I find the organization and "stages" listed in this document to be quite helpful in understanding how to move through backwards planning. This might be powerful to give to students before they write a research paper, or begin a significant project. They could plan what they might need to do to create their best work!
I find that students love looking at other students work. Consider being transparent about your unit planning intentions with your students and have them examine student work to see how they prepared. What might these students have learned to be successful? What might they (your students) need to learn to be successful on a research paper?