The Research Subject Area

In the past twenty years, an exciting revolution has taken place in archaeology. The story of how human beings first arrived in the Americas has been, and is continuing to be, drastically rewritten. Until recently, archaeologists and anthropologists believed that the American continents were populated as the result of a continuous process of immigration across the Bering Straits around the time of the last Ice Age.

New discoveries have changed this story dramatically. The possible dates of immigration have been pushed ever farther into the prehistoric past, the origins of the immigrants have increasingly come to be seen as uncertain and potentially diverse, and the existence of multiple routes (and periods) of immigration now seems likely.

For this exercise, then, I am going to take you through the early stages of finding and evaluating sources in the following subject area:

"Native American Remains and the Peopling of the Americas"

Be forewarned: This is a broad subject area, not a narrow research topic appropriate for a college research paper! I have chosen it because it is broad enough to enable you to find a much narrower topic within it. (Review the difference between a subject area and a research topic; see The Research Process, pp. 19-21.)

I have chosen it for another reason, too: The amount of information in this subject area is so vast that you will immediately feel overwhelmed by it. My goal is not to drown you in seas of source material, but rather to provide an initiation into the state of mind that every on-line researcher feels at one time or another: "There is just too much information to master!" It's a hopeless feeling. My goal is to toss you a life preserver at the very moments when you feel that you are about to drown.

Important: If you have on old browser that does not support frames, in order to view the tutorial while looking simultaneously at online resources, you may select "I prefer no frames," below. Then you will need to open two browser windows--one for the instructions, and one for Web browsing.

If you are not sure whether your browser supports frames or not, choose "I prefer frames," and my tutorial will automatically direct you to the appropriate version. (Be aware that if you click the "Back" or "Reload" button on your browser, it will return you to the initial frame in a sequence, and you may need to click forward several pages to return to the frame that you left.)

If you are taking this tutorial at an off-campus location, follow the Wright State University library instructions to access proprietary resources (such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online) by using your campus username and password.

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