For an introduction to research (after we do a small unit on finding reliable information and paraphrasing), I have my students research something about their "roots." This can be anything to do with their family heritage, special food, religion, music, etc. I tell them it should be something significant that has defined them.
This is the overview of the project in step by step detail. I go over this with them and then have them brainstorm. The next day, we go to the computer lab, and they do an initial search for five sources in the chart provided. Then they print off the best three of these sources to highlight and annotate, which we do in class the following day. We then return to the computer lab for 3-4 days when they pick subtopics under which they can categorize their information, paraphrase the info on their paraphrasing sheets, and put it into presentation (usually powerpoint) format.