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ChatGPT's advanced capabilities have created a huge demand, with the 'app' accumulating over 100 million users within two months of launching. One of the biggest standout features has been its ability to compose all sorts of text within seconds, including songs, poems, bedtime stories, and essays.
Also: How does ChatGPT work?
Contrary to popular opinion, ChatGPT can do a lot more than just write an essay for you (which could be called plagiarism). What is more useful is how it can help guide your writing process. If you are a looking for ways to use ChatGPT to support your writing, here are five different ways to explore.
Before you can even get started writing an essay, you need to flesh out the idea. When professors assign essays, they generally give students a prompt that gives them leeway for their own self-expression and analysis. As a result, students have the task of finding the angle to approach the essay on their own.
If you have written an essay recently, you know this step is often the trickiest part -- and this is where ChatGPT can help.
Also: I wish I had ChatGPT when I was in college. But not for the reason you might expect
All you need to do is input the assignment topic, include as much detail as you'd like -- such as what you're thinking about covering -- and let ChatGPT do the rest. For example, based on a paper prompt I had in college, I asked:
Can you help me come up with a topic idea for this assignment, "You will write a research paper or case study on a leadership topic of your choice." I would like it to include Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid and possibly a historical figure.
Within seconds, the chatbot produced a response that provided me with the title of the essay, options of historical figures I could focus my article on, and insight on what information I could include in my paper, with specific examples of a case study I could use.
Once you have a solid topic, it's time to start brainstorming what you actually want to include in the essay. To facilitate the writing process, I always create an outline, including all the different points I want to touch upon in my essay. However, the outline writing process is usually tedious.
With ChatGPT, all you have to do is ask it to write it for you.
Also: ChatGPT productivity hacks: Five ways to use chatbots to make your life easier
Using the topic that ChatGPT helped me generate in step one, I asked the chatbot to write me an outline by saying:
Can you create an outline for a paper, "Examining the Leadership Style of Winston Churchill through Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid"
After a couple of seconds, the chatbot outputted a holistic outline divided into seven different sections, with three different points under each section.
This outline is thorough and can be condensed for a shorter essay, or elaborated on for a longer paper. If you don't like something or want to tweak it further, you can do so either manually or with more instructions to ChatGPT.
Now that you know exactly what you want to write, it's time to find reputable sources to get your information from. If you don't know where to start, like with all of the previous steps, you can just ask ChatGPT.
All you need to do is ask it to find sources for your essay topic. For example, I asked it the following:
Can you help me find sources for a paper, "Examining the Leadership Style of Winston Churchill through Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid."
Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other interesting alternatives to try
The chatbot output seven sources, with a bullet point for each that explained what the source was and why it could be useful.
The one caveat you will want to be aware of when using ChatGPT for sources is that it does not have access to information before 2021, so it will not be able to suggest the freshest sources. However, it is a start.
It is worth noting that if you take the text directly from the chatbot and submit it, your work could be considered a form of plagiarism, since it is not your original work. As with any information taken from another source, text generated by any AI should be clearly identified and credited in your work.
In most educational institutions, the penalties for plagiarism are severe, ranging from a failing grade to expulsion from the school.
Also: ChatGPT is changing everything. But it still has its limits
If you want ChatGPT generate a sample piece of text, put in the topic, the desired length, and watch for what it generates. For example, I input the following text:
Can you write a five-paragraph essay on the topic, "Examining the Leadership Style of Winston Churchill through Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid."
Within seconds, the chatbot output exactly what I asked for: A coherent, five-paragraph essay on the topic which can help you to guide you in your own writing.
At this point it's worth remembering how tools like ChatGPT work: They put words together in a form that they think is statistically valid but they don't know if what they are saying is true or accurate. That means you might find invented facts or details or other oddities. It won't be able to create original work because it is simply aggregating everything it has already absorbed. It might be a useful starting point for your own work, but don't expect it to be inspired or accurate.
Once you've written your own essay, you can use ChatGPT's advanced writing capabilities to edit it for you.
You can simply tell the chatbot what you specifically want it to edit. For example, I asked it to edit for essay structure and grammar, but other options could have included flow, tone, and more.
Once you ask it to edit your essay, it will prompt you to paste your text into the chatbot. Once you do, it will output your essay with corrections made. This could be the most useful tool as it can edit your essay more thoroughly than a basic proofreading tool could, going beyond spelling.
You could also co-edit with the chatbot, asking it to take a look at a specific paragraph or sentence and asking it to rewrite or fix it for clarity.