Paul Contway wrote:
I apologize if this has been brought up elsewhere...
When I began playing this game we would use the researcher to not only give any card, but to allow other players to walk up and TAKE any card from the Researcher.
I realized after a few plays that we were in fact playing the role wrong and that the Researcher could only GIVE cards that weren't the specific city.
This is also verified in the expansion with the role Epidemiologist, who's ability is to take any non matching card.
Sorry, you were playing correctly the first time. The Researcher may GIVE any card on his turn AND other players may TAKE any card on their turn from the Researcher. (From the rules, p. 5: The Researcher can utilize this ability when involved in Share Knowledge actions on any player’s turn.)
The restriction comes from when the Researcher TAKES a card. Anything coming TO him must follow the normal rules. Anything that leaves FROM him can be any card, any time.
The Epidemiologist is different in that he can TAKE any card but must GIVE according to the standard rules. And unlike the Researcher, he can only take on his turn, not receive on others' turns.
EDIT: Added rules quote.