Sort of like an episode recap at the beginning of a tv show, reference sources are designed to get you up to speed on a subject quickly, providing background information and the history of a topic. Reference materials can be very general or can be discipline-specific (like specialized subject encyclopedias). Researchers use encyclopedic and reference sources to establish a fuller picture of the players, conditions, perspectives and events related to their topics.
Gale Virtual Reference gives better results when you choose one or two commonly recognized keywords, as a opposed to a whole phrase or question (e.g., rather than, What makes people believe urban legends? try keywords like urban legends psychology).
As you progress in college, you'll learn more about the nature of scholarly communication, and what it means that an article is "peer reviewed" or "scholarly." Academic Search Complete offers a way to limit your search to "Scholarly (peer reviewed) journals." Just check the box, and Academic Search Complete will skip over news and magazine articles that aren't peer reviewed, and give you only results from "scholarly journals."
Each academic discipline has specialized ways of doing research and specialized tools for finding sources. The Research Guides at the Campus Library serve as an introduction to doing research in the interdisciplinary areas of study that you'll find at UW Bothell. These Research Guides by Subject provide access to the research tools (journal article databases, catalogs, background information, data sources, web sites, and more) important in that area of study.
To locate the full text of an article in a database, use the purple button: