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Using Generative Artificial Intelligence for Research

This guide introduces students to using generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the context of research.

As a student, it is helpful for you to learn how to use generative AI when your instructor asks or allows you to use these tools for learning or research. Remember that different instructors have their own expectations on whether AI may be used. Also, their expectations on AI may be assignment or project specific. When in doubt, check with your instructor. This guide will:

  • Highlight how AI prompt engineering and problem formulation in the context of research supports you
  • Guide you in creating effective text prompts to generate written content and images
  • Learn how AI can help enhance research and creativity in the art and design fields
  • Raise awareness on the copyright implications of using AI-generated content
  • Provide criteria to evaluate AI outputs
  • Display citation guidelines for AI in multiple styles


The recent proliferation of AI brings transformative change in how you learn at Sheridan and develop the professional skills that you need to thrive beyond post-secondary.  It is estimated that 80% of the workforce will be impacted by AI in some way (Eloundou et al., 2023). As a student, discover how to use AI effectively and responsibly in this guide. Key research and critical thinking skills about prompt engineering, problem formulation, and evaluating AI outputs will support your learning when these tools are permitted in the classroom. 

What is AI?

AI is a branch of computer science that programs machines to do problem-solving and decision-making that mimic what humans can do but at a much faster speed and with greater efficiency. AI has great potential to help make our lives easier with advantages such as improving processes and workflows, facilitating decision-making, and advancing innovations in industries including healthcare (Maheshwari, 2023). However, the technology presents risks and raises many ethical and legal questions. One of the criticisms is AI hallucination - when AI produces inaccurate or nonsensical results (Thorbecke, 2023). Hence, it is important for us to not be completely dependent on AI to perform our work.  

What is generative AI?

Generative AI, a type of AI, can produce different kinds of content such as text, image, audio, and video based on a large amount of existing materials that it is trained on. An AI generator creates new content by drawing from its dataset and predicting what the output is in response to a user prompt. For instance, ChatGPT is a generative AI tool that can make arguments, summarize books, tell jokes, write code, and give students feedback on their writing (Purtill, 2023). ChatGPT works by predicting the next word to each word to form a string of sentences.

Academic integrity implications

Maintaining academic integrity is of crucial importance here at Sheridan, and the inappropriate use of digital technology is considered a breach of our academic standards. Please be sure to speak to your professor for clarification on how and when it's appropriate to use Artificial Intelligence for any course at Sheridan College.