There are four basic requirements for research activities to qualify:

Qualified research activities are defined as the development or improvement to a business component, which is defined as a product, process, technique, formula, invention or software.
The research must be technological in nature. That is, the process of experimentation used to discover the information fundamentally relies upon the physical or biological sciences, engineering or computer science. Furthermore, companies may use existing technologies and may rely upon existing principles to satisfy this requirement.
Elimination of the technical uncertainty must be accomplished through a process of experimentation, including systematic trial and error, modeling or simulation.
The research must be intended to eliminate uncertainty concerning the development or improvement of a business component. Uncertainty exists if the capability or method for developing the business component is unknown, or if the appropriate design of the business component is unknown.