Think of this stage as preliminary research. You wouldn't bake a cake without knowing what ingredients to use, or climb a mountain without the proper equipment. Same for research projects!
Finding background information is really important, especially if you are completely unfamiliar with your topic. You can look in reference materials, like encyclopedias, to get a sense of important dates, persons, and other keywords to search.
Something you might look for is a book or article with <your topic> and "introduction" or "overview". For example, if you were writing a paper on climate change, perhaps there's a book called "An Introduction to Climate Change".
So Wikipedia can actually be a great resource for getting familiar with your topic. But don't let that be your only source of background information!
Don't fall victim to Wikiality!
Sometimes we have reference databases or encyclopedias that can help you get started. Here are some that might be useful: