Research missions are a part of the Industry career path. Instead of Loyalty Points, these missions award Research Points that can be used to buy datacores from the agents who gives the missions. Unlike other mission agents, research agents work for you ... and you must start, and if necessary stop, their research.
To acquire missions from a research agent, you must first "hire" the agent and initiate the research process. You do this by clicking on the "Start Research" button that appears on the agent's conversation window. If you try to get a mission before you have started working with the agent, he or she will tell you that they have nothing for you at this time.
When you press the "Start Research" button, a window will pop up to ask you what kind of research you want to do. There will be two or more choices of which you must (and can only) choose one. The choices available will depend on the agent's science specialty fields.
Once you have chosen a field, the agent will tell you how happy they are to be working with you. From this point on, until you terminate research with this agent, the agent will add daily Research Points to your account. These points will accrue whether you are logged on or not.
At some point after you start the research, usually within a few days, you will receive an email communication from the agent. They will be in need of some service that you will be asked to provide. This is usually either a short courier run to another station, or supplying the agent with a small amount of Tritanium (The amount varies by agent level). Completion of a mission will add one day's worth of bonus Research Points to your account.
From then on, you will receive similar messages from the agent on a regular basis. But even if you do not receive a message, a new mission will be available from the agent each day. Acceptance of these missions is optional. The agent might warn you that "research will halt", but that warning can be ignored. The regular, daily research points will continue ... it is only the bonus, mission points that you will not receive.
R&D missions are similar to normal courier/trade missions in they give you standings gains with the agent and the corporation, and they count towards the sixteen missions required for a storyline mission to be offered.
A list of your currently active R&D agents can be found in your Journal.
Points and Datacores
Each day the agent works, they will add some points to your Research account. At any time, you may choose to spend these points to buy datacores. These will always match the science specialty that you chose when you started the research. You can only spend Research Points with the agent from whom you earned them. To spend points simply click on the "Buy Datacores" button and indicate how many that you want to purchase.
All datacores cost 100 RP and 10k ISK.
The Research Points (RP) that you gain are based your science research field skill level as well as the agent's level and your standing with the agent.
RP/day = (1 + (20 + 5*N + AS)/100) * (SS + AL)^2 Where: N = Character's Negotiation skill level AS = Agent standing (not faction or corporation standing). This is affected by your Connections skill. SS = Character's specialist science field level (e.g., "Quantum Physics") AL = Agent Level
Note that doing missions for an Agent will increase your standing with that agent and thus increase your daily Research Point gain.
There is a limit to the number of agents with whom you can be doing research at one time. This begins as 1, but training in the Research Project Management skill will increase the number of agents you can employ.
If you need to cancel research with an agent ... for example, if you are going to use a jump clone and will be wanting to do research in some other region of EVE ... all you need to do is talk to the agent and press the "Cancel" button. The agent will tell you how little work has been done so far, and then the connection will be severed.
BE SURE TO SPEND YOUR RESEARCH POINTS WITH AN AGENT BEFORE YOU CANCEL YOUR RESEARCH. All points will be lost when the connection is broken.
You must also talk to the agent and decline the latest mission before you cancel research with that agent, or you will suffer a standings loss as if you had accepted and then failed the mission.