Reasearch projects can be fun and encompass many aspects of a curriculum! I would suggest your first project be in class, work is partners, and you provide most of the research material for them to use, have them go to computers if available, or work with your school librarian to help them access info/books they can use. Narrow the topic. My first research project with the children was the Presidents. We did together the current president. I supplied all info and told them how I obtained the info. We filled in a question/answer sheet together then I modeled how to use that question/answer sheet to write paragraphs; which in turn became my research report.
Then each child chose from a basket a President name and then they were given a question/answer sheet in which they needed to research and fill in the info. (Name, birthdate date, place of birth, 2 facts about early life, schooling, marriage, children, nickname, 5 facts about their presidency, how/when/when they passed away, etc.) I also asked for them to include at least ONE picture of the President for their cover either hand drawn or computer printed. They could include others if they wanted as long as they wrote a caption underneath each picture.
Other research topics can be:
Study a continent as a class then each child does a researches a country there. Have them draw or include maps showing locations in relation to their home.
States in the US. All state have symbols, animals, flags, different, similar or same landscapes/weather, etc. You can refer to the usmint for lessons using the state quarters.
Animals of a specific habitat.
The Systems of the body/organs/senses.
Compare and contrast research paper. Any of the planets in our solar system, Different kinds of penguins or bears, Alligators and Crocodiles, Fiddles and Violins, Fruits and Vegetables, Seals and Sea Lions, Tortoise and Turtle. Those are all I can think of off hand. There was a great article explaining the main differences between other topics in my local newspaper. If I can locate it I'll repost more.
Instead of writing a paper the students can also present their researched information in a cereal box project form, or make a vest, or a pennant.
I recently found the idea of using file folder with library pocketrs glued inside. On each pocket you write a bit of info you would like the child to take notes on. THen the child stores the note cards in the appropriate pocket. This allows the child to be organized and for you to take a quick look at progress.
The file folder idea worked great! I actually bought colored pockets with matching library pocket cards. I chose to use five pockets to represent 5 paragraphs. This way the kids visually see the lay out of the paragraphs. Plus if they mix up the cards they can figure out which pocket it goes with. Great ESOL and ESE strategy. My ESE kids and ESOL kids did a great job.