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ChatGPT and Plagiarism: Navigating the Challenges of AI in Academia

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In an innovative new study, researchers prompted and questioned ChatGPT to produce academic-style content. The researchers wrote the discussion section of the paper without the software’s influence and highlighted that the study demonstrates the new levels of sophistication that AI offers and address the use of ChatGPT and plagiarism as concerns about academic integrity and plagiarism have been raised throughout the education sector as the technology has advanced.

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ChatGPT Plagiarism

The study

The new study directly employs ChatGPT to address some of these issues, demonstrating not only how sophisticated Large Language Machines (LLMs) have become but also the measures that can be taken to maintain their positive influence.

The study1 was designed by academics from Plymouth Marjon University and the University of Plymouth and was published in the peer-reviewed journal Innovations in Education and Teaching International.

They used a series of prompts and questions for the majority of the paper to get ChatGPT to write in an academic style. Some of these were:

  • Write an original academic paper, with references, describing the implications of GPT-3 for assessment in higher education;
  • How can academics prevent students plagiarising using GPT-3?
  • Are there any technologies which will check if work has been written by a chatbot?
  • Produce several witty and intelligent titles for an academic research paper on the challenges universities face in ChatGPT and plagiarism.

They copied and pasted the generated text into the manuscript, arranged it broadly in accordance with ChatGPT’s suggested structure, and then inserted genuine references throughout.

This procedure was only made clear to readers in the Discussion section of the paper, which was written by the researchers themselves without the software’s help.

The authors of the study emphasize in that section that, despite being significantly more advanced than previous innovations in this field, the text produced by ChatGPT can be relatively formulaic, and that a number of existing AI-detection tools would detect that.

Challenges facing Universities

The study’s authors assert that their findings should serve as a wake-up call to university personnel to carefully consider the design of their assessments and methods for minimizing academic dishonesty and chatgpt generated plagiarism.

The study’s lead author is Plymouth Marjon University’s Director of Academic Practice and Professor of Higher Education, Debby Cotton. She stated:

“This latest AI development obviously brings huge challenges for universities, not least in testing student knowledge and teaching writing skills — but looking positively it is an opportunity for us to rethink what we want students to learn and why. I’d like to think that AI would enable us to automate some of the more administrative tasks academics do, allowing more time to be spent working with students”

Corresponding author Dr Peter Cotton, Associate Professor in Ecology at the University of Plymouth, added:

 “Banning ChatGPT, as was done within New York schools, can only be a short-term solution while we think how to address the issues. AI is already widely accessible to students outside their institutions, and companies like Microsoft and Google are rapidly incorporating it into search engines and Office suites. The chat (sic) is already out of the bag, and the challenge for universities will be to adapt to a paradigm where the use of AI is the expected norm.”

Dr Reuben Shipway, Lecturer in Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth, said:

“With any new revolutionary technology — and this is a revolutionary technology — there will be winners and losers. The losers will be those that fail to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. The winners will take a pragmatic approach and leverage this technology to their advantage.”

1University of Plymouth. (2023, March 23). Paper written using ChatGPT demonstrates opportunities and challenges of AI in academia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 24, 2023 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/03/230323103316.htm

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