After you have obtained a working knowledge of your topic, focus on one aspect of it. Why? It is impossible to cover everything about, say, Arabian Nights in 5-10 pages. But, you could focus on how this work gives insight into contemporary Arabian culture. Alternately, you could compare this epic to another epic from another culture (like TheOdyssey). Narrowing your topic allows you to go into it in more depth and analysis. Remember, your job as a student is to contribute to the discussion on your topic: You want to offer up your own insight or interpretation of it and not merely summarize those of others.
Now, identify controversies or questions related to your narrowed topic.
Write down your preliminary question
Use these prompts to help you start thinking about your research question. Feel free to change the question to the future or past tense if that is more appropriate for your topic. Keep in mind that your research question will change as you research and write--it is all a part of the process!