Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.
The term R&D covers three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development.
Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.
Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective.
Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed. R&D covers both formal R&D in R&D units and informal or occasional R&D in other units.
R&D must be distinguished from a wide range of activities relating to R&D with a scientific and technological basis; such activities are excluded from the definition of R&D unless they are carried out solely or primarily for R&D purposes. Pure R&D activities should have an element of novelty and the resolution of scientific and/or technological uncertainty, i.e. when the solution to a problem is not readily apparent to someone familiar with the basic stock of common knowledge and techniques for the area concerned.
Activities that should normally be excluded include: scientific and technical information services; testing and standardisation; feasibility studies; specialised health care; policy-related studies; programmatic evaluations; purely R&D financing activities; and indirect supporting activities.
View, and download in pdf format, the chapters from the Frascati Manual 2015 available on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) website.