This is a great question. If I am working on any sort of project, there are three very important considerations.
First, I need to limit the scope of the work. As you know, any project can go on and on. For this reason, the limitation and scope of the work needs to be established right away.
Second, I would need to know all the relevant and important sources. For example, if I am working on a sociological project on education, then I need to know what the sources are and how I could get them. Without sources, there will be no possible project.
Finally, I would need a thesis and some theories to work into my thesis. I would say that this is the most important point. Theories help you look at things in a fresh new way and a thesis keeps your work focused.