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Using Generative AI

How to Cite Generative AI

Some citation styles have developed guidelines for citing ChatGPT and other generative AI. Content from generative AI was initially considered a nonrecoverable source because it couldn't be retrieved. For example, if different users give ChatGPT the same prompt, it produces a unique response each time. However, you can now share output from ChatGPT using the linking feature within the tool or a third-party tools such as ShareGPT or AI Archives. These kinds of links can be useful for citing generative AI content. It is important to note that if you use the link feature within ChatGPT, deleting a conversation from your account will also cause the link to break.

The following examples are based on information provided by popular citation styles. As of November 2023, only APA, Chicago, and MLA have posted guidance about citing generative AI. Guidelines may change and new examples may be added, so check back frequently for updates, and consult resources specific to the citation style you are using. If the style does not yet have relevant guidelines, you could consider using the format for software.

ACS (online edition)

While ACS has not provided specific instructions related to generative AI, it does include guidelines for citing software and program code (sec. 4.3.5.7). The following example uses the software format.

In-Text Citation

The U of A Library's ACS QuickGuide focuses on superscript numbering for in-text citations (ACS also gives the option of author-date referencing). To use the numbering system, add a superscript number at the point in your text when you are citing generative AI. The number should correspond to the same source in your reference list.

Example

ChatGPT responded to the prompt, “Explain how to make pizza dough from common household ingredients.”1

Reference List Entry

Template

Reference number. Title of AI Model, version or edition; Publisher: Place of Publication, Year. DOI or URL (access date).

Example

1. ChatGPT, Feb 13 ver.; OpenAI: San Francisco, CA, 2022. https://chat.openai.com/ (accessed 2023-03-07).

APA (7th edition)

An APA Style Blog post gives citation examples along with more advice for using and citing generative AI. APA recommends treating the organization or individual who developed the model as the author.

In-Text Citation

Template

(Author/Creator of AI model, Year of version used)

Example

(OpenAI, 2022)

Reference List Entry

Template

Author/creator of AI model. (Year of model). Name of model (Version of model) [Type or description of model]. Web address of model.

Example

OpenAI. (2022). ChatGPT (Dec 20 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/

Chicago (17th edition)

An FAQ entry on the Chicago style website describes how AI models can be cited. Chicago recommends only citing AI in a note (for the notes-bibliography system) or a parenthetical citation (for the author-date system) and not in a bibliography or reference list, unless you provide a publicly available URL (e.g., through a browser extension like ShareGPT or A.I. Archives). This style treats the AI model as an author.

Footnote or Endnote (Notes-Bibliography System)

Template

Note number. Author, description of prompt, publisher, date the text was generated.

(Omit the prompt if it has been described in your text.)

Example

1. ChatGPT, response to “Explain how to make pizza dough from common household ingredients,” OpenAI, March 7, 2023.

In-Text Citation (Author-Date System)

A parenthetical in-text citation should include any information not described in your text.

Example

(ChatGPT, March 7, 2023)

MLA (9th edition)

An MLA Style Center post includes guidance for using and citing generative AI. MLA does not recommend treating AI tools as authors, so citations should skip the author element.

MLA suggests including the general link to the AI tool (e.g., chat.openai.com/chat). However, if you use a third-party linking tool like ShareGPT, MLA recommends using that link instead.

In-Text Citation

Include the "title of source" element, shortened based on MLA guidelines if needed. For generative AI, the title will usually be a description of what was generated by the AI model.

Example

("Describe the symbolism")

Works Cited List Entry

Template

“Title of source" prompt. Name of AI Tool, version, Company, Date content was generated, General web address of tool. 

Example

“Describe the symbolism of the green light in the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald” prompt. ChatGPT, 13 Feb. version, OpenAI, 8 Mar. 2023, chat.openai.com/chat. 

Citing Generative AI for Publication

Different publishers are taking different approaches related to the use of generative AI. If you are writing for publication, check the publisher's information for authors.