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The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has launched a global consultation on a set of key definitions used in “UNESCO’s Recommendation Concerning the International Standardization of Statistics on Science and Technology”. By updating these definitions, the UIS is seeking to improve the accuracy, reliability and comparability of international data on science and technology (S&T).

The Recommendation, which was originally developed in 1978, covers three broad areas: research and experimental development (R&D), science and technology services (STS), and scientific and technological education and training (STET). While the methodologies used to measure R&D are regularly updated (see the OECD’s Frascati Manual), the concepts of STS and STET have not been reviewed since the 1980s.

In response, the UIS has been working with representatives of national statistical offices, as well as international and regional statistical partners, to update the definitions related to S&T services in light of the massive changes in this area. This area includes activities that contribute to the generation, dissemination and application of scientific and technical knowledge. For example, the routine collection of rainfall data, historical inventories of flora and fauna, and astronomical, meteorological and seismological monitoring are fundamental inputs into R&D. However, the definitions and standards used to ensure their comparability are outdated.

For the past three years, the UIS has developed several proposals in close consultation with experts working at national, regional and global levels. The results are presented in a draft paper, which explains the relationship between STS and R&D while updating the related terminology and definitions.

The draft paper is the subject of a global consultation, which is being organized by the UIS to gain the perspective of national and regional experts who produce and use S&T indicators. We encourage you to send your feedback to uis.stsurvey@unesco.org by 31 December 2017.