Your professor gave you an assignment and it's a research paper. Don't panic! Students have a tendency to be overwhelmed with starting their research even in a digital world. Tackle this project one step at a time.
First step- pick your topic.
Be sure to pick something that interests you and relates to the course. Explore that topic by searching here and here. Does it still interest you? If not, pick something else. Browse your syllabus for potential topics. Scan your textbook for ideas. Could your topic be a recent news event?
Here is a guide that can help you look for contemporary topics, current events, etc: http://libguides.roanoke.edu/topics
Second step- refine your topic.
Is your topic too broad or too narrow? If it's too narrow, you won't find enough sources. If it's too broad, you'll find too many sources. You need a happy medium of just enough sources. And how many sources do you have to have for your assignment? If the professor specified the amount of sources required, try to find twice as many as you're beginning your research just in case some don't work out. It's also important to know what kind of sources do you need- books, articles, statistics? Be sure to read the source requirements or ask your professor before continuing to the next step.
Step three- begin your search.
(Click on the next tab for Searching and Using Keywords tips)