Project Information Literacy found that even though many students consider themselves proficient at finding information, they struggle to determine the nature and scope of a research assignment and what is required of them (36).
In addition, most students have a vague idea as to what academic research is and how to do it. When PIL researchers asked students to define what they think the term "research" means, they found that most students believe research to be a rudimentary rehash of publications. It helps students to have the term "research" defined for them.
A clear way to define research for students is to set clear goals (expectations about research beyond just the style guide format). This also makes the evaluation process more transparent.
Here is a set of general standards developed by UC Berkeley for students to meet in order to demonstrate critical thinking and information literacy, the ability to locate, evaluate, and use information effectively. The Research Evaluation Rubric below uses the three levels of Beginning - Competent - Excellent for a set of skills that would be ideal for all students to have acquired by graduation.