Research can be one of the less fun aspects of writing. But it can also be one of the more rewarding. A little research can add detail to your story that's believable, rich, and engrossing. Whether it's as specific as police rankings or as general as underwater archaeology (a foundation for my current novel), buckling down to do research gives me confidence later when I start to write.
The prime benefit of research in my opinion is all the raw detail you have at your fingertips. You will doubtfully use it all, but just knowing it yourself affects your writing. Readers will get a sense that you know what you're talking about, upping the believability factor. And knowing the truth can help you bend it as needed or desired.
Research can also give you ideas you never would have had otherwise. While reading about marine archaeology, I learned some things that led to developing a whole new aspect of my novel. It may take some effort to find what you need, but the benefits can be surprising.
When should you start researching? How can you keep it all organized? I'll delve into those topics tomorrow. For now, what are your thoughts on the benefits of research and fiction?