[Agent finding has been simplified as of the Incarna expansion, which came out in June 2011. There is now an app for that!]
I originally posted this as a reply to a comment on another post. But then I decided that this question probably comes up often enough that I ought to make a post out of it, both to share how I find and agent and to see if somebody else will comment with a better method.
There are a number of ways to find agents. This is how I do it.
- Go to the character sheet in game and select the “Standings” option.
- From there select the tab labeled “Liked By.”
- There will be a list of umbrella entities, factions, shown at the top of the page, like “Caldari State” and “The Servant Sisters of EVE.” . Click on the info button for one of them.
- In the info window that comes up, click on the “Member Corps” tab.
- The list of member corps will each have their own info button. Click on one of them and select the “Agents” tab.
- The agents tab list the corp agents, divided up into those available to you and those not.
You may find that some of those corporations do not have agents at all. The Jove Empire seems to have no agents.
Some corporations will have agents, but your standing with them will be such that none are available to you. I have no luck with Outer Ring Excavations, or ORE.
Those that do have agents available to you will show you the location, level, and quality of the agent. The higher the level, the tougher the missions. Similarly, higher quality agents give both better rewards, but their missions are tougher as well.
Most corporations seem to have enough agents that they are divided up into divisions such as “Security” or “Administration.” The division to which an agent belongs will dictate the mix of missions which they will offer. A list of what mix of missions each division offers is available here.
Now once you can find agents, the next question will likely be which factions, corporations, or divisions should you choose to run missions with.
The answer to that is still a mystery to me. Should I concentrate on one division in one corporation in a single faction? Should I spread myself around? What are the advantages and disadvantages? All of that I am still uncertain about.
The EVE Online Players Guide does have a section on agents, missions, and such, including research missions. It does not answer my outstanding questions, but it does have a lot of information. You can find the entry on missions here.