Various forms of research and development (R&D) activities have evolved over the past few centuries as part of the scientific system. Of particular interest is the unique pattern of R&D activities that have developed within agricultural and natural resource sectors. The evolution of collaborative research in its many forms including single disciplinary, multi disciplinary and researcher-stakeholder collaborative research is documented with special attention paid to economic research evaluation techniques that have been developed over the past half century. Existing economic evaluation techniques focus predominantly on evaluating the outputs and outcomes of research, and exclude evaluation of the R&D process. Furthermore, existing evaluation techniques emphasise the economic value of scientific aspects of research, but do not accommodate various socio-economic, managerial and other important aspects that reflect the wider value of research to individual participants, project teams or organisations. There is a need to address this gap in knowledge and develop a framework to evaluate the various scientific, economic, socio-economic and managerial aspects of collaborative research in a holistic manner. The researcherstakeholder collaborative research approach as advocated by the Australian Cooperative Research Centre Program is of particular interest. Key aspects to be included in a holistic, pluralist evaluation framework are presented. Application of a holistic evaluation framework is anticipated to result in the justification or otherwise of the trend toward collaborative research in Australia, as well as providing the opportunity for participants and managers of researcher-stakeholder collaborative research to improve the conduct and management of this form of research.