If a player has a high research output, s/he can gain in one turn multiple techs in the same line.
For example, suppose one has been playing for a while in a game and suddenly decides to research (say) beams. You select "beam theory" (you already have done, say, guns). The next turn you may get the message that you have gained beam theory, laser 1, laser 2, and laser 3 - four tech levels.
Early in a game, even if you have huge research, you can get only the number of advances equal to your colony count plus one, IIRC.
Thus, if you do not convert the space miner and quickly colonize the two planets you can without building a new ship, you are limited to the # of advances per turn you can get in research. In some All Labs strategies, this can be crippling. Actually, in any strategy that devotes most of the first ten or twenty turns to basic research, it can hurt.