Understanding what others have done is critical to being able to identify problems, improve how you solve problems, and communicate how your solutions relate to what has been done before. Here are a few sites that facilitate finding both published and not (yet) published academic papers. Additionally, many researchers link to their published papers off of their website.
There are many helpful pieces of advice out there; here are a few that ring true with me.
Above all, though, seek advice in person: from your classmates, your professors, your friends and family members... Be open to others' advice, seek it out. Just remember that advice is not command: incorporate the advice you receive into your own unique perspective, and share it to help shape others'.
Most researchers write their papers using LaTeX. Getting to know this tool will make it easier to jump right into working with a research group. Here are some resources to help you learn and master LaTeX.