Research and Documentation
When one has (finally) finished one’s education and becomes somewhat focused on a particular area of interest – hopefully an area in which one can find a career – people are suddenly quite interested in having one write papers about one’s area of expertise. When one is a student, one is rarely asked to write a paper on a topic which one knows a lot about. Unfortunately, the paper is expected to look like a professional wrote it. No, the irony has not slipped past the educators: educators want the students to learn to write like professionals, and the best way to learn something is by doing it.
So, if one is suddenly asked to write a paper about a topic which is completely unfamiliar, how does one go about writing like a professional? Research. Even the professionals have to do research. This involves lots and lots of reading. If the topic of the paper is the position of the claws in different species of cats, the writer must research the position of the claws in all – or, at least, most – of the different species of cats. If the paper must answer the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?”, then the writer must research both chickens and roads. By the end of the reading, the writer should know a great deal on the topic.