Traps to avoid
While generative AI may offer some valuable forms of assistance, there are also many potential traps. Placing too much trust in an AI tool or using it to substitute the human element in learning, or attempting to pass AI generated content as your own work can result in serious consequences.
Trap #1 – Generative AI content is often unreliable. These tools can and do produce content that sounds reliable, but is actually, false, flawed, simplistic or even biased. The human reader plays an integral role in evaluating and presenting information in any assessment task. Relying on AI generated content can mean that the content is completely incorrect.
Trap #2 – Content generated by an AI does not identify or link to the original sources of that content. Even if you are using an AI tool to summarise an article, that summary may include information or quoted material that is not directly attributable to the author(s) of the article being summarised. As a result, AI text plagiarises material. This leaves you vulnerable to academic misconduct.
Trap #3 – In some cases, you might have an assessment that allows or even requires you to use and reference a generative AI tool. However, you will need to be able to distinguish this material from primary sources and your own contribution. If you use AI for more than the identified content, you will be unable to do so and run the risk of having the entire content identified by detection software as AI-generated. When in doubt, ask your lecturer to clarify how they expect you to identify and reference AI generated content in your work.
Trap #4 – If you use generative AI to help you plan or organise your research and develop notes for an assessment (e.g. an essay, report, etc.), you must still keep accurate records about the sources of those AI generated notes or summaries. The same is true when you research a topic and take notes by hand. However, the risk in using generated AI is that you can compile information quickly and easily and potentially lose track of the original sources. At best, you lose time trying to retrace your steps to find a particular source. Worse, you risk a charge of plagiarism. Remember, references that are inaccurate are also a form of plagiarism.
Trap #5 – Generative AI can help you produce written content that reads more clearly. However, using this content in a written assessment can result in an academic integrity violation. For example, it is acceptable to ask someone to proofread your work and point out spelling and grammar errors, but it is not acceptable to ask someone to re-write your work, which means rewriting sentences or reorganising the text. The same holds true if you rely on generative AI to edit your work.
Trap #6 – While it is true that AI generated text may be difficult to identify for most people, your instructors are highly familiar with the literature in your subject. Detection software is also rapidly improving. Academic writing is an essential part of your learning journey and writing will help you to think more clearly about your subject. The process of writing is part of how you learn to think – if you are struggling to express yourself or make sense of your assessment the best approach is to make an appointment to talk to an Academic Skills Advisor or Peer Learning Advisor.