Selecting a topic is the first step. If the choice is up to you, pick a topic that interests you. Think broadly about your topic and do some preliminary research by consulting subject encyclopedias, dictionaries or handbooks. You can also check appropriate current periodicals or browse shelves of books classed in subject areas to get ideas on research topics.
You will probably have to narrow your topic since most topics are too broad for a research paper. For example, you want to research the use of Ancient Greek comedy.
This topic is still too broad and you will need to further refine it.
Once you have identified your topic:
Main concepts: women, role, comedies, Plautus
Secondary concepts: female, women, woman,
role, character, characterization
comedy, comic drama, , Plautus, Miles Gloriosus
Once you have identified key terms for your topic, you are ready to shape your strategy for searching catalogues, indexes and databases.
To visually spell out the concepts and relationships among the ideas, check out these examples of concept tables. (Virginia Tech University Libraries)
Once you have a basic topic in mind, think about different aspects of your topic and begin to focus on it.