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Generative AI

Can I use generative AI for referencing?

Generative AI tools can be asked to provide references or citations – however these are often created based simply on what would look like a valid reference. If you ask an AI tool to provide a list of references or readings, the list it provides may not be real.

How do I reference something created by generative AI?

This guidance is based on the latest advice for citing ChatGPT or other generative AI in APA style (April 7, 2023).  This is interim advice only and subject to change.

APA recommend that you base the reference for generative AI content on the referencing guidance for

  • Computer software.

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT cannot accurately cite their own sources. Any references they provide may be false or non-existent – you should always check the original source for any references that are generated.

References should provide clear and accurate information for each source and should identify where they have been used in your work. You may provide a copy of the output from generative AI in an appendix in your paper so readers have access to the exact text that was generated.


Where you have used generative AI to assist you with your assignment, you should acknowledge this. An acknowledgement might look something like this:

Whilst the writing is my own and I take responsibility for all errors, ChatGPT was used to create the initial section structure for this essay.

In other cases it may be more appropriate to acknowledge your use of generative AI tools in a way more akin to a “methods” section of a research paper:

Initial text provided using ChatGPT. (2023, February 14). Prompt: “What procedures should be taken to avoid the mis-use of generative A.I. in education”. Or First draft of introduction generated by Microsoft Word Editor Summary tool. (2023, February 14).

This information is based on and How to cite ChatGPT (APA 7 Style Blog).

Please check with your lecturer / subject coordinator in regards to the placement of your acknowledgement in your assignment.  If no guidance is given, place the acknowledgement between the title and the first paragraph of your assignment.

More information about generative artificial intelligence:

In-text citation In your text, provide the prompt you used and any section of the relevant output that was generated in response, e.g. When prompted with "..." the ChatGPT generated text indicated "...." (OpenAI, 2023).
Reference List

Author, A. A. or Organisation as Author. (Year). Title of program (Version) [Description of form]. Publisher. https://xxxxxx

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

  • Reference entries are not required for standard software or programming languages (e.g. Microsoft Word or Excel, Java, Adobe Photoshop, or SPSS).
  • Identify the version number in parentheses (brackets) immediately after the title, if available.
  • Include URL if available.
  • If the publisher the same as the corporate author only include the corporate author.
  • See How to cite ChatGPT (APA 7 Style Blog).

Source: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed., pp. 338340).