Start with a recent article. Read its literature review. Follow its citations.
Start with an article that is highly relevant. See who cites it.
A good literature review is not a list of paper summaries. It uncovers a structured argument that is made in the literature.
Your goal is to determine areas of agreement and disagreement and their causes.
Ideally, you end up with a coherent narrative on how the literature has evolved. If you are lucky, the literature starts simple and then cumulatively builds on previous work. Unfortunately, this rarely works in economics.
Example: measuring the human capital stock of a country
Early literature: years of schooling. Unanswered question: how much does a year of schooling contribute to output?
Mincer literature: Use a Mincer equation to convert years of schooling into efficiency units of labor.
Implicit assumption: a year of schooling contributes the same to output in all countries. We should account for “school quality” differences.
Production function approach: To measure “school quality,” assume a human capital production function and measure inputs (such as school spending).
Drawback: findings depend on lot on the production function and identification strategy. Identification is very indirect.
Immigrant earnings approach: Measure human capital of a country by observing its workers in the U.S. labor market.
Drawback: assumptions on migrant selection must be made. Etc …
Searching google scholar for references yields thousands of hits. You need to select promising ones. A source is promising if:
it is published in a good journal
it is written by a prominent author (e.g., at a top university)
it is cited many times
Use journal rankings (such as repec’s) to get a sense of the quality of a journal. Rankings often disagree a lot, but they agree on who is near the top.