerging technologies (IMF 2023; OECD 2023e).

This report is organized into four sections. The first covers U.S. R&D across the major performing and funding sectors, followed by a section on international comparisons. The last two sections focus on business R&D and federal R&D. The report also includes new information on semiconductor and other critical or emerging technologies R&D that feeds into business high-technology supply chains and public policy goals (CRS 2022a, 2022b; USG 2023).

Related Science and Engineering Indicators 2024 reports include “Academic Research and Development” and the forthcoming “The STEM Labor Force: Scientists, Engineers, and Skilled Technical Workers.” Three other related reports focus on production supply chains and other post-R&D activities: “Publications Output: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons,” “Invention, Knowledge Transfer, and Innovation,” and “Production and Trade of Knowledge- and Technology-Intensive Industries.”

The principal data sources of this report are surveys and the National Patterns of R&D Resources (henceforth, National Patterns) database (NCSES 2024) from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), National Science Foundation (NSF). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI) database (OECD 2023c) is the source for international R&D statistics. All amounts are reported in U.S. current dollars unless otherwise noted. All years are calendar years unless otherwise noted.