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Artificial intelligence - referencing guidelines

Using generative artificial intelligence (AI) in learning and research, including assessment tasks

The educators within your courses can tell you if you are able to use artificial intelligence (AI) tools in your assessment tasks, including how you can use the tools and what tools you can use. If you use any AI tools, you must appropriately acknowledge and reference the use of these tools and their outputs. Failure to reference the use of these tools can result in academic misconduct. 

Please confirm with your course educator before using any AI tools in your assessment tasks. 

Please note that the guidelines on how to reference AI tools have been updated in January 2024. This is in response to updated functionality in some tools, including the ability to generate shareable URLs.

We have also created guidelines for referencing AI-generated images on the second part of this guide.

Overview of text-generating AI tools

Introduction to AI tools that can generate text

AI tools that generate text, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, are large language models with a conversational type of interface, where you can ask a question, receive a detailed response and follow up with additional queries. 

Some generative AI tools are not connected to the internet and are trained on data sets up to a specific time point. Other generative AI tools connect to the internet and will provide URL links to information. There are some points to consider when using the text generated by these tools: 

  • As these tools function in a similar way to predictive text on your phone, by recognising and reproducing patterns in language, they can generate incorrect information.
  • While they can produce citations and references, these are not always correct. If you are relying on the information to be accurate, you should check that the reference cited by the AI tool exists, and that the information cited is present in the original source.
  • The data sets used to train these tools often include biased and inaccurate information, as access to scholarly information and valid scientific studies may be limited, and information from social media and other less reputable sources is included. 

 The Learning Lab Artificial Intelligence Tools module has more information on how these AI tools work, and some points to consider when using them. 

 

Copyright and non-human authors

Current copyright law only recognises humans as authors and creators. One of the moral rights associated with copyright is the right to be acknowledged as the author of a work. From a copyright perspective an AI tool cannot be recognised as the creator of a work, however it is important to explain that an AI tool was used in the creation of the work. This has informed our referencing guidance.

 

General acknowledgement that AI tools have been used in the creation of a work

In some assessment tasks, you may be able to use AI tools for background research, or to generate an outline for your essay or report. As stated earlier, please follow your educator's guidance before using any AI tools. In this case, rather than citing and referencing specific text generated by AI tools, you will need to provide a general acknowledgement within the body or methods section of your text to explain that an AI tool was used in the creation of your work. Include as much detail as possible, including how you used the AI tool, the prompt used, the date you used the tool, and the name, creator and version of the AI tool.  

Example: On the 26th June 2023, I used the May 24 version of OpenAI's ChatGPT to perform background research by using the following prompt "explain the difference between deep learning and machine learning". 

 

Referencing specific text content generated by AI tools

Each of the referencing styles used at RMIT is based on a source style manual. More information on the source style manuals used for each style can be found in Easy Cite. Currently, only the editors of the APA style manual have provided advice on referencing AI-generated content. For the other referencing styles used at RMIT, we have created interim guidelines for referencing AI-generated content that we believe are the best match within that style. These may change in the future as the source style manuals develop or update their guidelines for referencing AI-generated content.  

If you are referring to content generated by AI tools within your work, we recommend that you include the shareable link to the content if available, or otherwise include this AI-generated content as an appendix or supplemental information. It is also good practice to include the question or prompt that generated the response to provide context for your readers. 

Two sets of reference guidelines are provided below for each style - one is for AI tools that include shareable URLs to the outputs generated from text prompts, which enables your readers to access the outputs themselves.  The other is for AI tools that do not provide shareable links, meaning that the readers of your work cannot access the same information themselves. 

APA 7th - reference AI tools as software

The current (April 2023) guidelines from the APA style manual editors are to reference outputs from AI tools such as ChatGPT in a similar way to referencing software outputs. Use the name of the creator of the tool as the author and include both an in-text citation and a reference list entry. If a shareable URL to the content is available, include it in your reference list entry. If the content is not shareable, include the prompt used and the output generated in an appendix. Include the general URL for the tool and a note about the appendix in the reference list entry.

 

In-text citations:

For in-text citations, use the creator of the AI tool as the author (i.e., OpenAI), and the year of the version of the AI model that you have used.   

Rule for narrative (author-prominent) citations: Author (year)

Example 1: OpenAI (2023)

Example 2: Anthropic (2024)

 

Rule for parenthetical (information-prominent) citations: (Author, year)

Example 1: (OpenAI, 2023)

Example 2: (Anthropic, 2024)

 

Reference list entry example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

Rule: Author. (Year). Title of software program (Version) [Format]. Publisher*. URL

*Note: when the publisher and author name are the same, do not repeat the publisher name after the format, and instead move directly to the URL. Include details of the version if known.

