1. Exploit good bibliographies. If there's a great book or article related to your topic, check out what that author cited. If you find a source that is highly relevant to your topic, search for it in Google Scholar and use the "Cited By" link to find out who has cited it since it was published.
2. Consider using reference books/e-books to get started on a topic. These can give you "the big picture" for your topic, and enable you to identify key participants, dates, events, and concepts. Review articles like those found in Annual Reviews and Oxford Bibliographies can also help you get a sense of the state of knowledge on your topic.
3. Make the most of the library's databases. Google Scholar is one place to search a very wide range of literature, but the library also subscribes to many subject-specific databases that will restrict your search to only political, or other social science sources. See the for Databases section of this guide links to these.
4. Don't wait until the last minute. Start to develop your topic/bibliography now so that you have time to request any materials you might need from E-ZBorrow/Interlibrary Loan.
5. Make a research appointment with a librarian for one-on-one help.