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Using AI Tools in Your Research

A continually-updated guide on using AI tools like ChatGPT in your research

Academic Integrity & Artificial Intelligence

Additional guidelines and policies may be found under the Office of the Provost site and the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching.

Unauthorized use of ChatGPT or other Generative AI tools is considered cheating and/or plagiarism in Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide.

However, different professors may allow limited use of Generative AI tools for brainstorming, and/or with proper citation, and/or accept its use on a case-by-case basis.

Why is it important to cite your sources?

  • Citing gives credit to the source creator’s ideas and words and can strengthen your argument or position. 
  • Citing the author or source avoids plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of claiming another person's language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions as though they were one’s own work. Generative AI tools draw on training material and may or may not be able to provide proper citations.
  • A citation is like an address for a source; citing tells the reader where you, the writer, found the source.  Reader can visit the original source if needed. 

Considering the points above, researchers should be aware of the following considerations. 
ChatGPT specifically...

  • May generate citations for sources that do not exist.
  • May be unable to provide discrete, specific sources or source citations for the information it shares in a response to a query because its responses come from its training material
  • Is only as good as the information it draws from, which is currently up to date as far as 2021.  It also may contain contradictory, biased, or false information.

Example: Upon asking ChatGPT to provide an annotated bibliography on the topic of residential care options for adults with autism, it provided a list with four citations and well-worded annotations.  Although they all included real journal titles with corresponding volumes and issues, none of the article titles, authors or pagination matched any of the journals they were listed within.  These were fabricated citations.

Example: Upon asking ChatGPT to provide an outline for the topic described above (which it did) and also to share the source of the information, it gave the response below.  It is sometimes unable to explain where information came from or refer to discrete sources:
"As for my source of information, I am an AI language model, and I generate my responses based on a vast amount of knowledge that I have been trained on." 

Citing ChatGPT