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Generative AI literacy

This guide will help in taking a critical approach to generative AI.

GenAI and searching

GenAI tools can be useful if you’re looking for an overview of a topic, as a starting point for a search. However you should bear in mind that they may not be reliable sources of information. Whilst it takes longer, searching and reading the literature yourself will give you a much better understanding of a topic.

  • ChatGPT, for example, isn’t a search engine. It’s a tool to generate plausible, but not necessarily accurate, text.
  • The information it generates might be incorrect, out of date, biased or misleading.
  • GenAI tools tend to create rather bland, general responses. They are unlikely to provide enough detail, insight or depth to meet your learning needs, or address the aims of your assignments.

GenAI tools can be a useful starting point when you’re looking for a definition of an unfamiliar term, or an overview of a topic. However you should always verify any information using reliable, fact-checked sources such as encyclopedias, textbooks, journal papers or reliable websites.

Be wary of using GenAI tools to ask for citations relating to your topic. It can ‘hallucinate’ imaginary references to information sources that don’t exist, but which are presented as real. You should only cite reliable sources that you have read yourself. 

Useful resources