Blogs Research In Extension

Blog – 39 : Extension Research: Random thoughts from a Well Wisher

For next page: Are we serious in undertaking research in Extension? Do we have a research agenda? As a discipline, are we using new concepts and approaches to better design our research? How policy relevant is our research? Do we only extend knowledge or do we also create knowledge? As extension professionals, we need to introspect on the status of our research and address many such disturbing questions, argues Dr R M Prasad.



Dr R M Prasad retired as Associate Director of Extension from the Kerala Agricultural University, India and is currently working as an independent consultant. Previously he served as Training Specialist, Kerala Horticulture Development Programme; Senior Fellow, National Institute of Rural  evelopment; and Advisor, Government of Meghalaya (Email:



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  • Prakashkumar Rathod My opinion on SAU research is based on two facts. (1) If we want to reform our discipline, the change should start at the SAU. Students (Masters and PhD) are the seeds of change for any research discipline. If they are ill-trained or not inculcated with a right perspective, the whole generation of research in any discipline is lost. The IITs, IIMs and many other quality educational Institutions proved this fact. The teacher may or may not be competent in subject matter, but he/she should be skillful in providing a right perspective to the students. (2) In the present scenario, we need to step-up our research quality to several folds, i.e. we may have to jump to cross several steps in a short period of time to improve the utility of our discipline. In this context, training of Middle or Senior academicians/ scientists on new research areas may not be effective since (i) they may have reached final stage of their careers, (ii) pre-occupied with several routine works at their work place, (iii)averse of venturing into new area (iv) dont want their MSc or PhD students to be harassed in viva-voce etc. In general, the scientists in ICAR system (either under ICAR Institutes or in KVKs) have more exposure to farmers and other stakeholders than SAU extension scientists and their research projects are directly targeted towards farmers. Few scientists in ICAR Institutes and KVKs are doing extremely good research work. However, their expertise is relatively under-utilised by the SAU research system. Unlike IITs, IIMs and many engineering and science colleges, the SAU extension research didnt allow their students to get an outside research advice or collaboration. As an ICAR scientist, I am extremely delighted to see the achievements of my seniors at our Institute. Though few of them were trained abroad in Participatory Research and developed over six varieties using PR method (which is rare for an extension scientist), their expertise is still unnoticed by SAU extension research system. Instead, general universities are exploiting their expertise by recognizing them as research guides in sociology and rural development. This is a clear case of how an extension expertise is utilised for non-extension purposes. If we wish to see a progress in our extension discipline, we have to have a broad view of our own discipline and shed our inhibitions, egos and stereotypes for a noble cause. To be honest, I dont want to see an young extension scientist harassed in the same way as I was treated by other discipline scientists, when I joined the ICAR system I dont know why we feel that adoption studies have no scope, when we havent started any meaning research work in the area of technology diffusion. This area is already hijacked by economists, who produced high quality adoption research (including impact assessment) by using econometric models. In my opinion, adoption research is the only area where we can produce tangible output, which will convince other discipline scientists about our importance in the system

  • Sethuraman Paramasivan…Sir its not the matter of only SAUs but i feel its also the case of most of the research studies..Whenever we think of a research topic, I find few people have already closed down few research areas..For example many time we hear that adoption and diffusion studies, gender empowerment studies do not have any scope..But I personally feel that we have lot many things to explore out of that still.

  • I agree with Dr S N Ojha that extension knowledge coming from the developed countries is relatively less than developing countries. As he indicated, their social system and agricultural practice is pretty uniform and farmers are more progressive who dont need much help from the public extension system. I would say that the extension as a subject was largely synthesized by mixing Cooperative Extension System concept with the Westerners experiences derived from development projects operated in Asian and African countries. The subject matter of extension was later updated and enriched by scientists in UK, Netherlands and other parts of Europe mainly from their field consultancies, developing country student theses and discussion with trainees who participated in the International training programs. However, the Indian scenario of extension research is bit different. We have produce some World class research works in the 1970s and 1980s and developed several indices which are used even today. Despite producing quality works, our research went out of the way due to our obsession with participatory methods , which are neither objective nor conducted in structured settings. On the other hand, the SAU extension research has operated in isolation from the reality as they focused more on the subject of extension rather than the real field application. I understand that many of SAU members will disagree with me, but I would say that SAU extension research is still repetitive and largely disconnected from the field. This scenario has affected the applied nature of extension thereby failed to improve the practice of extension and failed to produce the tangible outputs that are required to prove the utility of extension discipline. Despite several limitations, we could create more knowledge than developed countries. In reality, the subject of extension was created mostly from the field knowledge derived from developing countries.

  • An excellent material for those extension professionals who wish to move away from the beaten path of extension research. Dr.Prasad has shown once again his concern and passion for extension research which needs a change in our mindset. What worries me is the poor response from my colleagues in ICAR institutes and SAUs/SVUs.

