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AI Guide for Students

This guide is designed to assist students with using artificial intelligence (AI) tools for research.

The following text is from a LibGuide created by Daniel Xiao, Research Impact Librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries.

A prompt is a set of instructions used to ask a language model to perform a task.

Tasks can take many forms including text generation, image generation, translation, questions answering, text summarizing, review synthesizing, essay writing, problem-solving, data analysis, code debugging, and so on. A prompt might consist of a few words, a single sentence, or even extended paragraphs. Effective prompt crafting can influence the quality and relevance of the generated output.
Examine the scenario provided below, which encompasses some important aspects of prompt creation.


Providing relevant context can help AI understand the task better, such as explaining the roles of both AI and the User in the task, outlining your requirements, and specifying the anticipated results. With a given role the AI model knows whether it should act as a knowledgeable assistant or any other specific character.

  • User: I am a college student preparing for a debate on artificial intelligence's impacts on employment. Please provide a step-by-step guide to help me get started.  AI: Certainly. ...  
              Or try this one:
    User: I am preparing a college debate on AI's impacts on job market. My argument is that AI will lead to job loss. Please provide an outline down to second-level headings.  AI: Certainly. ... 


Include explicit instructions for the desired behavior, for instance, asking the model to think step by step, rephrasing, searching, summarizing, synthesizing and so on.

  • User: Please find some academic papers on the various ways that AI is affecting the job market. Compile a list of primary opposing viewpoints: AI leads to job reduction, and AI has the potential to generate new employment opportunities.
  • AI: Of course! . ......


Providing example inputs can help the model understand the desired patterns or formats for its responses. Example inputs may include the use of examples, demonstrations of the expected behavior, a set of relevant keywords or descriptors, the abstract of an interested article, a reference text and so on.

  • User: I found this paper very helpful. Reference: AI Impact On The Labor Force at Https:// Please find a few more studies like this one.
  • AI: Sure. ......

Outcome Indicators

Direct the model to generate a response for a given style, tone, format or scenario.

  • User: Assist me to finalize the gathered data. Divide them into four parts: Opening Statement, Supporting Arguments, Possible Counterarguments, and Conclusion restating our main points and emphasizing why our team's stance is more convincing.
  • AI: Absolutely!. ......

Testing, Fine-tuning, and Effectiveness

  • The process of prompt creation often involves lots of testing and refining of prompts, and the effectiveness of prompt techniques may differ depending on the particular task, language model, plugins / extensions/ sources employed and the user's prompt engineering experience.


  • When crafting a prompt, use plain English and be specific about what you want the tool to do.
  • Providing background information, context, or examples can be helpful.
  • Divide a complex concept into smaller prompts.
  • Ask ChatGPT to ACT AS AN EXPERT to explain a complex concept step by step.
  • See the zero-shot, one-shot and few-shot prompting techniques and examples at the bottom of this guide.
  • If you want to change to a totally unrelated topic, click on NEW CHAT. But if you do want to keep the previous conversations together in one chat, you could use a prompt like "Ignore the previous conversations. Let me ask you a new question...."
  • Use Bing Chat if real-time web content is required. ChatGPT 3.5 is not connected to the Internet.
  • In July 2023, ChatGPT 3.5 rolled out a new capability: Custom Instruction. This allows users to change settings to tailor ChatGPT's replies according to their preference, be it formal or informal tone, desired response length, or maintaining neutrality as per their choice and so on.


Common Types of Prompts Used in GPT-Based Systems

ACTION PROMPTS  - To perform a specific task

  • Can you write / explain / summarize / provide / analyze  / compose / re-write  /translate ...
  • Give me a table summarizing some of the key differences between Web of Science and Scopus.
  • Rephrase this sentence: .....  / Expand the idea based on the following descriptors .....

WH PROMPTS - (what, when, where, who, which, whose, why, how...)

  • What are the leading causes /factors / impacts / definitions / benefits of /challenges, barriers, issues with 
  • What would be a good image to use for my talk about plagiarism?
  • How to search / cite / code / convert (the data into a table) ...

PROMPTS TO SET A SPECIFIC CONTEXT- Generating responses to specific situations or hypothetical scenarios.

  • Summarize the plot of ... in one short paragraph.
  • Create a list of five ChatGPT features that can be used to promote...
  • I will have a debate about the use of standardized testing in schools. Can you help me find some arguments in favor of this practice, as well as some counterarguments?
  • I am doing a literature review on the use of AI in education: "We aim to explore the existing body of research on the use of AI in education. From adaptive learning platforms to AI-powered tutoring systems. Our review seeks to examine the effectiveness of AI-driven educational interventions, identifying challenges, and uncovering the implications for educators and learners alike." 
    [Note: this context specifies the topic, the scope, the types of technologies and outlines the research areas.]


  • Create some images of college students in science labs 
    See one example.
  • Launch Microsoft Edge > Bing > Chat > then enter your prompts.
  • How to credit this image? See Bing's recommendations: "The images I generate are original creations and do not require citation. However, if you would like to give credit, you can simply mention that the image was generated by Bing."


  • Can you tell me about the current state of genetic engineering research? What are some recent breakthroughs, and what ethical considerations have been raised in relation to these advancements?


Specify a role for ChatGPT to take a question. This is also known as system message prompting.

