4. Using AI tools in your studies

Generative AI has seen amazing advances in recent years and is likely to continue to evolve rapidly. Generative AI is able to generate new data, such as text, images and audio, that is similar to existing data. This type of AI is trained using deep learning techniques and can be used in a variety of applications.

There is potential for you to use generative AI responsibly to assist you in your studies but there are also risks that you must consider when using this type of technology.

Ways you can use Generative AI tools to help you study

Studying helps you to develop critical thinking, communication skills, problem-solving and knowledge in your field. You can use generative AI tools to help you build these skills.

Use Generative AI tools to help you:

  • Understand content
    • Explain concepts and terms
    • Explain code
    • Practice questions and answers
    • Simplify language or jargon
    • Translate from other languages
  • Summarise content
    • From text
    • From websites
    • From PDFs.  Note: Do not upload content with copyright restrictions such as resources accessed through your UQ login and course materials.
  • Create content or drafts
    • Outlines for documents or presentations
    • Brainstorm ideas
    • Write emails
    • Generate images
    • Draft code
  • Refine or get feedback
  • Perform repetitive tasks
    • Programming tasks
    • Generate tables and organise information from unstructured text
    • Create spreadsheets from data.

The next chapter has examples of AI tools and prompts to use to do some of these tasks.

Risks with using generative AI tools for study

You need to consider these risks when using generative AI tools for study or work.


  • Check with your course coordinators if you plan to use generative AI tools to help you complete assignments. Be sure to use the tools in ways that are appropriate for your assignment requirements, and for your learning.
  • Acknowledge any generative tools that you use for your assignments or work and how you used them. For example, include the name, model or version, date used and how you used it in your assignment or work.
  • Verify any information provided by generative AI tools with credible sources and check for missing information.
  • Do not provide any private information when using these tools.
  • Do not upload information you do not own the copyright for, such as journal articles or UQ assessment documents.

Academic integrity

Some assessment pieces do not permit the use of AI tools, while others may allow AI with some limitations. You should check with your course coordinator first.

If you do use AI tools you should acknowledge that usage appropriately. If you don’t you are effectively presenting the work as your own, which puts your academic integrity at risk.

important icon Our ChatGPT and other generative AI tools referencing guide has tips on how to cite or acknowledge your use of these tools.

Another consideration is how the use of AI tools might affect your learning. If you use an AI tool to do something that you were meant to do then you’re not acquiring the skills or knowledge that you are at university to develop.

Incomplete, inaccurate or offensive information

Information provided by generative AI tools may be:

  • Incorrect
  • Out of date
  • Biased or offensive
  • Lacking common sense
  • Lacking originality.

Different generative AI tools have different limitations.

ChatGPT doesn’t have access to:

  • Personal information or private data.
  • Events that happen after the knowledge cut off.
  • Information not present in the dataset used for training.
  • Information that is not available in written or spoken form.
  • Information about very specific or niche topics that are not available publicly.

Source: Answer provided by OpenAI’s ChatGPT version 3 on 27 January 2023 (edited for brevity).

Question and response using ChatGPT

text version provided
Question asked of OpenAI’s ChatGPT version 3 on January 25th, 2023.

Text version of screenshot:

Question: Who is the current British monarch?

ChatGPT response: As of my knowledge cut off, the current British monarch is Queen Elizabeth II. She has been the queen since 1952 and is the longest-reigning current head of state in the world.

Actual correct answer: King Charles III is the current British monarch. Queen Elizabeth died on 8 September 2022. ChatGPT version 3 couldn’t answer this question correctly as it was trained on data sets from prior to 2022.

Tips for confirming the information provided by AI tools

  1. Ask the tool to provide you with sources. You can ask for a specific type of source such as peer reviewed journal articles, news articles or academic sources. You can provide other constraints such as a time limit, e.g. ‘Can you provide academic sources from the last 5 years?’. Writing your prompt in academic or formal language will increase the chance of getting those types of sources. Note that there’s no guarantee that the AI tool will give you what you ask for but these techniques can increase the chance of better outcomes.
  2. Locate the sources provided and confirm the information is real. Generative AI tools will present false information as fact and make up references.
  3. Once you confirm the sources, consider their quality and whether they are appropriate for your task. Our Evaluate information you find page provides suggestions for what to consider, including whether the information might be biased or out-of-date.
  4. Look for other reputable sources which also confirm the information.

“Treat the AI like a slightly unreliable friend. Have a chat, ask some questions. Don’t trust the answers though.”

Source: Can AI do your reading for you and should it?

It’s also known that generative AI tools tend to produce ‘middle-of-the-road’ answers, based on a consensus of the most common information in the AI’s training data.

  • Is the response you’ve been given too conservative?
  • Is there an alternative viewpoint which has been missed?
  • What are your views – do you disagree with the information?

You should continue to think critically as you use the tools for your learning.


With many generative AI tools anything you type in or upload is automatically incorporated into the tool’s training data. For example if you enter information that could identify a person, or sensitive company information, that information could then be given in a response to someone else using the tool. Some tools such as ChatGPT or Gemini have privacy settings which stop the tool incorporating your input, but you should remain aware of privacy issues when using these tools.


There are currently questions about the materials used to train AI and what protection these materials had, which may lead to future legal challenges. This can include anything you upload or enter, which many tools automatically incorporate into their underlying data. You should not enter or upload anything you do not own the copyright for, such as journal articles or UQ assessment documents.

The Complex World of Style, Copyright and Generative AI blog discusses some of the issues around copying works to train AI and whether that should be considered copyright infringement.

A bluish surrealist painting generated by the DALL-E 2
Better Sharing With AI” by Creative Commons was generated by the DALL-E 2 AI platform with the text prompt “A surrealist painting in the style of Salvador Dali of a robot giving a gift to a person playing a cello.” Shared to the public domain via CC0.

Also under Australian copyright law, works created by non-humans are not eligible for copyright protection. This has implications for businesses or other organisations using generative AI tools as they do not necessarily have any legal rights to the generated content.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Artificial Intelligence Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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