Along with what I said during the live stream with "tapping" population to generate theories, they meditate to become a tuned to the energies of the cosmos to have "truths" revealed to them. You could make it that there is a risk involved, so say you have shit luck and doom that sector or whatever either becomes "poisoned" from a psionic storm (Starcraft idea yes but eh), could blow up from uncontrolled energy vortexes or whatever. Additionally if a unit is more experienced, like the whole officer thing, then it not only increases the chances of successful theories and experimentation but also reduced the chances of catastrophic failure. This would mean azendi players could/would have to choose to risk those valuable "officers" to get theories but also run that risk of loosing them or just play it safe, high risk high reward.
Edit: also you could have a value involved where the number of population on a planet would also either increase or decrease the chance of success. And for the actual experimentation of theories could require ships or moons or something remote away from their planets to be completed. This would create more of a balance for their whole process and give pirate players something to look for