If you learn what a thing consists of, what parts make it up, you will come to understand the more complex whole. If you can't explain something simply, you don't know it well enough; you haven't studied the parts closely enough. An investigator gathers and sorts parts until the big picture materializes. Some children like to take things apart. Why? To find out what makes the thing tick. Often they are not so keen on putting them back together. Why? Because they have already discovered what makes the thing tick and putting it back together is redundant; it doesn't further their inquiry.
To be helpful, though, the gathered and sorted parts must have conclusions drawn from them, and, to be worth anything, those conclusions must be shared with others, usually by publishing. Research shouldn't be simply about personal edification. What good is that to the world? Helpful research is done by people who not only discover what makes it tick, but who explain it and leave a record. If this note-taking and journal-keeping is done as you go, and restated and interpreted as you go, then there will not be a big book to write at the end; it is already complete. I think too many books go unpublished because writing them is redundant for the researcher who already knows the material. He is like the child who learns what makes a thing tick, but doesn't share that knowledge. Do it as you go. Write daily. Take notes as you take things apart, not down the road.
Some people go through life trying to find out what makes things tick.