The foundation to any design solution is a great deal of research plus creative thinking. Research is always the foundation you can build a great project from. It is often required in school projects, and even by clients. It's important to dig deep in your research and fully understand the project, but it may not always be the most exciting part of a project.
I'm gonna argue that's up to you. I was told by a professor recently, "You're a movie buff, why aren't you watching a movie on this topic as you research?" He was right. Research should extend beyond a Wikepedia page. Watch movies, read books, watch tv shows, go to a restaurant, interview someone, study a thing in real life, buy a product, go shopping, etc. There are a million ways to add depth to your research and it will make your research more creative. A client might appreciate that you analyzed their in store signage and ask every person in the store their opinion or that you watched a movie called Moonrise Kingdom which led you to tons of new ways to apply design to target a young audience.
Aspire to make your research creative instead of being a creative doing mandatory research. It will get you thinking outside of the box earlier in the project and might help you find creative solutions sooner.
Designerds Ariana Shank and Olivia Booth