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APRD and JRNL Student Guide to Using ChatGPT and AI

Resources for using AI and ChatGPT for students in Journalism and Advertising, PR and Media Design

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APRD, Communication, Journalism, and Media Studies Librarian

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Stacy Gilbert

Different Courses will Have Different Policies

Check with your instructor for each course to find out the policy on using ChatGPT and similar tools.

Uses and Limitations of Generative AI/ChatGPT


  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Narrowing your topic ideas for a research paper, and keywords for searching in library databases
    • The University of Arizona Libraries has a Generate Topics for Your Research Paper with ChatGPT  worksheet with example prompts and steps for using ChatGPT to narrow down a topic and identify databases for research. Some of their links may not work with CU Boulder Libraries' links. Please consult with a librarian for additional resources.
  • Explaining information in ways that are easy to understand
  • Asking questions (be sure to fact check the results). You can ask a million questions without fear of being judged.
  • Translating text to different languages (not completely fluent in every language)
  • Helping write or debug computing code


  • ChatGPT sometimes makes things up (known as "hallucination."). It can make up facts and scholarly and news articles' citations. 
  • ChatGPT may not have current information
  • "Generative AI models often include biases from the data they are trained on. A few examples of biases that have been identified include a tendency to use American/western perspectives in the responses & amplifying societal stereotypes." (from Using Generative AI in Research - Key Takeaways [University of Southern California])

Due to these limitations, it's important to cross-check facts and citations from ChatGPT.

Tips for Prompting ChatGPT

What is prompting?

Simply, it's what you type into the chat box.

Tips for writing effective prompts

  1. Give it some context or a role to play. A role could be, "Act as an expert in [fill in the blank]." For example, Act as an expert community organizer or Act as a comedian.
  2. Give it very detailed instructions, including how you would like the results formatted. Example prompts:
    1. Act as an expert academic librarian. I’m writing a research paper on representation in advertising and I need help coming up with a topic.
    2. I’m interested in topics related to climate change. Please give me a list of 10 topic ideas related to climate change.
    3. Act as a marketing expert. Give me ideas for the target audience of coffee shops.
  3. Keep conversing and asking for changes. Ask it to revise the answer in various ways. Example prompts:
    1. Now give me some sub-topics or research questions for [one of those topics]. And give me a list of keywords and phrases I can use to search for that topic in library databases and Google Scholar.
    2. I didn't like any of those topics. Please give me 10 more.

Additional tips

  1. Sometimes ChatGPT and similar tools get confused if you change topics in the middle of a conversation. When you want to change the subject, start a new chat.
  2. It's not recommended that you ask ChatGPT (free version) for a list of sources. It could make them up. Instead, use the Libraries' databases and resources (see below) for finding articles and other information.
  3. In ChatGPT you can see a history of your conversations and in the settings you can delete your history and turn off the saving of future history. You can also export your history and save it on your own computer. You can also turn your history off in the settings.
  4. Remember, don't enter any personal, private data in ChatGPT, because OpenAI may use your input to help improve the model. The free version is a research experiment. If you don't want your data used to help improve ChatGPT, you can turn it off in the settings (which means it also won't save your previous chats for your own viewing).

Fact Checking ChatGPT for Credibility

Evaluating all information for credibility is highly recommended, regardless where you find it. This is true for generative AI responses, especially given the information presented above. 

Here are two strategies for evaluating information provided by generative AI tools:

1. Lateral reading: Do other reliable sources contain the same information?

Don't take what an AI program like ChatGPT tells you at face value. Look to see if other reliable sources contain the same information and can confirm what ChatGPT says. Fact-check and supplement your research from AI tools by searching the internet (such as use Wikipedia, Google, or DuckDuckGo) to see if basic information (e.g., names of people, dates, etc.) exists and is accurate.

If the information you are looking is more complicated, like target audience, company, or industry information, try using the Libraries' resources in the section below.

2. Verify citations: Does the reference ChatGPT provided exist?

If a generative AI tool provides a reference, confirm that the source exists. If the source is real, check that it contains what ChatGPT says it does. Read the source or its abstract. Below are tools you can use. You can also get in touch with a librarian for help.

Further Your Research with the Libraries' Resources

Generative AI tools can be useful for getting started with research (e.g., brainstorming). When you are ready to delve deeper into your topic, the Libraries subscribe to numerous databases to support your research, including government, market, consumer, and industry reports and data. Review the guides below for recommended databases and research tips for APRD and JRNL courses.

Cite Generative AI and ChatGPT

Just like you cite other sources, you must cite and acknowledge content created by AI. This guide from the University of Southern California has more information.

Learn More

Learn more about AI and AI in research with these guides:


The guide uses information previously published on other library guides:

  • The "Fact Checking ChatGPT for Credibility" section uses information from AI, ChatGPT, and the Library Libguide by Amy Scheelke for Salt Lake Community College, is licensed CC BY-NC 4.0, except where otherwise noted. Modifications were made to update links for CU Boulder Libraries, and the text was removed and edited to make this section shorter. A section on further research with the Libraries was added.
  • Unless otherwise noted, all other sections uses information from Student Guide to ChatGPT by Nicole Hennig, Michelle Halla, Nicole Pagowsky, Niamh Wallace for University of Arizona Libraries, © n.d. The Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of The University of Arizona, licensed CC-BY 4.0 under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Modifications were made to remove, reformat, and add some bullet points and examples.

Reusing this Guide

Creative Commons License CC-BY-NC 4.0

This guide/work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Sample attribution: APRD and JRNL Student Guide to Using ChatGPT and AI LibGuide by Stacy Gilbert for University of Colorado Boulder, is licensed CC-BY-NC 4.0, except where otherwise noted.