There's a subtle shift in the meaning of research as you transition from high school and lower-level undergraduate work to graduate school.
Early on, a teacher may ask for you to do research, and it means: Look up everything you can find on this matter, and report what you have found. You are essentially writing a "research report," summarizing what is already known about a certain topic.
As you get into more formal academic research, however, research means: Come up with a problem that hasn't been satisfactorily solved, form a hypothesis on how to solve it, then test your hypothesis with a series of carefully crafted scientific experiments, and finally report your results. You are essentially expanding the scope of knowledge in a certain field, and doing so using the scientific method.
It's also worth noting that the first section of most research papers summarize the already-established knowledge in the problem area. So, in a research paper about fiber optic networks in Africa, the author(s) would probably have some novel idea about how best to, say, install or maintain such a network, and they would likely begin by summarizing what has already been done so far, before explaining why their idea would potentially improve the start-of-the-art. Therefore, it's very normal to find other related papers when you start doing your research. In fact, that should be your first step: read and study every one of them you can find.
If you are doing a "research report," that's pretty much the end of the line. But if you are doing graduate-level research, that's merely the beginning. Incidentally, it can easily take a year or more to do the rest (even longer if you are doing doctoral research).