The process of reporting scholarly discoveries:
1) You have some "lab" experience of the thing, itself--you read the story, see the painting, hear the music, dissect the frog, run the reaction, etc.
2) You seek the pattern(s) in the thing that make it meaningful
3) You attempt to arrive at an insight about how the pattern in the story/painting/music/frog/reaction works, or why it works that way by examining the patterns you've found.
4) You seek contextual background about the thing in history, etc., though this could come before #1 if you have time!
5) You seek the works of other scholars who have studied the thing to see what they are saying about it, though as you become more expert in the field, you'll already know what they've been saying and go to #1 to get a fresh point of view on the patterns.
6) You might design an experiment to see if you can detect the thing's origins or effects on other things to better understand what it is and does, and how and why it does those things (perhaps optional in some cases).
7) You write a paper that argues the pattern you have found is important to understanding the thing, drawing on the evidence you gathered in the steps above to support your thesis.