The (very) basic steps to creating a great research topic or question:
REVIEW the assignment
What is the purpose of the assignment? Are you informing your audience? Arguing a point or convincing your audience? Stating your opinion?
What are the requirements of the assignment? How many pages? What kind of sources (books, articles, academic, popular)? How many?
DO some preliminary research
Do an Internet search or use one of the links under "Staring Points" to get some GENERAL information about your topic.
What are people talking about? Any issues or controversies?
What is interesting to you? It can be easier to write about something you care about or have an interest in!
NARROW it down
If your topic is too broad you will get way too many search results.
Good strategies include narrowing your topic by geographic area, demographic group, or time frame. Researching "African American gender roles in 18th century America" is going to be much more effective than researching "gender roles".
CREATE your research question/hypothesis/statement
You want to have a single sentence that describes your research topic or question.
Look at your sentence and identify the core concepts.
Brainstorm some different words for each of your concepts.
Use these keywords to search the library catalog, databases, or the Internet