This report identifies current trends in the performance and funding of the U.S. research and development (R&D) system. The discussion covers the main sectors responsible for U.S. R&D: the business sector, federal government, nonfederal government, higher education institutions, and other nonprofit organizations. At numerous points, the report also directly contrasts these U.S. R&D indicators with broadly comparable data from the world’s other major economies.

This report is organized into four major sections addressing the following topics: the recent trends (particularly over the last 5–10 years) in overall U.S. R&D performance; comparison of U.S. R&D performance to those of the world’s other leading economies; the U.S. business sector’s large role in the nation’s overall R&D activity; and the federal government’s roles in supporting and conducting U.S. R&D. R&D performed by higher education institutions is treated in more detail in the Indicators 2020 reports “Publications Output: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons” and “Academic Research and Development.” For definitions of key terms used in this report, see the Glossary section.