Break big assignments into small steps so students aren't overwhelmed. (Proposal, source list, outline, draft, etc.) Here are links to 2 short readings about staging learning:
Primary scientific literature can be intimidating to 1st-year students (not to mention upper-level students). This article discusses a variety of ways to have your students engage with the literature:
Oregon State University Libraries has an entire blog devoted to effective research assignments that's worth checking out. Many of them are tied to the ACRL Information Literacy Framework.
Keep in mind the tips below when designing a research assignment. Librarians are also happy to work with you on assignment design. And there are many alternatives to the research paper -- see box to the left!
Library Resources for Assignment
Research Process & Skills
Ethical Use of Information