It is assumed that research based on empirical data produces factual insight that can be used to guide evidence based policies. However, researchers may tend to specify models based on prior beliefs and construe results accordingly. In this paper, we argue that greater scrutiny is needed along the research process to acknowledge and communicate the limitations of research findings. To illustrate, we review two empirical papers from applied economists aimed at influencing policy. Each paper is analysed to identify how inferences based on prior beliefs are used to specify models and how this impacts the result. Additionally, consideration is given to the sensitivity of results under alternative assumptions. While we do find that the considered papers provide valuable knowledge to the field of agriculture economics, they fail in disclosing the limitations of their results to decision makers, thus undermining considerably their policy relevance. Finally, approaches to increase objectivity in empirical research are considered.

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