This guidance presents UCL's general approach to acknowledging the use of generative AI and referencing generative AI. Generative AI is evolving rapidly and there is not yet general consensus on how to acknowledge and reference it. This guidance will therefore continue to be reviewed and updated.
Before using generative AI, you should ensure that:
Generative AI can be a useful starting point to gather background information on a topic, but be aware that:
If you do choose to use generative AI tools, you must always:
The use of generative AI must be acknowledged in an ‘Acknowledgements’ section of any piece of academic work where it has been used as a functional tool to assist in the process of creating academic work.
Minimum requirement to include in acknowledgement:
I acknowledge the use of ChatGPT 3.5 (Open AI, https://chat.openai.com) to summarise my initial notes and to proofread my final draft.
Further requirements may be stipulated by a department, academic programme or individual teaching staff, or for a particular assignment, and must be made clear to students when an assignment is set. Additional requirements may include expanded description in the ‘Acknowledgements’ or ‘Methods’ section, such as:
These acknowledgements should not be included in the word count of a piece of work, unless stipulated otherwise for a particular assignment or by a particular academic programme or department. The acknowledgements should either be placed at the beginning or end of the document.
Some referencing styles suggest that AI systems should be cited in a similar way to other sources, most notably personal communications, but there are issues with citing AI systems:
This proposal therefore favours the approach of most academic publishers (1), which stipulates AI systems should not be cited as an author nor included as a source in the reference list.
There may be cases where it is appropriate or necessary for a student or researcher to refer to AI generated output within a piece of work and / or include it in a reference list, e.g. where the piece of work addresses the topic of generative AI and discussion around outputs, where there is reference to a formally published output generated by AI, where it is required by the academic department, or where a student has not identified a primary source of the information despite the issues with relying on generative AI as a secondary source of information (which may be considered poor academic practice). Students are advised to check with their department.
In such cases, the output should be treated as a work with no author, unless specified otherwise by departmental guidelines or the standardised referencing style you are using.
Where a student or researcher is required to use a standard referencing style which has specific rules for citing and referencing AI, the rules of the citation style should be followed, in addition to acknowledging the use of AI as outlined above. This may require the use of in-text citations and reference list entries where the AI tool is listed as an author. E.g. APA, Chicago.