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Artificial Intelligence (AI): Home

Introduction to using/referencing AI in academic work


“Embrace the power of AI as a tool to augment your learning journey. Let it ignite your curiosity, expand your possibilities, and inspire your creativity. But always remember, true knowledge and growth stem from your own human insight, critical thinking, and the connections you build with others."

ChatGPT generated text

Guidance on the use of AI is continually changing to reflect developments in the field - please check this page regularly for updates.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in wide variety of contexts, but for academic writing, AI tools are currently mostly used to generate text based on prompts given by people, using the data available to them. As more information is available, the AI 'learns' and improves its ability to predict what will be a meaningful response. 

AI tools such as ChatGPT are known as large language models, and use large data sets to produce increasingly sophisticated text answers to questions asked. Other AI tools can be used to generate music, images and video following the same principles. There is some debate at present about the ethics of this, given that the data used is potentially somebody else's intellectual property. Some online and print publishers refuse to use anything produced by an AI tool because of the ethical and legal problems involved.

Robot reading books

How do I get the best results from AI?

Ask the right questions

Be specific - the more precise and concise the question you ask, the more likely it is that the AI tool will produce a useful answer. For example, instead of asking "what is an academic play?", you could ask "give an example of a German academic play from the 16th Century"

Train the AI - by asking follow-up questions. Large language model AI tools 'learn' by getting feedback and additional data which help them to improve their responses. Let the AI know therefore if the first answer you get isn't right

Protect your data - don't ask a question which contains personal or otherwise confidential information, as the privacy and security of AI tools are unclear

Get inspiration

lightbulb in head

As the quote above suggests, AI can be a useful source of inspiration for the work you're doing. For example, it can give ideas for the methodology you could use for research, or the structure of an essay. It could give you an outline overview of a topic that's new to you, in language that's easy to understand.

It is not so useful however at helping you with work which requires reflection or original critical thinking - AI cannot replace your experience and ability to apply theory into personal practice.

Check with your School/Department for guidance on appropriate use of AI to help with assessments.

Check before you use

shield with a tick

The responses you get from AI tools are not always accurate! Although they use an enormous quantity of data, the quality is sometimes lacking and can be out of date, biased or simply wrong. Their access to academic sources of information is limited, and they will make up a plausible-sounding reference or quote if they can't find a real one. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to create an interview with a celebrity which sounds like something that person might say but is entirely fabricated. Always verify anything produced by an AI tool before referring to it in your work.

How do I reference AI-generated content?

Like any other source, unreferenced use of AI to create content for an assignment is academic misconduct.

In general, because the output of AI tools usually cannot be linked to or reproduced, reference as a 'personal communication'.


Harvard Hull

Communicator (Year) Description of communication [Communication type]. Prompted by name/handle (if not self). Date and time of communication.


Hotpot (2023) Monkey fighting a crab [AI generated image]. Prompted by Li Chen. 18 April 2023, 15:10.


Footnotes Hull

Communicator, Description of communication [Communication type]. Prompted by name/handle (if not self), Date and time of communication.


ChatGPT, Tension in colonial history [AI generated text]. Prompted by Alice Smith. 24 May 2023, 18:05.



The APA have not come to a final conclusion about how to reference AI - their current referencing suggestion is:

Author. (Date). Title [Description]. Source URL


OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].



OSCOLA has not been updated yet to cover AI, so use their 'personal communication' guidance - if you are the recipient, put 'author':

Type of communication from AI name to recipient (date)


AI text from ChatGPT to author (23 May 2023)