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Generative Artificial Intelligence: Using Generative AI Tools

Academic Integrity Reminder

Utilizing GenAI tools effectively involves choosing the right tool for the task at hand, crafting prompts that generate the output you want/expect, 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 fact-check any AI-generated content and sources you plan to use in the work you share with others and/or publish. Students should only use these tools within the guidelines established by instructors and the Academic Integrity Office. 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, whether it is your own or someone else's.

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 popular AI chatbots, but the landscape changes rapidly.

This guide primarily features free and freemium tools. We recommend experimenting with these options before investing in any paid subscriptions. Unless you need a feature that is unique to another tool, we also highly recommend choosing chatbots that connect to the internet and provide links so that you can verify their claims.

Microsoft Copilot (also known as Bing)




Google Gemini (formerly known as Bard)

Meta AI

Meta's popular, open source Llama model powers many different tools. Meta AI's assistant is available as a stand-alone app and infused throughout Meta's products like Facebook and Instagram. The assistant in Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp messengers is designed to provide personalized and empathetic responses, understand context and nuances of human conversations, and offer creative solutions and ideas.



Test other chatbots


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 & Writing Assistants

GPT-powered tools

Google-powered tools


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

Most AI image generating sites operate on a freemium model where users are allotted a set number of credits. For many tools, the credits reset daily or monthly, but some tools provide only a one-time allotment. Users who pay for accounts can generally unlock more credits and/or premium features. We do not recommend paying for any sites without further research.


DALL-E is OpenAI's text-to-image model. DALL-E 3 is included in a ChatGPT Plus subscription or available for free via Copilot Design.



Stable Diffusion and SD-powered tools

Stable Diffusion is a family of popular open source text-to-image models created by Stability AI. Anyone can download and run the code on their own PC, and a plethora of generative AI sites have incorporated Stable Diffusion code into their tools in both its original form and modified through low-ranking adaptation (LoRA), an AI training technique that helps to fine-tune the models.

Popular free tools


Music Generators

Transcription & Captioning

Code Generation

AI-powered Tools Directories