"Research" for nme was diving deep into my hobby du jour. I donb't actually have a hobby a day, but I will find something interesting, plunge deep into it, giving up sleep, etc. Then, depending on the subject, I will either return to a more $NORM level of interest in it after a few weeks/months, continue and it surplants other things I do permenantly, or burn out and mostly drop it, though still occasionally dabble.
I see myself doing this at work, too, but I control it, so I don't burn myself out, but also usually don't go as deep immediately either. Works out fine.
Sometimes this is something useful - a few years back I my hobby became 'mutual funds', and for a few months I did intense research trying to 'win the game', i.e. meet the goals I wanted (high long term growth, below average risk). Now, long out of touch with that (I burnt out on that mostly), I don't touch the investments I made because I know I'm not in the same zone I was when I made them.
Most of my "hobbies" aren't nearly that productive, and have included most topics from the poll. I have an unfortunate pull for more complex computer games, especially RPGs, and those I will do lots of "research" on.
In summary, "research" for me means a period of discovery about a subject, not needfully something useful.
I see myslef doing this at work, too, but I control it, so I don't burn myself out, but also usually don't go as deep immediately either. Works out fine.
I seem to find myself, while at work, doing things like reading P.M.. I suppose it could be considered learning, after all, they pay me to learn. And to use what I learn. But sometimes I'll splinter with my jobs/responsibilities, and end up getting a headache. Partly because I found an interesting subject I just cant put down, (Maybe... Net::AIM today?) and I still have to crank out some code for project-x,y,or z. That cranked code usually requires a bit of learning as well. Thus, headache.