I would say that this is not abnormal. What you are looking for from this project appears to be different from the teacher's criteria. In middle school, an important skill that is being learned is the ability to take information and summarize in your own words. In essence, this is note-taking. Not all projects are research-based, this one appears to be skill-based.
If you are questioning the activity though, please contact the teacher, or better yet, ask your DD to go to their teacher after class to clarify. If possible, your DD might be able to add on a research option ON TOP of what was assigned for higher marks, but again, that just might not be the point.