Last edited on November 7, 2023


Generative AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Microsoft Bing, have the capability to produce new content, ranging from text and images to sounds and video. This guide will primarily focus on how generative AI can generate text and its implications in the realm of academic writing.

Understanding generative AI

  1. Definition: Generative AI uses Large Language Models (LLMs) to quickly provide written answers to user queries. By analyzing enormous amounts of textual data, LLMs can discern patterns and predict subsequent words, thereby creating new content resembling human intelligence.
  2. Functionality: LLMs use intricate neural networks to produce writing mimicking human-like styles. The vast textual data for LLMs originates from the internet, but the exact sources remain ambiguous. These tools can't always differentiate between accurate and inaccurate or biased information, potentially leading to errors or biases in the content.
  3. Prompting: This involves asking the AI a question or making a request. It's comparable to searching in a web browser but offers more sophisticated outcomes with effective prompts. Experimenting with different prompts, from simple to complex, can yield diverse results.

Benefits of using generative AI in academic writing

  1. Brainstorming: By prompting the AI with keywords from your topic, you can explore various concepts and ideas to refine your research focus.
  2. Outline generation: AI can produce various outlines, helping you decide on the structure of your draft.
  3. Model creation: For unfamiliar writing formats, AI can provide samples to guide your writing process.
  4. Summarization: Use AI to obtain summaries of lengthy texts, aiding in comprehending key points.
  5. Editing: Improve sentence structure and check for grammatical errors using AI.
  6. Translation: While not perfect, AI can assist in translating content.
  7. Transactional communication: Draft emails, agendas, and other communications with AI's assistance.

Potential pitfalls

  1. Inaccuracy: Since AI gathers data from the internet, there's potential for misinformation or misleading content.
  2. Fabrication: AI tools can sometimes generate content that seems logical but is entirely or partly fictitious.
  3. Biases: The responses might reflect biases present in the data AI was trained on.
  4. Academic integrity: Directly using AI-generated content without proper citation could lead to academic misconduct.
  5. Privacy concerns: Avoid inputting personal data, as AI systems might incorporate it for broader use.
  6. Alteration of ideas: AI might unintentionally change the original meaning of paraphrased or polished content.

Consulting your instructor

Always refer to your instructor regarding the use of AI tools in your coursework. While some may permit its use to aid your writing process, others might have reservations. Always ensure that AI tools augment your thinking and writing, rather than replacing them entirely. Remember, you're accountable for the content you submit.

These tools, although in their infancy, could be pivotal in both academia and post-university careers. It's beneficial to familiarize yourself with them now.

Given the rapid evolution of generative AI, expect updates as technology and academic environments evolve. Ensure that you check this website periodically.