Research and Development in Canadian Industry (RDCI)

Detailed information for 2011





Record number:


This survey collects data to monitor science and technology related activities in Canada and to support the development of science and technology policy.

Data release - 2011 Intentions (2009 questionnaire), December 9, 2011; Preliminary figures (2010 questionnaire), October 3, 2012. Actual data (2011 questionnaire), October 17, 2013


This survey highlights expenditures and personnel devoted annually to scientific research and development (R&D) by Canadian industry and non-profit industrial research institutes and associations. It collects data essential to assure the availability of pertinent statistical information to monitor science and technology related activities in Canada and to support the development of science and technology policy.

The results, published in the publication "Industrial research and development: intentions" (catalogue 88-202) are also used as a key component in the Gross Expenditures of Research & Development (GERD) in Canada series.

Industrial R&D data are combined with data from other R&D performing sectors: Federal Science Expenditures and Personnel, Activities in the Social Sciences and Natural Sciences (record no. 4212), higher education and Research and Development of Canadian Private Non-profit Organizations (record no. 4204).

These data serve many users from: federal & provincial government science analysts who develop and monitor programs aimed at stimulating science and technology in Canadian industry to international organizations such as the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). University researchers, research councils, business enterprises, research institutes and associations, science journal writers, the general public and the media are all users of R&D data.

Statistical activity

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


  • Research and development
  • Science and technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The universe for the RDCI consists of all firms known or believed to be involved in the performance or funding of R&D. The frame for this survey has a long history spanning back to the conception of the survey more than 50 years ago. Firms are identified through many sources but most frequently firms are added from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) T661 files.

The survey population comprised:
- all firms that had reported R&D expenditures in the three previous reference year's surveys;
- firms with an approved claim for a federal R&D income tax incentive for the three previous reference years;
- firms that were identified by respondents in surveys of government science and technology activities as R&D contractors or grantees for the reference year and forward;
- firms that were reported by other firms as funding or performing R&D in the prior collection cycle; and
- firms identified as funding or performing R&D in the reference year and forward through newspaper, journal articles or publicly available directories.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed and developed using the OECD guidelines as outlined in the Frascati Manual (2002). The questionnaire's evaluation and testing is an ongoing process, insofar as to how it covers inputs to R & D activity, including sources of funds and type of expenditures, R&D personnel and payments made or received for patents, licenses and technological know-how. For reference year 2009 and onward data on R&D spending by field of science or technology are available.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

A complete enumeration is carried out of known and suspected R&D performers and funders.

Prior to 1997, Statistics Canada surveyed all companies that performed or funded R&D in Canada. Those spending a million dollars or more received a detailed questionnaire (the long form) and those spending less received a simpler questionnaire (the short form). Virtually all of these companies also provided information to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in order to claim tax benefits under the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program. For the year 1996, Statistics Canada stopped surveying the small performers and funders of R&D in Canada, to reduce the reporting burden on companies and it replaced the data previously gathered by the survey by administrative data from CRA.

For reference year 2007, all companies believed to be performing or funding one and a half million dollars or more of R&D were sent a questionnaire. For reference year 2008 onward, the survey sample methodology was revised to improve the quality of forecast estimates at the industry level. The entire population of all known R&D performing enterprises and firms which fund or purchase technologies were sorted by NAICS-based industrial categories (link to BSMD report) and then divided into the following groups:

1. Special entities were included on a "must-take" list. These entities included industrial non-profit organizations, technology purchasers or vendors.

2. The largest R&D performers in each industrial category (the "take-all" list). These large firms cover about two-thirds of R&D expenditures in the given industry group.

3. Mid-size R&D performers in each industrial category were placed on the "take-some" list, which meant that these units were randomly selected within each industrial category.

4. The smallest R&D performers in each industrial category were placed on a "take-none" list and excluded from the sample so as to reduce response burden for the smallest firms. These firms continue to be included in our tabulations as their R&D data is imputed using CRA administrative data from the SR&ED program. Further details are available in the the publication «Industrial research and development...intentions» (catalogue 88-202).

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

This annual postal survey is aimed at all Canadian industries known to be performing or funding research and development. Respondents are given the option of completing the questionnaire electronically. The survey collects data for four years. For example the 2009 survey conducted in 2010, collects data on actual R&D spending in 2008 and 2009, on the preliminary figures for 2010, and on the spending intentions for 2011. Two follow-up postcards are mailed to all outstanding respondents. Telephone contact is made to all non-reporting establishments to discuss reporting options and to make special arrangements, including partial response in some instances.

The data for most of the small performers and funders is taken directly from the CRA T661 file. Firms have up to eighteen months, after their fiscal year end, to submit a claim to CRA. The processing of these records is stopped in March (15 months after the end of the calendar year), therefore figures will need to be revised in the following survey cycle. These revisions affect the two years prior to the survey year.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

During the data collection phase, manual edits are performed, comparing data from previous submissions, financial statements where available and/or T661 data on file. Follow-up is initiated at this stage if deemed necessary.

During the data processing, system edits are performed to verify accuracy and internal consistency.

Analytical tables are run and reviewed to identify any potential discrepancies which require further investigation.


Although a complete enumeration is carried out of known and suspected R&D performers and funders, records received from the administrative data do not provide as much information as do those completing the questionnaire. Certain data are imputed for records from the administrative file based on the patterns of survey respondents in the same industry. Thus, as a result of the Year X survey, the Year X business enterprise sector R&D expenditures would be based on full enumeration but about 6% of the expenditures for Year X+1 and Year X+2 would have been imputed. Missing data estimated by internal ratios or industry trend ratios, funders' or contractors' reports, previous returns.


Internal ratios or industry trend ratios, funders 'or contractors' reports, and previous returns are used to estimate missing data.

Quality evaluation

The quality of any statistical information is measured in a large part by the degree to which the final product meets the original objective of the survey. The RDCI survey intention is to monitor science and technology related activities in Canada and to support the development of science and technology policy.

In order to assure the highest quality of the data from this survey we continually monitor the coverage of our survey population, to ensure that all known enterprises in the universe are accounted for. If data are not obtained directly from the respondent many other sources are researched, including funders' reports where available, previous questionnaires or administrative data, and published data such as financial statements.

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.

To prevent disclosing data on individual respondents, many items or cells must be grouped together to provide sufficient observations for dissemination (e.g., socioeconomic objectives).

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Administrative data are used for this survey. Updates of the administrative data and filing timelines necessitate historical revisions to the data. Normally the two years prior to the current survey year are revised.

Data accuracy

One of the problems in a survey of this type is to ensure that the quality of the data is satisfactory. It cannot be expected that all firms funding R&D will be surveyed, will respond and will report correctly.

There are sources of information such as federal government grant contract lists to aid in identifying firms and editing returns.

The coverage, however, is probably not complete. This is especially true for the smaller companies in the service industries. In addition, R&D is a term subject to inconsistencies. Thus, the data, although reasonably accurate, cannot be regarded as precise.


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