The first step in any research assignment is to define your topic or research question. Be sure to select a topic that you are willing to work with for a considerable amount of time and that applies directly to your profession.
Generally, it is good to start out with a slightly broader topic that you can develop and narrow as you find information.
You can begin to narrow your topic by asking yourself the following questions:
Skim the literature to help you narrow your topic to a manageable one which meets your instructor's assignment and your interests.
As an example, if your initial topic for a 10 to 20 page paper is "Space Exploration", by the time you finish your topic search, you might have narrowed your topic to "Unmanned U.S. Space Exploration of Planets" or even to a specific planet and mission like "1997's Pathfinder Mission".