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Introduction to Library Research

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Citing AI


Use of AI tools for generative text in academic assignments should be cited. The creators of popular style guides have issued formatting guidance on how to cite or reference AI-generated content. Click on the APA or MLA tab for the latest advice on citing and referencing AI-generated content. 

As an instructor, you are free to require students to include additional information in their citations and references. For example, if a style guide doesn't require a full-text transcript of the results of a prompt, but you prefer to have full-text transcripts, you can require students to provide those in addition to the information required by the style guide. 



Guidance from the APA Style Team

When a prompt is entered into a text-generating tool, the resulting output varies each time. Predictive text can't be recreated, so the APA Style Team doesn't regard the prompt itself as a useful piece of data for the purpose of creating a reference. The APA Style Team does encourage writers to include their prompts in their narrative texts and to include the full text of the generated response in an appendix. 

APA models references and citations for generated text after existing guidelines used for referencing and citing software, per Chapter 10 of the 7th edition of the APA Style Guidelines. 


Reference Example

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Oct 1 version) [Large language model].

In-Text Citation Examples

  • Parenthetical citation: (OpenAI, 2023) - or- (OpenAI, 2023; see Appendix A for the full transcript).

  • Narrative citation: OpenAI (2023)


Guidance from the MLA Style Center

The MLA Style Center does require writers to include prompts in Works Cited entries. MLA also requires  that writers use recommends including the usual pieces of information in a work-cited-list-entry, such as title, publisher, date, and location. The Center does recommend omitting the author from the works-cited-list-entry. The prompt itself should take the place of the author. 


Work-Cited Format:

“Prompt". Name of AI Tool plus the version if applicable. Date content was generated, Name of company that owns the

     AI tool, Homepage URL of tool.  

Work-Cited Entry Example:

“What is the future of libraries" prompt. ChatGPT 3.51 Oct. 2023 version, OpenAI, 

In-text citation:

In-text citations are simply short versions of the prompt. The short version of the prompt should connect readers to the full Work-Cited entry. There is no guidance on how many words the short version of the prompt should contain. Using the Work-Cited entry above, the corresponding in-text citation could be:

(What is the future).