Example: OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (May 24 version) [Large language model]. 

https://chat.openai.com/share/81f2e81f-f137-41b6-9881-39af1672ae3c

 

Reference list entry example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Author. (Year). Title of software program (Version) [Format]. Publisher*. URL. Appendix.

*Note: when the publisher and author name are the same, do not repeat the publisher name after the format, and instead move directly to the URL. Include details of the version if known.

Example: Anthropic. (2024). Claude [Large language model]. https://claude.ai/chats. See Appendix for prompt used and output generated.

 

RMIT Harvard - interim guidelines

The Australian Government Style Manual, on which our RMIT Harvard referencing style is based, currently contains no guidelines for referencing AI-generated content, and also has no guidelines for referencing software programs. As the RMIT Harvard style is similar to the APA 7th style, we have based the interim guidelines for RMIT Harvard on the current APA guidelines for referencing AI-generated content, adapted to match the RMIT Harvard style. Please note these are interim guidelines and these may be updated in the future if the Australian Government Style Manual editors release formal advice.

Use the name of the creator of the tool as the author and include both an in-text citation and a reference list entry. If a shareable URL to the content is available, include it in your reference list entry. If the content is not shareable, include the prompt used and the output generated in an appendix. Include the general URL for the tool and a note about the appendix in the reference list entry.

 

In-text citations:

For in-text citations, use the creator of the AI tool as the author (i.e., OpenAI), and the year of the version of the AI model that you have used.   

Rule for narrative (author-prominent) citations: Author (year)

Example 1: OpenAI (2023)

Example 2: Anthropic (2024)

 

Rule for parenthetical (information-prominent) citations: (Author, year)

Example 1: (OpenAI 2023)

Example 2: (Anthropic 2024)

 

Reference list entry example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

Rule: Author (Year) Title of software program (Version) [Format], Publisher*, accessed Day Month Year. URL

*Note: when the publisher and author name are the same, do not repeat the publisher name after the format, and instead move directly to the URL.  Include details of the version if known.

Example: OpenAI (2023) ChatGPT (May 24 version) [Large language model], accessed 26 June 2023. https://chat.openai.com/share/81f2e81f-f137-41b6-9881-39af1672ae3c

 

Reference list entry example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Author (Year) Title of software program (Version) [Format], Publisher*, accessed Day Month Year. URL. Appendix.

*Note: when the publisher and author name are the same, do not repeat the publisher name after the format, and instead move directly to the URL. Include details of the version if known.

Example: Anthropic (2024). Claude [Large language model], accessed 22 January 2024. https://claude.ai/chats. See Appendix for prompt used and output generated.

Chicago A - interim guidelines

The Chicago Manual of Style editors have released a Q&A post on referencing AI-generated text. We have adapted these guidelines to accommodate the current Australian copyright advice that AI tools cannot be listed as authors - instead write that the text was generated using [the AI tool].

If a shareable URL to the content is available, include it in your reference list entry. If the content is not shareable, include the prompt used and the output generated in an appendix. Include the general URL for the tool and a note about the appendix in the reference list entry.

 
Chicago A (footnotes)

The Chicago A (footnote) style uses numbered in-text citations that match the corresponding footnote or endnote entry. 

 

Footnote example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

Rule: Note number. AI tool used, Month Day, Year, Creator of tool, URL.

Example: 1. Text generated using ChatGPT, June 26, 2023, OpenAI, https://chat.openai.com/share/81f2e81f-f137-41b6-9881-39af1672ae3c

 

Footnote example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Note number. AI tool used, Month Day, Year, Creator of tool, URL, Appendix.

Example: 1. Text generated using Claude, January 22, 2024, Anthropic, https://claude.ai/chats, see Appendix for prompt used and output generated.

Chicago B - interim guidelines

The Chicago Manual of Style editors have released a Q&A post on referencing AI-generated text. We have adapted these guidelines to accommodate the current Australian copyright advice that AI tools cannot be listed as authors. Instead, use the creator of the tool as the author in the in-text citation and provide bibliographic details in a reference list entry.

If a shareable URL to the content is available, include it in your reference list entry. If the content is not shareable, include the prompt used and the output generated in an appendix. Include the general URL for the tool and a note about the appendix in the reference list entry.

 
Chicago B (author-date)

The Chicago B (author-date) style uses an author-date format for in-text citations and a corresponding reference list.

