Before you write your paper--before you write your research question (RQ)--you need a plan. The first step should always be to read your assignment. Understanding the guidelines / requirements will help you to write a better RQ; save time finding sources; and will help you to organize and format your paper.
Figure out what you know about your paper before moving on to what you don't know.
Before you select a topic, or begin researching, you want to know what you're getting yourself into. The subject of a 4-6 page paper must be much more focused and refined than a 14-16 page paper. Knowing the requirements before you being will save you time and help you choose an appropriately focused topic.
Explore the image below -- mouseover the targets to learn more about the process of analyzing your assignment.
Explore the image below -- mouseover the targets to learn how to focus your topic to match the guidelines in your assignment.