Before asking, it's probably better that I give some background first. I do research on thin films for solar energy applications. A part of that job is to search for new materials that may be suitable for these applications. Basically, I'm somewhat of a glorified (unglorified maybe?) treasure hunter at times.
So, let's say I found a novel material for this application. Let's even assume that I've found a method to synthesize it and turn it into a device. The question is, when do you know to stop and tell the research community about this work? In this particular example, one can set a target efficiency and keep going until they reach it. Suppose that's never achieved though. Does one decide to try a different method until they reach the target or explore the subset of variables deemed important with the current method? If the latter, which variables and how many of them? I don't expect answers to these questions specifically, but rather ask the general question of how one defines a scope when doing such exploratory work.