Once you've identified your topic, use handbooks and encyclopedias to get overview entries on your specific topic. These entries will describe the key themes, readings, and authors. They should have short lists for further reading which can guide you to key or critical sources on a topic. This is especially helpful when a topic is new to you - it's easy to get overwhelmed by search results when you are new to a topic.
Some examples of online handbooks and encyclopedias relevant to this class:
After you've taken a look at the background literature on your topic, move on to searching the relevant subject databases for scholarly articles on your topic. Look for subject terms and the key authors you've discovered. The most relevant databases tor historical linguistics are:
Citation tracking can be a powerful way to find research on your topic.Citation tracking is used to discover how many times a particular article has been cited by other articles. Some indexes such as Google Scholar will show you how many articles have cited an article. Clicking on the "Cited by" link will bring you to a list of those citations.
So for example if you have a key article that was written in 2013, you can look in the bibliography (aka reference list) for pre-2003 works that the scholar cited and used to develop their arguments. Citation tracking moves forward from that article (post-2013) - it will show you the articles that built on that work. As a general rule, high quality articles attract a greater number of citations.