This is sometimes the hardest step when doing research and writing a paper. Think about an area you would like to write about. Papers are more meaningful when you are interested in the topic or have a personal connection to them. Browsing through the books listed on the Topics overview tab may inspire you.
Once you have a broad area, think about the specific aspects that might be of interest. Depending on the length of your paper, you will probably have to narrow your topic down so it is manageable in 5 pages or so.
Brainstorm on the words that describe your topic. For example, if my topic was: weight training. I can think of several other terms that describe that topic: weightlifting, body building, circuit training, etc.
Then think about the different aspects of that topic you may wish to explore:
programs, diet, injuries, cardiovascular benefits, benefits of fitness, etc.
Use these terms to create your searches.
A good place to begin your research is with specialized encyclopedias so you can get an overview of your topic.
There is a large amount of excellent consumer health information available on the Web from reliable sources that would be helpful for your research. The sites below are suggested sources to begin with.
MedlinePlus is a site developed by the federally-funded National Libraries of Medicine to give people easy access to reliable medical and health information. This is a great place to get information about a disease or condition, prescription and non-presciption drugs, about healthy lifestyles, fitness & exercise, nutrition and disease prevention. The information comes from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies and organizations considered to be generally reliable providers of quality information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) This is the primary online communication channel for the CDC, build to "provide users with credible, reliable health information". Great for overviews and statistics on diseases, injuries, healthy living, etc. Includes access to CDC publications.
World Health Organization The health organization of the United Nations. Great for news, overviews and statistics on global public health issues.
Healthfinder - site from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an easy-to-use, searchable index of carefully reviewed, reliable health information from over 1,700 government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and universities.
MayoClinic.com - Mayo clinic's outstanding medical staff provide extensive information about healthy living including nutrition, exercise, & prevention in addition to disease-specific material.
Search the library catalog to find books.
Search Library databases to find articles published in academic journals, magazines and newspapers. E.g.
Academic Search Complete (EbscoHOST) - magazine & journals articles on all topics, many full text. Best database to start with.
InfoTrac Health Reference Center - Contains articles, excerpts from reference books & pamphlets.
Create your searches using the terms you have identified in step 2. In Library databases, combine your search terms using the word and between terms.
Is your information reliable? Who is responsible for the information - author? sponsoring organization? Is information current?