  • EXAMPLE - I am going to conduct a systematic review on games and mathematics related to K-12 education. I want you to act as a systematic review expert. I will ask you some questions and you advise me on how to do each in detail.
    [Note: You may ask one question at a time.]
  • My first question is "which databases should I use?" 
    My second question is "what are the relevant subject terms, descriptors and key words?"
    My third question is "how to do data extraction?"
    Please note that the above prompts are merely for illustrative purposes. Actual questions may contain more specific instructions. As an example, for the first question, Could you provide guidance on how to identify relevant publications? Specifically, can you furnish a list of the primary databases and grey literature sources related to my topic?

    See other act-as-an-expert examples on Awesome ChatGPT Prompts at

STYLE PROMPTS - Experimenting with different writing styles or tones.

  • Generate a persuasive argument in an authoritative tone, convincing readers to ...
  • Write a social media post in a humorous style about...

(1) Use quotation marks "...." or (2) ">" symbol to indicate a direct quote. You could also use colon mark (:) or hyphen mark (-) also for a short quotation.

  • Write a paragraph about change, using the following quotation as a starting point: "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
    The generated paragraph: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” This quote by Leo Tolstoy highlights the importance of self-reflection and personal growth. It’s easy to focus on the problems of the world and how we can change them, but it’s much harder to look inward and examine our own flaws and shortcomings. By taking the time to work on ourselves, we can become better equipped to make a positive impact on the world around us.
  • Fish oil and depression...
  • Other words like correlation, comparison, pros & cons, differentiate, differences, similarities, vs, the effects of A on B...
  • Rather than asking for the complete History of the American Civil War, you could consider creating separate paragraph prompts for different aspects such as the causes of the war, the timeline, the battles and casualties, the ending and resolution, and so on.
  • Find similar articles like this one - [then paste in the abstract ]
    Note - Use Bing chat to find papers since real-time web contents are required.
  • Use Bing chat for this task.
  • Use a basic prompt like "Please summarize ...." or add a REFERENCE TEXT that provides the necessary information about what you want it to focus or how the summary or resolution should look like. The reference could be a quote, an excerpt, a partial sentence, a conversation, an abstract, a code snippet and so on.
  • Formula: Specify a role > assign a task > provide a reference text.
  • Three examples:

    You are an expert researcher, given the following article, please discuss its key findings. Reference: How Large Language Models are Transforming Machine-Paraphrased Plagiarism at

    You are a programmer troubleshooting code issues. Given the following code snippet, provide a solution for fixing its code errors. Reference: [Enter the codes].

    Please read this article and summarize it for me - "Who Should I Trust: AI or Myself? Leveraging Human and AI Correctness Likelihood to Promote Appropriate Trust in AI-Assisted Decision-Making" and then find 5 similar studies and please also summarize each for me.

  • See more examples under Bing Chat on the main page.

  • Certain tools may already include preloaded prompts. For instance, the Chrome ChatGPT Sidebar extension presents the following prompt options for users to select such as Summarize, Grammar, Explain, { } Explain Codes, Rewrite, and Translate. You could also add your own prompts on the template provided.

  • Zero-shot prompting refers to generating prompts for language models without the need for specific training on preexisting examples, or think about it as performing a task without using any examples.
    Generate a comprehensive overview of sustainable energy technologies, including their various types, benefits, and applications. Discuss their significance in addressing climate change and achieving energy sustainability goals. Explore key advancements, challenges, and potential future developments in the field.

  • One-shot prompting in literature review refers to providing a single example or query to generate a literature review.
    Please provide a literature review on sustainable energy technologies. This should include an overview of the latest research, advancements, and trends in sustainable energy, as well as their potential impact on the environment, economy, and society. The review should cover a broad range of sustainable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and bioenergy, and should also highlight key challenges and opportunities in the field.

  • Few-shot prompting in literature review involves providing a few examples or queries to generate a literature review. Here's an example of few-shot prompts for sustainable energy technologies:

    Prompt 1:
    Provide a brief overview of solar energy as a sustainable energy technology. Include its working principles, advantages, limitations, and current research areas.

    Prompt 2:
    Discuss the advancements and challenges in wind energy technology. Highlight its potential for large-scale electricity generation, advancements in turbine design, and integration into existing energy grids.

    Prompt 3:
    Examine the role of hydroelectric power in sustainable energy. Discuss its environmental impacts, potential for energy storage, and recent developments in small-scale hydroelectric systems.

    Prompt 4:
    Explore the use of geothermal energy as a sustainable energy source. Discuss the extraction methods, utilization in heating and electricity generation, and potential for geothermal heat pumps in residential and commercial applications.

    Prompt 5:
    Provide an overview of bio-energy technologies, including bio-fuels and biomass power generation. Discuss their environmental benefits, challenges in feed-stock sourcing, and advancements in conversion technologies.

    Using these few-shot prompts, please generate detailed summaries for each specific sustainable energy technology mentioned.

    One-shot prompting doesn't need to rely solely on examples. It can take the form of queries, such as "Please generate a literature review that addresses the research question: 'What are the effects of social media on the mental health of adolescents?'" Alternatively, it can be scope-based, like "Please provide a literature review on the influence of climate change on biodiversity in tropical rain forests, with a focus on studies published from 2010 to 2020." Different from the other two types, Zero-shot prompting is not limited to any particular context, enabling researchers to explore a wide range of topics and research areas.