There are many forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that you may be using for research and writing. Examples of these include editing and grammar checking tools, search engines, or citation generators, which are all okay to use. This guide, however, will focus on Large Language Models, or generative AI software, such as ChatGPT and others, which are also okay to use, but only if used ethically.
Generative AI can be a good tool to use, and learning how to use it skillfully and ethically will be an asset to you in your academic journey and beyond. Use the tips below to master using *ChatGPT (or any other generative AI tool) for research and writing.
*Use of the term "ChatGPT" in the information below applies to any generative AI program.
Ask the right questions or prompts to get effective answers:
When used correctly, ChatGPT can be a helpful research tool, assisting you in gathering general information about a subject, brainstorming ideas for a research paper, or analyzing and interpreting data.
It is important to keep in mind when using ChatGPT for your research that the tool is only as useful as the questions you ask. To generate accurate and detailed responses, you need to be clear and direct with your questions.
Good examples of research questions to ask ChatGPT include:
- What questions should I ask myself when researching [the topic/subject you are researching]?
- Can you provide a summary of the following data [the data to be analyzed and interpreted]?
- Can you provide me with a list of influential works written about [the topic/subject you are researching]?
Pro Tips to get information:
- If you don’t get the results you were hoping for, engage in a back-and-forth conversation with ChatGPT, providing clarifications and follow-up questions.
- Break up or ask a more specific question to get a more detailed response. Instead of asking “What is vaping and why is it so dangerous?” perform two separate searches. For example, “What is the history of vaping?” first, and then “How does vaping impact health?”
- Provide the correct context to avoid misinterpretations when searching topics that might be ambiguous. If you want information about Apple, specify that you want information about the company and not the fruit. For example, “Give me information on Apple the company and not the fruit.”
- Be clear about the type of information you want on a topic (summary or detailed explanation) and how you would like that information presented (paragraph or bulleted list). For example, “Give me a summary of space travel in a bulleted list.”
- Articles that are not openly available on the internet and articles that were published after Sept. 2021 (as of ChatGPT’s most recent update) will not be included in the information generated by ChatGPT, which will limit the information you get. Be sure to also consult articles from the university library, which include current and non-public facing articles.
Remember, the information provided by ChatGPT should not replace your academic research but is a tool to provide you with general information and point you in the right direction for further academic research. For additional academic research assistance, reach out to the Library.
ChatGPT does not always provide accurate, unbiased, or up-to-date information, just as with any popular (not scholarly) source. Consult and use an additional source that is credible, unbiased, and reliable.
If you use incorrect information provided by ChatGPT in an assignment, you will be responsible for it. Until you confirm the information by checking a reliable source, assume it is incorrect or outdated information. Verifying information is probably the most important piece of effectively using ChatGPT.
Pro Tips to verify information:
- Cross-check the information with authoritative sources such as academic journals or government and university publications. To determine authoritative and credible sources, you can use the Library’s Hierarchy of Sources guide.
- Consult multiple sources to verify information rather than a single source.
- Use fact-checking tools. Websites like Snopes, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact can help you identify misinformation or inaccuracies.
- Check the dates of sources when verifying information from ChatGPT to ensure it is up to date. This is especially important for topics that are rapidly evolving.
Remember, ChatGPT can be a good source for initial research on a topic, but it cannot serve as the only source or final source. Popular sources for an academic paper are seldom approved for use—ChatGPT would be considered a popular source.
Originality is critical:
ChatGPT responses are generated by a bot. Even if using the information from it, you will need to do significant editing and paraphrasing.
Any work you submit must be written by you. Using AI to generate text and then submitting it as your own work is considered plagiarism. ChatGPT can be a collaborator of information and ideas, but it is not meant to communicate for you.
Pro Tips to maintain your original content and voice:
- Do not copy/paste ChatGPT text directly into your paper (this also includes text generated by any paraphrasing software). This is considered plagiarism because you did not write the text.
- Edit and customize any content or text generated to fit your needs and your own voice. Decide what generated content is relevant for your uses. Use the relevant content to determine some points of discussion, but then elaborate on those points of discussion with your own writing. Add your own insights and context to make it your own.
- Know the tone, format, and audience of the writing you wish to do. Robotic writing is generally not valued. Edit any information you use from ChatGPT to align with the expectations of your audience and the type of writing.
- Do not directly quote ChatGPT as if it is an author. If ChatGPT cites a source in their response to your question, locate that source and paraphrase or quote that author directly if it is a reliable source. If no source is provided by ChatGPT, locate a reliable source to verify the information and then use and cite that source.
Remember, ChatGPT can give you some excellent ideas to consider, but it is your responsibility to create the final communication or writing to avoid plagiarism.
Disclose or cite ChatGPT (or other generative AI tool):
You may need to cite ChatGPT or include a disclosure statement about how you used it in your assignment.
ChatGPT is a source of information and to include any content from it without disclosing it is a form of dishonesty. In the context of academic writing, it is a form of academic dishonesty or plagiarism.
Pro Tips to determine when to disclose generative AI:
- Cite ChatGPT directly only if you are using it for a paper specifically on AI (such as “the limitations of ChatGPT”). You can use and cite some of the ChatGPT responses as evidence on a paper about ChatGPT.
- Do not cite ChatGPT as if it is an author when using it as a source of information. If ChatGPT provides a source in their response to your question, locate that source and cite that author directly if it is a reliable source. If no source is provided by ChatGPT, locate a reliable source to verify the information and then use and cite that source.
- You should include a disclosure statement if you use ChatGPT during the pre-development process to help you narrow your topic, identify ideas, develop an outline, or for revising and editing your work.
- You do not need to include the use of grammar-checking tools, citation generators, or plagiarism detectors within a disclosure statement.
Where & how to include a disclosure statement:
Include a disclosure statement at the end of your paper, PowerPoint, etc. before your list of references. If you are a doctoral student writing your dissertation or applied doctoral project, the disclosure statement should be included within your Methodology chapter or section. Do not include AI within your list of references. State how, when, and to what extent AI was used in your research or writing process. For example: "I used ChatGPT to generate some key topics for the paper, to locate influential sources on the topic, and to better understand the statistical data from sources."
Remember, using ChatGPT to write any part of your paper for you is an example of plagiarism and academic dishonesty even if you cite it or disclose it. Do not use ChatGPT in this way.
A visual snapshot of ways you can and cannot use AI tools in academic research and writing is found on this infographic: Academic Use of AI
Disclosure Statement: ChatGPT was used to generate some of the points of discussion found on this webpage.