If you were the tech leader from the middle AA, how did you fail to capture . . . well whatever wonder you wanted? At this point you can pick and chose which you want/need for your VC and leaving the rest for the AI to waste their time building. Give the AI tech trades that lead them away from the wonders you are working on and let them build the rest. If you don't have the ability to move the slider to 100% science or can't do it without going -gp, then that is the issue. I would suggest looking at where to cut maintenance and unit support (which was what everyone else is saying so I won't duplicate it here). The basic answer to your question - why can't you research faster - it is because you are spending 50+% on other things. If you are only researching at 30-50% through the entire game, then you will not excel at science. Another thought - if you are dominating the research race by the mid-AA, up your difficulty level. The jump from regent to monarchy won't make a huge difference, but the AI should stay competative until the early MA. That will trim some time from your development. One hint to the issue might be this: Offenseive wars are not usually healthy to a high research rate. Massive invasions need troops. Troops mean unit support. Wars=war weariness. Production is diverted to military units. The AIs involved in wars often slow down or lose the edge in research. There's less trading Etc.