If I use ChatGPT to generate the initial prose for, say, a 2 paragraph introduction (where I modify and rephrase a little) do I need to cite it or somehow give credit?

This article implies "no" World's largest academic publisher says ChatGPT can't be credited as an author.

Does anyone have specific guidance, perhaps from a publisher?

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    As you mentioned, ChatGPT is the author of those paragraphs, not you. Thus, you can't publish them at all.
    – Dreamer
    Jan 31, 2023 at 12:18
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    @Dreamer a computer software can't claim authorship. Only humans can. law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/16-15469/… - The court of appeals in the 9th circuit found that the monkey can't be the author of the selfie. The case settled but the court brief is concise. Though this is not binding in other circuits, it is likely that other courts will find the same. Chat GPT is not the author of the text it generates as much as GIMP is not the author of my images. Or Notepad.exe is not the author of my stories. Jan 31, 2023 at 15:24
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    @Mindwin: They court concluded that the Monkey was the author and that it had constitutional standing. To sue for copyright infringement in the U.S., the Copyright Act requires that the work be registered with the Copyright Office. Since the Copyright Office refuses to register works created by animals, the monkey did not have statutory standing. Jan 31, 2023 at 18:39
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    @Mindwin it's true that a piece of software cannot claim authorship. But neither can a human if he didn't actually author the text - which is the case here. The comparison with Gimp or Notepad is misleading in this regard, because one must tell Gimp and Notepad exactly the steps it should perform - and coming up with these steps is considered the creative work that justifies authorship. With ChatGPT one only states the characteristics of the result and ChatGPT performs the creative step itself. That being said, a human being may still claim copyright on ChatGPT's work, but not authorship.
    – Dreamer
    Feb 1, 2023 at 13:17

10 Answers 10


It looks like you can't use it at all, to be honest.

From the OpenAI Terms of Use

You may not: ... (v) represent that output from the Services was human-generated when it is not;...

Given that Springer (from the link in your question) says you can't credit ChatGPT as an author and OpenAI says you have to be up front that the text was generated by ChatGPT, I'd say you're going to have a hard time getting both requirements together.

The link to the ACL that Franck Dernoncourt posted puts a lot of requirements on the use of ChatGPT for an ACL conference. Basically, the ACL page says "Don't use it. If you must use it, consider all these requirements and how you will make sure they are met before you try to convince us that your use of ChatGPT is merited."

The ACL site mentions some cases where it is OK to use text tools - but it does not put ChatGPT in that category. It also mentions all the ethical and legal doubts surrounding the use of ChatGPT.

Why bother with ChatGPT? You'll have to go through any number of iterations before it tosses out something you like, edit its output, clean it up, and check it for plagiarism (there's always the chance that it'll reconstitute some exact piece of text from the stuff it analyzed.)

Using ChatGPT will simply be more work for a questionable gain. Write your text yourself. Then you can be sure that the text says what you meant and that it won't accidentally plagiarise someone else's text.

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    Is this legally binding? Jan 31, 2023 at 9:49
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    Those are the terms of use you must agree to in order to use ChatGPT. Whether terms of use are legally binding or not will depend on the legal system of your country. Do you want to argue it in front a court of law?
    – JRE
    Jan 31, 2023 at 10:01
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    Surely if our OP decided to cite ChatGPT the terms of use would be met since there was no misrepresentation involved? Jan 31, 2023 at 13:10
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    Springer is not all publications but, in any case, their guidance ( nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00191-1 ) says it cannot be credited as an author not that is cannot be cited and, in fact, says that it should be listed in the methods if used Jan 31, 2023 at 13:37
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    IANAL but I would say that you could credit it the same way you might credit Google Translate
    – Barmar
    Jan 31, 2023 at 16:07

The article you linked to is rather misleading, in fact the guidelines direct from Nature say this:

First, no LLM tool will be accepted as a credited author on a research paper. That is because any attribution of authorship carries with it accountability for the work, and AI tools cannot take such responsibility.

Second, researchers using LLM tools should document this use in the methods or acknowledgements sections. If a paper does not include these sections, the introduction or another appropriate section can be used to document the use of the LLM.

Therefore if used they should be cited as per the second piece of guidance here if published in any of Springer's journals. Other journals may have different guidelines.

Note: I am deliberately not commenting here on whether I think such use is appropriate or useful, since that is a different question from the one asked here.


Academically... No. You cite the work of people, you can't plagiarise an algorithm. You wouldn't cite a piece of software that did a linear regression for you. ChatGPT is essentially the same, just with a few orders of magnitude more stats going on.

From a ChatGPT License perspective, you're not allowed to represent its output as human made. However, whether or not you think this license clause is enforceable is a judgement call for you to make.

There is a slight complication in that ChatGPT has been trained on millions of lines of other people's work. It may, at times, regurgitate someone else's work verbatim, at which point you have accidentally plagiarised that original work. Further to this, there are cases going through the courts at the moment that argue that these models, and any output from them, de-facto breach the copyright of any unlicensed training material.

