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How Far Is Too Far? Exploring the Implications of ChatGPT

News of ChatGPT, and its lesser-known competitors, hit the headlines late last year — and publishers are wrestling with the question of citations.

What is ChatGPT?

Last November, a new large language model (LLM) was released, sending shockwaves through the publishing industry. Unlike other platforms, ChatGPT convincingly mimics colloquial language. An AI with the ability to create conversational sentences, write music, and even code? This is undoubtedly new territory.

Since then, millions of users, including those who work in academia, have used ChatGPT to enhance their writing and research. There are many benefits to using AI in academic publishing — checking plagiarism, citing sources, and correcting grammar, to name a few. With AI developments, many academics have found ChatGPT incredibly useful during the article-writing process, with some even crediting ChatGPT as a contributing author.

This, as you can imagine, has created controversy.

AI, authorship, and academia

Citing ChatGPT has called into question the very definition of authorship. Is there a difference between the mind who researches, considers problems, and crafts solutions — and the writer who composes the words?

Richard Sever, assistant director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press in New York, argues there should be a distinction between author and writer. “Authors take on legal responsibility for their work,” he says, “so only people should be listed.”

Many publishers agree with this distinction. Authorship connotes legal and mental responsibility. ChatGPT, then, does not belong in the authorship line and should rather be included in the acknowledgments.

Users beware

Although some publishers have not yet provided a specific policy around AI usage, many conversations are being had. To date, most — but not all— have avoided completely banning its use but do require authors disclose what if any automated tools they are using. Unfortunately for editors and peer reviewers, software that can reliably detect if AI has been used in text preparation is still in the nascent stages. So, while it may be tempting to use a tool such at ChatGPT to check for plagiarism, find grammar and punctuation mistakes, select relevant citations, and sift through piles of research, authors should first and foremost be aware of their publisher’s policy around usage before proceeding.

Contact your Sheridan or KGL representative for a consultation, or visit our contact pages (Sheridan contact page / KGL contact page) to learn how we can help streamline and simplify your publishing processes.

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