As the assignment deadline approaches, students often come up to me asking if they should do this or do that. College (or pre-U) students are particularly intimidated by the fact that they have to do in-text citations, referencing, get their sources from at least five or whatever number of peer-reviewed journal articles and whether they should stick to the Harvard or the American Psychological Association referencing style.
In every game there are rules to be followed. Where there are no rules, you call the shots. But where there are rules, we'd just have to understand each of those rules and then get on with how you are going to build your answer, write your assignment or cook your dishes.
I find students would often become too obsessed with following the rules that they lose sight of the big picture. One day, in a moment of desperation in trying to explain to them how they should approach their assignments, the analogy of a cooking contest came to my mind.
I told them, here are the rules. Just like in a cooking contest, every contestant must use the same types of ingredients to cook up something delicious. The idea is to cook up a dish beautiful enough to score the most points. Cook the dishes, not the ingredients. Until and unless you start asking me about dish-related questions, no amount of ingredients-only and ingredient-related questions will help you write up an assignment paper as half way decent as you'd have hoped for.