Research and development activity

Research and development activity (R&D) is understood as systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge and use it to devise new applications. The defining criterion is that the purpose of the activity should be the presence of an appreciable element of novelty. Research and development activity includes basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Basic research is defined as work undertaken to acquire new knowledge, without any particular application in view. Basic research includes analyses of properties, structures and relationships with a view to formulating and testing hypotheses, theories or regularities.

Applied research is work undertaken to acquire new knowledge directed primarily towards a specific practical application. Applied research includes seeding applications for the findings of basic research or determining new methods or ways of solving a particular problem.

Product and process development (experimental development) is systematic work that draws on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience with the aim of producing new materials, products, processes, methods and systems or of substantially improving existing ones.

Validity of the definition

  • Valid until (31 December 2078)

Source organisation

  • OECD