As you begin any research process, the best way to get started is simply TO READ!
Starting with your Assignment
Before you begin looking for information, you should make sure you understand your assignment. If you don't understand the assignment, there is only one person that can best answer any questions - the professor that created the assignment. Let the assignment drive what types of resources you choose to explore. Sometimes, your professor will tell you exactly which types to use, but other times, you will need to look at the assignment and figure that out on your own as part of the research process.
General Background Reading
This assignment is about researching ways to make the world a better place. If you have not yet decided upon a topic, try doing a Google search and reading your way through results that catch your interest. The Internet is a great place to begin to explore a topic and find out what you are interested in researching. There are also some resources in the Library Databases that may be helpful for some general, background reading :
Gale eBooks -- a collection of subject-specific encyclopedias and other reference works;
CQ Researcher -- a report published each week about current issues in the news
Opposing Viewpoints -- links to book chapters, articles, etc. on a variety of topics
Generate a list of Key Words and Phrases
As you doing your background reading, jot down words and phrases that are related to your topic and that you may be able to use a search terms when you start doing your research.
Develop a Research Question
After you have done some background reading, decided what your research topic is going to be, and generated some key words and phrases about your topic, take a moment to write down a question that you hope to answer through your research. This will help you to focus your research, select relevant information sources, and begin to determine how the argument in your paper will take shape.
One of the greatest challenges in starting your search for resources is creating a list of the best terms and phrases that represent your topic. As I did some background reading on America's higher education, I came up with the following keywords (they are only a sample, there are many more:
College / University / United States / America / graduation / retention, financial / socioeconomic