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AI & Generative Chat Tools

Library guide on artificial intelligence tools and citing

Generative AI in Action

Image generated by Craiyon from the prompt "University of Iowa"

Critical thinking is especially important when evaluating and interpreting AI-generated results. If we look at these AI-generated images, and compare them to what the University of Iowa actually looks like, there is no question that these results are not at all accurate, including the logo, building designs and icons.

There is no documentation of how and why this AI-generated tool built these pictures or the accuracy in sourcing. This can make it challenging further to understand what is right and wrong while using AI. The key is to check your sources, use multiple sources for research and back-up your content through references. As we navigate the changing environment of AI, it is important to note that we are all learning, re-learning and working through the accuracy and effectiveness of different generative artificial intelligence tools. 

Reference: University of San Diego Libraries

Image of the output generated by generative AI tool, Craiyon when searching "university of iowa"

How to Write Prompts

Using generative AI tools effectively requires the user to know the right questions to ask, and how to phrase them for the best results. Vague or generic questions generate vague or generic results. (In other words, garbage in, garbage out.) It's important to remember to use generative AI tools wisely and that feeding personal information or works under copyright into an AI system should be avoided.

Tips for crafting prompts to get the best results from chatbots:

  • Write clear instructions: be specific about the format of the output - number of words or paragraphs, writing style or tone, reading level, formatting such as bullet points, a table, html, css, etc. Treat the chatbot like a brand new assistant who is eager to please but doesn't know what they don't know.
  • Instruct the chatbot to take on an expert role: for example, "act as a mathematician" or "take on the role of a professional news blogger" or "I want you to act as a Linux terminal."
  • Provide the chatbot with examples or a reference text.
  • Split complex tasks into simpler subtasks. 
  • Beware hallucinations, or the chatbot confidently stating incorrect or made up information. If you are unfamiliar with the topic, check the chatbot's work. ChatGPT and other chatbots are notorious for making up citations to sources that simply do not exist. CoPilot, LABS.Google (Google Search Generative Experience), or Perplexity may be better choices because they provide links to the websites they claim as information sources.  

Comparing the AI Chatbots

Many tech reviewers have published comparisons between ChatGPT and CoPilot, reviewing the responses of each to a variety of prompts. The paid subscription version of ChatGPT, powered by GPT-4, almost always scores the highest. Bing (now referred to as CoPilot in Edge), which is also powered by GPT-4 plus Bing web search, often scores well and has the added bonuses of being free and linking back to websites containing the information it provides. 


Perplexity AI is an AI-powered search engine and chatbot that leverages advanced technologies like natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to provide accurate and comprehensive answers to user queries. Designed to search the web in real-time, it offers up-to-date information on a wide range of topics. With an intuitive user interface, Perplexity AI is a valuable resource for students, researchers, and anyone seeking precise answers supported by citations.

Citation & Research Assistance Tools

Litmaps uses the citation network of discoverable literature to build large-scale searching. You can use Litmaps to get alerted when new papers of current topic focus, discover key authors in field, find research gaps and share with other researchers.