This may be much earlier in the research process than you're used to, but experienced researchers find it very helpful to create a thesis statement and even a very brief outline before searching for resources.
A thesis statement:
- tells you define the point of your research
- helps organize and develop your argument
- limits your subject to a particular focus related to a larger topic
- is supported by the evidence you found in your research
- points to your conclusion
Like the "scientific method" used in an applied research project, the thesis statement created at this pre-writing stage is like a hypothesis that must be proved or disproved. Count on changing it after you have found enough information to support or refute your statement.
Remember: the research process is NOT truly as linear as it appears.