In this article, I look at the basics of tech 1 blueprint research, the skills required to make the most of your time and how you could run your own research labs in the relative safety of high security space.
From ships and modules to the ammunition we shoot at each other, blueprints exist for a lot of items in the EVE universe. Original blueprints for all tech 1 ships, modules and ammo are sold by various NPC corps and can be purchased on the market. Each blueprint has a certain "Material Level" (shortened to ML or ME) and "Productivity Level" (PL or PE) level that affects its performance in manufacturing. A higher material level will reduce the amount of minerals wasted when building, which reduces build costs and can improve the manufacturer's profit margin. A higher productivity level decreases the amount of time the item takes to build. Both ME and PE start at 0 on new original blueprints and can be increased by research. Since the benefit of ME and PE suffers from diminishing returns, you only need a few levels of each to radically improve a blueprint. It can be expensive to get your hands on an original blueprint but once you have it, you can produce an unlimited number of the item from it. Additionally, research can only be carried out on original blueprints.
When you install an original blueprint for ME or PE research, the job is added onto the end of the current research queue. In busy stations near trade hubs the queue is quite long and you can expect your job to be held up for several weeks or even months before reaching the head of the queue. The ideal option is to find empty lab slots somewhere or run your own private labs. In addition to ME and PE research, you can make copies of your original blueprint which are licensed for a limited number of production runs. The copies will have the same ME and PE levels as the original and since the copies themselves can't be researched, it's worth researching up your original blueprints before putting them into copy labs. Public copy slots tend to be packed for months on end as copies are always in demand and producing them can be quite a profitable business.
Research relies heavily on the "Science" skill field and entry-level skill requirements are very low. Copy jobs require only the "Science" skill itself, while installing PE jobs needs the "Research" skill and ME research requires an additional "Metallurgy" skill. A higher "Science" level improves blueprint copy speed and acts as a prerequisite for the other science skills. Getting this to level 4 should be a priority and as it's only a rank 1 skill it will be done in a matter of days. Higher levels of the "Research" skill will speed up PE research while a higher "Metallurgy" skill will speed up ME jobs.
The absolutely most important skill to train up is "Laboratory Operation" as this lets you run an additional research job per level simultaneously. Once you've trained "Laboratory Operation" to level 5, you can also train the "Advanced Laboratory Operation" skill for a further one additional job per level. With both skills at level 5, you get a total of 11 slots. Due to the extremely high training time on "Advanced Laboratory Operation" level 5, it's common for people to leave it at level 4 and get 10 lab slots. Another useful skill is "Scientific Networking", which increases the range at which you can manage jobs. Level 1 allows you to install jobs in other stations in the system. Each subsequent level increases the range by 5 jumps per level until at level 5 you can start jobs remotely across the entire region you're in.
Read on to page 2, where I look at running your own private research centre and keeping it safe from attack.