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After you decide what you are interested in writing about, your first step in actually writing your paper is defining your topic. This step involves doing some background investigating using a dictionary or encyclopedia, and also brainstorming your topic to identify all of it's aspects!
Some people find that Mind Mapping is a good brainstorming activity. There are many computer applications that support mind mapping, so feel free to use any of them!
Once you decide what topic you want to write about, the dictionary is a great place to start your research. It's possible that you already have a good idea what the words in your research question mean, but you'll be surprised what you can learn about the rhetorical significance of a word when you look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary or the Thematic Dictionary of American Slang!
Oxford English Dictionary
The OED Online contains the complete text of the 20-volume Second Edition, first published in 1989, together with its 3-volume Additions Series, published in 1993 (volumes 1 and 2) and 1997 (volume 3).
The Oxford Reference Online Premium collection contains reference books covering a wide variety of topics; dictionaries of architecture, plants, geography, literature, mathematics, mythology, and many others. Includes the popular “Oxford Companion” series.
Encyclopaedia Britannica Online includes the complete encyclopedia, as well as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, Britannica Student Encyclopedia and the Britannica Book of the Year. Included are articles, updated and revised by Encyclopaedia Britannica editors and contributors; illustrations, including photographs, drawings, maps, and flags; and various other entries including definitions, pronunciation guides, and word histories.
Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints
Access to viewpoint articles, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents and websites on social issues.