All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
Research agents are agents representing various NPC corporations' R&D divisions. Rather than the usual missions, R&D agents can be asked to do "research" for you. Once an agent is working for you, you get Research Points (RP) from them to trade for Datacores (available from the agent with RP as currency) to sell or use in invention. To use a research agent you must have the appropriate skills and standings.
This research agent guide covers interacting with research agents as a source of datacores. The invention guide covers inventing T2 blueprints based on T1 blueprints (which uses datacores), while the production/manufacturing guide covers the ME/PE research and later construction you do with the blueprints to end up with a physical product that you can fly/sell/explode.
Skills you must have:
- Science - Level 5
- One or more of Mechanics, CPU Management, and Power Grid Management at level 5
- One of the science skills listed below (trained to at least the level of the agent you wish to use)
Skills that will benefit you to have:
- Laboratory Operation - Level 5
- Research - Level 5
- Research Project Management - trained to 5 means you can have 6 research projects at once.
In order to train all these skills you must spend time and money. Supposing you start the game now you will need about 3 months of training to get all the skills above to the right level. If you have played a while you will need less time training depending on your starting attributes, implants you use, etc. The financial outlay is significant, especially because you will need about 40 million ISK to buy the Research Project Management skill (which allows you to have more than one R&D agent simultaneously).
The next step is to choose one field of research, each field being represented by a special science skill:
- Amarrian Starship Engineering
- Caldari Starship Engineering
- Gallentean Starship Engineering
- Minmatar Starship Engineering
- Astronautic Engineering
- Electromagnetic Physics
- Electronic Engineering
- Graviton Physics
- High Energy Physics
- Hydromagnetic Physics
- Laser Physics
- Mechanical Engineering
- Molecular Engineering
- Nanite Engineering
- Nuclear Physics
- Plasma Physics
- Quantum Physics
- Rocket Science
There are many fields of research, so you have many opportunities.
Once you have met the skill requirements, you must find R&D agents who will work with you. To use a research agent you need to have a personal standing with that agent's corporation specifically, in addition to the normal faction or corp standings - the extra standings required for the R&D corp is to prevent you grinding up faction standings with eg: Republic Fleet, then starting research with a Boundless Creation R&D agent. Remember, this must be your own personal standing with the R&D corp whose agent you want to interact with. The required standing level is documented in the agent info tab of the agent's details.
Each empire faction has its own research corporations, which are the following (links go to the EVE-Agents site):
The Amarr Race:
The Caldari Race:
The Gallente Race:
The Minmatar Race:
When you find a suitable R&D agents you can ask them to start working for you in one of the fields that the agent has available. Each R&D agent will generate Research Points (RP) depending on the field of research you choose and the level of your agent. RP are generated regardless of whether you interact with the agent or not, and accumulate over time even when you are not logged in.
Each agent can only be used to generate RP in a single field at a time, so for example Sitaleere Beene can be asked to work on Mechanical Engineering or High Energy Physics, but not both.
At one time it was possible to win T2 BPOs through a lottery system, with your accrued RP of any flavour being equivalent to tickets in the lottery. After a while CCP realised that flooding the market with BPOs was a bad idea and the lottery was removed and replaced with Invention as a means for getting T2 BPCs.
The RP that you will accumulate are based your field-specific skill level and the agent level.
RP/day = Field multiplier * (1 + (20 + 5*N + AS)/100) * (SS + AL)^2
- N = character's Negotiation skill level
- AS = Agent standing. Not faction or corporation standing is used but affected by Connections skill.
- SS = character's specialist science field level (eg "Quantum Physics")
- AL = Agent Level
The RP/day generated by your agent will change if you alter your specialist science skill by eg: training from 4 to 5 of the respective skill. You do not need to interact with your agent for this change to be applied - the new rate applies from the moment you gain the higher level skill.
The RP/day generated by your agent will not change if you alter your Negotiation skill. You will need to interact with your agent for this change to be applied - apparently all that is required is to start a conversation with your agent from the Journal -> Research page.
Research Agent Missions
You will be offered missions by each of your R&D agents once per day, with the first mission offered some time after you start research with them (anecdotal evidence suggests 1 to 4 days between starting research and getting the first research mission offer). Sometimes you will get a notification from your agent that they need your help, often you will not hear from them at all - this is a fault in the R&D agent system in the game. Regardless of whether you get the notification or not, you will be able to request a mission from them once a day. The two missions currently offered are to either deliver a quantity of Tritanium to the agent, or to courier a small box from the agent to some other station. Both missions can be completed in most frigates - a level 4 agent will require about 8100 units of Tritanium, or ask you to deliver a box that is smaller than a shuttle's cargo hold.
Completing the missions will give you the same amount of RP that you gain per day with that agent as reward. R&D missions are like normal courier/trade missions - they provide standings gains with the agent and the corporation, and they count towards the 16 missions required for a storyline mission to be offered.
Not requesting the mission will not affect your RP gain - the agent might notify you that "research will halt", but that warning can be ignored - the "research" that they need help with will be halted (and you will not receive the bonus RP), but the other research they are doing will continue (your normal RP will continue to accrue).
You must 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.
Doing missions for an Agent will increase your standing to that agent and so increase generated RP per day.
Troubleshooting Research Points
Sometimes research points will not show up in your journal correctly - this is a display bug only. Interacting with the agent (opening a dialogue, buying cores, running a mission) will usually update the journal to the correct RP/day.
When running the R&D missions, you will sometimes find that the box or tritanium has disappeared from your inventory, but the mission is stuck in your journal and you don't see the bonus RP in your journal either. In this situation, simply log out and back in again - the mission will be cleared from the journal and the RP will be displayed as you expect.
One way to locate a suitable agent is to look at the description in the info box for the research agents that you are interested in working with. This will have all the information regarding the different fields that agent can research. An alternative is to search on EVE-Agents for R&D agents who work in your chosen field. There is also a Research Agent profitability calculator available which will help you to select the best agents for ISK output.
Once you gained a certain amount of RP with your agent you can trade them in against Datacores. The current pricing is 100 RP and 10k ISK per datacore. Just start a conversation and click the appropriate option. The datacores available from R&D agents are as follows (links take you to EVE Central buy/sell order details):
- Datacore - Amarrian Starship Engineering
- Datacore - Caldari Starship Engineering
- Datacore - Electromagnetic Physics
- Datacore - Electronic Engineering
- Datacore - Gallentean Starship Engineering
- Datacore - Graviton Physics
- Datacore - High Energy Physics
- Datacore - Hydromagnetic Physics
- Datacore - Laser Physics
- Datacore - Mechanical Engineering
- Datacore - Minmatar Starship Engineering
- Datacore - Molecular Engineering
- Datacore - Nanite Engineering
- Datacore - Nuclear Physics
- Datacore - Plasma Physics
- Datacore - Quantum Physics
- Datacore - Rocket Science