Research and Development (R&D) is defined as creative work undertaken on a systematic basis 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.
R&D statistics are compiled for four institutional sectors of performance: Business Enterprise (BES), Government (GOV), Higher Education (HES), and Private Non-Profit (PNP). In Malta, the PNP sector is not captured as it is considered to be negligible and the BES sector is, on the other hand, covered by Business Registers Unit within the NSO. GOV and HES are covered by the Public Finance Unit and cover data concerning Government Budget Appropriations or Outlays on R&D (GBARD).
GBARD data measures government support to R&D activities, or, in other words, how much priority Governments place on the public funding of R&D.
Data collection and compilation is carried out in line with Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1197 of 30 July 2020 and drawn up in line with the Frascati Manual.
For the Government and Higher Education sectors, an annual questionnaire is compiled and sent to all the Central Government Ministries and Departments, Extra Budgetary Units, as well as Local Councils. Questionnaires are sent by email either to the person directly responsible for R&D or to the Director Corporate Services. Provisional data is collected for year t-1 and final data is collected for year t-2.
Accuracy and reliability of data
Quality of data is ensured by surveying the whole population rather than conducting a sample. Since the number of general government units engaged in R&D activities is quite small, communicating with respondents is made easier. Therefore, in case of difficulties, the reporting entities are contacted and any issues involving the data submitted are discussed and clarified. To ensure consistency, the data is compared with previous years and any major developments are also queried with the respective entity. If no contact with data providers can be made, estimations are carried out using past data until actual data is received.
Timeliness and punctuality of data
Data for R&D for the Government and Higher Education sectors for reference year n is transmitted to Eurostat in two phases. Provisional data is provided to Eurostat after 6 months from end of the calendar year while final data is transmitted 18 months after end of calendar year.
After transmission of final R&D data to Eurostat, R&D data is published in a news release. This news release is published in July and illustrates R&D data of three reference years for the three sectors; BES, GOV, and HES.
Accessibility and clarity of data
The ‘Research and Development in Malta’ news release is published on the NSO’s website as scheduled in the Advance Release Calendar.
Every year, after the completion of R&D and GBARD data transmission to Eurostat, a quality report with the latest available information for the reference year is compiled. A separate metadata report is additionally made available on the NSO’s metadata website.
Coherence and comparability/consistency of data
In previous years, the compilation of GBARD data was done by reporting the figure of total expenditure by socio-economic objective including all expenditure; both government and foreign funds. From 2010, following the Eurostat grant on Innovation and R&D statistics addressing GBAORD data, compilation of GBAORD started to exclude foreign funding and reports only expenditure funded by the government. This arrangement has been applied backwards until 2006. Moreover, from 2007, the Public Finance Unit started including the amount of public funding towards private enterprises engaged in EUREKA projects. As from 2010, data are inclusive of public funding towards private enterprises under the National Research and Innovation (R&I) programme.
No other statistical domain collects R&D data for individual government departments and entities. Comparisons between R&D statistics and relevant statistics from other domains are relevant mainly for the business enterprise sector, for which R&D statistics are also collected through the Innovation Survey.
Data on R&D for the general government sector are provided to the National Accounts unit; hence perfect coherence with National Accounts data is expected.
R&D data for individual government departments and entities is comparable from 2007 onwards.