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Generative Artificial Intelligence

This guide offers information to help Library users learn basic information about AI, and make choices about using AI tools in academic work.

Citation and Attribution with AI Tools

If you choose to use generative AI tools for course assignments, academic work, or other forms of published writing, you should give special attention to how you acknowledge and cite the output of those tools in your work. You should always check with your instructor before using AI for coursework. 

As with all things related to AI, the norms and conventions for citing AI-generated content are likely to evolve over the next few years. For now, some of the major style guides have released preliminary guidelines. Individual publishers may have their own guidance on citing AI-generated content. 

Here are some fundamental ideas that hold true for citing AI generated content, no matter which citation style you're using:

  • Do cite or acknowledge the outputs of generative AI tools when you use them in your work. This includes direct quotations and paraphrasing, as well as using the tool for tasks like editing, translating, idea generation, and data processing. 
  • Do not use sources that are cited by AI tools without reading those sources yourself. There are two different reasons for this:
    • Generative AI tools can create fake citations.
    • These tools may cite a real piece of writing, but the cited content may be inaccurate. 
  • Be flexible in your approach to citing AI-generated content, because emerging guidelines will always lag behind the current state of technology, and the way that technology is applied. If you are unsure of how to cite something, include a note in your text that describes how you used a certain tool. 

  • When in doubt, remember that we cite sources for two primary purposes: first, to give credit to the author or creator; and second, to help others locate the sources you used in your research. Use these two concepts to help make decisions about using and citing AI-generated content. 

APA Style

When you cite AI-generated content using APA style, you should treat that content as the output of an algorithm, with the author of the content being the company or organization that created the model. For example, when citing ChatGPT, the author would be OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. 

Here are some guidelines for referencing AI-generated content in APA style:

  • When you reference this content directly in your text, you should include an in-text citation, and an associated entry in your reference list. 
  • If you have used AI tools for some part of your research, you should describe that use in your introduction or methods section, and include the prompts that you used.

When referencing shorter passages of text, you can include that text directly in your paper. You might also include an appendix or link to an online supplement that includes the full text of long responses from a generative AI tool. 

Format:

Author. (Date). Name of tool (Version of tool) [Large language model]. URL

Example:

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat

In-Text Citation Example:

(OpenAI, 2023)

Chicago Style

Chicago style requires that you cite AI-generated content in your work by including either a note or a parenthetical citation, but advises you not to include that source in your bibliography or reference list.  The reason given for this is that, because you cannot provide a link to the conversation or session with the AI tool, you should tread that content as you would a phone call or private conversation. However, AI tools are starting to introduce functionality that does allow a user to generate a sharable link to a chat conversation, so this guidance from the Chicago Manual of Style may change. 

Here are some general guidelines for referencing AI-generated content in Chicago style:

  • Treat the AI tool as the author of the content.
  • If possible, describe the prompt used to generate the content in the text, but if that approach doesn't work, you can include that information in a footnote or endnote.
  • The date used in your citation will be the date the content was generated.

Format:
1. Author, Title, Publisher, Date, url for the tool.  

Example (if information about the prompt has been included within the text of your paper):

1. Text generated by ChatGPT, OpenAI, March 7, 2023, https://chat.openai.com/chat. 

Example (including information about the prompt):

1. ChatGPT, response to "Explain how to make pizza dough from common household ingredients," OpenAI, March 7, 2023, https://chat.openai.com/chat. 

MLA Style

MLA style is generally more flexible that either APA or Chicago style, so while they provide specific examples for citing commonly used AI tools, they encourage writers to adapt those guidelines to fit the situation. 

Hare are some other guidelines for referencing AI-generated content in MLA style:

  • Cite the AI tool when you incorporate its output into your work. This includes direct quotations, images, and data, as well as paraphrased content.
  • If you use an AI tool for some other purpose, such as translating, editing, or generating an outline, include a note about this somewhere in your paper.
  • The MLA views AI-generated content as a source with no author, so you'll use the title of the source in your in-text citations, and in your reference list. The title you choose should be a brief description of the AI-generated content, such as an abbreviated version of the prompt you used. 
  • If you create a shareable link to the chat transcript, include that instead of the tool's URL.

Format:
"Description of chat" prompt. Name of AI tool, version of AI tool, Company, Date of chat, URL.

Example: 

"Examples of harm reduction initiatives" prompt. ChatGPT, 23 Mar. version, OpenAI, 4 Mar. 2023, chat.openai.com/chat.

In-Text Citation Example:

("Examples of harm reduction")