When you write, you need content as well as direction. Unless you are writing completely from memory, you need to locate ideas and information from which to start and, later on, with which to support and convince. Remember, you essentially do research whenever you pose questions and then go looking for answers. It's virtually impossible to write a decent critical, analytical, or argumentative paper without doing some research and reporting it accurately. Even personal and reflective essays can benefit by finding additional factual information (journal entries, photographs, interviews) to substantiate and intensify what you remember. In other words, research is a natural part of most people's writing process—and like exploration it happens at all stages of the process, from first to last.
Newspaper and television reporters conduct research when they investigate background sources for a story on political, economic, or social issues. Historians, philosophers, and lawyers research in texts to locate past records, data, and precedents. Scientists, engineers, physicians, and psychologists research in laboratories to find new answers to puzzling questions. Sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, educators, and social workers research in communities, neighborhoods, and schools to find practical answers to difficult questions. In every case, these researchers report their findings in writing. It may be time for you to begin to think this way, too.
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