Research always involves thinking, but that thinking is put to use for different purposes. Your goal might be to understand a social problem and propose a solution to it. Or your goal might be to learn about a historical event and make an argument about why it happened. Or your goal might be to advocate a particular marketing strategy for a struggling company, based on an analysis of current economic conditions.
A critical researcher regularly considers the purpose of the research: what is supposed to be achieved and why. Without a sense of what you plan to accomplish, you're unlikely to have much success with your research.
It's also important to think about purpose when determining which sources to use for a research project. To figure out whether a potential source is appropriate, consider why it was written and for what audience. Is the source sophisticated enough for your purpose? Does it include relevant arguments or information? Was it written primarily for experts or a wider audience?
Critical Questions for Purpose:
Critical Questions for a Source's Purpose: