Research is a currency introduced in Update 5.5.0.
Large amounts of Research can be generated by throwing things into your extractor. Spare blocks are a prime candidate, but so is excess food, seed, and other items.
You can also use personal computers, which generate research.
Research can also be stored in tradeable, stackable discs:Research Microdisc (500), Research Holodisc (1000), and Research Megadisc (5000) Note: See the somewhat outdated List of Extractable Items (substitute Research Nutrient Paste, Tissue Culture, etc.) or for always up-to-date info, check the Lab Directory in-game. Research can also be harvested in some other ways, including Eyeball Trees, some centrifuged items, and other actions. But primarily, just throw your extra blocks, in chunks of 50, into your Hand Mill / Extraction Lab / Extraction Lab MKII / Quantum Extractor.