AI in Academics: A Support System in the 21st Century

Curious about how AI in academics works? how AI can make academic writing easier?Dive into the world of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on scholarly work in the 21st century. Learn how AI tools, like ChatGPT and Scholarcy, can help with research, brainstorming, writing, and even collaboration. It’s like having a virtual assistant for your academic endeavors, saving you time and improving the quality of your work. Explore the possibilities and make your writing process more efficient with the support of AI!

Ai i academics: A Support System to Academic Writing in the 21st Century

The growth of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gained momentum in the past two years. Its various tools have become the apt representation of the term ‘efficiency’. Based on machine learning and deep learning models, generative AI is making automation a greater part of life. They are based on models of the human brain and are trained to carry out tasks similar to those of human intelligence.

AI has had a positive impact on data and information in various fields ranging from IT, design and even to academia. Academicians, researchers, scholars, and even college goers have a new friend on the block!

Generative AI is becoming a greater part of life of individuals as it is increasing productivity by carrying out meticulous research – involving reading, writing and analysing – in shorter periods of time. Just a few commands and you will have everything you need.

These generative tools are making it easier to write research papers, essays, assignments, etc. Based on Large Language Models (LLM), the tools will bring you customised information from various sources, making them all the more useful by cutting down endless hours spent browsing.

AI tools are changing the future of academic writing, by reducing the cost, time and effort that goes into writing, researching, comprehending literature, analysing data, peer reviews, as well as generating written content.  If you are someone who is looking to make their academic writing more profound, here are some of the ways in which AI can act as your virtual assistant.

What are some uses of AI in the initial steps of writing?

Using AI for Brainstorming

Making use of AI tools for idea generation, discussions, and visualisation can be the first step to academic writing. There are various tools such as Elicit AI, ChatGPT, Coggle, Stormboard, and many more which will allow you to discuss, put ideas in the form of mindmaps, flowcharts and ultimately reach a decision on what you wish to write on or explore further through your research. These tools are especially designed for the purpose of scientific research.

Using AI tools are an efficient way to brainstorm as they facilitate a creative flow of ideas, avoiding creative blocks. They are trained for tasks such as visualisation, generating responses to questions and even generating information you require for your specific writing project.

The idea generation stage of writing research papers can often take up a number of days. Typically a discussion has multiple follow up discussions over a period of time. AI shortens this process by providing you with the flow and information that you need at this initial stage of research, creating more time and space for other aspects of the research.

AI for Abstracts and Summaries

Abstracts and summaries are crucial for the representation of the written content in any academic paper. AI algorithms are trained to extract the key points of a paper and present them in the form of a summary or abstract. This automated process will increase the efficiency of the output.

Simply put, such tools have inbuilt abstract generators. By simply uploading your essay/research paper you can generate an abstract/summary for the same. These tools will identify the key elements of the essay or paper to give you a consice overview of the work.

An abstract/summary must accurately lay out the research or essay in just a few words. Using tools such as Scholarcy, Paperpal, SciNote, Zeta, to name a few, you can create a prose which will bring out your arguments more prominently, and allow your narrative to shine through.

Can AI help in Literature Review?

AI’s large language models (LLM), ability to analyse information, and training in being able to identify and classify data makes it an all encompassing tool for literature review. Different AI tools, especially designed for scientific research are adept to provide you with the literature that aligns with your field of study. Lateral, SciSpace, Bing AI, ChatPDF, Scite Assistant, Scholarly, and an endless number of tools have been trained for the purpose of science.

Not only while identifying research papers, but also while comprehending the literature AI comes in handy. AI tools will assist in understanding and explaining literature, summarising it, identifying common themes across papers, and even identifying the research gap in your area of study. This gives you a fair idea of the literature which will be useful to you and what you can ignore, without having to spend days looking at different literature and reading through each and every paper.

Moreover, academic language can sometimes be difficult to grasp, especially if you are just starting out, having a little support from AI can help you feel less overwhelmed, increasing simultaneously our understanding of what you are reading.

Since AI’s horizons are not limited to any geographical area, it will be able to help you access papers in different parts of the world to broaden your understanding of the subject matter by being able to assist you in translating papers that are not in your language.

The importance of relevant literature in any kind of academic writing cannot be stressed enough. Much of the support for the arguments comes from the literature that we read and use.

How to use AI While Writing and Editing?

Writing is where generative AI tools are really changing the game! Tools like Jenni, ChatGPT, are adept for the writing process. They can use LLM to bring information from a variety of sources and present it to you in the structured format that you want it to be.

The chat interface of such tools allows you to give multiple prompts to generate content to the best of your use. Not only do AI tools help generate content, they will also be able to paraphrase already written content.

Improving the quality of writing AI also assists in making the writing more academically sound. Some tools provide structures, frameworks, templates within which to write. What may take a week can be written in a matter of a few hours using AI.

For better writing, tools for editing are also available. Tools such as Trinka, Paperpal, College, ChatGPT, even non-AI tools such as Grammarly will read your essay and suggest edits in grammar, better sentences, etc. Essays and research papers are often long, and editing would require you to go back and read through pages. AI here is extremely time saving!

AI tools also include those for plagiarism such as Turnitin, which will ensure the authenticity of your work.

Will AI Cite for Me?

The answer is yes!

AI tools are designed with specific algorithms which recognize and format references, along with this, they pick up from the citation guidelines which are present for different citation styles to cite according to your preference.

One of the most crucial aspects is the referencing or the bibliography which we add in our write-ups. There are various formats in which these can be written from APA, MLA, Chicago and many others. AI becomes useful in creating citations in these prescribed formats.

Tools such as are extremely helpful in citations, it assists in finding sources by uploading parts of a paper as well. Other tools include Jenni, Citation Machine, which allow you to select the source of the book or journal paper and create citations manually or by finding the ISBN or link.

Transcribing with AI – A Real Time Saver!

AI tools are a great way to transcribe long interviews and save all the time it would take to do so manually. They are to a great extent accurate and will provide you with a transcript which you can download and save; all it requires you to do is upload the audio which you wish to transcribe.

Some great transcription tools include Otter.Ai, Riverside.Fm, which can transcribe in English. Tools such as SeamlessM4T will allow translation from various languages, apart from these there are also other tools which will assist specifically from Indian languages.

AI for Collaboration and Peer Review

There are certain tools available which allow authors to work on papers simultaneously. This can be done from anywhere in the world, and edits can be made in real time from multiple devices rather than having to exchange documents back and forth. A simple way to understand it would be to see how Google Docs functions. It allows multiple authors to write, work, edit on it simultaneously while maintaining the privacy by allowing the owner to control who has access to the document. 

Collaboration also has scope for peer review. Others can read your work and give you feedback on the same in real time.

AI as we have ascertained so far is adept for academic writing. From generating ideas, to reviewing literature, to writing more efficiently generative AI can be all a researcher needs. It is a time saving, low cost solution that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. However, it is still susceptible to errors. While it is based on models of the human brain, there is some difference; it is therefore recommended that you use AI cautiously and cross-check to whatever extent possible the content derived from such platforms. AI nonetheless can perform the role of a great support system in the process of writing!

Check out the sixth edition of the AI Index Report by Stanford University for more insights on Artificial Intelligence.

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Aishani Menon, a sociologist, communicates her thoughts through words. She values learning, seeing it as the catalyst for growth, and believes that the best writing stems from continuous knowledge