Generative Artificial Intelligence, Reference, & Instruction Discussion Group (GAIR&I)

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This is a discussion group to explore the implications of Generative AI programs like ChatGPT on reference, instruction, and other user services.

Would you let ChatGPT answer reference questions? If so, what would they be?

  • 1.  Would you let ChatGPT answer reference questions? If so, what would they be?

    Posted Oct 18, 2023 11:42 AM
    Edited by Melissa Del Castillo Oct 18, 2023 11:42 AM

    After reading:

    I tried to think of reference questions that I would let ChatGPT answer. I mean we know that is not great with veracity and citations.

    I decided to ask it an elementary-level question to test its reference skills.

    Question: who is the 4th president

    ChatGPT answered:

    • The 4th President of the United States was James Madison. He served from 1809 to 1817. Madison is often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution" for his significant role in drafting and promoting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    It seems correct but there is no teaching at the point of need. As reference librarians, we value transferrable skills. How did I get to this information? How do I find out more?

    I revised the question and liked the info provided better. But it is lacking in nuance and access. It falls flat and doesn't provide any evaluation/reflection. What do you think?

    Revised question: how do i find information on the 4th president

    ChatGPT answered:

    You can find information on the 4th President of the United States, James Madison, from various sources, including books, websites, and historical records. Here's how you can go about it:

    1. **Library or Bookstore:** Visit your local library or a bookstore and look for biographies or history books that cover the life and presidency of James Madison. Look for titles that focus on American history or the early years of the United States.
    2. **Online Searches:** You can use search engines like Google to find information on James Madison. Enter search terms such as "James Madison biography" or "James Madison presidency" to find relevant articles, websites, and resources.
    3. **Encyclopedias:** Encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica or Wikipedia often have detailed entries on historical figures, including presidents. Check out the online version of these encyclopedias to find information about James Madison.
    4. **Digital Archives:** Many historical documents, including letters and writings of James Madison, are available in digital archives. Websites like the National Archives and the Library of Congress have extensive collections.
    5. **Academic Journals:** If you're looking for in-depth scholarly information, you can search for academic articles and papers about James Madison. University libraries or online academic databases like JSTOR can be helpful.
    6. **Biographies:** Look for biographies specifically written about James Madison. There are several biographers who have written about his life and contributions to American history.
    7. **Museums and Historical Sites:** If you're near a museum or historical site related to James Madison, such as Montpelier (his former home), consider visiting. These places often have exhibits and resources about his life and times.
    8. **Documentaries and Films:** There are documentaries and films that focus on the lives of American presidents, including James Madison. You might find relevant documentaries on streaming platforms or through your local video rental service.

    When researching historical figures like James Madison, it's essential to cross-reference information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and reliability. This will help you gain a well-rounded understanding of the 4th President of the United States and his impact on American history.

    Melissa Del Castillo
    Virtual Learning & Outreach Librarian
    Florida International University