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 by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators 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 2013/14 R&D survey shows that gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) has increased in nominal terms in South Africa for the third consecutive year after the contraction in the 2009/10 and 2010/11 survey years. This is an indication that the R&D expenditure trend has stabilised. These trends reflect the general pattern of domestic economic growth and track the global trend in R&D expenditure.

While the results show an improving outlook for R&D investment in the country, the magnitude of annual real increases in GERD still appear inadequate. Increases did not keep pace with the real GDP growth over the four years 2010 to 2013, this is why R&D intensity has remained constant at 0.73%. From a policy view, R&D should expand at a faster rate than economic growth if South Africa is to significantly improve its competitiveness.

Survey reports


R&D Survey Statistical Report 2013/2014 (released March 2016)


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)

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.