 

In-text citation - narrative (author-prominent):

Rule: Author (year)

Example: OpenAI (2023)

Example: Anthropic (2024)

 

In-text citation - parenthetical (information-prominent):

Rule: (Author year)

Example: (OpenAI 2023)

Example: (Anthropic 2024)

 

Reference list entry example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

Rule: Author. Year. Name of tool. Version (if available). Month Day, Year. URL

Example: OpenAI. 2023. ChatGPT. May 24 version.  June 26, 2023. https://chat.openai.com/share/81f2e81f-f137-41b6-9881-39af1672ae3c

 

Reference list entry example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Author. Year. Name of tool. Version (if available). Month Day, Year. URL. Appendix.

Example: Anthropic. 2024. Claude. January 22, 2024. https://claude.ai/chats. See Appendix for prompt used and output generated.

Vancouver - interim guidelines

The RMIT Vancouver guide is based on the e-book Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers [Internet]. 2nd edition. The NLM Style Guide does not currently contain any guidelines for referencing AI-generated content, however the International Community of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has released guidance on the use of generative AI tools in scholarly work published in medical journals. The advice is that generative AI tools should not be listed or cited as authors, and that the use of AI tools must be acknowledged.

The NLM style guide includes guidelines for referencing a number of internet source types. We have adapted these guidelines below, as we believe this is the best match for the style.  Please note these are interim guidelines and these may be updated in the future when the NLM style manual editors release formal advice.

Use the name of the creator of the tool as the author. Include details of the version if known. If a shareable URL to the content is available, include it in your reference list entry. If the content is not shareable, include the prompt used and the output generated in an appendix. Include the general URL for the tool and a note about the appendix in the reference list entry.

The Vancouver style uses numbered in-text citations that match the corresponding footnote or endnote entry. 

 

Reference list entry example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

Rule: Reference number. Name of AI tool [Type of medium]. Creator of tool; Date of version YYYY Mon [cited YYYY Mon DD]. Available from URL 

Example: 1. ChatGPT [Internet]. OpenAI; 2023 May [cited 2023 Jun 26]. Available from https://chat.openai.com/share/81f2e81f-f137-41b6-9881-39af1672ae3c

 

Reference list entry example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Reference number. Name of AI tool [Type of medium]. Creator of tool; Date of version YYYY Mon [cited YYYY Mon DD]. URL. Appendix.

Example: 1. Claude [Internet]. Anthropic [cited 2024 Jan 22]. https://claude.ai/chats. See Appendix for text generated and prompt used.

 

IEEE - interim guidelines

The IEEE referencing guide does not currently contain any guidelines for referencing AI-generated content, but the style guide does include guidelines for referencing software. We have adapted the software guidelines below, as we believe this is the best match for the style. Please note these are interim guidelines and these may be updated in the future when the IEEE style manual editors release formal advice.

The IEEE referencing style uses numbered in-text citations that match the corresponding reference list entry. 

Include details of the version if known. If a shareable URL to the content is available, include it in your reference list entry. If the content is not shareable, include the prompt used and the output generated in an appendix. Include the general URL for the tool and a note about the appendix in the reference list entry.

 

Reference list entry example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

Template: Reference number. Title of Software. (version or year), Publisher Name. Accessed: Mon. DD, YYYY. [Type of Medium]. Available: site/path/file

Example: 1. ChatGPT (May 24 Version), OpenAI. Accessed: Jun 23, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://chat.openai.com/share/5a1327c0-e637-4b3c-a3db-c380b8008ca8

 

Reference list entry example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Reference number. Title of Software. (version or year), Publisher Name. Accessed: Mon. DD, YYYY. [Type of Medium]. Available: site/path/file. Appendix.

Example: 1. Claude. (2024), Anthropic. Accessed: Jan 22, 2024. [Online]. Available: https://claude.ai/chats. See Appendix for prompt used and output generated.

AGLC - interim guidelines

The Australian Guide to Legal Citation 4th edition does not currently contain any guidelines for referencing AI-generated content, and the style guide does not include guidelines for referencing software.

Our interim advice is to reference AI-generated text as a written correspondence (section 7.12), as we believe this is the best match for the AGLC style. As generative AI tools are not considered authors from a copyright perspective, we recommend using language such as 'response generated using [the creator's AI tool]', rather than using the name of the tool as the author. Please note these guidelines may be updated in the future if the AGLC style manual editors release formal advice.

 

Footnote example - shareable URL generated by the AI tool:

 Rule: Note number Correspondence generated using the AI tool to Recipient, full date, URL 

Example: 1 Response generated using OpenAI's ChatGPT to Matt Smith, 23 June 2023, https://chat.openai.com/share/5a1327c0-e637-4b3c-a3db-c380b8008ca8.

 

Footnote example - non-shareable AI-generated content:

Rule: Note number Correspondence generated using the AI tool to Recipient, full date, Appendix.

Example:  1 Response generated using Anthropic's Claude to Matt Smith, 24 January 2024, see Appendix A for prompt used and output generated.