South African National Survey of Research and Experimental Development

The Department of Science and Technology commissions the HSRC to conduct the annual Survey of National Research and Experimental Development inputs, according to the guidelines laid down in the Frascati Manual.

The R&D Survey is undertaken annually to collect data that are used to produce statistics of R&D activities in South Africa. The statistics are used in the development of science policy to set government R&D priorities and funding levels, and for monitoring and benchmarking purposes.

The R&D Report has been approved by StatsSA and the DG for public release.

This site and the attached, downloadable documents, cover the methodology employed and the results for the five sectors covered in the Surveys. The 2001/02 Survey constituted the first official survey since that of 1997/98. Following the Frascati Manual, the Survey covered business enterprises, government, higher education institutions, not-for-profit institutions and science councils.

Highlights from latest R&D Survey

The 2012/13 R&D survey records that SA's gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) amounted to R23.871 billion at current Rand value in 2012/13. This represented a nominal increase of 7.5% from the R22.209 billion recorded in 2011/12. This is the second consecutive year that GERD has increased.

At constant 2005 Rand value, GERD amounted to R14.878 billion in 2012/13, representing a real increase of 2.6% from 2011/12. The long-term trend shows that South Africa has almost treble its R&D expenditure in real terms since the 1990s.

GERD as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.76% in 2012/13. This ratio remained constant between 2010/11 and 2012/13. The trend shows that GERD as a percentage of GDP increased from 0.60% in 1997/98, peaked at 0.95% in 2006/07, and declined until it reached 0.76%, where it has remained for three consecutive years from 2010/11 to 2012/13.

Survey reports


R&D Survey Statistical Report 2012/2013 (released November 2014)

R&D Survey Executive Summary 2012/2013 (released January 2015)

R&D Survey Full Report 2012/2013 (released January 2015)


R&D Survey Report 2011/2012 (full report, released March 2014)

R&D Survey Statistical Report 2011/2012 (released March 2014)


R&D Survey Report 2010/2011 (full report, released August 2013)

R&D Survey Statistical Report 2010/2011 (released August 2013)


High Level Key Results Booklet 2009/2010 (released March 2013)

R&D Survey Report 2009/2010 (full report, released April 2013)

Older surveys

Previous survey results

Conceptual Framework

Frascati Surveys have been carried out internationally for more than 40 years, but common understanding to what properly constitutes R&D remains somewhat problematic.

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.

It is noted that the survey 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.

This Survey confronted the dual role of conducting the Survey in parallel with capacity building.

Measurement and Design

The work of the Surveys entails the development of appropriate sector sampling methodologies (covered in the  Survey Management and Results System database). The sampling methodology and measurement design were reviewed and approved by the DST Reference Committee.

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 2001/02 Report .

Survey Results

The results of all previous surveys are available for download in PDF format. This includes the high level results booklets and full survey reports for the 2001/02 Survey, the 2003/04 Survey, the 2004/05 Survey and the latest 2005/06 Survey. Visit the Previous Survey Reports page.


The frequently asked questions address anything from What is the purpose of the Research & Development Survey? to sector-specific definitions on what constitutes Research and Development.   View the full list of FAQs here.

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