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What is AI and ChatGPT?: Citing Generative AI

In this research guide you will discover the inner workings of language models such as ChatGPT and the history of artificial intelligence. You'll also gain insight into AI plagiarism and the methods for detecting AI generated text.

Why Cite Generative AI?

Citing generative AI is essential for several reasons.

Firstly, it recognizes the contribution of these tools to the content creation process, promoting transparency and proper attribution. Secondly, it helps in avoiding plagiarism, as failing to acknowledge AI-generated content can be considered unethical (see Academic Honesty tab for more information). Lastly, by citing generative AI, you provide a clear trail for others to follow, allowing for the verification of the information and ensuring the credibility of your sources. Just as with any other source in academic writing, proper citation of generative AI ensures that your work is academically rigorous and ethically sound. Additionally, it's important to vet any sources generated by AI to maintain the reliability and credibility of the information you use in your research.

Things to Consider when Citing Generative AI:

  • cite a generative AI tool whenever you paraphrase, quote, or incorporate into your own work any content (whether text, image, data, or other) that was created by it
  • acknowledge all functional uses of the tool (like editing your prose or translating words) in a note, your text, or another suitable location
  • take care to vet the secondary sources it cites

Citing AI using MLA

Limitations of ChatGPT


Please see more information on our "Limitations" tab.

Citing AI using APA

Citing Generative AI in MLA Citation Style

When using AI in your work, you should: 

  • cite a generative AI tool whenever you paraphrase, quote, or incorporate into your own work any content (whether text, image, data, or other) that was created by it 
  • acknowledge all functional uses of the tool (like editing your prose or translating words) in a note, your text, or another suitable location 
  • take care to vet the secondary sources it cites (see ChatGPT/AI Limitations tab for more information about generative AI hallucinations)

See below for specific examples. And keep in mind: the MLA template of core elements is meant to provide flexibility in citation.

Full citations in MLA follow a standardized formula, although not all fields are necessary when you’re citing AI. Here is a short list of the core elements in an MLA citation, with descriptions of how they apply to AI specifically:

  • Author: blank for AI
  • Title of source: the prompt you used to generate the text or a description if the prompt itself is too long
  • Title of container: the name of the AI tool, such as ChatGPT
  • Version: the tool’s version (some tools list their version as a date)
  • Publisher: the company that created the AI
  • Date: the date you accessed the AI, in day-month-year format
  • Location: the URL of the tool

Example Citation:

You can cite ChatGPT in MLA using the instructions above. For quick references, here’s an MLA citation example for ChatGPT that you can use as a template.

Full citation in works cited page:

“Summarize the book The Shining” prompt. ChatGPT, GPT-4, OpenAI, 30 Jun. 2023, chat.openai.com/chat.

Parenthetical in-text citation:

(“Summarize the book”)

Citing Generative AI in APA Citation Style

In-Text Citations:

APA format uses an author-date citation system for in-text citations. Directly after a sentence or clause that uses AI research—but before the punctuation mark—put a parenthetical citation with the company that created the AI and the year you accessed it.

A common example of alliteration is the child’s tongue twister “Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers” (OpenAI, 2023).

If you reference the company’s name directly in the text, you need to add only the year. These are known as narrative citations.

A common example of alliteration, generated by ChatGPT from OpenAI, is the child’s tongue twister “Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers” (2023).

APA also requires a full citation in the reference list at the end of the paper, which is explained below.

Reference List:

For a full citation in the reference list, follow the formula below used for other algorithm-generated information. Pay close attention to punctuation, such as periods, parentheses, and brackets, and where you put them.

Company. (Year). AI Name (version) [Descriptor]. URL

The “descriptor” is just a quick description APA uses for all nonstandard sources—traditional sources like books or online articles don’t need them. You can write the descriptor in your own words, but feel free to use “Large language model” for ChatGPT-4.

Make sure you briefly explain the prompt so readers know how you accessed your information.

Example APA Citation:

In-text Citation:

When prompted with “Is the left brain right brain divide real or a metaphor?” the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that although the two brain hemispheres are somewhat specialized, “the notation that people can be characterized as ‘left-brained’ or ‘right-brained’ is considered to be an oversimplification and a popular myth” (OpenAI, 2023).

Reference Page Citation:

Reference

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