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Research and development (also R and D or, more often, R&D) is

creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of (hu)man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications [sic]."[1]
planned, creative work aimed at discovering new knowledge or developing new or significantly improved goods and services. This includes a) activities aimed at acquiring new knowledge or understanding without specific immediate commercial applications or uses (basic research); b) activities aimed at solving a specific problem or meeting a specific commercial objective (applied research); and c) systematic use of research and practical experience to produce new or significantly improved goods, services, or processes (development).

The term research and development does NOT include expenditures for:

  • Costs for routine product testing, quality control, and technical services unless they are an integral part of an R&D project
  • Market research
  • Efficiency surveys or management studies
  • Literary, artistic, or historical projects, such as films, music, or books and other publications
  • Prospecting or exploration for natural resources.[2]


  1. OECD, OECD Factbook 2008: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. See also Office of Management and Budget Circular No. A–11, at Section 84, page 11.
  2. U.S. Department of Commerce, "2010 Business R&D and Innovation Survey" (Dec. 2011) (full-text).

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