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How to search for information: AI in information searching

How to utilize AI in information searching?

AI tools have quickly become a part of a student's toolkit. This page discusses using AI in information searching. Tools mentioned below are examples, not recommendations from the library. Use your own discretion with these tools. Always follow your teacher's instructions and Haaga-Helia's guidelines for AI tools (pdf).

Artificial intelligence cannot be considered an author or literary source. Therefore, you cannot create a reference for AI-generated text, but you should mention the use AI in Haaga-Helia's reports and other course assignments. Instructions are available in Reference Help Libguide.

Generative AI tools

ChatGPT, Microsoft's Copilot, and Google Gemini are examples of conversational AI tools, which can answer questions, give translations and generate texts, instructions and programming codes for different needs.

How to use them in information searching?

Artificial intelligence is supportive intelligence. It is most beneficial when you already know something about the topic of your search and you are able to assess the text AI has generated. You can, for example:

  • ask AI to suggest search words related to your topic
  • get new perspectives on the subject

Understand the limitations:

  • They can be helpful, but alone they are not sufficient for a student's information searches
  • The free version of ChatGPT can't search information from the Internet. Its training data and thus its knowledge of the world ends in Janurary 2022 and ChatGPT Plus' in April 2023. ChatGPT Plus with a Copilot plug-in, Copilot or Gemini, can also make use of Internet searches when it generates its answers. However, no generative AI is an actual search engine. The information it produces and the sources it provides should be approached critically.
  • Check from other sources if the information generated by AI is true. AI also generates incomplete and false information and sometimes complete nonsense.
  • It's not worth asking AI for in-text references or a list of sources, because
    • it often generates sources that do not exist
    • it can come up with in-text references with page numbers, but the information summarized in the text can't be found on those pages
  • Even if an AI tool gives you a source that actually exists (website, article etc.), it might not be a good source to use in your academic studies. Remember to evaluate sources!
  • Consider copyright issues when entering your own texts and especially other people's texts in AI tools. Do you know how the service will handle the data?
  • Do you know how the service uses personal details you gave when signing up?
  • Creating a summary or translation from a text of an e-book or article using AI tools may be convenient, but it may not be permissible. Before entering materials from library’s licensed databases into an AI tool, check the terms of use for licensed content. Enter licensed materials into AI if the terms explicitly permit it. You can find the terms of use for library-provided materials on the Databases A-Z list.

Tools specialized in academic information searching

There are AI tools that are developed for students and reseachers and spesifically intended for searching research publications. Tools can be based on traditional keyword search (for example Semantic Scholar) or you can start your search by providing for example an article, its title, abstract or link. The tools then search for more articles on the topic and show connections between the articles. Some tools make visual maps of search results (for example ResearchRabbit, Connected Papers and Open Knowledge Maps), help identifying and defining key subjects in the text (for example Keenious) or create short summaries of the content and suggest research questions related to the topic (for example Elicit).

If you try these tools, bear in mind:

  • Services cover varying amount of materials and fields of research.
  • They usually work best in English.
  • Not all sources found are freely available. You may be able to access the full text using HH Finna's article search. Search results also contain materials that are subject to charge.
  • Some tools require registration. It's worth checking how your personal details are handled.
  • Some tools are subject to charge or the fee-based version offers more features than the free version.
  • Consider copyright issues when entering your own texts and especially other people's texts in AI tools. Do you know how the service will handle the data?
  • Before entering materials from library’s licensed databases into an AI tool, check the terms of use for licensed content. Enter licensed materials into AI if the terms explicitly permit it. You can find the terms of use for library-provided materials on the Databases A-Z list.
  • The outputs of these tools should also be critically evaluated and verified. For instance, summaries generated from articles may not accurately represent the content.
  • Traditional databases also have AI-based features, such as recommending additional materials. New AI features will surely be introduced to databases in the future, so keep an eye on those.

To find more tools and comparisons, you can search online, for example by using search words "AI research tools". You can search Youtube for demonstrations on different tools.

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