IV-35a: Expenditures for Academic Research and Development in the Humanities (Excluding Communication), Fiscal Years 2007–2017 (Adjusted for Inflation)*

* For fiscal year (FY) 2010, the National Science Foundation began estimating for nonresponse on the non–science and engineering items included in the survey by which the data underlying this indicator are collected. Additionally, the eligibility criteria for the survey changed significantly from FY 2010 to FY 2011. Some of the growth in humanities research and development funding indicated by the graph is attributable to these changes. See “About the Data” for details, and for an explanation of why the discipline of communication had to be excluded for the purposes of this analysis.
Source: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, “Higher Education Research and Development: Fiscal Year 2017 (Data Tables), ”, accessed 12/20/2018. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (HI; The expenditure amounts were adjusted for inflation by the HI using the Gross Domestic Product Implicit Price Deflators produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis (downloaded from

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been surveying the nation’s colleges and universities about their expenditures for science and engineering research and development (RD) since the early 1970s. As part of the fiscal year (FY) 2003 survey, NSF requested, for the first time, information on academic RD in fields other than the sciences and engineering, including the humanities. The expenditures considered in the NSF survey are for both “sponsored research,” which is subsidized by outside entities (e.g., federal government agencies and private foundations), and “university research,” which is separately budgeted under an internal application of institutional funds (see the NSF survey questionnaire). Because of relatively low rates of response to the survey’s new humanities-related items for FY 2003 and FY 2004, as well as changes in the definition of academic fields in subsequent years, the data reported here are for fiscal years 2007 and beyond. Prior to FY 2010, NSF did not attempt to estimate for nonresponse on the non-STEM research and development expenditure items included in the survey. The total expenditure amounts for the humanities reported here for FY 2007 through FY 2009 are thus somewhat lower than the actual amounts spent by the nation’s colleges and universities on research of this kind. Through FY 2010, the NSF RD expenditure totals for the non-STEM fields were based on the spending of only those institutions that also performed science and engineering RD. The expenditures of institutions that did not engage in science and engineering RD but that may have conducted substantial amounts of research in humanities disciplines were not included. Thus, the humanities RD expenditure estimates for FY 2007–2010 are particularly conservative. Beginning in FY 2011, NSF began including in its humanities RD totals the expenditures of institutions that had spent at least $150,000 on RD, irrespective of the fields in which such research was conducted. The number of universities identified by NSF as eligible to participate in the survey increased from 742 in FY 2010 to 912 in FY 2011. Some of the apparent growth in humanities RD from FY 2010 to FY 2011 is attributable to this change in the eligibility criteria for the survey. For more information about this significant change, see the November 2012 National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics Info Brief, NSF 13-305. The system NSF uses to classify academic disciplines does not permit the separation of the more professionally oriented aspects of the communication discipline (e.g., broadcasting) from those that the Humanities Indicators treats as part of the humanities field (e.g., rhetoric and media studies). To avoid inflated estimates of humanities RD expenditures, communication has been excluded from the humanities field for the purposes of this analysis. These data also underestimate the size of the national investment in college- and university-based humanities research because they do not capture two key forms of financial support for humanities faculty wishing to pursue research: (1) university-supported leave from teaching (e.g., sabbaticals); and (2) fellowship monies used by faculty to cover both living expenses (when leave from teaching is without pay or at partial pay) and research-related costs (e.g., source materials and travel). Additionally, some universities that responded to the academic RD survey reported only their science and engineering expenditures. For these reasons, the figures supplied here should be treated as lower-bound estimates of total investment in academic humanities research.

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