It's often helpful to envision the process of completing your work before starting on searches. It allows you the space to organize your thoughts and plan steps so that you don't spend time aimlessly wandering.
Identify & Refine Your Topic
It's difficult to answer a question, if you don't really know what the question is, yet. So, after envisioning the research process, you will want to start mapping out your research topic.
Start with a general topic/broad keyword(s) then narrow it down further as you build, using the 5Ws as you build. As you start mapping out your topic, use a Thesaurus to find alternate terms. Brainstorm for keywords that are most important in defining your topic.
The 5Ws is a framework to help you narrow down your topic and motivates you to ask questions about what your topic such as:
WHO what specific community or person is being impacted?
WHAT what specific event, issue, or thing do I want to focus on? What might be done to address the issue?
WHEN what time period do I want to look at? Is it a range of years? A specific date in which an event occured? This will help you narrow your focus when you are searching for literature. Academically current in STEM fields usually means things written in the last 1-5 years.
WHERE geographically, will I be focusing my research? The United States (too broad), Los Angeles (may be too specific) or California?
WHY why does the topic I am writing about matter? Why should people care?