discuss research on various sources of processing errors (U.S. Census Bureau, 1994), data entry procedures produced little error, but the editing process was replete with potential for error. That potential starts with the observation that there is no written description of the editing process, including the process in which an analyst supplies data codes. This study is now a decade old. Although many of the sources of editing error may have been corrected, the absence of a more recent study of processing error and the lack of current documentation of the editing process cause concern over the impact of this source of error.

The panel recommends that the indudtrial R&D editing system be redesigned so that the current problems of undocumented analyst judgment and other sources of potential error can be better understood and addressed (Recommendation 3.12). This redesign should be initiated as soon as possible, but it could later proceed in conjunction with the design of a web-based survey instrument and processing system.

Imputation is an integral part of the survey operation, and the rates of imputation are high. Again, Bond’s studies found several sources of potential error in an imputation process that varies with the item being imputed. There should be an ability to clearly determine whether errors arise in the editing or the imputation processes.


The recommendations concerning the industrial R&D survey are the panel’s highest priorities. There is an urgent need for the survey to be better managed. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including:

  1. Finding a contact person to whom the survey is sent for each respondent.

  2. Assigning a person at the Census Bureau or NSF to each contact person to answer questions and discuss aspects of the survey.

  3. Creating a standing committee of contact people or high-level R&D people who could discuss all issues pertaining to the survey and who could be queried about the usefulness of potential changes in the survey.

  4. Increasing NSF involvement in the administration or implementation of the survey, whereby NSF more closely oversees the work done for it by the Census Bureau.

  5. Reporting and publication of the R&D data in a more timely manner.

The panel discusses the industrial R&D survey and makes recommendations for redesign in Chapter 8.

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