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Student Guide to ChatGPT

Which AI tool for your task?

Since there are so many generative AI tools these days, it can be difficult to decide which one to use for a particular task.

A helpful way to think about this is to look at whether the tool is grounded in a source of facts.

Not grounded - these models rely only on their training data

Grounded - these models can also use web search results or other types of search results (see below)

Wordsmithing tasks (that don't involve search)

Task Use any of these free tools
  • Brainstorming ideas or examples
  • Narrowing your topic ideas for a research paper
  • Get ideas for keywords to search in library databases
  • Summarizing and outlining information
  • Changing the writing level of some text (5 years old, high school, college, faculty level)
  • Changing the writing style (make it more humorous, more formal,
    more satirical, more diplomatic, etc.)

All of these tools also have paid versions that are more capable.

Tasks that involve searching

For any of these tasks... Use any of these free tools
  • Finding and summarizing websites that answer your question
  • Asking questions or getting a summary of information on a specific website
    Example: Please summarize this: [your link here]

These summarize results from web search and link to the sources.

  • Finding scholarly articles
  • Summarizing a particular scholarly article
  • Asking questions of a particular scholarly article
  • Uploading the PDF of a scholarly article and asking questions or getting a summary.

Start with library databases and Google Scholar. 
Their coverage is more comprehensive than the tools below.

Then try these additional tools.
Use these to find additional sources that may not have appeared with keyword searching. They use semantic searching, some of them based on Semantic Scholar, others on OpenAlex.

They also include generative AI features, like natural language queries, summarizing, outlining, etc.

These are not 100% free, as most have usage limits.