Artificial Intelligence Guide

We live in fascinating and/or potentially frightening times. As technologies once considered futuristic start becoming commonplace, they could radically reshape our lives, as well as bring up new ethical concerns. But how does this affect you as a student? 

Artificial Intelligence has become much-talked-about in recent years because of the invention of Generative AI, such as the Large Language Model used by ChatGPT. Generative AI tools are able (or at least attempt) to understand and generate human language. They do this by analysing enormous banks of data. ChatGPT’s model was trained on billions of webpages, including Wikipedia and Reddit. They identify patterns, and then apply those patterns in response to a prompt. This makes them very powerful and easy to use, which makes it all the more important for you as a responsible student to learn how to use them carefully, if you choose to use them. 


The Limitations of AI 

Generative AI is an amazing technology, but it is still far from perfect: 

  • AI tools are not all-knowing arbiters of truth. In fact they are often known to ‘hallucinate’, which is when AI generates false information because it has misinterpreted data and seen a pattern that does not exist in reality.  
  • AI tools do not have access to materials behind paywalls, which includes most academic journals. This means that any research they conduct will not be complete or academically rigorous. For example, if you ask an AI about a topic, it might base its answer on opinion pieces in newspapers but not journal articles written by academic experts on the topic. 
  • AI tools may not know about recent events or research. They do not sweep the internet everyday, their outputs are based on data which could be from years ago. For example, at the time of writing, ChatGPT has limited knowledge about what’s happened in the world since 2021. 
  • AI tools contain biases. They use data which has been generated by humans, and humans have biases, including unconscious ones. This means that outputs from AIs might not be representative or take account of the full picture. 

For all these reasons, you need to be careful when using AI – you still need to use the critical thinking abilities of your human brain! To help you navigate Artificial Intelligence, here are some do’s and don'ts: 



  • Check with your tutors whether you are allowed to use AI for assessed work. Some computer science programmes allow the reasonable use of AI to demonstrate its abilities, but currently most courses forbid it completely. 
  • If you are using AI to help your research or summarise topics, evaluate what it tells you and check against other, more reliable sources. 
  • If you include AI-generated content or have used AI tools to help you in assessed work, make it clear how and why you used it.  
  • When talking to AI tools, use short, simple sentences and precise, specific words to describe exactly what you want, including the format you want the response to be in. If it doesn’t understand your question, try phrasing it a different way with different words. 


Do not 

  • Never use AI to write essays for you. Learning how to research thoroughly, think critically and write persuasively are key skills you can gain from your course. You will not gain these skills if you get an AI to do the work for you. You risk being suspended from your course if you submit AI-generated work without explicitly stating that it is AI-generated. Assessed work is monitored for the use of Artificial Intelligence. 
  • Do not use AI tools to generate bibliographies. It will generate completely fictitious books and articles. Remember that the AI is generating what it thinks sound like relevant citations, it is not checking whether those citations actually exist. Even if the citations it generates exist, the references may not be formatted correctly or include all of the necessary information.  
  • Never rely on AI for research. Use multiple sources to make sure that your discoveries and insights have reliable foundations. We have over 100 million authoritative articles, books and other items in the Online Library. Our Summon search engine is an excellent research tool which searches across the databases we subscribe to. 


If you have any questions, please contact the Online Library or the Student Advice Centre

No AI was used in the creation of this guide.