So you have an assignment which requires you to do research. Your first inclination may be to sit down with your laptop and do a few quick searches on the web to start gathering information. In reality, what you need to do is think about your topic and how you can produce the best possible project.
First, let's get a few facts straight and learn what research is NOT:
Research is not a book report. Simply summarizing information and reporting it in a paper or presentation isn't going to be very useful or interesting.
Research is not general, that is, it looks at specific issues and possible solutions instead of superficial summaries of information.
Research is not linear. Rarely do you start at point A and go directly to Point B.
Research is not boring! You may be assigned a topic that you haven't chosen, but using the points above, conducting research in a focused manner leads to interesting discoveries.
Now that you know what not to do, let's hone in on what is going to make your life easier, happier, and more productive while undertaking research projects and papers. We'll begin with how to focus a topic.