Barbara Fister has a very interesting article on the Inside Higher Ed's Library Babel Fish blog called Why the "Research Paper" Isn't Working. She argues that the first year of college isn't the time to hammer in the nitty gritties of citation styles. Nor is it time to have students write the traditional research paper.
I heartily agree. Citation styles are ridiculously specific. I find myself telling students all the time that most professors aren't going to give them a hard time about how they cited a website (or other challenging source to site) - in most cases, the professor has no idea how to do it either (nor do I, for that matter - or at least, no idea on how to make it close to perfect).
The traditional research paper is also very hard for intro students. It's hard to go out and research the literature of an unfamiliar field, combine all that data, and produce a coherent paper. Especially when faculty are demanding peer-reviewed articles. I'm always surprised at the number of students in intro courses who come into the library saying they need peer-reviewed articles. I can't even read the peer-reviewed science stuff - why are they asking students to? I understand that becoming familiar with peer-reviewed research is key, but wait until students are beyond the intro courses and have a knowledge base on which to build.
A very interesting article - well-worth a read.