Research Assistants have moved into many cities in Norrath. These hardworking men and women will do the research to upgrade a spell or combat art from journeyman to adept or from expert to master. They will only assist one character per account at a time and only help those level 20 or higher. Research Assistants can be found in each of the six hoods and villages of Freeport and Qeynos, Neriak, Haven, Gorowyn and Kelethin. You can ask any guard in those areas to point you in the direction of a Research Assistant if you can’t find them.
Now, if you have a expert level spell (formerly known as adept III) already scribed, you don't have to go out and buy another expert level spell to get it turned into a master. When you go to the research assistant, you will be presented with a list of spells and combat arts that you are eligible to have researched. That means you cannot start researching a spell when you are a lower level and then have master version waiting for you when you reach that level. Just be careful, because with the new spell names you might select researching a spell for a level below the one you really want. But the positive side is that once you have an expert level spell, go ahead and scribe it, because you can't get your master until you do.
Having actually visited a research assistant and seen exactly how the mechanic works, I still maintain I want one for my house. I don't like the fact that you don't have to give the research assistant the expert level spell in order to get a master, but doing that would have had serious consequences for the game's economy, so I fully understand why they did not make that a requirement.
Am I going to use the research assistant? Of course I am. I may be a bit crazy (and with 6 master craftsmen on my account, some say I'm a lot crazy) but I'm not stupid. I'm actually not going to start getting the tier 8 combat arts masters for my ranger first, however. I'm going to get those CAs from the lower levels that never have upgrades available on the broker. For example, I'm currently researching Primal Reflexes (20 days to gain 27% hate reduction), then will move on to Honed Reflexes (7 days to gain an increase in attack speed of 42 for 1 minute 20 seconds). I have 2 reasons for doing this. The first is that I can get 2 useful master-level CAs in the time it will take me to gain 1 tier 8 master. The second is that during this time I might either see a tier 8 master drop or the prices on the broker might drop far enough so that I can pick one up cheap.
Update: You can stop a research assistant from researching a spell. When you do, you apply 1/3 of the time the research assistant spent researching the first upgrade to the next upgrade you want to research.
Related Post: EQ2 Research Assistants My Way