Research is an integral part of experimentation for magical work. When I'm working on a project, writing a book, or looking at working with a pop culture icon or brand, I do a lot of research. Whether its researching the history of a character, or reading up on neuroscience, I know that to get an accurate understanding of what I want to work with I need to do research that will support my experimental work. An experiment is defined, in part, by the information you have available to you, as well as by the desired outcome you want to accomplish. An experiment can't be structured effectively until you've examined relevant information that can provide an understanding of what you'll be working with.
When I first began my experimentation with neurotransmitters I'd already done my research by finding out what they were and how they worked in the brain. I couldn't have developed a neurotransmitter entity technique if I didn't already have some information on what to look for and what to potentially expect. My real test was sharing the technique with other people who hadn't necessarily done the same research. When they got similar results, that told me that the technique was sound, but also that the research had paid off, because I was able to provide enough information to help people work with the neurotransmitters effectively.
Magical experimentation doesn't occur in a void. Every magician I know who experiments isn't just coming up with something off the top of their heads They are researching information, looking up what others have done, and putting together a technique to experiment with, based in part on the research they've done.
What about you? What research do you do, in order to improve your magical work?