Research and experimental development comprises: creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications (OECD definition of research and development). Any activity classified as research and experimental development is characterised by originality; it should have investigation as a primary objective and should have the potential to produce results that are sufficiently general for humanity's stock of knowledge (theoretical and/or practical) to be recognisably increased.  Most higher education research work would qualify as research and experimental development.

Research includes pure basic research, strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Activities that support research such as:

  • provision of professional, technical, administrative or clerical support and/or assistance to staff directly engaged in research and experimental development;
  • management of staff who are either directly engaged in research and experimental development or are providing professional, technical or clerical support or assistance to those staff;
  • activities of students undertaking postgraduate research courses;
  • development of postgraduate research courses; and
  • supervision of students undertaking postgraduate research courses.

Activities that do not support research should be excluded.  Such activities may include:

  • preparation for teaching;
  • scientific and technical information services;
  • general purpose or routine data collection;
  • standardisation and routine testing;
  • feasibility studies (except into research and experimental development projects);
  • specialised routine medical care;
  • commercial, legal and administrative aspects of patenting, copyright or licensing activities; or
  • routine computer programming, systems work or software maintenance (research and experimental development into applications software, new programming languages and new operating systems would normally meet the definition of research).