Background reading can also help you to identify key authors and texts (whose bibliographies you can use to generate further ideas).
If you find a really useful article or chapter, you could mine itfor all sorts of other useful related material.
An important part of the planning process is scoping out the topic areas that you are researching. It can help to do some brain storming to map out the main topics/concepts you will be looking at.
Mind mapping can be a useful way of capturing these concepts, themes and sub themes - but use whatever technique works best for you.
Ask yourself questions to help you start thinking around your topic, such as;
Break your research topic down in to a number of smaller sub topics and address those in turn, before bringing everything together to answer your overarching research query.
This process will help you develop your understanding of exactly what it is you are going to be looking at as you will need to think around your broad topic and start exploring the connections between various sub topics and themes.
As you move through your research you may wish to refresh your scoping exercise in order to encompass new areas you discover as you begin to explore the literature or to close off particular avenues of research that you considered at the outset.