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Generative Artificial Intelligence: Using Generative AI Tools

Academic Integrity Reminder

Effective utilization of GenAI tools involves choosing the right tool for the task at hand, crafting prompts that generate the results you are seeking, AND using the tools ethically and with integrity. While this section of the guide focuses on crafting prompts and evaluating and choosing specific tools, be sure to make sure it is ethical to use AI (see AI and Academic Integrity) and fact-check any content and sources you plan to use in the work you share with others or publish that has been generated by AI. Students should only use these tools within the guidelines established by instructors and campus policy. Employees should follow guidelines established by their employer, whether that is UC San Diego or another entity. Make sure to document/cite the parts of the work created by the GenAI tool. Do not include anyone's Personal Identifiable Information (PII) in your prompts.

How to Write Prompts

Learn Prompting defines "prompt engineering" as "the process of communicating effectively with an AI to achieve desired results."

Using GenAI tools effectively requires that the user know the right questions to ask, and how to phrase them for the best results. Vague or generic questions generate vague or generic results. (In other words, garbage in, garbage out.)

Tips for crafting prompts to get the best results from chatbots:

  • Use the CLEAR Framework
    • Concise
    • Logical
    • Explicit
    • Adaptive
    • Reflective
  • Be specific about the format of the output - number of words or paragraphs, writing style or tone, reading level, formatting such as bullet points, a table, html, css, etc.
  • Instruct the chatbot to take on an expert role: for example, "act as a mathematician" or "take on the role of a professional news blogger" or "I want you to act as a Linux terminal."
  • Provide the chatbot with examples or a reference text.
  • Split complex tasks into simpler subtasks. 
  • Beware hallucinations, or the chatbot confidently stating incorrect or made up information. If you are unfamiliar with the topic, check the chatbot's work. Treat the chatbot like a brand new assistant who is eager to please but doesn't know what they don't know. ChatGPT and other chatbots are notorious for making up citations to sources that simply do not exist. Microsoft Copilot (Bing Chat), Google Search Generative Experience, or Perplexity may be better choices because they provide links to the websites they claim as information sources.  

Comparing the AI Chatbots

Many tech reviewers have published comparisons between ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot (Bing Chat), and Gemini (Bard), reviewing the responses of each to a variety of prompts. The paid subscription version of ChatGPT, powered by GPT-4, almost always scores the highest. Microsoft Copilot, which is also powered by GPT-4 plus Bing web search, often scores well and has the added bonuses of being free and linking back to websites containing the information it provides. Google's Gemini (Bard) is accessible to anyone with a Google account and is now competitive with Copilot and ChatGPT. Google SGE (Search Generative Experience) seems to combine the best of Google searching and AI chatbot. Perplexity is a less-known but powerful conversational AI search engine that also includes an Academic focus.


If you are working on a project that requires citations, you want to confirm the generative AI chatbot's information sources, or you are seeking information newer than would be included in the chatbot's large language model (LLM), you will want to use a generative AI tool with internet search capabilities like Microsoft Copilot (Bing Chat) or Google SGE (Search Generative Experience).

Citation & Research Assistance Tools

Summary Tools

Text Generators


GPT-powered tools


Google-powered tools


Other Generative AI chatbots


Other AI-powered tools to improve your writing. Students take note: please make sure that you are using these in accordance with your instructor's rules on use of generative AI and the Academic Integrity Office's guidelines. If you have questions or concerns, please consult your instructor first.

Image and Media Generators

Music Generators

Transcription & Captioning

Building AI-powered apps

AI-powered Tools Directories