Research-policy linkages: Empirical evidence from agroeconomic research in India

Policy-making processes in developing countries often continue to operate devoid of evidence. In this study, we explore the research-policy linkages between the agroeconomic research system (AERS) and the agricultural policy system (APS) in India. Specifically, we examine questions directed to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in the two houses of the national parliament—the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the Council of States (Rajya Sabha)—and filter them for key issues that confront the APS. In addition, using the list of research articles published in two major national agricultural economics journals, we examine the alignment of the AERS toward addressing pressing policy issues. We use 6,465 questions raised by elected representatives in the parliamentary houses and 377 research articles, both during the period 2014–2018. We use machine learning techniques for information retrieval because the required information is hidden as non-numerical text. Using tag clouds (lists of words by frequency), we identify key divergences between the concerns of the APS and the research focus of the AERS, and explore their linkages. To broaden our understanding, we employ latent Dirichlet allocation, a natural language processing technique that identifies crucial issues and automates their classification under appropriate clusters, to examine synergies between the research and policy systems. Results show remarkable alignment between the AERS and the APS, invalidating the two-communities hypothesis. We identify persistent issues in the policy domain that require the support of the research system, as well as potential areas for research system realignment.