This article analyses the perception of the Russian science and technology complex in the OECD reports for 2014 and for 2016. According to the OECD indicators of scientific and innovative development the Russian S&T complex shows a considerable improvement. However, the OECD indicators do not take into account the scale and effectiveness of S&T complexes, which leads to a high degree of abstractness of cross-country comparison. In addition, a number of indicators do not have a transparent calculation base or do not correspond to the Federal State Statistics Service data. It is also shown that in the foreign perception of national science and technology complexes great importance is attached to the public sector of science and the role of the government funding in it. The public sector of science is the main driver of innovative development, ensuring the growth of new knowledge and know-how, which then act as a trigger for the development of new technologies. It is considered to be the norm if the national public sector of science is 90% financed from public funds, although it is expected that in the future the share of non-budgetary sources will increase.The foreign concept of the public sector of science is a great methodological problem for any comparison of the Russian science and technology complex with foreign analogues, because despite the widespread use in foreign sources, the use of this term has not developed in the Russian state statistics. The article demonstrates that the translations of public research as ‘‘state research'', as well as other derivative interpretations with the word state, are incorrect. It is concluded that the statistical data on the parameters of foreign science and technology complexes should be used with great caution in reasoning and decision-making in the Russian national science and technology policy.