Great question but hard to nail down
The closest thing I've found to The Ultimate Guide to UX Research is UX Stack Exchange itself because of how adaptive, real-time, vibrant, happy, fun, positive and active this community is. ☻ One of my favorite things to do on UX Stack Exchange is browse the history of older questions and answers. The types of questions being asked and answered have certain trends that change over time (for example, most recently there are more discussions around material design)
Although I agree that it would be awesome to have a well vetted list of "winning patterns" in a single place, here are some reasons why UX research may be too elusive to ever pin down...
The world is changing daily. The types of things we interact with change as well as the knowledge of us humans interacting with these new things. For this reason, data collected for a winning UX pattern just a few years ago may now be obsolete.
Not all users are created equal. It's possible that a group of users may not adhere to the findings of current research data. The only way to help a particular target audience is to ask, watch, and listen to them directly.
A single set of research data can be interpreted many ways. This is especially true with UX research. Data itself can only answer what happened -- i.e. this user in this circumstance performed this action. It's not always easy to tell why a certain interface change breeds different behavior.
Due to the evolving nature of the world, the path I take when doing online user research is very similar to the one you describe and not likely to change though I will list some useful links below.
Links to data backed usability research
- GoodUI.org -- is a nice list of consistent A/B test results.
- UIE.com -- has a great listing of UX research articles and videos by Jared Spool and company.
- Neilson Norman Group -- provides evidence-based UX research articles.
- UXmatters -- is a free online magazine containing articles which "encourage high standards of practice among UX professionals".
- Smashing Magazine -- is another good online magazine with a section specific to web design.