Strategic‐basic research refers to basic research conducted in strategically selected areas expected to be of social benefit. Recent literature on the processes of basic research and its links to applied research has not been widely discussed in relation to agricultural research. This may have important implications for the question of the optimal allocation of research resources. The links are reviewed and combined into a framework for considering the allocation question. A numerical model suggests that only a small number of the model’s parameters substantially affect the optimal level of basic research, and that it is not important to identify the optimal solution precisely, since the benefit function is extremely flat around the optimum.