It is not that I particularly liked building research stations, but it gave the game another dimension of strategy. For example, if you open with military tech, you will fall back quickly when it comes to economy so you need to put pressure on your enemy early on. If you went civic, you were vulnerable for attack but you could colonize valuable planets earlier than your enemy. Basically, if the enemy left this unpunished, you had an early game advantage.
I am now afraid that the whole tech tree might turn into something like in "unlimited upgrades possible" scenario like in Ashes of the Singularity where in theory your ships can just get better and better with no limit, which does not make sense to me. It may be good for scaling but I am quite conservative when it comes to my favorite game here. Every deviation from the original makes me suspicious as it might ruin what made the game great.
Of course, if they find an elegant solution, it might pay off but often those things backfired big time in the past (Remember CnC 4 anyone?) I am dreading that they will implement some kind of "research point" system over the "over time" research... but let's see.