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cycle of researching information

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Understand AI

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you will be able to:
Identify ethical uses of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in academic work
Craft an effective prompt to assist in your research process
Understand the impact using AI has on bias, copyright violations, societal issues, and more
Correctly cite use of AI tools

Understand A I

These resources and tips can give you a better understanding of how artificial intelligence tools can be used in your academic research. Use these tools responsibly, ethically and under the guidance of your instructor to ensure compliance with CCAC's Academic Integrity policy. Used effectively, AI tools can help with your understanding of a subject and shouldn't be used as a shortcut to completing your assignments.

Words to Know
Tips for Viewing and Using the Tutorials

How to view the tutorials

Click each item's “Access” button to open and view it in a new window. If you are off-campus, you will be taken to the CCAC login page to sign in.

Access tutorial button

How to navigate the tutorials

Tutorials will have navigation links across the top that you will use to advance through the pages. They will look similar to this:

After completing the tutorial, close the browser tab or window to return back to this page.

Access Tutorial: Student Guide to AI

Is AI Reliable?

AI generators collate a response based on your prompt. The output can be impressive, but it is based on an analysis of words and phrases found throughout websites and then generated based on the prompt. Results can be inaccurate, nonsensical, biased and lack any supporting resources. Make certain to check the output!

Useful For:

Brainstorming & search terms

Generating outlines

Focusing a topic

Understanding difficult subjects

Not Recommended For:

Writing an essay or speech

Providing references

Verifiable information

Unbiased perspectives

What Is A Prompt?

An AI prompt is a specific instruction you give a powerful computer program, like telling a barista your coffee order. The clearer your prompt, the better the AI understands what you want it to do, like write an essay or translate a text.

"AI Prompt Definition." Google Gemini, 8 May 2024.

Define the goal: Identify the purpose of the prompt and what the output should be.

Be specific: Include precise instructions and keywords or phrases.

Stay concise: Keep each prompt short, but continue the conversation with follow up prompts.

Provide the output: Define what you want: an outline, list of terms, or a short paragraph of ideas.

A series of prompts can be a conversation with the AI tool. This back-and-forth chat allows you to give directions and then build on ideas, refining each step as you progress through the interaction.

Prompt Examples


Generate five potential research questions related to global food security.
Suggest three essay topics that explore the ethical implications of using AI in college.
I need to write a five page paper for an ENG 102 class on social media and teenagers. What are some questions that I could consider?
Provide a list of 5 topics on how technology is changing the medical field.


Give me a list of search terms that I could use for a paper on social media and teenagers.
I'm writing a paper on wearable health monitoring devices. What are some search terms that I can use for my research?
I am writing an ethical argument essay on the right to die; what is a search strategy for my library databases?
Generate 10 keywords that will help me explore this question: "What are the issues of legalization of marijuana?"


Create a detailed outline for a research paper discussing the psychological effects of social media on adolescents for an informative English research paper.
Write a simple outline for a three page argumentative paper on issues of global warming.
Give me an outline for an informative speech on the pros and cons of vaccinations.

Why Cite AI?

If you're using AI tools for any of your research, you should include that in your citations, just like you would any other source. Even if you are using AI to help with a draft or outline, you'll want to acknowledge that with a sentence at the beginning or end of the paper that says something like, "This paper was produced with drafting support from Google Gemini AI." Your instructor might have specific conventions for how they would like to list this as well, so it is always best practice to check in with them!


Building blocks

  • Author: Do not treat the AI as an author; MLA is reserving that for human authors. Omit the author section of the citation.
  • Title of source: Describe what was generated by the AI tool. If you have not included information about the prompt in the text of your essay, you need to do that here.
  • Title of container: The name of the AI tool. 
  • Version: Name the version of the AI tool as specifically as possible. 
  • Date: Include the date the content was generated. 
  • Location: Give the URL for the tool. If possible, give the URL for the specific content. (Note: the style guide post is slightly out of date; you can now send someone a URL of your ChatGPT conversation. This is the URL you should use in your citation.)


"Prompt text" prompt. AI tool, version of tool, company that made the tool, date text was generated. URL. 


  • In-text citation: ("Describe the symbolism")
  • Works Cited: “Describe the symbolism of the green light in the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald” prompt. ChatGPT, 13 Feb. version, OpenAI, 8 Mar. 2023,

Check out the MLA Style Guide for more information.


Building blocks

  • Author: Use the creator of the AI as the author (e.g. OpenAI, Google, etc.)
  • Date: Include the date the content was generated. 
  • Title: Use the name of the AI tool (e.g. ChatGPT, Bard)
  • Version: Name the version of the AI tool as specifically as possible. 
  • Description: In brackets, clarify that this is a large language model, or another specific type of generative AI.
  • Location: Give the URL for the tool. If possible, give the URL for the specific content. (Note: the style guide post is slightly out of date; you can now send someone a URL of your ChatGPT conversation. This is the URL you should use in your citation.)


Company that made the tool (date text was generated). AI tool (version of tool) [Large language model]. URL. 


  • In-text citation: (OpenAI, 2023)
  • References: OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].

Check out the APA Style Guide for more information.

Chicago Style

In Chicago, you'll cite generative AI differently depending on whether or not you included the prompt in the text of your paper. If you included it in your paper, you don't need to repeat it in the citation. 

Building blocks

  • Author: Treat the AI as the author. If you're footnoting quoted text, say "Text generated by [the AI tool]."
  • Date: Include the date the content was generated. 
  • Publisher: Use the company that created the AI (e.g. OpenAI, Google)
  • Location: Give the URL for the tool. If possible, give the URL for the specific content.


Prompt already included in paper:

1. Text generated by [name of the AI tool], date, Company that made the tool, URL.

Prompt not yet included in paper: 

1. [Name of the AI tool], response to "prompt," date text was generated, Company that made the tool, URL.


  • Prompt already included in paper: 1. Text generated by ChatGPT, March 7, 2023, OpenAI,
  • Prompt not yet included in paper: 1. ChatGPT, response to “Explain how to make pizza dough from common household ingredients,” March 7, 2023, OpenAI,

Check out the Chicago Style Guide for more information

Popular AI Tools

google gemini logo

Created by Google, Gemini has multimodal capabilities across text, images, audio, video and code.

copilot logo

Developed by Microsoft, Copilot can assist with various tasks and integrate with the Office suite.

chatgpt logo

Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT 3.5 can generate conversations based on the prompts on any topic.

logo perplexity

Created by Anthropic, Perplexity is a cross between an AI generator and a search engine; it will respond to prompts and provide links to the websites or other sources it used to answer your question

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