Here are two I use, in brief (keep in mind I teach adult learners, so the analogies reflect that):
- Information evaluation is skill you already possess. E.g: How many of you go grocery shopping? When buying milk or a piece of meat, what do you look at before buying? Expiration date, brand, price, nutrition information, right? No one really had to teach you that skill. You just don't want to end up with spoiled food. Same thing applies to information. You just need to think a little more deliberately about it at first and then you'll start doing it naturally and make sure you don't include any rotten or spoiled pieces of information in your paper! (handout related to this)
- Research requires planning and adaptation. If you've ever put together or even attended a dinner party, birthday party, shower, or wedding, you probably know that at least in part, a failed party was due to poor or non-existent planning, or perhaps too rigid a plan, right? If some thought wasn't put into what supplies and entertainment and floor planning was needed, or if some flexibility wasn't intentionally built into a party plan, allowing for things to change if needed, disaster can easily follow. The same thing applies to doing a research assignment. Your professors can spot a poorly planned paper from a mile away and your grade will often reflect that. So I'm here to tell you, start thinking strategically about your research assignments in advance. What information do you need? When can I devote time to doing that research? But also think of doing research as a loose plan that can and often does need adjustment. If your original research topic or thesis doesn't fit what you're finding when you start searching and reading the literature, think about adapting your topic. If your search strategy isn't finding any relevant information, think about adapting your search strategy. Am I using the most effective search terms? Have I combined those terms in a way the tool I'm using can understand?
What analogies do you use?