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AI and ChatGPT: Beginner Resources

ChatGPT and other AI have quickly changed the landscape in terms of the fight against plagiarism in academia. While the technology is rapidly developing, practical tactics to combat the proliferation of plagiaristic AI-generated works.

Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

Is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.(Dictionary, 2023)

What is Chat Generative Pretrained Transformer?

Is an AI- powered chatbot from the OpenAI research company that stimulates a human speaking English and other languages. It generates a response when asked open-ended questions about any topic. It is also used for writing code, composing music, answering test questions and generating short essays and articles. (PC Magazine, 2023)

A Brief Editorial on the Ethics of ChatGPT by Mikhail Chin

What is ChatGPT and why does it matter all of a sudden?

By now, just about everyone has heard about ChatGPT and artificial intelligence (AI) software similar to it. ChatGPT is a chatbot created by Open AI that predicts speech. Its primary function is not to operate as a search engine or to be a repository of knowledge; it simulates and predicts conversations that a user would have with another person based on the prompt entered into it. People have been manipulating ChatGPT to attempt to get it to write whole research papers, finish dissertations and in a recent case, a lawyer was fired for trying to use a legal brief that was created by the AI.

Obviously, the biggest concern with ChatGPT in academia is the usage of the software for the completion of research for both faculty and students. Sidestepping the ethical concerns for a moment (plagiarism, removal of academic rigor and no actual learning on the users part), a major issue with ChatGPT is its accuracy. Again, the AI is not a search engine, and the “facts” that it often responds with are incorrect and uncited. ChatGPT is designed for communication, not for veracity.

Circling back around to the ethical concerns, what facts ChatGPT does get right cannot always be readily cited. ChatGPT commits plagiarism by disseminating information without providing a source, so therefore, any usage of the software for research will immediately result in the user being considered as doing the same; the AI is even known to make up fake sources. ChatGPT removes academic rigor by sidestepping the normal procedures to give the user information immediately. Academia demands that one actively engage with the material in order to fully understand its contents. AI chatbots remove the possibility of an academic finding similar or related information to the research topic at hand. The sprawl of research helps to define the depths of a topic, and whittling down one’s research to a concise point strengthens the foundations of all research.

Maybe worst of all, ChatGPT takes away people’s ability to learn, not just specific topics but pedagogically. Learning and teaching are processes, and if a professor were to just give their students the answers, where is the education? Where is the formation of knowledge? Where are connections being made and new ideas being formulated? The destination is not always as important as the journey. Chatbots disrupt the creation of knowledge on an individual and institutional level, removing the user’s intellectual autonomy.

Beating ChatGPT with Expertise

Analog methods of detecting ChatGPT may not be as fancy, quick or convenient as some of the tools tailor-made for the task, but they can be just as effective. Here are a few tips for how to not only spot papers written by chatbots, but how to improve your student's writing:

  1. Knowing your students' writing styles- If you recognize the individual styles and details of how your pupils write, it will be easier to spot the differences between their normal prose and that of AI-plagiarized works. Along those lines, when possible and appropriate, encourage your students to add their own personal flare to their writing.
  2. Checking repeated spelling errors and grading for grammar, spelling and punctuation- AI tends to make the same type of mistakes over and over. It is steadily improving, but often times, periods and commas will be missing or even in the completely wrong place and common words will be misspelled.
  3. Have students take a writing assessment at the start of the semester (if there is rapid improvement or decline, follow up with them)- Not everyone's writing is the same, and some students are simply stronger writers than others. If you understand what the baseline is that they are coming from, you can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their prose. If there is a sudden downshift or improvement, maybe follow up with you student and do a knowledge check on their work.
  4. Do knowledge checks straight from their papers- The main benefit of using a chatbot to write a paper is their convenience and expediency. Many people will have the work generated and not bother to double-check it for veracity or read its contents. If you discuss the contents of their paper with a student and they seem perplexed or uninformed of its contents, this is a red flag.
  5. Have stringent works cited/bibliography requirements- Following the given citation guidelines for your major/field (Chicago style for History, APA for Sociology and so on) is not just good for uniformity and professionalism but also helps to weed out papers that were not written by the student themselves.
  6. One key giveaway that a text is AI-generated is that it is full of run-on sentences and sentences begin and end nonsensically

These are just a few tricks to help spot papers and essays made by the likes of ChatGPT. A consistent thread throughout this guide is to engage with your students as much as possible, imploring them to use best practices in their writing and impressing upon them the merits of improving their rhetoric.