Online Guide to Writing and Research

Chapter 4: The Research Process

The Research Assignment

When Is Research Needed?

Not all writing requires research. By the time we reach early adulthood, most of us have formed some opinions and gathered some information that we can impart to others without research. Most of us can write an ordinary letter or essay without the benefit of research.

However, when we are asked to investigate an area about which we may need more detailed knowledge, we may engage in research. Research, a cognitively complex activity, requires some discipline and sophisticated skills. It plays a role in creating knowledge about a subject, managing conflicting information, and thinking about a field of study. Research helps us understand why asking questions is important to our education.