I divide the market research into two categories: qualitative (where we still don't know exactly what we are looking for) and quantitative (when we clearly know the question that we want to answer, we only need to confirm it with hard numbers).
 
Exploratory research means that we don't know its final goal, we are just scanning the market in free mode. This can be compared to the work of the archaeologist: he expects to find something extremely valuable, but he doesn't know exactly what he would get as the result.
 
Our goal is to pass through tons of information in order to find the "diamonds" - good ideas that can be immediately put into practice. At the same time, we do not know in advance whether we will find them at all and what exactly they will look like.
 
This research is carried out in the free mode, without any definite plan or direction, we just "flow the river" of links, articles, blogs, searches, news and any other information.
 
I usually start by entering a simple query in Google. For example, when I want to find ideas for advertising my product, I enter the name of any of the competitors, or some of "their" keywords.
 
This new study takes the form of a single note in an outliner, where I briefly describe its essence - what I explore, and why?
 
From that moment, I just write down any random ideas and facts, pieces of information and my observations, prefixing each item with a "minus" sign - the list sign in Markout. It's automatically added to the input field of the next line, so I don't bother with entering it manually.
 
I try to record as much information as possible so that later I will be able to recover (at least approximately) the course of study and not lose valuable ideas. There is no point in trying to order or structure the information from the very beginning. It's better if the research will look exactly like a stream of disconnected ideas.
 
We need to always remind ourselves on the main goal: find those ideas that can be applied immediately or in the nearest future. Anything that does not help this goal is a monkey work, including attempts to structure the information or mindlessly copy-paste.
 
The result is supposed to be not a "survey report", but a log similar to the book summary. Moreover, its quality is determined primarily by the density of good ideas per line of the text, rather than its beauty or volume.
 
During the course of the research, by the way, you will inevitably be distracted from the initial direction, and it is absolutely normal as long as you see the flow of good ideas on the output, or at least feel that you are moving in the right direction. When I feel that I'm getting away from the initial direction, I usually write down source links so that I can return to them in the future.
 
The second most important thing: the main purpose of research is to find ideas that can be immediately put into practice. It means that if you get some good and actionable idea, you should act on it immediately. Even a failed attempt to implement something in practice gives you much more great ideas than the same time spent on theory.
 
If I'm looking for advertising ideas and see the place where I can buy an ad, I do it immediately, even if it distracts me from the exciting process of research and idea generation. At the same time, due to a more or less detailed logging of the research process, I can always restart it at the same point, where I left.
 
That is, the output of research should be not so much in ideas but concrete work on their immediate implementation.
 
If summarizing books can be done continuously (as a rule, the books contain "evergreen" information), the research must be focused on practice, because it gives timely ideas that will be soon become obsolete. If you found something right now, others will find the same next week. It's better to never finish a study being continuously "distracted" by practice, rather than "complete" it without applying anything. In the latter case, you will get just the illusion of understanding of the market, without any concrete, tangible results.
 
However, I would divide the ideas obtained in the course of research into two categories: "the seemingly valuable" and "really valuable". If the first label can be put on anything that just motivates and excites, the second "quality mark" worthy only of those ideas that you actually applied in practice.
 
The process of applying found ideas can be perceived as a continuation of the research process. It's just easier (I do not "work", I "experiment"), and it really gives more valuable ideas, to which you simply would not have reached without practice.
 
The process of exploratory research is usually transformed into short research spans, interspersed with long periods of practice. You should not worry about unfinished researches because it's their practical output that matters more.
 
On practice, first few ideas you implemented will shift the focus of your work into the other direction, requiring a new study, which you will start in a separate note. The initial one will be delayed "until better times come" when the topic will become relevant again.
 
Yes, the output will be a mess, bad for perfectionist's eyes. But this "mess" merely reflects the nonlinearity, the unpredictability of the world around us. The whole human life isn't enough to fully understand the word around us, so we just snatch out the details we can act on right now.