series, which could be smoothed or forecast through the application of a time-series model. Cohen acknowledged that the possible advantages of any of these alternatives cannot be assessed given the absence of a survey for 15 years.
Available and Missing Data on Nonprofit R&D Funding
In addressing the question as to whether the stability assumption that NCSES uses is likely to obtain, Alexander asserted that the nonprofit sector has changed both qualitatively and quantitatively since 1996, with those dynamics likely affecting nonprofit R&D activities. Although the scale of nonprofit R&D activity remains relatively small in comparison with other sectors, it can have a disproportionate impact in specific fields, for example, in biomedical research.
Alexander pointed out that there are nonsurvey sources of information on nonprofit R&D funds, although they provide only partial information toward estimates of total R&D activity:
• For the amounts moving to and from the nonprofit sector, the NCSES Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges and Nonprofit Institutions provides information on funds to nonprofit institutions from the federal government, the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) provides some information on R&D funds going from industry to nonprofit institutions, and the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey may provide limited information on the R&D funds that universities provide to nonprofit institutions (in the form of pass-through funding).
• For R&D funds provided by nonprofit institutions, BRDIS collects data on funding to industry (though it commingles those funds with government research funding), and HERD provides information on R&D funding from nonprofit institutions to colleges and universities.
The most significant gap, currently not covered by any surveys or censuses, is how much R&D funding goes from nonprofit institutions to other nonprofit institutions. A secondary issue is the quality of BRDIS in accounting for R&D funding between industry and nonprofit institutions.
The Nonprofit Sector in Detail
To better understand the issue, Alexander discussed the nature of nonprofit institutions. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code defines a nonprofit institution as follows: “The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, liter-