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How to cite ChatGPT

Last week, a colleague forwarded the following from a listserv, where someone was asking how to cite ChatGPT using IEEE style. A response from another user,

– I can’t speak to IEEE style yet, but a colleague of mine reached out to APA’s style experts just yesterday to ask how to handle citing ChatGPT in APA Style. Here is the response from them:

Thank you for your question! The APA Style team is currently collecting feedback about citing, quoting, and using ChatGPT and fielding related questions about large language models so that we can construct official guidelines about how to document their usage. What follows is some interim guidance in response to your question, but it should not be considered the final word. Please keep an eye on the APA Style website and the APA Style Blog for a more definitive and detailed update and guidelines on this topic.

Because the purpose of references is to direct readers to the specific sources that a writer used, hopefully the text that ChatGPT generates in any particular chat can be saved, is shareable, or is otherwise retrievable. If so, the reference format in Section 10.10 (Software) can be used, with the company (“OpenAI”) as author, not “ChatGPT.” If the chat has no title, a description in square brackets (that ideally includes information on what prompts were used) would be created. That would give us the following:

OpenAI. (2023, January 17). [ChatGPT response to a prompt about three prominent themes in Emily Dickinson’s poetry].…..

If the text that ChatGPT generates is not retrievable or shareable, then it falls into our catch-all “personal communication” category, where you cite with an in-text only citation: “(OpenAI, personal communication, January 16, 2023).” However, this is not an entirely satisfactory option, especially because the technology is so new, so both students and instructors are learning about this resource and how to ethically use it. Consider, then, making the ChatGPT conversation retrievable by including the text as an appendix or as online supplemental material. If you do so, then readers may be referred to the appendix or the online supplemental material (where the ChatGPT response may be contextualized) when the ChatGPT conversation is cited. It would be good practice to describe, in the narrative or a note, the prompt that generated the specific ChatGPT response. This too will help inform the understanding of the technology and its outputs.

If you have further insights or comments that you would like to be considered by the APA Style team as it works on its ChatGPT guidance, you may send those comments to this email address or participate in the Twitter thread.

So that’s some guidance, but the reason it came to mind is that today OpenAI released an update to ChatGPT, which reinforces why it’s so important to include that date of access in your citation: ChatGPT just got an update that makes its responses more accurate.

I did also find a much older post (2019) about citing Artificial intelligences from MLA, in which they neglect the date ’cause they’re using Eliza as an example 🙁

Kinda hard to believe the Official Channels haven’t come up with something definitive already; I’d love to keep this post up-to-date if you know of a LibGuide or similar that’s already collected examples from various styles.

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