This report provides an overview of R&D conducted by higher education institutions (also referred to as university or academic R&D in this report) in the United States. The report focuses mostly on S&E fields, defined in this report to include astronomy, chemistry, physics, atmospheric sciences, earth sciences, ocean sciences, mathematics and statistics, computer sciences, agricultural sciences, biological sciences, psychology, social sciences, and engineering. The report is divided into four main sections: financial resources, international comparisons, infrastructure, and education and training.
The financial resources section offers an overview of academic R&D funding and performance in the United States. It discusses sources of support for academic R&D: primarily the federal government, followed by academic institutions themselves, along with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and state and local governments. This section describes R&D performance across institutions with different characteristics (e.g., public and private, medical schools, minority-serving institutions). It also provides information on funding across S&E fields and discusses the costs associated with academic R&D.
The international comparisons section uses data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to compare higher education expenditures on R&D, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP). It also looks at differences between countries or economies in how different sectors fund these expenditures.
The infrastructure section provides information on research facilities at higher education institutions, including how much space is devoted to research in different S&E fields and trends in research space over time. It also looks at trends in funding for research equipment.
The education and training section provides information on sources and mechanisms of support for graduate students and postdocs. Sources include federal, institutional, and self-support, among others. Mechanisms include assistantships, fellowships, and traineeships, among others.
Additional context for the topics covered in this report is available in other Indicators 2022 reports. See the forthcoming Indicators 2022 report “Research and Development: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons” for discussion of the overall U.S. R&D system, for more context on how academic R&D fits within that system, and for additional international comparisons of R&D. Graduate students studying S&E will be discussed in the Indicators 2022 report “Higher Education in Science and Engineering,” and the academic workforce is discussed in the Indicators 2022 report “The STEM Labor Force of Today: Scientists, Engineers, and Skilled Technical Workers.” Academic papers and journal articles, important products of academic R&D, are discussed in the report “Publications Output: U.S. Trends and International Comparisons,” and technology and other knowledge transfer activities are described in the report “Invention, Knowledge Transfer, and Innovation.”