Number of R&D researchers per million people

What you should know about this indicator

The number of researchers engaged in Research &Development (R&D), expressed as per million. Researchers are professionals who conduct research and improve or develop concepts, theories, models techniques instrumentation, software of operational methods. R&D covers basic research, applied research, and experimental development.

Limitations and exceptions: Estimates of the resources allocated to R&D are affected by national characteristics such as the periodicity and coverage of national R&D surveys across institutional sectors and industries; and the use of different sampling and estimation methods. R&D typically involves a few large performers, hence R&D surveys use various techniques to maintain up-to-date registers of known performers, while attempting to identify new or occasional performers.

Statistical concept and methodology: Researchers are professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems, as well as in the management of these projects. Students studying at the master’s or doctoral level (ISCED2011 level 7 or 8) engaged in R&D are included.

The OECD's Frascati Manual defines research and experimental development as "creative work undertaken on a systemic basis in order 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 covers basic research, applied research, and experimental development.

(1) Basic research - Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.

(2) Applied research - Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge; it is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective.

(3) Experimental development - Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.

The fields of science and technology used to classify R&D according to the Revised Fields of Science and Technology Classification are:

  1. Natural sciences;
  2. Engineering and technology;
  3. Medical and health sciences;
  4. Agricultural sciences;
  5. Social sciences;
  6. Humanities and the arts.

Data are for full-time equivalent (FTE); the FTE of R&D personnel is defined as the ratio of working hours actually spent on R&D during a specific reference period (usually a calendar year) divided by the total number of hours conventionally worked in the same period by an individual or by a group.

The data are obtained through statistical surveys which are regularly conducted at national level covering R&D performing entities in the private and public sectors.

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range
per million people

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI).

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“Data Page: Number of R&D researchers per million people”. Our World in Data (2024). Data adapted from UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved from [online resource]
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Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data

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Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data. “Number of R&D researchers per million people” [dataset]. UNESCO Institute for Statistics, “World Development Indicators” [original data]. Retrieved June 23, 2024 from