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AI tools in information searching: General

Artificial intelligence and its applications are developing rapidly

This guide discusses artificial intelligence in higher education. The focus of the content is on the use of artificial intelligence in information retrieval. Artificial intelligence and its applications are developing rapidly, in the same way, this guide is constantly in the works.

Artificial intelligence is a broad concept that refers to the ability of computer systems to perform tasks and processes that normally require human intelligence. Such tasks may include, for example, image recognition, speech recognition, problem solving and decision-making. Artificial intelligence is already used in many aspects of our everyday lives: recommendation lists provided by various applications, language translation, targeting advertising and forecasting housing prices, etc.

Ethical and evaluative use

Generative AI is a tool that can help us in everyday life, work or study. As with any tool, ethical, evaluative and appropriate use is key.

Information literacy

  • AI tools may not disclose the original sources they use, nor may they use sources that meet the requirements for scientific writing. In some cases, sources have proven to be non-existent or inaccurate. If you're using a tool that produces some elements of your work, the person reviewing the work needs to know what's yours and what's coming from somewhere else.
  • AI-based search tools may seem like they do scientific research easily and quickly. However, from the student's point of view, this may mean that the student does not learn important skills, such as basic scientific research skills, for example, information retrieval, critical evaluation and problem solving.

Misinformation and disinformation

  • Misinformation is incomplete or false information that is inadvertently provided and is not intended to deliberately mislead
  • Disinformation is deliberately shared misinformation that can be motivated by, among other things, political and social influence, financial gain and vandalism.

Privacy policy

  • For example, to use ChatGPT, you need to create an account, which allows data to be collected, which is a privacy issue. AI tools may require you to provide a phone number or other personal information. Online you should be careful about what information you share when creating an account.
  • Be sure to carefully review the program's privacy policy and terms of use. Keep in mind that when you use the tools, your conversations are typically automatically recorded and used for the purposes of the tool.


  • In some cases, AI tools can access online material without the authors' permission. Compliance with intellectual property rights is part of academic good conduct of research, which is why it is essential to take a critical view of the use of such tools in academic work.

Online courses on artificial intelligence

Elements of AI
Online courses on artificial intelligence
Practical AI - What Everyone Should Know About AI
Free online course offered by Kajaani UAS, Elisa, Sulava and Microsoft

University of Oulu policies

Oulu University of Applied Sciences policy

Use of Electronic Resources

When using AI based information retrieval tools, the terms of use of e-resources must be taken into account.

Student checklist

  • Discuss with the course teacher or thesis instructor well in advance whether the use of AI applications (and which ones) is allowed for information retrieval in your work.
  • Get to know AI applications beforehand: what they can do to support information retrieval and what they cannot. Compare the results.
  • Think about what you can use an AI application for information retrieval and what you can't.
  • Get to know the AI application you use: who runs it and why; Is its use paid or limited, does it affect the results?
  • Source criticism is still your job. Be critical of the results: make comparative samples from different sources that provide information and check e.g. references provided by artificial intelligence and the references they receive from databases.
  • Refer to AI as instructed if you use it.

Key concepts

Artificial intelligence
The ability of a machine to use skills traditionally associated with human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, planning, or creating.
Machine learning
An area of artificial intelligence that has its roots in statistics. Machine learning methods learn based on the given data without separate programming of rules. They improve their performance in a specific task as more experience or data accumulates.
Large language model (LLM)
Model based on probabilities of the occurrence of words and strings of words. Language models predict the continuation of a given text input or produce text as requested. A company called OpenAI released the text-generating ChatGPT service for free use in November 2022, and in early 2023 it became widely publicized.
Generative AI
Generative AI combines the power of machine learning, deep learning, and AI. In response to a request made to it, it is capable of creating original content such as text, videos, audio, code or images. The generative AI model is trained with the help of data and feedback, and based on this, it is able to create new innovative outputs.