As soon as you acquire a colony, disasters befall it. Corruption, Pirates and Disease will plague your colonies constantly. One choice you have is to do research, whenever you get a disaster.
You should pick one of the three types and stick with it. Switching back and forth between them will lose any progress you made with the one you were on. It will take twenty of these researches to complete your knowledge on one.
Once research is completed, you gain immunity from your chosen field of research and also gain 200 ship credits. When that disaster reoccurs it will be dealt with automatically and you will receive some more colonists. Trying to do a second research after completing one, will cost you all you gained from the first one you completed. Completing anyone of the three disasters, appears not to benefit anyone in your downline in anyway at this point in time. So it appears completing research on one disaster, is no better than doing research on another. All three get you immunity and 200 ship credits.
I would like to thank Deltek Minotaur, RoJoStar Darkstone and Patience Porta for their contributions for this article.