If you say "research" to a high school student (or any person really), they equate that with "looking stuff up on line". The phrase "I did some research on _______ and found out that_______ was true" is sent around all over the place. Now, while it is valuable/important to look things up in order to gain more understanding...that skill is completely separate from research. Research is the solving of a problem, or the discovery of new knowledge. Reporting, Googling, or "looking stuff up online" is just scanning what's already been done.
I can't blame my students, or really the general population, for the miscommunication...because we essentially teach them the opposite through most of high school. A "research paper" typically means finding sources, copying the information with citations on to notecards, typing that information on to an outline, and then converting that outline into a paper. The information presented rarely demonstrates any sort of "new" concept...just a rehash of old facts that have been rightly trapped in books. It's a skill that's large moot now...reporting that is...while research is just as important as ever. Sadly, they've been lumped together and it's very difficult to separate them outside a formal course of research.
Still, the project is in the early stages. By the time everything is said and done, I'm sure they'll be plenty of research to go around. In the mean time, I'll push hard to assure the students leave the "reporting" to the school newspaper"