Higher Education Research and Development Estimates (HERD)

Detailed information for 2014





Record number:


Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Estimates are funding based investments in sponsored research and development (R&D) expenditures in the higher education sector in Canada.

HERD also makes up the portion of the higher education sector estimates for gross domestic expenditures on research and development (GERD).

Data release - July 29, 2016


Quality estimates of R&D activities in the higher education sector are of increasing importance to policy developers, to the major funders of these activities, and also to the performing institutions. The program provides useful coherent indicators of Science and Technology (S&T) activity in Canada.

HERD estimates are produced by type of funder and by type of science for Canada and the provinces. Funders of HERD include the Federal Government; the provincial governments and provincial research organizations; the business sector; the private non-profit sector; foreign sources; and of course the universities and affiliated institutions (such as teaching hospitals).

Statistical activity

Research and experimental development (R&D) includes systematic creative work to increase the body of knowledge, including knowledge of people, cultures and societies, and the use of this body of knowledge to create new applications.

Science and technology (S&T) and the information society are changing the way we live, learn and work. The concepts are closely intertwined: science generates new understanding of the way the world works, technology applies it to develop innovative products and services and the information society is one of the results of the innovations.

People are looking to Statistics Canada to measure and explain the social and economic impacts of these changes.

The purpose of this program is to develop useful indicators of S&T activity in Canada and to present them coherently.

Reference period: fiscal year

Collection period: April to June


  • Government
  • Research and development
  • Science and technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Higher Education sector is composed of all universities, colleges of technology and other institutes of post-secondary education investing in research and development activities, whatever their source of finance or legal status.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


This survey is a census.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2016-04-01 to 2016-06-30

Data are extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

Data are collected by extracting information from other Statistics Canada surveys and other external sources such as the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO).

HERD uses two main sources of data found in the public domain that have been previously released: the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) and the University and College Academic Staff System (UCASS). CAUBO finances sponsored research and operating expenditures of all relevant universities. UCASS is the source academic professor counts at the postsecondary level by subject taught. The extracted data are used to derive and produce aggregated HERD estimates by funder and science type, in the higher education sector.

Error detection

Data are checked against previous years. The data are edited to ensure internal and historical logic and consistency and analyzed for trends and validity.


Missing data is historically imputed from the previous year.


At the post-secondary institution level, the derived data are allocated to each type of science, natural and social, for each funding sector and then aggregated to the provincial and Canada level estimates.

Quality evaluation

Data are analyzed and edited to ensure internal coherence and consistency for quality assurance. Activities are not based on standard accounts or classifications and inputs, but on financial data. Therefore, respondents generally estimate the data. Statistics Canada continually monitors the coverage of the population. Following the completion of the edit process, data are verified and are compared against previous years' estimates.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Data is revised for previous years.

Data accuracy

The administrative data on sponsored research is considered accurate for those institutions that have recorded it. However, there may be under-reporting due to the uniqueness of this category. For the non-sponsored modeled expenditures there are several issues, one being indirect expenditures. The assumptions concerning what constitutes indirect expenditures and also the assumption that sponsored research expenditures include 5% in indirect cost reimbursement will remain open to discussion, particularly among the established users of these data and those who have constituted the review and support partnership. The 5% estimate is particularly arbitrary because CAUBO does not have any information on the amount of indirect costs covered by reported sponsored research grants and contracts. These may be reported by postsecondary institutions as sponsored research or elsewhere under other types of expenditures. It is known that some of the indirect costs are covered by business and private not-for-profit awards and that Quebec covers 15% of indirect costs in its awards (but universities do not necessarily report these funds under sponsored research). The Quebec figure suggests that the 5% estimation overall for that province is likely low. Project staff will continue to work closely with the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO), related associations and the postsecondary institutions to improve estimates in this area.

Historical continuity of data series: HERD estimates are based on the revised estimation procedure first used for 1998/1999 estimates.

During the 2013/2014 estimation procedure, new faculty time use coefficients on research and development were developed. These new coefficients were applied to the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 estimates. As such, data from previous years are not comparable.


Date modified: