No one can deny the amount of research required to write non-fiction. Fiction sometimes takes just as much research. Yes, there's such a thing as artistic license, but without research the realism necessary for a good book just won't be there. I regularly do research for my writing, since I tend to write about what interests me rather than what I'm knowledgeable about. I love to learn new things and doing research for a story gives me a good excuse to learn about a subject I might not otherwise come across. Like citizenship and naturalization. I have a teenage character who is adopted by an American family. I've been looking through various resources to find the exact procedure for her to become American. During the course of that research, I realized I had two other characters affected by citizenship laws, including dual citizenship. I'm always amazed by the way one piece of research leads to another and eventually I have a usable knowledge of the subject. Occasionally, I've been able to answer the question of another writer because of something I learned for my own work.
There are many ways to do research, from library books to the internet to talking to experts in the field. I usually start with the internet since I'm already at the computer for my writing. Depending on what I find, a book may be my next step or my critique group. The members of my critique group come from diverse backgrounds and have been invaluable in helping me improve my writing and get things right. Especially when it comes to the military. Two men in particular, one who was in the Air Force and one who is in the Army Reserves, have helped me with a book that has several interactions with military personnel. I still have things to fix that sounded realistic to me but turned out to be flawed, but thanks to these two writers I have some idea of how to fix the errors.
Another reason for research is inspiration. Sometimes I'll start learning about something out of curiosity, and during the course of the research come up with a plot idea or the vague beginning of a character. This leads to more research on specific areas of the subject as well as a lot of thinking about the plot and characters.
Just thinking about all this research reminds me of something. I still have more learning to do about citizenship laws.