Citing AI-generated text

Last updated 07 December 2023

Some academic style guides, including APA Style, now specify how to cite any AI-generated text included in an essay or paper. New rules are needed because the results of a ChatGPT chat, for example, are not retrievable by others. So you basically cite the name and version of the large language model you used, the date, and possibly what query you entered. But what if the LLM doesn’t cite the sources for its claims? You ask it to supply sources. But what if the supplied sources don’t support the claims and/or the most authoritative sources are missing?

If you consulted a human-written paper during your research and then found that it had been retracted due to being substandard, you wouldn’t cite it. So I find it odd that people are happy to cite LLMs in serious work. Using ChatGPT to trawl through many texts and supply some ideas is one thing, but relying on it to the extent of having to cite it is another thing. It’s not good for the reader/assessor. And it’s not good for the writer because it takes away the pleasure of finding things out.

WIRED has an interesting article on this: “Don’t Want Students to Rely on ChatGPT? Have Them Use It” (