Definition: Full-time equivalence
Reasons for the approach:
R&D may be the primary function of some persons (e.g. workers in an R&D laboratory) or it may be a secondary function (e.g. members of a design and testing establishment). It may also be a significant part-time activity (e.g. university teachers or postgraduate students). To count only persons employed in R&D establishments would result in an underestimate of the effort devoted to R&D; to do a headcount of everyone spending some time on R&D would lead to an overestimate. The number of persons engaged in R&D should, therefore, be expressed in full-time equivalents (FTE).
Measurement in person-years:
One FTE may be thought of as one person-year. Thus, a person who normally spends 30 per cent of his or her time on R&D and the rest on other activities (such as teaching, university administration, and student counselling) should be considered as 0.3 FTE. Similarly, if a full-time R&D worker was employed at an R&D unit for only six months, this results in an FTE of 0.5. Since the normal working day (period) may differ from sector to sector and even from institution to institution, it is impossible to express FTE in person-hours.
Theoretically, the reduction to FTE should be made for all R&D personnel initially included. In practice, it may be acceptable to count all persons spending more than 90 per cent of their time on R&D (e.g. most persons in R&D laboratories) as one FTE and, correspondingly, to completely exclude all persons spending less than 10 per cent of their time on R&D.
Personnel should be measured as the person-years expended on R&D over the same period as the expenditure series.
The wording of the Frascati Manual defining the FTE of human resources devoted to R&D is also relevant to measuring the FTE of HRST in different activities:
- A PhD student also works as a secretary. He or she appears both as a student and as an employee.
- An unemployed HRST manages to find two part-time jobs in different occupations. One person comes off the unemployment register, two vacancies are filled.
In some cases, for example people with one major and one minor occupation, it may be possible to use modified head-count data by allocating individuals to their main activity. For example, in the case of the working student, the ILO specifies that the employment predominates. In other cases, calculation in FTE is the only efficient method.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), "The Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities. Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys of Research and Experimental Development. Frascati Manual 1993", OECD, Paris, 1994, § 295-299.