An assignment may list the specific topic you need to use OR it may ask you to come up with your own topic. Topic ideas may be found through your textbook and other class readings; conversations you have with your professor, classmates, or friends; or even from news or social media.
Once you have a topic that interests you, develop some potential research questions on your topic. A good research question does not have a simple yes or no answer, and will generally start with a word like why, how, or what.
Example topic: Endangered species.
Example research question on this topic: What is required for an animal to be added to the endangered species list?
Turn your research question into keywords
Keywords are the most important words or concepts from our research question plus synonyms (or related words) for each. We need to use these, rather than our longer research question, when searching for books and articles in library databases.
Search using your keywords in One Search, or another library resource, and examine your results. You may find no relevant results, way too many results, results that are not interesting, or results that are just different from what you expected. These are signs that you may want to tweak your research question to find better results. This is normal as few of us rarely start with a topic that works perfectly.