Growth in agriculture depends on many things but one of the most important is investment in agricultural research. Decision making in the agricultural research policy area can only be aided by access to better information. This article overviews a recent endeavor to move policy dialogue beyond merely qualitative impressions towards a process that is underpinned with new and cogent data. The data used have been assembled at ISNAR in a manner designed to make comparisons both over time and between countries more valid than has been the case in the past. The comparisons thus possible reveal considerable diversity both between countries and between broad regional aggregations. Also illuminated here are issues related to the commodity orientation, capital and labor intensity, and size and scope of particular national programs.