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Referencing

General referencing guidance for University of Exeter students

Using generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT in academic work

It is important that students are aware of how to use generative AI tools such as ChatGPT during their studies in an appropriate and transparent way. Cite them right has some background information on AI tools and academic work.   

AI tools can help you: 

  • Help improve your grammar and the structure of your writing 

  • Generate ideas and images 

  • Answer questions using freely available information on the internet 


If you are using an AI tool as part of your academic work, please check that you have used this guidance on how to acknowledge and reference use of these tools.  

A. If you are not sure whether you can use generative AI in your academic work, please check with your module convenor for the latest University of Exeter guidance.  
B. Please be aware - practice and guidance in this area will change over time, so you should regularly check back at this guide for the most up to date advice from the University to ensure your referencing is up to date. 
C. While AI tools can be helpful, they should not be used to generate all or part of an assessment which you go on to submit as your own work. This would be an offence under the University’s Academic Conduct and Practice policy.
D. It is important to note that AI tools do not always output accurate information, so you should verify any content that you plan to use in your academic work. In addition, any content you generate using an AI tool such as ChatGPT will need to be adapted and critically analysed. See advice from Study Zone to help with this process.  

How should I reference and acknowledge AI tools in my academic work? 

Step 1. You should acknowledge use of generative AI tools 

It is important that you acknowledge that you have used generative AI tools in your work. You also must make clear how you have used these tools. Failure to do this may result in academic misconduct.

Please check with your module convenor where in your work you should include this information. 

You should include (a) a statement of acknowledgement in your work and (b) a description of how the AI tool was used and the information generated:  

a. Statement of acknowledgement 

Using AI tools to generate content 

Please include the statement that reflects your use of AI tools: 

I acknowledge the use of (insert name of AI tool(s) and link) to generate materials for background research and independent study. I confirm that no content generated by AI has been presented as my own work. 

OR 

I acknowledge the use of (insert name of AI tool(s) and link) to generate materials that I have adapted to include within my final assessment. I confirm that no content generated by AI has been presented as my own work. 

 

Using AI tools to refine your writing or improve grammar

Please edit and include this statement to reflect your use of AI tools: 

I acknowledge the use of (insert name of AI tool(s) and link) to [refine writing/improve grammar] within my final assessment. I confirm that no content generated by AI has been presented as my own work. 

 

b. Description of use 

The following prompts were input into (name of AI tool: [Provide details]) 
The output obtained was*: (Paste the full output generated by the AI tool) 
Full detail of how the output was adapted: (explain how you adapted the output for use in your work) 

* If you have used AI purely to check your grammar, then you do not need to include the full output obtained by the AI tool in your description of use.

Step 2. You should reference use of AI tools 

Many referencing styles have not yet released guidelines on how to reference ChatGPT or similar generative AI.  

As the content recalled from ChatGPT and similar tools cannot be replicated by another person and cannot be linked to, we recommend that you reference the outputs from generative AI, such as ChatGPT in the same way that you would a personal communication or correspondence. Please also take note of the advice given in point D above regarding the need to check, adapt and critically analyse any content generated by AI tools.

There is Harvard guidance on referencing generative AI on Cite them right. Other styles included on Cite them right have a personal communication source type that you can use as an example. 

If your department is using a referencing style that is not included in Cite them right, you should visit the guidance for your style and ask your module convenor for further advice. 

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