What is Design Research?
'Research that is undertaken by architects (and deisgners) and their collaborators in the course of a project; and
'Research that is done by architects and others, in practice and academia, outside the scope of architectural projects. "
- Royal Institute of British Architects, (2014). Architects and research-based knowledge: A literature review. (pdf)
When researching an architectural assignment, look to some general historical sources to gain an understanding of what issues influenced the design. Historic Events, Economic concerns, Social factors, all effect design decisions.