  • Dr. Prasad has thrown a challenge to all well meaning scale -loving extension scientists to explore the unexplores areas ..action researches ethnographic tools,multi disciplinary study,respect to soft systems methods should attract our attention.thanks to CRISP and Suleimange

  • It is good to make such introspections. Extension Education in Asia is different than developed countries. Large population, less land per person, more poverty, more cultural diversity, less public money in Extension Education, etc have made this subject more challenging. Developed countries have been innovative in many of the fields. They have been creating knowledge for all the subjects. Application of such knowledge in the biophysical sciences is visible in the developing countries. However, in Extension Education the applications of the knowledge coming from the developed countries is relatively less. Extension Scientists in the developing countries are also engaged Extension Activities and not much in Extension Research. Extension Journals are also few and have less impact factor. Whatever knowledge is created in the field of Extension Education in the developing world is not used by the biologists who are working as Extension Officers, which further restricts the visibility of this subject. However, if Extension Scientists of the world come together, there can be a way out. Till then keep doing good work.ds.asp

  • Prakashkumar Incentive is not only a response enhancer, but the right of the respondent for their involvement in the research process. Incentive is not a right word, it can be called as compensation – compensation for the time and effort spent. Be it a poor farmer, salaried scientist or a wealthy Industrialist, everyone need an compensation for their time and effort. It is nothing new for extension professionals as it is our own subject e.g Stimulus-Response theory and many other motivation theories, which teaches us the concept of compensation. This is one of the several aspects in extension, which we teach to students and evaluate their understanding and simply forget when it comes to our own practice. There are several ways we can give compensation to the respondents. If the respondents are students, we can grant a course credit for their participation. This is an accepted and widely used practice in the Western countries. For community participants like farmers, extension worker, scientist or entrepreneur, we can provide a honorarium (Rs. 50-100) depending on the time and effort spent. Alternatively, we can give gift coupons or conduct a lottery where the winner gets Rs. 1000 as reward (which will considerably reduce the cost). Meta-analysis is a wonderful method for systematically analyzing the research data generated on a specific aspect. It is actually a status or position paper on a particular area. The difference is that it is objective and systematic, derived from empirical data, unlike the present position papers that are secondary-data based and the conclusions are derived based on authors opinion. Meta-analysis is a good research tool which can be assigned for a PhD thesis. However, I dont know how many of us have the ability to conduct a meta-analysis, as it requires deeper understanding of advanced statistical tools.

  • It is now well established that extension research need thorough overhauling, how it can be done is explained well through this blog-congratulations for yet another thought provoking blog from Dr Prasad. May be we need his lectures on this topic at universities across the country to sensitize extension professionals. It is very well written, provoking and timely, very useful

  • The major question raised by the respondents is what they get by responding or spending some time..Even getting some time of scientists was also difficult for me since they were also respondents of my Ph.D study. The next issue is how many of us are ready to have a METAANALYSIS??..Enjoyed this blog and even one of his previous meeting notes..

  • Great analysis This blog paper is striking hard on few neglected areas in extension research such as knowledge creation, knowledge brokering etc. Creating knowledge is an integral part of research which helps a professional discipline to grow and move forward. New ideas like translational research and meta-analysis are very relevant for extension research. I am bit skeptical on conducting meta-analytic studies on NAIP results as these studies were conducted in different agro-ecosystems and with various stakeholders of varying characteristics. I fear that authors may not get sufficient sample size under each eco-system or similar stakeholders to conduct the analysis. The generalizability of the results will be a big issue for a small sample size. I am also doubtful in co-constructing research paradigm involving all stakeholders. It looks innovative and good as a concept, but I doubt how many stakeholders will extend their full cooperation and show commitment for such a lengthy and time-consuming process. I could find few great ideas like effect size and incentives (though mentioned like passing comments) in this blog. Effect size is a very important concept in quantitative research which is often neglected in extension studies. It is the prime criteria for deciding sample size and also determine the degree of generalizability of research results. Another important aspect is the subject or respondent. We often conduct research in unstructured settings and the respondent participation is voluntary. Our interaction with our respondent is often casual and we have very little control over the quality of his/her response. Two important issues in this interaction are ethics and incentive. We dont follow any approved ethical guidelines in conducting research. In Western countries, the full research plan, research instruments, interaction procedures with respondents (written, oral, audio or video and even email transcript of correspondence) are examined by the Human Subjects Committee (IRC or Ethics Committee) prior to data collection. The researcher has to prepare and submit all research instruments, correspondence etc well in advance (unlike in India where questionnaires are prepared casually , in last minute). This process will make the researcher committed and responsible, increase the validity of the research, protect the rights of the respondents. Another aspect is respondent incentive. A small honorarium or gift will create wonders and increase the respondent commitment. It is also their right as they spend considerable time in answering our questions or participating in the research process.

  • Excellent analysis of the current practice and proposed action. The clarity of thought, diagnosis of the malady and suggestion of the remedy in the existing and emerging context is superb. Every one should read it and learn from it.Enjoyed reading it. Best regards to Dr.Prasad and self.