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    You absolutely should cite a piece of software that did a linear regression for you. Jan 31, 2023 at 11:30
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    Are you seriously telling me excel is cited all over the place for doing linear regressions? Please... At that point you might argue you have to cite PgfPlots for drawing your graphs, or LaTex for typesetting the document... Even Linux for providing the OS on which you performed the data analysis. If it's a particularly novel algorithm crucial to some of the results, then sure, but I don't think this meets that Jan 31, 2023 at 11:31
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    @Chris - Even then, it doesn't really matter... AI generated content cannot be copyrighted. So all they could do is say you breached their license... So what? They haven't suffered any damages, so a court won't do anything. The absolute worst that could happen is they close your account Jan 31, 2023 at 19:24
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    @ScottishTapWater The original copyright belongs to the authors used in the training corpus. OpenGPT will occasionally cite a piece of text verbatim. Its output is essentially a tied-together, formatted collection of what other people have said on the subject that you ask it.
    – Therac
    Feb 1, 2023 at 13:16
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    @ZOMVID-21 - Ehh... That's an open question that's not yet been settled in court. I find it hard to believe that the courts are going to rule that every person who's in the training set has a collective copyright over the outputs. That's like saying the writer of every book you've ever read should have a copyright in what you write because you're inspired by their work and influenced by it. It's also far more complicated than just tying it together and formatting it... But I do take your point Feb 1, 2023 at 14:18

do I need to cite or somehow give credit?

No, except if your jurisdiction or your publisher requires it.

From OpenAI FAQ: "Subject to the Content Policy and Terms, you own the output you create with ChatGPT, including the right to reprint, sell, and merchandise – regardless of whether output was generated through a free or paid plan."

if anyone has specific guidance - perhaps from a publisher?

E.g. see the ACL 2023 policy: https://2023.aclweb.org/blog/ACL-2023-policy/.

Note that ChatGPT may plagiarize content.


I am and have been on editorial boards of scientific publications (journals and books). The policy there is quite clear: Texts produced with the help of AI bots are unfit for publication. If not mentioned and found out, authors have plagiarized and will be blacklisted.


Citations, according to the UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries, serve three major roles in scholarly work: showing how an argument is built on other ideas; indicating which ideas were taken from others and giving due credit; and allowing the reader to track references.

What you would need to do to allow these objectives with LLM output is cite the authors of the text corpus that the LLM was trained on, from which it is (in an mechanistic and non-comprehending fashion) taking ideas. As others have noted, you don't cite an algorithm (though one should specify what algorithm and implementation was used in a research paper); but an LLM isn't merely an algorithm, it's tons and tons and tons of training data.

If you borrow an idea from something I post to the web, as long as you cite me, all's well and good. But when an LLM is trained on something I post, then blends and digests and composts it and spits it out for you, it doesn't tell you that it came from me.

The fact that you cannot trace the idea back and cites its source makes such tools unsuitable for writing anything intended to be intellectually rigorous.


Always, as a rule of thumb, cite your source if it didn't come from you, period. (Purdue University, Purdue Online Writing Lab, College of Liberal Arts.)

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    Jan 31, 2023 at 18:08
  • Does the AI actually give you the necessary information to identify and cite the sources? If not, this answer implies it can't be used where citation is required. Feb 8, 2023 at 15:32

What can you cite? The question posed? The answer varies (by intention) when you repeat the same question. The result reads like human text, but in fact isn‘t.

GPT is a language model, not a knowledge model. It has zero clue about what’s factually right or wrong. That‘s why results often sound reasonable for a layman in its field, but hair-raising for the expert, or non-compilable in the case of code created. I.e. GPT tries outputting, even as a kind of hallucination (invented content).

So what can you cite?

Jurisdiction will change here, certainly. So far, personal rights are for persons, not machines.

It may be a choice to put a footnote, stating "these paragraphs were created by ChatGPT 3.5 from the question …". However, it‘s almost always a good idea to just copy the result. E.g. readers will notice the variation in style, the way things are said and expressed.

So I suggest to use such results as an inspiration to formulate your own thoughts the way you do. Then the citation problem disappears and your text will be more coherent.

  • Thanks @F1Krazy to correct my own mistakes and those of my input device ;-)
    – MS-SPO
    Jul 4, 2023 at 8:29

I found this article: Do you need to cite chat gbt?.

It basically outlines that you if you use ChatGBT, you should be citing it to give transparency and credibility to your work.

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    Feb 5, 2023 at 8:40

I'm no expert academically speaking. I'm still currently a student. From my point of view, and after reading all the comments, I say yes you can.

Actually I'm going to check with my advisor regarding this tomorrow. Why can't we?

The purpose of AI is online source gathering, what I'm doing is I'm asking ChatGPT to sort citations and references. Also, I recommend to be specific in your question (you have the ownership of the question, it's your logical thinking process. I consider it as an interview for example.)

At the end it's where and why you are using this info for your analysis, reference check, and credibility.

It there wasn't a way to credit ChatGPT (as a search engine) well it should be. AI is out there to make our lives easier, and improve our performance. At the end you need to do the work, in the execution phase.

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    Feb 7, 2023 at 22:01

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