Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. ~Zora Neale Hurston
I've been reading a mystery series based on a character named Maisie Dobbs, a young woman investigator/psychologist who practices in London during the years just after World War I. The author, Jacqueline Winspear, developed an interest in this era after hearing about her grandfather's experiences in that war, and how he was affected by shell shock. The novels are extremely well researched, and each one illuminates many interesting aspects of society and culture during this particular time in history.
Writing - even fiction writing - often involves research. If you have a particular interest in a subject or historical era, you'll need research to help you create an accurate portrayal in your story or essay. Sometimes the research itself will give you ideas for writing. As you read through newspapers and magazines, see if something sparks your interest, or plants the seed of an idea or character.
Research is not just for term papers. It can provide fresh material for all kinds of writing