In a research paper, you develop a unique question and then synthesize scholarly and primary sources into a paper that supports your argument about the topic.
Who: Are you interested in a specific group of people? Can your topic be narrowed by gender, sex, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status or something else? Are there any key figures related to your topic?
What: What are the issues surrounding your topic? Are there subtopics? In looking at background information, did you notice any gaps or questions that seemed unanswered?
Where: Can your topic be narrowed down to a geographic location? Warning: Don't get too narrow here. You might not be able to find enough information on a town or state.
When: Is your topic current or historical? Is it confined to a specific time period? Was there a causative event that led your topic to become an area of study?
Why: Why are you interested in this topic? Why should others be interested?
How: What kinds of information do you need? Primary sources, statistics? What is your methodology?